C.S LEWIS: A biography

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 …

C.S Lewis

 

Quick Facts
Full Name: Clive Staples Lewis
Born: November 29, 1898
Died: November 22, 1963 (aged 64)
Work: Writer, Apologist, Poet, Scholar
Most Popular Works: The Chronicles of Narnia, The Screwtape Letters.

Known by friends and family as Jack (a self given name he adopted up after his dog
Jacksie was killed by a car). You could say he was a man born before his time in many
ways or rather still a man who launched the world to new times by his rich imagination
and rigid faith.

Born in Belfast, Ireland (present day Northern Ireland) into the well positioned family of
Albert and Florence Lewis. As a young lad, his imagination ran free with a particular
fascination of anthropomorphic animals, he and his brother Warnie soon created the
world of Boxen, populated and driven by talking animals. His appetite to read was
stirred and well watered by his parents who stocked the house full of books, his dad
being a solicitor and his mom a graduate of the Royal University of Ireland (a fit quite
rare for women in those days). Lewis himself being a bit prodigy himself was reading by
age three and by five had begun writing stories, he fed extensively and voraciously on
those books, he writes in his autobiography, Suprised by Joy “endless books… There
were books in the study, books in the dinning room, books in the cloakroom, books (two
deep) in the great bookcase on the landing, books in a bedroom, books piled as high as
my shoulder in the cistern attic, books of all kinds” and none was off limits to him.
Life took a not so pleasant turn when his brother Warnie was sent off to boarding
school in England, leaving the young Lewis alone, he became somewhat reclusive,
spending more and more time in books and his imaginary world of dressed animal and
knights in armor. Things went even more sour when he turned 10 and his mother died
of Cancer, he became even more driven into himself and his books, his father never
really fully recovered and this led both boys to feel even more estranged from their
dad. His mom’s death planted a seed of doubt in God, he reasoned that God, if not
cruel, was at least a vague abstraction. About five years down that line around 1912 (in
the tender teen age of 15) and with the additional influence of his boarding school
(where his father had now enrolled him) and, Lewis abandoned the Christian faith and
became an avowed atheist, he later described his young self as being paradoxically
“angry with God for not existing”.

 

By September of 1914 Lewis was sent to Great Bookham, Surrey, to be privately tutored
by W.T. Kirkpatrick, this man had a tremendous effect upon the young Lewis, he
introduced him to classics in Greek, Latin and Italian literature. Being a tutor that must
see result he helped Lewis learn how to criticize and analyze, taught him how to think,
speak and write logically. After nearly three years with Kirkpatrick Lewis had grown in
bounds and leaps in his literary academic prowess, this showed in his success in the
scholarship examinations at Oxford and later in his outstanding performance at
University College, grabbing highest honours in honour moderations, greats and
English. His hardpressing mentor also helped him reinforce his atheistic beliefs, but his
admission to Oxford and the associates he would soon make would cause the budding
Lewis to rethink his God-void universe.

He entered the world of Oxford in 1917 and in a sense he never left, despite the call to
fight in World war 1 and his professorship later in life at Cambridge, he always
maintained his home and friends in Oxford. During World war 1 he and his college
roommate Paddy Moore, made promises to each other, that if either of them should
die in the war, the other would take care of the deceased’s family. Paddy Moore died,
Lewis kept his word and took care of Paddy’s mother, after completing his first degree
in 1920, Lewis decided to share the same lodging with Paddy Moore’s family so that he
could more carefully look out for their needs, this kind gesture got Lewis outside of
himself and taught him patience. Soon the books The everlasting man by G.K.
Chesterton and Phantastes by George MacDonald began to dig through his stony
atheistic heart, he would later write of the book Phantastes “what it actually did to me
was to convert, even baptize…my imagination”

 

