What first piqued your interest in C.S. Lewis?
What first piqued your interest in Chopin? In sunsets? In astronomy? In Audrey Hepburn? The question does not need to be asked by anyone who has answered it. The thing itself, the object, Lewis’s mind and spirit, the truths and goodnesses and beauties in his writings, rather than any psychological, individual, “felt need” on my part or any sociological relevance or fashionableness on the part of the society or culture I came out of.
My college roommate credited Lewis, especially Mere Christianity, with saving his faith. When I tried it, it was like Augustine’s first reading of the Bible: “Oh, I know all that; that’s too easy for me.” Like the Bible, and like a human face, the book is deceptively simple on its surface but inexhaustible in its depths. Once we have grown some depths of maturity and overcome superficiality and superciliousness and adolescent arrogance, we love it. It’s the second book I mention, after the Gospels, when people ask me what to read to understand Christianity.
The Problem of Pain was actually the first Lewis book I read, as a college freshman. I didn’t understand it all the first time, but I did understand that the reason I didn’t understand had nothing to do with Lewis, but only with me. Here was the clearest, most direct, honest, intelligent, reasonable answer I had ever seen (and almost 50 years later it remains that!) to the most difficult problem in the world.