The Power of a Pious Myth: Milking the Kilns Cash Cow

The Lewis Legacy-Issue 76, Spring 1998 The C. S. Lewis Foundation for Truth in Publishing

Doug Gresham’s 1997 fundraising letter began, “Four miles from the towering spires of Oxford lies a modest brick home. A single glance would lead one to believe that the resident family had decided to restore the 72-year-old house. They would be right about the restoration, but the family…, well, that is a bit more complex.

“Within the walls of this special house lies the story of a man who sought truth above all else; a man who encouraged young people from around the world to imagine and believe through tales of high adventure in a far off land called Narnia; a man who wrote of his pilgrimage from atheism to faith in ways that earned him the title ‘Twentieth Century Apostle to the Skeptics’; a man who found undying love within the rough exterior of an American poet, a communist Christian, Joy Davidman Gresham, as recounted recently in the award winning film ‘Shadowlands.’ The man? C. S. Lewis!”

“The home was set upon eight acres of woodland with a small pond, a place frequented by Lewis and members of the Inklings including J. R. R. Tolkien, author of Lord of the Rings, as they discussed Narnia and Middle Earth.” [It is not true that the Inklings frequented Lewis’s woodland pond, nor that they discussed Narnia and Middle Earth there. Furthermore, Tolkien disliked the Narnian Chronicles.]

The letter claims that “years from now, someone else who has fallen under the spell of C. S. Lewis’s Christ-fired imagination can come here too and be inspired by a glimpse into his world..” “…an intellectually and spiritually nourishing environment that reflects something of Lewis’ own lively interest in the life of the mind fueled by imaginative experience grounded in a vital Christian faith.” “…a Christ-centered Christ-inspired view of the world in which we live. A view that ignores nothing, imagines anything, and changes everything.”