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Showing posts from March, 2009

C. S. Lewis in Southern California

This past week I was in the Los Angeles area speaking about C. S. Lewis's life and work. I addressed the Southern California C. S. Lewis Society (some of whom are pictured above). The topic was: My Journey with C. S. Lewis . I also gave presentations on Lewis's life and work to a class at Azusa Pacific University and to English classes at Western Christian School in Covina, California. Interest in Lewis's life and work is indeed alive and well in Southern California. To learn more about the Southern California C. S. Lewis Society click here: . If you are interested in having me speak about C. S. Lewis at your school or group meeting you may e-mail me at: .

Baptism of the Imagination, Part 7

KC: Your father's story was recounted in Time and Life and a movie was made out of it. How much did the media's involvement in his story affect your pursuit of a ministry grounded in communication? WV: I don't think it did at all. But again, I think it comes back to gifting. God showed me early in my life that I had gifts in this area. It took a while for me to recognize or see the writing gift and seriously think about using that. The public speaking came more immediately and was more immediately obvious. I think there is an overlap between gifts and talents. I'm not sure they're identical, but spiritual gifting is often rooted in very human, natural talents, and some of that may very well be genetic. I had a father who was a great communicator. He wasn't really a writer like I am, though he wrote some books with help from other folks. He didn't have the patience to sit down and write a book--he was much more fast-paced than me and went aroun

Baptism of the Imagination, Part 6

KC: I think a lot of people that will probably be reading this interview are Taylor students that are aspiring to be writers. Something interesting I found while I was researching Lewis a little bit was that only four people showed up to his first lecture in the university. WV: And he went from four to four hundred. KC: Right; he became very popular. A lot of writers, even if we do have success eventually, are going to have a lot of failure at first. Did you have a time where you were discouraged with trying to get your works published, or do you have any advice for student writers who are discouraged? WV: I was spoiled in that the first work I tried to get published was published relatively quickly. It took me a number of years to write Mere Theology. Once I had it all together, I started looking for a publisher in 2001 and it was published in 2004. I didn't realize it at the time but that was pretty incredible--the first time out of the chute--to get something publis

Baptism of the Imagination, Part 5

KC: I was just wondering why you'd write a book as opposed to just communicating through speech. WV: A number of years ago, when I was in seminary, I tried to meet different successful people in ministry that I had contacts with through my father. One of the people I sat down with was Norman Vincent Peale. He wrote one of the most successful books of an earlier generation, sort of a motivational book--what today we would call "self help," but there weren't very many self-help books back then. It was informed completely by Christianity because he was a Christian minister. It was called The Power of Positive Thinking , and he had many books that followed after that. He started Guideposts magazine, based in part on what he saw being done with Reader's Digest, only more Christian and spiritual in content. It goes to millions in circulation worldwide. Well, I sat down and asked him what advice he would have for a young man like me going into the ministry.

Baptism of the Imagination, Part 4

KC: With Will Vaus Ministries, you communicate through teaching, preaching, and writing. How is writing as a ministry unique of those three? WV: Well, writing informs all of them for me. For a long time now, I've written out my sermons. I don't read them word for word like Jonathan Edwards did. He was one of the few people who could get away with that. I write it out in full. I didn't when I first graduated from seminary because I was so tired of that pedantic way of dealing with things, so I'd just jot out my outline and preach from my outline. But then I found when listening to tapes of myself, I was not speaking as well as I was capable, in terms of articulation and grammar. So I thought the only solution to this is to go back and write a manuscript. Then I found out through preaching over many years to a local church congregation how important stories are. When you're an evangelist, you can have your set of great stories and go around and get a lot

Baptism of the Imagination, Part 3

KC: Since we're talking about fiction, Lewis talked about "smuggling" Christian ideas into fiction. Do you think that approach can be as effective a tool for your ministry as non-fiction? WV: Perhaps more effective. Lewis foresaw the coming of postmodernism. He saw it in his students at Oxford in the forties. He foresaw that there was coming a time when people wouldn't have patience to follow a rational argument for Christianity. Compare today: even many people who aren't postmoderns don't have patience to sit down and read the first section of Mere Christianity . It's pretty amazing to think that, in 1941, this series went out over BBC radio. The story is told of a publican (a bartender) who, when Lewis's program came on the air, turned up the volume on the radio and told everyone at the bar to "be quiet and listen to this bloke; he has some good things to say!" We can't even conceive of something like that happening today o

Baptism of the Imagination, Part 2

(Photo of the entrance to Glendalough, a former monastic community in Ireland, by Ethan Harrison, student at Taylor University.) Here is the second installment of my Parnassus interview. . . . KC: To what extent can writers of fiction write on something they don't know? How much credibility belongs to the imagination? WV: (Referring to a current work of fiction in progress I answered. . . .) Well, I can write about Irish children, but it is going to take me a lot more research to make sure I'm right on with certain things. Irish children are probably going to have to come into this story, at least peripherally. So, I'll need to make sure I get those little bits right in terms of how they speak and how they are dressed so as to make it realistic to whatever the time period is--probably a fairly recent time period. You mentioned the role of personal experience, imagination and research in your sample questions, but personal experience could include books that I

Baptism of the Imagination

This past November, the Taylor University Center for C. S. Lewis Studies invited me to deliver a presentation on Lewis's life and works. During my visit to Taylor I was interviewed by Kelli Conners, on the staff of Parnassus, Taylor's journal of literature and the arts. Throughout the interview we discussed the various elements and techniques Lewis used as a Christian writer impacting a secular world and how Lewis's philosophy, in turn, has influenced my own literary career. That interview is now re-produced here. (For more information about Parnassus click here: .) Kelli Conners: First, I have a few questions about the writing process in general. When you sit down to write, how much of a plan do you have? Is it something where you know where a piece is going, or is it a sentence-by-sentence process? Will Vaus: A sentence at a time sounds good. Each book is so different. When I wrote Mere Theology ,

Coming In Out of the Wind

"That is why the real problem of the Christian life comes where people do not usually look for it. It comes the very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in. And so on, all day. Standing back from all your natural fussings and frettings; coming in out of the wind." Mere Christianity , Book IV, chapter 8, paragraph 8 "Be still and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10 Dear Father, help me to be quiet today and realize that you have everything under control, even when all of life seems to be coming apart at the seams. Amen.

The Perfect Penitent

"But supposing God became a man--suppose our human nature which can suffer and die was amalgamated with God's nature in one person--then that person could help us. He could surrender His will, and suffer and die, because He was man; and He could do it perfectly because He was God. You and I can go through this process only if God does it in us; but God can do it only if He becomes man. Our attempts at this dying will succeed only if we men share God's dying, just as our thinking can succeed only because it is a drop out of the ocean of His intelligence: but we cannot share God's dying unless God dies; and He cannot die except by being a man. That is the sense in which He pays our debt, and suffers for us what He Himself need not suffer at all." C. S. Lewis , Mere Christianity , Book II, chapter iv, paragraph 9.