The years went on but distress in the stony heart of Lewis only kept increasing, friends
from his student and post student life like Owen Barfield and Nevill Coghill often
pounced on the logic of Lewis’ atheism. He would later meet two more Christians with
whom he became close friends; J.R.R Tokien (author, Lord of the Rings) and Hugo
Dyson. Eventually the two paths converged in Lewis’ mind: one was reason and the
other intuition, he vigorously resisted conversion, noting that he was brought back into
Christianity like a prodigal, “kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every
direction for a chance to escape”. He painted his final struggle to come to God in his
book Suprised by Joy, “You must picture me alone in that room in Magdalen[College,
Oxford], night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my
work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet.
That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity term of 1929 I gave
in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the
most dejected and reluctant convert in all England”

After his conversion to Theism in 1929, Lewis converted to Christianity in 1931, after a
lengthy talk and late night walk with his close friends Tokien and Hugo Dyson. He
became a firm member of the Church of England -somewhat to the disappointment of
Tolkien, who had hoped he would join the Catholic church.
The second world war, proved to be a set time for C.S. Lewis, he spoken on radio from
1941 to 1943 by the BBC while the city was under periodic air raids, these broadcasts
were widely received and ministered greatly to the people, also increasing the
popularity of Lewis. After the war in 1951 he declined a honour by George VI as
Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in order to avoid association with
political issues.

It is interesting to note that with the increase of Lewis fame came other pressures,
numerous invitations to entertain guests, grant interviews, give lectures and preach
sermons. And even though he felt called by God to write, he likewise felt it was
required of him to counsel all those who came all the way to his home. As his books
became popular he was flooded by letters, and because he believed that it was Gods
will for him to answer most of this mail himself stating that there were “no ordinary
people” he took his time to write with care to each correspondent regardless of age,
education, or place in society, needless to say this consumed many hours each week.
Joy entered his life in 1956, literally. Joy Davidman, an American writer also a convert
from Atheism to Christianity became Mrs Lewis. She and her two teenaged kids
changed C.S. Lewis’ life for the better. His happiness can be seen in a note he wrote to a
friend soon after they got married “it’s funny having at 59 the sort of happiness most
men have in their twenties… ‘Thou hast kept the good wine till now’.” She brought him
love, companionship and tow stepson with all its accompanying drama, she also
encouraged him to renew his writing of apologetics. Unfortunately his Joy was short
lived as she died of Cancer 4 years into their most blissful marriage. Lewis was quite
devastated by this loss and describes his experience of bereavement in his book A Grief
Observed, he expressed his feelings in such a raw and personal manner that he
originally released it under the pseudonym N. W Clerk to keep readers from associating
the book with him. Funny enough, many friends recommended the book to Lewis as a
method of dealing with his own grief.

 

C.S. Lewis was a reputed Scholar, prolific writer and noted Novelist who infused Biblical
themes in his story lines, his novel, The Pilgrim’s Regress following John Bunyan’s style
in The Pilgrims Progress was the first of Christian publications he would make and more
were sure to follow. The Chronicles of Narnia in particular, which has been adopted
both into feature films and programs carries the biblical theme of Christ (Aslan in this
case) who basically gives his life for the salvation of those He loves and comes back to
life again. His book, Mere Christianity was voted best book of the twentieth century by
Christianity Today in 2000, he has been called “The Apostle to the Skeptics” due to his
approach to faith, presenting a reasonable case for Christianity, other books in this class
include, The Problem of Pain and Miracles. In 2008 he was ranked by The Times as the
eleventh on their list of “the 50 greatest British writers since 1945”
Lewis died at the Kilns on November 22, 1963, buried beside his brother who passed on
10 years later, he authored more than 70 titles, including works of science fiction,
fantasy, poetry, letters, autobiography and Christian apologetics, Lewis’ book sales are
reported to be more than 2 million annually.

