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"Jack" by George Sayer

Last night our C. S. Lewis Society in Harrisonburg, Virginia, was discussing "Jack: A Life of C. S. Lewis" by George Sayer. However, we were only able to discuss about half of Jack's life in an hour and a half! Here are the rest of the discussion questions for anyone from the group, or anyone else for that matter, who would like to comment:

  1. How do you think Lewis's life as a fellow and a tutor shaped his life and writing? How did Lewis's re-conversion to Christianity influence his outlook on his job?
  2. What people, events and discoveries were influential in Lewis's return to Christian faith?
  3. How do you see Lewis's love of nature and walking coming out in his books?
  4. Why do you think Lewis wrote his cosmic trilogy? Do you think he succeeded in accomplishing what he set out to do?
  5. What impact do you think WWII had on the writing and success of C. S. Lewis as a popular author? How do you think Lewis's BBC talks and his lectures to the RAF influenced his style of writing?
  6. What was the response of Lewis's colleagues to the expression of his faith? What do you think we can learn from Lewis in this regard?
  7. How do you think Lewis's writing of "Miracles" and his debate with Elizabeth Anscombe at the Socratic Club influenced the future course of Lewis's writing? Do you agree or disagree with Sayer's view on this subject? Why?
  8. Why do you think Lewis wrote "The Chronicles of Narnia"? Do you agree with Mr. Sayer that these books will be the best and most long remembered of all Lewis's writing? Why or why not?
  9. What influence do you think Lewis's tortuous relationship with Mrs. Moore and his brother Warren's alcoholism had upon him personally and upon his writing?
  10. What do you make of Lewis's life-long friendship with Arthur Greeves? Why do you think Lewis kept up his contact with Greeves?
  11. What do you think of Lewis's relationship with Joy Davidman Gresham? How is the relationship portrayed in Jack similar or different from that portrayed in the movie Shadowlands? What influence do you think Joy had on Lewis's mature writing?
  12. Do you think Lewis lost his faith after the death of his wife? Do you think that he wanted to die or found it difficult to go on living?
  13. How do you think reading helped Lewis through some of the difficult times in his life? What do you think of his statement: "In reading great literature I become a thousand men and yet remain myself. Like the night sky in a Greek poem, I see with a thousand eyes, but it is still I who see. Here, as in worship, in love, in moral action, and in knowing, I transcend myself: and am never more myself than when I do."?
  14. In what ways do you think Lewis grew in his Christian faith from 1931 until his death in 1963?
  15. What new insight did this book give you into the man, C. S. Lewis, or into your own spiritual journey?
If you would like to learn more about the C. S. Lewis Society of Harrisonburg, Virginia click on this link:


Anonymous said…

What do you make of Lewis's relationship with Mrs. Moore?

That is a simple question about a huge and complex issue.

As you probably know, the relationship began because Lewis was billeted next to Paddy Moore during Officer Training at Keble College, Oxford in preparation for fighting in France during the First World War. From this happenstance developed a relationship which resulted in Lewis meeting Paddy's mother, Janie King Moore. Mrs. Moore, according to all who knew her, had a great gift of hospitality. Thus Lewis and many of Paddy's other friends, spent time at the Moore home. I imagine that from the first, Lewis felt Mrs. Moore was filling the gap left by the death of his own mother.

Secondly, as you probably also know, Jack Lewis and Paddy Moore made a pact with one another. They promised each other that if one of them died in the war the other one would take care of the dead man's family. Paddy did die on the fields of France and Lewis, good to his word, made a home with Mrs. Moore and cared for her for the rest of her life, until her death in 1951. Interestingly enough, Lewis would usually introduce Mrs. Moore to his friends as "mother".

Thirdly, many people writing about Lewis's life have also speculated about whether Jack and Mrs. Moore had a sexual relationship. George Sayer asked Maureen Moore, Janie's daughter, about this. She said that she thought it was likely that there was a sexual relationship between Jack and her mother during the early days of their relationship.

One must keep in mind that if there was a sexual relationship between Jack and Mrs. Moore that it occured before Jack's re-conversion to Christian faith in 1931. In fact, according to Jack's letters, he made a concerted effort at chastity as early as 1929, the time of his conversion to theism.

What I make of all this is another story. Personally I think every human being is complex and relationships between human beings are even more complex. The more I have thought about it, the multiple levels to Jack's relationship with Mrs. Moore are not all that surprising. What is amazing is that after becoming a Christian, and obviously breaking off whatever sexual relationship may have existed with Mrs. Moore, Jack remained true to his word and cared for this woman for the rest of her life. I think that just goes to show what a strong sense of honor and duty C. S. Lewis had and displayed on a consistent basis.

I hope this answers your question--however long-winded the answer has been!
Anonymous said…
Thank you Will, that helps. I have a blogspot where I post select passages from Lewis's writings for comment. It is new but I hope as time goes on more people will visit. Stop by and share you thoughts sometime.
I'm glad you found my answer helpful, Michael. And I too hope many people will visit your blog. Good show!

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