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 few weeks, each day will feature an interview with one of these individuals (and maybe a few more).
- Joe Rigney
- Louis Markos
- Laura Schmidt
- Jennifer Neyhart
- Devin Brown
- Sarah Waters
- Brandon Smith
- Michael Ward
- Crystal Hurd
- William O’Flaherty
- Brenton Dickieson
- Dan DeWitt
- Diana Glyer
- Alister McGrath
Michael Ward is a Senior Research Fellow at Blackfriars Hall in the University of Oxford, author of Planet Narnia: The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C. S. Lewis, and co-editor of The Cambridge Companion to C. S. Lewis. He presented the BBC television documentary, The Narnia Code.
He was resident Warden of The Kilns, Lewis’s Oxford home, from 1996 to 1999. He studied English at Oxford, Theology at Cambridge, and has a Ph.D. in Divinity from St. Andrews.
Wardrobe Door: What do you remember about reading C.S. Lewis for the first time?
Michael Ward: I remember my parents reading The Chronicles of Narnia to me before I was old enough to read them for myself. My two brothers and I would jump into our parents’ bed on a Saturday or Sunday morning and our mother would read us a chapter before the day started.
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?
Favorite is The Voyage of the Dawn Treader — a great mix of sea story, fairy tale, and mystical vision.
Most overlooked: Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold — a profound meditation on love, its corruptions and its healing.
One I enjoy less: Out of the Silent Planet — relatively thin, imaginatively speaking; still good, I think, just not as rich as Lewis’s other fiction.
WD: Here are 50 of my favorite, what is your favorite Lewis quote?
“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen, not only because I see it but because by it I see everything else.”
This, from “Is Theology Poetry?” (in Weight of Glory), is now inscribed on the memorial to Lewis in Poets’ Corner, Westminster Abbey, unveiled on the fiftieth anniversary of his death, November 22, 2013.
WD: Why do you think he continues to maintain such influence in modern evangelicalism?
Because he had an evangelical passion for spreading the Gospel and because he was both an acute thinker and a brilliant writer. To have all those three things in one person is rare.
WD: Like all of us, Lewis wasn’t perfect. Where do you find yourself disagreeing with him or his approach?
I think it very odd that Aslan has no mother. Jesus had a mother and experienced a fully human life, from fetus to baby to child to boy to man.
The fact that Aslan “has landed” in Narnia (which is how Lewis puts it in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe) makes it sound like he’s a parachutist, just dropping in, rather than a character who is being fully incarnated, taking flesh and living a life like other lions.
WD: If you had to choose, what is the most invaluable lesson you learned from him?
To remember the difference between “looking at” and “looking along” (as in “Meditation in a Toolshed“). Faith is principally something to be “looked along,” not “looked at.” Keeping myself “in the beam” is the most invaluable lesson I’ve learned from C.S. Lewis.