References
http://www.britannica.com/biography/c-s-lewis
http://www.biography.com/.amp/people/cs-lewis-9380969
http://www.explorefaith.org/lewis/bio.html
http://www.wikipedia.com/wiki/c._s._lewis
http://www.christianitytoday.com/history/issues//issue-7/cs-lewis-profile-of-hislife.
html#storystream
http://www.cslewis.org/resource/chronocsl/

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HELLO DECEMBER: A Christmas Poem

One look at you and I knew you would be mother’s last

For mother did not just scream her best, she screamed her last

You were as perfect as perfect could be

The stars jubilated and the chill in the air agreed

I smiled that night I held you tight and called you mine

 

From the first day you came so alive

We could hardly wait for when you would be twenty five

So you could remind this world again

Of the birth of the one with a name above all names

Who took away our sins and our darkness became extinct

 

If only we could see you as more than just another ember

If only we could appreciate you as we did your brothers

If only we could refocus our priorities; binoculars

If only we could look beyond the spectacular

Then His light would penetrate our eyes and give us sight

 

Happy birthday December,

The days count with little to remember

They say you live for just thirty one

And we would have to face yet another 365 equals one

I only pray we celebrate the Christ everyday as we did in your wake

 

By Princess Pirinye and Ezeonyeka Godswill

Our society will never attain morality until it exalts God – Bill Bidiaque, Author – Jesus In Jeans (An Exclusive Interview)

 

So to begin, I’d like to know your full name.

Bill Bidiaque.

 

Middle name?

No middle name 😁.

 

 Oh that’s nice. Where were you born?

  Oron, Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria.

 

That’s where you’re from also?

 Yes. Urue Offong Local Government, precisely.

 

 Tell me about your childhood. What was it like growing up?

I was raised by a single woman as the only child, with novels for siblings. I was bullied through secondary school and I expressed my self-pity in my notepads. It veered into more productive content. About the home, there was nothing much to make of it, other than I spent most of my days alone with books.

 

Wow, that’s interesting, and to think a bunch of children go through this scenario daily. It’s awesome to see how you channeled all the negative energy to writing. What are some of your favorite things? (Book, Color, sport, subject, etc)

Wow. I didn’t have a favorite book. I read everything, but mostly fiction – Anything by Hardley Chase (original and fake Chase), Ian Flemmings (007 Series), Nick Carter, Don Pendleton (Mack Bolan Series). Read a couple of Mills and Boons but romance wasn’t my thing, so I left it. I never had the luxury of a favorite color either. I read mostly spy/detective/crime stuff, I wasn’t into sports. (Nice. I read Hardley too. Kept me company as a child) Oh Chase is quite common and popular, which is why there a lot of Chase novels out there that were not written by René Lodge Brabazon Raymond. I also loved Agriculture – because, I was raised in a village and farming supported my mum’s income.

 

So talking of income, how was it at home? Was it steady?

Oh, Akwa Ibom State Government has never been known to pay regularly. My mum worked with the General Hospital in Oron as a nurse, so income wasn’t steady, which is why we had to farm and sell the produce to support the little home.

 

That must have been challenging

Well, yeah! Mum, did what she could and we were okay. There was always food on the table.

 

 Is she still with you?

Yeah, she’s retired now in Akwa Ibom and  I am resident in Lagos

 

 That’s good to hear. What about the friends you had grown up? How did they influence you?

I had one friend in primary school and Two in secondary.

I owe my creative bent to the friend in primary school. His parents were literature teachers and buffs. All the story books and novels I read while growing up came from him. They had about five shelves of novels.

 

Incredible! That’s a lot of novels.

 Did you attend religious activities, growing up?  What are the challenges you’ve faced because of your beliefs?

Yeah. I attended religious activities. My mum was and is still very churchy but after secondary school, adolescent rebellion set in and I veered off. Christ found me in 2007. My greatest challenge was graduating and receiving instructions to create Christian content. I wish I could say I have been burning ever since but I am just a struggling Christian trying to make sense of my walk with Christ.

Hitherto I was already writing for local TV and that instruction was hard to follow, is still hard to follow, seeing I have responsibilities. Also, I find in me a conflict to take in illicit content prevalent in the media today and a desire to stay off. Simply saying, going to the movies or not.

