C.S. Lewis Interview: William O’Flaherty

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 few weeks, each day will feature an interview with one of these individuals (and maybe a few more).

William O'Flaherty C.S. Lewis

courtesy of Lancia Smith www.lanciaesmith.com

William O’Flaherty began the website EssentialCSLewis.com in 2012 to bring together some smaller endeavors related to Lewis he already had: a weekly quote page in the late 1990’s, a daily quiz blog in 2010, a podcast called C.S. Lewis Minute, and an additional interview podcast called All About Jack.

Besides the website he is also on Facebook (Facebook.com/EssentialCSLewis) and Twitter (@EssentialLewis), where you can see Lewis quotes, quizzes and information.

William became a Christian in 1980 and discovered C.S. Lewis soon after. Previously, he worked in Christian radio, but today he’s a family counselor.

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

I was first introduced to Lewis by reading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. However, unlike most who had that as their debut work, I was much older when I first read it.

It was my junior year of high school and I was in a non-college prep English class where it was on a list of books to read to do a book report (at the time I was a terrible reader). I picked Lewis because it was about the shortest book of the choices!

As you might imagine I loved it, but actually didn’t read the rest of the Narnia stories until a few years later. I was so impressed by the author that I asked a friend to suggest another title and that one is one of my favorites (mentioned below).

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?

I have to cheat here and mention several titles, but I’ll go with just three and note my technical favorite. The second book I ever read by Lewis was The Screwtape Letters. The fact that it was also short played a factor at the time. I couldn’t believe how much truth fit into each letter that was quite humorous as well.

However, I must mention Mere Christianity and Till We Have Faces as a very close second and third. Yet, anytime I re-read Till We Have Faces I’m tempted to name it as my favorite because I’m not a reader of fiction and Lewis manages to bring me in and share layers of insight into the human psyche I’ve not seen any where else.

This might be a little of a cheat as well, but after some thought I’m going with an edited title by Walter Hooper called The Business of Heaven. I bought it back in 1984 when it first came out.

This is a book of daily readings from a wide variety of his writings (except Narnia) that are usually only a paragraph or two. It exposes a person to a broad range of material that one might not naturally seek out and sometimes the source for a particular day’s reading is continued over several days (thus providing better context for understanding what’s stated).

The writings I enjoy least by Lewis is his poetry. However, this is only because I lack an interest in just about any poetry.

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

It is easy to just catch quotes by Lewis online and not find your own favorites by reading his works yourself. Although I had previously read most of Lewis’s writings, I spent 2012 and 2013 reading or re-reading nearly all of the shorter works and found many new favorite quotes.

Sometime in the future I’ll share a post listing them at EssentialCSLewis.com. Part of the challenge for me beside narrowing it to one is that even if I try to select a favorite quotation by Lewis that is humorous I’d be hard press because there are easily over a dozen.

But to attempt to answer the question, I will share a quote that was not long ago a quiz question (I have a daily quiz at my site, but only sometimes is the question involving a quote). This quote comes from The Abolition of Man:

“An open mind, in questions that are not ultimate, is useful. But an open mind about the ultimate foundations either of Theoretical or of Practical Reason is idiocy. If a man’s mind is open on these things, let his mouth at least be shut.”

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

While most evangelicals haven’t read a wide variety of Lewis’s works and usually focus on his apologetic works, they like what they’ve read of his defense of the Christian faith.

Lewis shares a person should accept Christianity because it is true and not because it helps them or not. I believe that speaks a great deal to evangelicals (myself among them).

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

As others have noted before me, I’m not a disciple of Lewis, but of Jesus Christ. While Lewis has been used as an instrument of the Lord for many conversions, mine wasn’t one of them. However, he has helped me to understand a lot of the Christian faith.

That said, I’ve come across many perspectives from Lewis that I don’t agree with, but unlike some articles you can find online that even question his salvation, I “don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.”

Others who have shared in your series up to this point have mentioned points I also disagree with Lewis on, so I don’t have anything major to add.

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

As noted in a general way, Lewis has help me mature as a Christian. Over thirty years ago when I first read him as a new Christian, he was one of many tools the Lord used to help me grow deep roots in my faith. So, there are several aspects I could mention.

But the greatest “lesson” from him is probably two-fold: 1.) You can be a Christian and be a deep thinker and 2.) There is a healthy and creative way to use humor, as seen in The Screwtape Letters and scattered in many of his other writings.


About Author

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.