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CS Lewis WAS An Atheist [Past Tense]

By Annette Robe
Dec. 3, 2004

CS Lewis WAS an Atheist – for a time in his life, Lewis was indeed an atheist. During his teens and twenties to be exact.

You know I wish people could stick to the facts AND tell the entire story. (I refer to Amanda Baker’s article of December 2nd - CS Lewis was an Atheist):

Amanda Baker has displayed one email so I guess the gloves are off and I can show her original email – the one where she insinuates that I am not telling the truth (refer article In Defense of Harry Potter posted Nov 11th 2004) , and the others that followed. The difference here folks, is that I am not only going to show you her emails, but my own responses – to give you ALL the facts, so that I do not insult your intelligence – bear with me a moment, Readers, and I will show you the whole debate – not just the parts that may be slanted to show me in a favorable light.

Amanda’s original email to me was the following:

"JRR Tolkien was a gifted storyteller – AND a Christian, AND led CS Lewis to Christ."

Hi, For columinsits it is a help to be truthful with readers. This makes us have to use facts.

I do not think it is truthful that JRR Tolkien lead CS lewis to christ. "Here is a short but faA Convert to Christianity

by Ann-Marie Imbornoni

Lewis had been raised as a Christian by his parents, who were Protestants. However, it wasn't until he was sent away to boarding school after the death of his mother that he began to read the Bible for himself and to work out his own thoughts on religion. Possibly Christianity offered him some consolation at a time when he was feeling great loneliness and sorrow.

In his teen years, though, Lewis abandoned Christianity. He became increasingly interested in Germanic mythology, which led him to see religion in general as a "kind of . . . nonsense into which humanity tended to blunder." Lewis moved further away from Christianity after he left school in 1914 to be tutored privately by William Kirkpatrick, a family friend who had tutored Lewis's father. Kirkpatrick, who was a staunch atheist, challenged Lewis to think for himself and to abandon conventional ideas about religion.

Later, however, as he entered his early 30s and settled into both his professional and domestic life, Lewis came to a real turning point in his spiritual life. While riding on a double-decker bus in the early summer of 1929, Lewis suddenly felt he had no choice but to acknowledge a belief in God. Shortly afterward, alone in his room at the university, he knelt and prayed.

His reconversion to Christianity was not quite this simple, because it was accompanied by many doubts, inward debates, and discussions with friends. As Lewis explained in a letter to his brother, though, he became a Christian because for him there was nothing else to do. Christianity was to become a central aspect of Lewis's adult life and a subject of many of his writings, including the Narnia stories."

This is one of many sites that I have found: http://www.factmonster.com/spot/narnia-lewisxan.html

Both men did have a writing group and discussed thier stories and life. But he came to christ on his own as all people do.

Amanda Baker

PS Good job on the rest of the Article. I'm Catholic and find the people who hate harry potter to be ignorant of the fact that it is just a story.”

Let me show you readers exactly what I mean, then perhaps you could understand why my tone changed and how my response turned into a less than polite, even bitchy challenge. My first reply to Ms Baker was the following:

Hi Amanda, below please read an excerpt from only one site that I have found so far when searching under key words "Tolkien led CS Lewis to Christ". Although this is not the article I first found these reported facts in, I am glad to see that they name the publication and I supply the link for your perusal.

http://www.lightforthelastdays.co.uk/docs/current_events/j_r_tolkien.html

Direction’, the official magazine of the Elim Pentecostal Church took up this theme in its February 2003 edition stating that Tolkien ‘was a British academic who led CS Lewis to Christ’. Its Deputy Editor, Andrew Halloway, wrote about the underlying Christian theme of his work. ‘Lord of the Rings is a story of good overcoming evil through Christ like self-sacrifice. … Tolkien’s book is about the struggle of right and wrong, about the belief that good will triumph over evil, about courage. … That was the end of our hero Gandalf the Grey, or so it seems. In part 2 he is resurrected as Gandalf the White, which is one of the reasons he has been compared to Jesus. In fact he is transformed, his hair and clothes now turned almost completely white from his experience of death and resurrection – reminiscent of Jesus’ transformed body after the resurrection or the dazzling whiteness of his appearance at his transfiguration.’

http://www.cliftondalecc.org/sermons/archive/2001/cslewis.html

He was outwardly successful, but admitted there was a deep hunger, an emptiness in his life: “If nothing in this world satisfies me, perhaps it is because I was made for another world,” he wrote. His literary friend J.R.R. Tolkien (Lord of the Rings author) encouraged Lewis to re- consider Christianity. The two had long talks, and the Gospel message began to sink in. Lewis said, “The great Angler played His fish and I never dreamed that the hook was in my tongue…Atheists cannot be too careful; dangers and traps lie in wait for them on every side.” Lewis began giving consideration to the historic relevance and reality of Christ. Of all things, it was during a motorcycle trip to the zoo (in the side-car) that Lewis opened his heart to God: “When we set out I did not believe that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, and when we reached the zoo I did.” He explains his conversion in his autobiography Surprised By Joy. He describes himself as “the most reluctant convert in all England,” but knew God “will accept a convert even on such terms.” He admitted to a friend, “I ‘believed’ theoretically in the divine forgiveness for years before it really came home to me.” -As though it were too good to be true. How are we forgiven? Lewis explains, “We have a strange illusion that mere time cancels sin…guilt is washed out not by time but by repentance and the blood of Christ…a man who admits no guilt can accept no forgiveness.” He wrote to a couple who came to faith in Christ through his writings, “Think of me as a fellow- patient in the same hospital, who, having been admitted a little earlier, could give some advice.”

There are many other links, but I think this is enough to prove to you that, in fact, Tolkien was immeasurably involved in Lewis' conversion from borderline apathy to full fledged believer!!

