Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Heroes: C.S. Lewis

When we think of heroes we tend to think of those who inspire us.  Those that make us want to be better men, or women, by inspiring us to do the impossible: To make the wining point or to say the perfect words or make the right choice. My hero is a little different.  Instead of making me want to become a better man, he has made me want to become the man I was made to be.  He inspires me not to say the right things, or do the right things, but to let someone else do it for me.  This was not accomplished easily, or by the simple word, but through the incredible use of imagination.  My hero is writer and philosopher C.S.Lewis.

I grew up, as I assume many of us did, reading the incredible novels of The Chronicles of Narnia.  When I was younger I saw them as entertaining and adventurous stories.  I mean, who didn’t read The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe and then check their closet for a winter wonderland?  But C.S.Lewis did something far more than simply write stories.  He wrote of who man is, what he fought against, and of the God who loves us more than we can imagine and sent his Son to die for us.

As a one who makes film for a hobby and speaks in metaphors to try and make points, I have fallen in love with Lewis’ style of explaining life and its difficulties.  In what way has Lewis done this?  Let me show you.

I am a senior in college at Patrick Henry College, and as a freshmen suffered a life changing knee injury that rendered me unable to play sports in any competitive manner for the rest of my life.  Even running has become painful in many ways.  My sophomore year I had surgery which did not fix the issue.  I was getting the worst grades that I would get in college, and I felt emotionally dead.  I wanted out of the mess I was in. Then I read Lewis’ book A Greif Observed describing what it was like dealing with the death of his wife.  He explained how he too wanted God to go easy on him and not make it so hard.  Then he used a metaphor.  He said if we are up against a cruel God that might work, because the cruel could be convinced to stop the pain.  “But suppose that what you are up against is a surgeon whose intentions are wholly good.”  Lewis would go on to explain that if this were the case, then no amount of begging would make the surgeon stop the surgery until he was done, for otherwise all the pain would have been for nothing.

C.S.Lewis used imagination to show us not how to become superman, but how to live like him.  He used imagination to show us in new ways just how big God was, how inspiring His Word was, and how beautiful life with Christ could be.  He used imagery to show how God really could work all things together for good (through the lions in The Horse and His Boy).  How Satan uses temptations to draw us from Christ (in The Screwtape Letters).  He even used imagination to show how God can turn the very sins and vices we have into the vessel that brings us to the eternal mountains of glory where He dwells (in The Great Divorce).  He challenged readers to use their imagination and see the mystery of Christ.  In a very real sense, he used fairy tales and fantasy to make the reality, truth, and love of God more real. This is why he is my hero.

By Cordell Asbenson


  1. Lewis is definitely one of my heroes as well. He's a man of integrity, willing to admit his vices publicly as a deficiency in himself. He's a man of humility, willing to stop at questions that he doesn't know the answer to, and simply say "I don't know." He's a man of brilliance, whose apologetic pretty much destroyed the hard-lined positivism of his day.