The afterlife of Clive Staples Lewis, the Oxford and Cambridge scholar who died the day President Kennedy was shot, gets more vibrant all the time. The seven books in his “Chronicles of Narnia” are being made into movies; “The Narnian,” a highly readable biography by Alan Jacobs, appeared in 2005; a stage adaptation of his book “The Screwtape Letters” is touring nationwide; a college is being founded in his honor; and his name is being used to sell Bibles.
Born in Belfast in 1898 and called Jack by his friends, Lewis, who converted to Anglicanism in his 30s, would worry that this attention put him at risk for pride, which he saw as the worst sin.
Michael Maudlin, an editor of the new “C.S. Lewis Bible” — a Bible annotated with Lewis quotations — says he does not want to make of Lewis a “personality cult.” But the cult is here, and growing. This Bible edition does not diminish the cult, but it should not get the blame, either.
“I would say in the last 10 years, C. S. Lewis has sold more books than any other 10-year span since he started publishing,” Mr. Maudlin said. “He’s not only not declining, he is in his sweet spot.”
Lewis had a lot of influence on me during college, particularly “Mere Christianity,” “The Screwtape Letters” and Lewis’ answer to the “Problem of Pain.” When I started working as a reporter, at The Sun in San Bernardino, I discovered that there is actually a C.S. Lewis Foundation in the Inland Empire, of all places. Mark Oppenheimer writes that next year, a C.S. Lewis College will be joining the fore on the opposite end of the United States.