 

What about school? Tell me about your academic history. (Primary school, secondary school, University, any other degrees?)

Primary School – Infant Jesus’ Nursery school/Onyieme Montessorri Primary School (1989 – 1995)

Secondary School –  Methodist Boys’ High School/Methodist Senior Science College Oron(1995 – 2001)

University of Lagos (Psychology) – 2005 – 2009 Just a B.Sc

 

Okay Nice. You mentioned earlier how you were bullied and expressed  yourself  in writing. How often did you express yourself with the ink and when did you eventually start writing professionally?

Writing was cathartic for me as a teen because I was bullied a lot. I spent my days expressing my thoughts on paper, but my pieces then were mostly on self-pity and loneliness. I remember my first poem pad in Junior Secondary School, I believe I was thirteen then. I gave it to a cousin to read and she said, “Billy, why are your poems always sad? Isn’t there anything happy about your life?” That remark changed my perspective and I started writing about things other than my self pity.

I write as often as I can, which is almost everyday because it also happens to be something I do professionally. I wrote my first script for TV in 2004 – It never got produced. My first show to be broadcasted was about 5 episodes of “Family Affair” directed by Kingsley Omoefe. That was 2005.

 

That’s pretty cool. What is your favorite genre to write? Being a professional writer, which author influenced your work and how did you improve over the years, What was the process like, Who helped you through?

I have a myriad of authors whose works I respect (this is not an endorsement of them as people, as I don’t know them personally),– some of them are Mario Puzo,  Robert Ludlum, Ted Dekker, Dan Brown (he does his research), Stephen King. These are all Fiction Writers

For non-fiction – Robert McKee, Christopher Vogler, John Piper, John MacArthur, Francis Chan, Tim Keller, Charles Spurgeon, C. S Lewis (I love his fiction too). I read a lot of books on writing and film-making. Even when I was in university. I would cover my course syllabus early in the semester and borrow writing/film-making books from the library to read. I watch YouTube videos too. You’d be surprised at the depth of writing materials on YouTube.

I can say through the years, I have spent more money buying books than buying clothing items. Improving over the years was and is still hinged on research and study. About a preferred genre, I am not sure I do crime and fantasy well For TV, drama comes naturally. And when I write for Stage, comedy comes naturally.

But the most important thing in any genre I choose to write per time is the audience I am writing it for. Once the audience had been identified, it is easy to understand their needs and deliver. Audience and Value.

 

Awesome! You’re a well read African! Give me some gist on your book, Jesus in Jeans. (what inspired you to write it? When did you finish? When did you start? What were the challenges you faced writing and publishing?)

With “Jesus in Jeans” (JIJ) I just wanted to write the Jesus Story in contemporary times I started research in 2010, then started writing in June 2012 (Stayed in my apartment for two months without leaving the compound).

(How did he eat?)

When Pastors say, Daniel survived the lion’s den, what is the lion’s den in 2017? The routine was simple – wake, devotion, drink coffee, workout, work till 7 or 8 pm, sleep. That was the cycle I was living in a family apartment, so I didn’t need to step out to get food.

(Ok. Praise God.)

I don’t think I would do that anymore, seeing I have responsibilities now.

About publishing, it took me three years. I contacted Thomas Nelson and they rejected my manuscript because it wasn’t solicited, but they referred me to their self-publishing arm – WestBow Press. The major challenge I had was funding the publication. It took everything I had and some to publish the book in 2015. There you have it.

 

You finished writing the same year?

 Within two months, because it was a marathon write.

 

In the publishing industry and among your audience, was there any opposition because of the Christian view?

I don’t think so, even though it wasn’t widely accepted I didn’t get any obvious opposition.

 

 How would you describe the plot and setting of the book, was it easy bringing someone from 2000 years ago to 21st century?

