Here’s the NYT elevating speculation on a man’s life that belongs in the gutter. Can’t it find a more serious angle on the man who is still considered the most prominent Christian writer in the last 100 years? How about the discussion that we could have regarding why Lewis has not been replaced and passed up by another?
The comments note some other recent pieces in the same vein:
Lewis was an old-fashioned Christian, and those who consider the church to be too interested in modernising see him as a hero of religious orthodoxy and conservative values. This would be harmless except for the fact that they have managed to morph the real Jack Lewis into “St Jack of Oxford”, a version of himself he would have had trouble recognising. The puritans of America (a breed Lewis always loathed) have even tried to eradicate all references to alcohol and tobacco in his writing.
Lewis loved a drink, he loved to smoke and he continued to enjoy his cigarettes when his doctors told him that they would hasten his death. For more than 40 years he smoked 60 a day between pipes. He actively disliked non-smokers and merrily mocked teetotallers.
And then there was sex. As a youth Lewis revelled in vivid and cruel fantasies. He also loved bawdy songs and ancient poetry bordering on the pornographic. As an adult he had sex with at least one woman. Nonetheless, the evangelists who collect his furniture and place it in glass cases — and the Lewis societies that work hard to project a fabricated image of the writer in England and elsewhere — have tried to remould him as a “perpetual virgin”. They believe that he died without ever having engaged in sexual intercourse and that therefore his late marriage to Joy Gresham was never consummated.
I've never heard that...have you?
...with some art and religion arguments to chew over:
For poetry and fantasy aren’t stimulants to a deeper spiritual appetite; they are what we have to fill the appetite. The experience of magic conveyed by poetry, landscape, light, and ritual, is . . . an experience of magic conveyed by poetry, landscape, light, and ritual. To hope that the conveyance will turn out to bring another message, beyond itself, is the futile hope of the mystic. Fairy stories are not rich because they are true, and they lose none of their light because someone lit the candle. It is here that the atheist and the believer meet, exactly in the realm of made-up magic. Atheists need ghosts and kings and magical uncles and strange coincidences, living fairies and thriving Lilliputians, just as much as the believers do, to register their understanding that a narrow material world, unlit by imagination, is inadequate to our experience, much less to our hopes.
The religious believer finds consolation, and relief, too, in the world of magic exactly because it is at odds with the necessarily straitened and punitive morality of organized worship, even if the believer is, like Lewis, reluctant to admit it. The irrational images—the street lamp in the snow and the silver chair and the speaking horse—are as much an escape for the Christian imagination as for the rationalist, and we sense a deeper joy in Lewis’s prose as it escapes from the demands of Christian belief into the darker realm of magic. As for faith, well, a handful of images is as good as an armful of arguments, as the old apostles always knew
Note: It is okay to be less than a Lewis enthusiast here. It is also okay to be Lewis devotee. An interesting discussion between committed Christians of different views on Lewis would be interesting.