“They’re reading us a book in SuperChurch!. And it’s about WITCHES. Mrs. Dubach said it was okay, though, because it’s a Christian book.”
Despite the reassurances of Margo Dubach, my 10-year-old self was not entirely sure my parents–the same parents who forbade Bewitched and witch costumes at Halloween–would be on board with this new scheme. SuperChurch! was what we kids were supposed to do during the regular service, and I was already miffed at that idea; I preferred the sermons and reading the sex parts of the Bible during announcements to stomping around in Fellowship Hall to the vaguely antisemitic theological void that was “Father Abraham”. Having a witch book of all things read to us seemed to be pushing it.
“It’s okay, honey. It’s by C.S. Lewis. He’s a Christian writer and the story is actually about Jesus. It’s an allegory.”*
That was the first time I realised that there was some sort of Cloak Of Invincibility around this Lewis fellow. Shortly after that exchange, a dog-eared copy of That Hideous Strength appeared in the book rack of our motorhome and my father read it on one of our weekend camping trips. My father. Read a science-fiction book. The cover left no doubt as to what kind of book it was, and it had been a long time since I’d seen my dad reading anything without spies, WWII planes or vicars being poisoned.
Who was this Lewis fellow, and what made him so great?
It’s thirty years down the road. SuperChurch! is long gone, as is my father’s brief flirtation with Sci Fi and our Southwind camper with the brown-and-rust interior. But C.S Lewis is still around, and like Ben Kenobi he grows stronger after death, his spirit directing all around him. I myself love the man’s ways of thinking and writing. He holds a special place in my heart for holding several of the same ideals as I do–a love of theology and a love of the fantastic, the whimsical, the escapist. He’s also a writer, and while I’ll never be half the writer he was, I still feel like we swim in the same odd streams that others of the non-scrivener life just don’t understand.
But I’m getting concerned. Because lately it seems like the late Irish Oxonian has been elected as the First Saint of the Evangelical Church. People who used to hang Psalm magnets on their refrigerators have moved on to cooler decorations with the words of Lewis. Two Christmases ago my mother bought my husband a C.S. Lewis devotional; devotionals to accompany scripture are as common as air and as varied as fish, so that’s really not that big a deal I suppose. But everywhere I go it seems that Lewis is being held out as the SuperChristian! whose imprimateur sanctifies the basest of activities. Scratch the “saint” thing. I think he may be our Pope.
Now it seems that about six months ago there was another chapter in the Pope Pius Clive I saga. HarperCollins has released a C.S. Lewis Bible.
MMM-HMMMM. Yep. A Bible. Not by God. Or Q. Or Whomever you hold with writing it, but “by C.S. Lewis”, according to HarperCollins. (Insert atheistic fairy tale joke here, Sean.)
And now some Christians are mad because this particular Bible is, unlike Lewis (as if they could read his dead mind), a gender-neutral and egalitarian version. In short, God isn’t always called “he” or “him”. According to the fellow who started the petition against the Lewis Bible, such a philosophy goes against his (Lewis’) beliefs and is therefore inappropriate for a Bible bearing his name.
Huh? Not that it is inappropriate to have a Bible bearing a person’s name…no. We’re just fine with that. Even though unlike other Bibles bearing a teacher’s name this is not the C.S. Lewis STUDY Bible. Just the C.S. Lewis Bible. Because, after all, it seems that many of us are starting to believe that C.S. Lewis was born not in Belfast but Bethlehem.
*I had a weird upbringing. Or I was a weird child. Or both. But yes, I DID know what an allegory was at 10.
**Readers of this blog and other writings of mine may have noticed that while I generally hold to Complimentarianism and Difference Feminism, I also believe that God is transcendent of gender. When I write or speak of God I strive to stay away from either gender-indicative pronoun. (In fact, I stay away from pronouns altogether, with the exception of I in I AM, when speaking or writing of God as I personally have come to believe that a pronoun for God is dismissive and disrespectful. It’s not a belief rooted in anything other than eccentricity)