Hmmmmm. The plot is simple – Jesus’ story; he came, battled with the “Syndicate of Religious Lawyers” and was framed for a crime he didn’t commit, then was sentenced and executed. It wasn’t easy merging the settings and some people think I took it too far. For example, the scene where Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman by the well – She was married 5 times and living with another man (Harlot, so to say). The well was forbidden for Jews (a nightclub is forbidden  for Christians). So I made “Jay” (Jesus), preach to a stripper in a nightclub. Is this something Jesus would do? I will ask him when I see him.

 

 What are the hopes you have for the novel? What kind of impact did you intend to make with it and what kind of feedback did you get, how did you feel about them?

My hopes for the novel? Help my generation see a relevant Jesus. Not a teacher who lived 2020 years ago but a homie who also happened to be God I was disappointed after publishing, because the book didn’t “blow” as I thought it would. Also, I was hoping to distribute it free in Secondary Schools, sadly my budget wasn’t high enough because I printed in the US. Howbeit, I distributed to about 6 schools, then I gassed out. However, I know better now.

 

That must have cost a lot. But I’m sure you didn’t give up. Are there any more of your works out there, what other occupations are you involved in? 

I have a blog that I haven’t posted on since last year (you found the blog. Shame). I’m hoping to change that this month – C.I.A (Christed I Am). I am also a documentary filmmaker – I create documentaries, video profiles, presentations, commercials through my company Ideomania Limited.

 

I like the style of the blog, It’s really relatable. So What are the goals you are still working towards?

Per Goals – The vision is to establish a movement where any one who wants to create any form of Christian content can come, learn/develop the necessary skills, receive funding and shoot out. When I say Christian content, I mean anything arts and entertainment that proposes the relevant Christ.

 

That’s a really wide vision. I trust it will be actualized because this is what the world needs and what better way to start than in the immediate community. So what have you done so far that you are more proud of? How do you want people to remember you?

I believe that question is too early for now. Right now, I am more Jonah than Paul and I don’t believe I have done the best I can. So, nothing.

 

Well thankfully, Jonah got out of the fish eventually, I believe you will too.  So Bill,  Is there anything you do currently that you have decided  “you know what? I would never do this again God help me”, and is there anything you would love to do over again?

Okay, procrastinate! I do that more than I should. Anything I would love to do over? I am not sure.

 

Being a creative, do you have someone who supports you through your process? A significant other perhaps? ( Are you married?)

Yes, I am, to a beautiful woman.

 

Wonderful! How does she contribute to your creative process? Oh, and what’s her name? If you don’t mind sharing.

She’s my number one critic. She reads all my works before they go out. Her name is Ibiene Bidiaque.

 

I’d like to hear your view on a prevailing issue in our society. What do you think is the problem with morality in our society? As Christians, what is the reaction to it and should it be that way?

Today, humans want to uphold morality and discard God. That is our society’s fault. The moment God is excluded from the equation then there is no single truth – no standard for morality I believe the entity who created this standard is God. Hence, there is no morality without God. So if this entity isn’t human, who or what then is this entity? An entity that isn’t human because humans cannot create a standard because all humans are flawed. I am no religious authority and I do not have any titles. My views are mine and must not be seen as doctrine – search for doctrine in the Bible. I am just a struggling Christian trying to make sense of his walk with Christ. But I know this, our society will never attain morality until it exalts God.

 

Then, any words for young Christian creatives out there?

For young Christian creatives, you have the Holy Spirit, allow Him lead. Even when you can’t make sense of where you are .

 

 I forgot to ask; How old are you? And when is your birthday?

 I turned 32 on July 31st.

 

Great conversation, Bill. It was nice getting to know you and we look forward to seeing more ground breaking work from you.

Thank you for having me, I hope my views will remain mine and seen as holy. We all learn. And I am always open to learn as long as Christ tarries.

 

Speaking with Bill taught me  to take the creative process a step at a time and to be focused(how do you stay 2months in isolation writing?!). I do hope you learnt more.

