In the shadow of Lewis
I loved Narnia as a child, and honestly, I still do. As an adult reader one becomes sensitive to Lewis's rather strong opinions forcing themselves into the narrative, but what right-minded person would not want to live the life of Narnia, to fight for justice and Aslan, and to go to his country when they die? Of course, some people don't, but that is precisely the point. Narnia beautifully illustrates Lewis's genius for conveying profound truths with imagination, clarity, and pure style.
I use the word "genius" intentionally. Lewis had a rare gift. He was a scholar, master wordsmith, and a true-hearted friend. But his genius lay in that ability to communicate his thoughtful faith in a way that seized the imagination of not just his generation, but of successive generations. Not only his children's stories, but almost all his books were deeply influential on the thinking and faith of countless readers.
Lewis so shaped the idea of Christian literature that, for the last 50 years, every Christian writer has wanted to be him. The "Christian" publishing industry has churned out thousands of metaphorical children's adventures, humorous reflections on the Christian life, and worldly-wise apologetics. A few of these have been successful, most have been rubbish. But no-one has really conquered the territory in the way that he did.
And now the world has changed. Could we imagine a book called "Mere Christianity" having such an impact in 2011? The post-war, church-schooled audience isn't there any more. What would a modern-day Lewis write, and how would he capture the minds of this generation?