Two More By Lewis

Lewis, C.S. The Grand Miracle and Other Essays on Theology and Ethics from God in the Dock. New York: Ballantine, 1983. 167 pp. ISBN 0-345-30539-6.

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Lewis, C.S. First and Second Things: Essays on Theology and Ethics. Collins: Fount Paperbacks, 1985. 128 pp. ISBN 0-00-626928-1.

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Reviewed by Nancy-Lou Patterson

[This review originally appeared as “Lewis by the Handful” in Mythlore 13.1 (#47) (1987): 45.]

Both of these volumes are edited by Father Walter Hooper: First and Second Things includes a short introduction by Lewis’s most active editor. Representing twenty-six essays garnered from God in the Dock (1970) and seventeen essays gleaned from Undeceptions (1971) respectively––that book of forty-eight essays and twelve letters which was edited by Father Hooper and published under the first title in the United States and the second in England, these two collections have only eight in common, thus making available at modest prices, small and interesting selections of Lewis’s thought. Each contains works of major significance: my choices would be “Meditation in a Toolshed” which appears in First and Second Things, and “Christian Apologetics” which appears in The Grand Miracle.

The first is a succinct and unforgettable analysis of the difference between having an experience and observing oneself or anybody else in the act of having an experience. It is a perfect example of Lewis at his most popular as well as his most profound. The second ought to be required reading for all clergy and, for that matter, for all who undertake to talk about the Christian religion: it contains those immortal words, “I have come to the conviction that if you cannot translate your thought into uneducated language, then your thoughts were confused.” Readers who want an example of the “vernacular” style recommended in “Christian Apologetics” can read an excellent example of that genre in “Meditation in a Toolshed.” Of course you will have to hold a copy of The Grand Miracle in one hand and First and Last Things in the other in order to do it expeditiously. I would recommend the experiment.


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