To purchase a copy of Jesus In Jeans please follow this link https://www.amazon.com/Jesus-Jeans-Bill-Bidiaque/dp/1490866574

 

Interviewer: Ifeanyi Chikereuba

For: The Christ A Poet Team

 

 

GENERATIONS

I have really wise friends
I have really smart friends
And then I have these other friends. These ones I don’t know how to classify them.

For when you hear their thought process, you will wonder if this part of the body called a brain is vestigial in some animals.
When they utter words, you automatically want an occupation with hammers for every thing they say make you want to break their head.

But then I got to thinking;
6 years,
10 years;
200 years from now and these same ‘not so senseless’, poor in making decisions, and utterly tiring friends of mine would be known as ‘the ancestors’
A status men will begin to idolize.

I see us use a whole lot of our mind’s compartment to believe things that were told to us by people who couldn’t figure out simple things, I mean, some of the very learned of them actually argued that the earth was flat, like a table.

Hollup!

I am not even talking about the unlearned ones from your villages that birthed those you now call grandpa. Just imagine it.

They told you to pour drinks on the floor for the ancestors and you agree, well it’s *Omenala, so it can’t be broken.
They said a woman should be shorn when her husband dies and well, who are we to not obey the voices of ignorance passed down to us?

We carry knowledge like tentacles on a snail’s head but still slip back into the cave of ignorance we use to shell whatever good we can make of life, just because we have been told to ‘stand on the wisdom of the elders’,
Now guess who said that? ‘THE ELDERS’

I feel this is rigged.

Then our faith, love, strength, and even humanity is subject to a broken past called tradition,
Something that might have been suggested by a ‘not so smart’ old man who was only opportune to live before us.

So I take a stand today.
I will relate with the rules of the ancestors like they were still alive now
I will weigh their wisdom based on how wise it is, NOW!
I will not waste my time in their myth, only to satisfy their dead bones long gone with the sands of time.

I will make decisions now and then advice younger generations to learn from my words, but before I go from this earth;

I will let them know I wasn’t the wisest
I wasn’t the smartest
I was as man as man can be

And most of all;
As they grow, and find better ways to do what I said couldn’t be done,

They shouldn’t be afraid to discard my letters and fly the plane of their imaginations to outer space and back.

For no matter how sacred we decide to treat the scrolls of heroes past,
And bend always to their judgments on matters, using them as the ultimate yardstick to measure life.

I dare say that many of them were also as confused as we are at some points of important decisions,
And to crown it all, some chose wrongly.

Which only goes to say that we with them were all normal humans.

And if I won’t let another man dictate what I do and decide I run my life, I’m including the great ancestors too.

 

*Omenala is the Igbo(Nigerian Language) word that means tradition

Crossed Roads

So, here I am,  stuck on the cross

Paying the ultimate price for my wrong

Feeling my life seep slowly out of me

Looking down at my accusers, scorning me and my colleagues.

 

Well…

Colleague and one other man

Of  whom I know so little about

Of all the things I’ve heard,

It’s that he doesn’t deserve to be up here

 

Well, my colleague thinks otherwise

Since he’s been taunting and  mocking him,

“If you really are the Christ, then save us!” he says

“how can you say such, seeing we deserve to be here?” I answered.

 

However when I look at him

I felt an indescribable thing

So different from what I’ve felt since I made my first kill

 

I knew, I just knew he was going somewhere

Somewhere good.

So maybe, just maybe, I could go with him

So, I throw in me last bargaining chip

“Lord,  remember me when you come into your paradise”

 

Then he turned his eyes to me.

And I wondered, “how could someone in such amount of pain,

Much greater than the one I’m feeling, have such compassion?”

He says, ” I assure you,  today, you well be with me in paradise”

 

Then peace flooded my heart

I knew that for once in my wretched life

I’d finally done the right thing.

 

  • Emenike Chinwendu (2017)

#TheConversation