A startling inquiry appeared on the MERELEWIS listserve on 2 January 2000. Karen Welbourn reported that when C. S. Lewis was mentioned on another listserve, someone there responded with the following:
I find C. S. Lewis a very interesting author. As you may know, he not only wrote for children, but he also wrote … [other genres] … and science fiction. I don’t remember the name of the science fiction story I read, but it surprised me. Lewis has a very strong moral and religious tone to most (if not all) of his writing. The science fiction story was about a priest at a lunar colony who loses his faith but gets it back again when the local hooker saves his soul by relieving him of his virginity.
Another member joined in:
Was that written before or after his marriage to Joy Davidman (at the tender age of 60)? The marriage was said to have a marvelously salutary effect on Lewis’ character, for very similar reasons, I suspect!
Karen Welbourn asked “Now, here’s my question: did CSL write the story described in the first fellow’s post, or one remotely like it? I want to tell the original fellow he was mistaken, before the little item spreads too far (after all, that list has over 100 members, I’m sure). The thing is, it’s the sort of item that people want to believe (‘not many know this, but that apparently uptight, religious children’s author actually celebrated matters of the flesh in his adult stories’).”
Answer: Lewis’s “Ministering Angels” is about a godly meteorologist on Mars who becomes the reformer and spiritual mentor of a flabby old prostitute. On one level it is heavy-handed satire about prostitution and social planners. Spiritually, it is a stunning story about charity and grace. The real meaning of the title is the point of the story: the humble ministry of God’s human messengers. Lewis wrote only two short stories; the other is “The Shoddy Lands.”