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Weary of the Lewis Cult

The Lewis Legacy-Issue 78, Autumn 1998

David Mills begins the somewhat condescending introduction to Pilgrim’s Guide, his collection of essays, this way:

“Having now spent several months [only months?] in the Lewis literature, I must admit to sharing many readers’ weariness of the Lewis cult [what cult?], and to feeling slightly irritated when someone [who?] prefaces a statement on almost any question with ‘It’s like Lewis says.’ The Pilgrim’s Guide is yet another book on C. S. Lewis, and you may well ask (I did): Why should the editor and his writers take the time to write, Eerdmans publish, and I read yet another book on C. S. Lewis? The simple answer is that he was an extraordinary man, an extraordinary Christian, and an extraordinary writer. Not perfect, certainly, not infallible, but extraordinary.

“To deny this would be to fail very badly in gratitude for a gift God gave to the church in this century. Lewis answered many of the questions Christians must answer, often with a clarity and insight rarely matched. Many writers have written well on a few subjects, and many more have thought well but written badly, but only [only?] Lewis (and G. K. Chesterton before him) have thought so well and written so well on such a range of subjects.” [What about Dorothy Sayers and Frederick Buechener, for a starter?]

This book may set a record for disregard of the fair use provisions of copyright law. Mills says “The book includes (at some expense) extensive quotations from Lewis…” But the quotations he refers to are typical of those used freely in Lewis scholarship. (For the significance of “fair use,” see p. 7.)

Furthermore, after Mills asked Kathryn Lindskoog to contribute an essay gratis and accepted it gladly, he turned around and sent $25 to Bowling Green State University for permission to use it — although Bowling Green never held copyright on it, and unpaid author Lindskoog did, Then he fell silent, dropped her essay, and included Hooper.