This in direct response to your words

" For columinsits it is a help to be truthful with readers. This makes us have to use facts."

I do not think it is truthful that JRR Tolkien lead CS lewis to christ.”

Feel free to conduct more research on the subject, I would be happy to debate further! :)

Sincerely, Annette

What she calls an apology is posted below, her next reply to my email as above:

Hi, I guess I should be sorry for the comments I wrote since they bugged you so much. We found contradictory sites so I guess I should reseach more by going straight to the source, I'm sure lewis did an autobiography, I will go to the library tommorrow to look for it. Maybe in his own words we will find out what is true. Since I really don't know after your sending me information that contradicts the information I had found. I suppose you should do the same. Amanda Baker”

This is an apology? Come on, people. The insinuation is still there, naturally I start to get a little irritated, but then two weeks and nothing. So, I send her a reminder of her words in the email above and well, you are probably reading this because you read her latest article (which is more about her beef with me, than about the facts we began the debate over in the first place) and that was indeed my reminder email. The email she publishes to make you, the reader feel so terribly sorry for her, fails to reflect the genuine effort I made in the start of this to actually encourage a healthy debate via email, and her responses. Since she was so “gung ho” to go out and read the autobiography, I was interested to see whether or not she would finally concede OR come up with something to positively refute what I had discovered in my own research.

What this boils down to is that I am ashamed to say that I stooped to her level and got catty. Admittedly, this is hard when somebody calls you a liar, gives you a PS as encouragement and then publishes her own biased view when she feels picked on because I happened to stand up for what I had stated and for what I believe in.

If you read her words carefully, and consider them, you will understand. There is a vaguely condescending manner in them, a patronizing sort of tone. What really irks me is that she turns what I challenged her originally to “A debate about the issue” into a way to personally get her trivial revenge because I called her to put her money where her mouth is.

Therefore, her article about CS Lewis deserves no merit, because it didn’t stick to the facts but instead became a drama festival which is not what I intended when I challenged her. My motives were simply to get her to react to the issue. Nobody objects to a little goading on the sports field, it’s called talking smack. Her spelling errors, well, I did insult her spelling – because truthfully it’s a shame when writers go about spelling words wrong repeatedly. Typographical error is a fact of life for a writer, but spell check is a lovely tool which I suggested that she begin to use. When she can intelligently argue the facts, she is welcome to debate with me again. But this response to my challenge to PROVE my statement wrong sadly falls short of the mark. Below, for clarity I post part of my response to her, which she has already published in her latest article.

“OR (I really wonder if you are "man" enough to take on this one)...how about a battle in the forums? We could both make our cases as to whether or not Lewis was re-introduced to Christ in his Athiest adulthood (from his teens into his late twenties, early thirties he was an Athiest) by Tolkien. Then we could post our for or against articles, and let the readers decide for themselves. Hmmmm.....again, I wonder who it will be?”

Note, I do not suggest that we take each other to task - I suggest a debate surrounding the facts.(Please see Amanda's Authors note to find out what exactly published "again" means since she is not published yet)Her response? I am quite sure you are holding your breath:

“Well, You were in fact wrong but I have not wanted to rub it in. You have issues and I don't want to talk about it since this obviously bugged you. Amanda Baker

PS I've been really busy, I'm about to be published again. Sorry for not giving you the attention you so wanted. Have a splendid life.

PPS As for my spelling, we all make mistakes, at least I admit it. Look at my dictionary.com article on useless-knowledge.com. My writing is not perfect but at least I look stuff up and site the sources in my articles.”

Oh for goodness sake, RUB IT IN ALREADY - that is what the debate is based on!! Well, I guess I should just take her word for it then, eh? Since she has not the tenacity to finish what she started nor to back it up with facts uncovered by her no doubt astounding research prowess. Needless to say we will all be worse off for Ms. Amanda Baker depriving us of the Truth as she seems to be the only one that knows it.

So, my apology is not to Amanda Baker, I feel she got what she asked for, it’s a shame that she couldn’t deliver the goods when called to the mat, but that’s her problem – not mine. My apology is to you, the Reader, patient enough to get to the bottom of this article not to mention the previous. I am done defending my honor, as I feel that I have provided all the facts to back up what I say. Even if the truth hurts, I sure wasn’t fibbing about her spelling – I purposely didn’t correct her glaring errors in the posts within this article. That’s called proving the point. As you can see, I made every effort to be polite, and to encourage debate, conceding that perhaps my information was inaccurate – but that my research proved otherwise. I wish that this could have been kept to a professional and unemotional debate – but well, I am sure that anybody who thinks about it just a moment can remember being called a liar when telling the truth as they know it and realize where I am coming from. I would like to clarify one last point.

I never asked for Amanda Baker’s help, and she was arrogant to assume that I would want it. (I refer to her opening paragraph in her article of December 2nd - CS Lewis was an Atheist):

“Annette Robe a woman who wrote a column for useless-knowledge.com, November 11, 2004, about Harry Potter is a woman of convictions. I wrote her a compliment about how I liked her article but did not agree with her facts about CS Lewis. I even gave her a web site to help and the article. Boy! Was I wrong in thinking that she wanted my help."

I must have been asleep during the part where I apparently cried out for help. Opinions are wonderful, and we all have them. Now that I have revealed the entire history of our back and forth email debate – you – The Reader – gets to decide.

I have not lost any sleep over this and, it even provided a mild form of amusement. The debate is dead and since my opponent couldn’t keep to the facts, it wasn’t a very satisfying experience anyway.

But ultimately I guess it’s mind over matter – if you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter!

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About the author: Annette Robe is currently working on her second novel, part of a trilogy - the first of which is in the submission stages of publication. Feel free to email the author with any questions or comments.

Email: arobe@cableone.net


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