The Way to Jerusalem

The Lewis Legacy-Issue 62, Autumn 1994 The C.S. Lewis Foundation for Truth in Publishing

A true story about C.S. Lewis told to the Reverend Julien Gunn by the late Father Shirley Carter Hughson and contributed by Perry Bramlett.

Father Hughson, a monk of the Episcopal Church, was well known and revered as a great preacher. He used to take engagements to preach “missions” (the stylish term for revivals) and traveled the northeast of this country frequently.

It was on one of those engagements that the rector of the church told Fr. Hughson that he should talk with a couple who would be present and hear their story of how C.S. Lewis brought them to the Christian Faith. Fr. Hughson related that the couple attended all the services at which he had preached and that after the last service they told him their story. It is substantially like this.

This man and wife had been brought up with the idea that “religion” was an optional extra to life. Like golf or bridge it was available for those who were interested but was just optional. The husband was a college or university professor. One of his acquaintances told him that he had read a remarkable and delightful book called Screwtape Letters. The professor and his wife bought a copy (apparently it was shortly after publication in this country). They were fascinated and it moved them to start thinking more deeply about their lives. In reading the book they came upon references to a work they had never heard of: The Book of Common Prayer. So that they could investigate this work they looked through the card catalogue of the university and finding The Book of Common Prayer, they began to read through it with care. They were struck by an enormous lack in their lives.

The professor and his wife sought out an Episcopal Church and presented themselves for baptism and confirmation. Their pastor related to Fr. Hughson that thereafter they were faithful attendants at divine worship.

Fr. Hughson was so impressed by their story that he wrote to C. S. Lewis and related the story as set forth above. In due time Fr. Hughson received a reply from C. S. Lewis himself. The reply thanked Fr. Hughson for the story and concluded with these words: “You know that it was a donkey who carried our Lord into Jerusalem.”