C.S. Lewis Interview: Jennifer Neyhart

C.S. Lewis The Wardrobe Door

To celebrate 10 years of blogging here at The Wardrobe Door, I wanted to speak with some others who read, appreciate and study C.S. Lewis. Over the next two weeks, each day will feature an interview with one of these individuals (and maybe a few more).

Jennifer NeyhartJennifer Neyhart describes herself as “an aspiring theologian, educator and scholar of C.S Lewis (and the Inklings), Bible, and theology.” She recently started seminary and already has an MA in English.

I’ve enjoyed getting to know Jennifer through social media and appreciate her perspective, which she shares at her blog. There she recently went through 31 days of C.S. Lewis, which had more Lewis specific writing in a row than I’ve even done here.

Wardrobe Door: What do you remember about reading C.S. Lewis for the first time?

Jennifer Neyhart: My first encounter with Lewis, as I’m sure countless others would say, was in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I was in second grade and it was a book we read at school.

I remember the sense of awe and wonder I felt in reading about Narnia and Aslan for the first time. I loved it so much, so my parents told me there were six more books in the series, they had them, and I could read them! I have read and re-read those books over and over again ever since.

WD: While it may be next to impossible to answer, what is your favorite Lewis work, one you consider most overlooked, and one that you tend to enjoy less than others?

Oh goodness, I can’t even pick one favorite Chronicle of Narnia, though when pressed, I usually say The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I love Perelandra and The Great Divorce for the ways they work on my imagination, the images of the Garden of Eden and Heaven… and nothing beats the end of The Last Battle …

As far as what gets overlooked, a lot of people I talk to who enjoy The Chronicles of Narnia and maybe even The Ransom Trilogy have never heard of Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold, which is arguably his best novel.

I find that the general reader has not read many (or any) of his essays either, and there is so much good stuff to be found there (“Myth Became Fact,” “The Grand Miracle,” [both in God in the Dock] “Weight of Glory,” etc.)

I suppose That Hideous Strength might be one I tend to enjoy less than others, at least for the first half of the book. It took me longer to get into that one.

WD: Here are 50 of my favorite, what is your favorite Lewis quote?

One of my favorite Lewis quotes is from Mere Christianity:

“If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”

WD: Why do you think he continues to maintain such influence in modern evangelicalism?

Lewis articulates the Truth of the Gospel in vastly creative ways in his writings. He helps us grasp at truths about God with our imaginations. That is why I believe he continues to maintain the influence that he does in modern evangelicalism.

Not to mention his intelligence and giftedness as a writer and communicator, his ability to talk about theology on a lay person’s level, and the genuine honesty and humility with which he writes.

WD: Like all of us, Lewis wasn’t perfect. Where do you find yourself disagreeing with him or his approach?

As much as I love and admire Lewis and his writings, I’ve never claimed to agree with him on everything or follow him blindly, nor would he want me to. I probably disagree with him on issues related to women in ministry and feminism.

Though I will also argue that Lewis was not the chauvinist some have made him out to be. And no, he didn’t keep Susan out of heaven for wearing lipstick and what not either, but that is a conversation for another time. 😉

WD: If you had to choose, what is the most invaluable lesson you learned from him?

Lewis said that reading Phantastes by George MacDonald baptized his imagination. Well the writings of C. S. Lewis have baptized my imagination. All of his fiction works on me in this way.

As one who has always struggled with keeping things on an intellectual level only, Lewis’s writings get to me on a heart level through my imagination and I am forever grateful for that.

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Aaron Earls

Christian. Husband. Daddy. Writer. Online editor for Facts & Trends Magazine. Fan of quick wits, magical wardrobes, brave hobbits, time traveling police boxes & Blue Devils.