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Yours, Jack Hardcover – International Edition, April 1, 2008
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From the Back Cover
About the Author
Clive Staples Lewis (1898-1963) was one of the intellectual giants of the twentieth century and arguably one of the most influential writers of his day. He was a Fellow and Tutor in English Literature at Oxford University until 1954, when he was unanimously elected to the Chair of Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Cambridge University, a position he held until his retirement. He wrote more than thirty books, allowing him to reach a vast audience, and his works continue to attract thousands of new readers every year. His most distinguished and popular accomplishments include Out of the Silent Planet, The Great Divorce, The Screwtape Letters, and the universally acknowledged classics The Chronicles of Narnia. To date, the Narnia books have sold over 100 million copies and have been transformed into three major motion pictures.
Clive Staples Lewis (1898-1963) fue uno de los intelectuales más importantes del siglo veinte y podría decirse que fue el escritor cristiano más influyente de su tiempo. Fue profesor particular de literatura inglesa y miembro de la junta de gobierno en la Universidad Oxford hasta 1954, cuando fue nombrado profesor de literatura medieval y renacentista en la Universidad Cambridge, cargo que desempeñó hasta que se jubiló. Sus contribuciones a la crítica literaria, literatura infantil, literatura fantástica y teología popular le trajeron fama y aclamación a nivel internacional. C. S. Lewis escribió más de treinta libros, lo cual le permitió alcanzar una enorme audiencia, y sus obras aún atraen a miles de nuevos lectores cada año. Sus más distinguidas y populares obras incluyen Las Crónicas de Narnia, Los Cuatro Amores, Cartas del Diablo a Su Sobrino y Mero Cristianismo.
Top Customer Reviews
So, why buy this new book if your "Lewis shelf" looks even a little bit like the overflowing Lewis section in my library?
I think there are a couple of reasons that this book is a great new offering: First, most of us are hesitant to purchase, let alone slog all the way through, the big 3-volume set. I'll admit that, while my set of the letters has some turned-down corners here and there - I haven't waded through those volumes cover to cover to cover to ... Well, you get the point.
Second, we love reading letters, don't we? Letters are foundational in the world's great religions. Our revelations come to us, quite often, in the form of epistles. The New Testament books are mostly letters. As a journalist and editor myself for more than 30 years, I've written thousands of letters (now Emails and posted epistles) and I've received, edited and published thousands of readers' letters. I can tell you this - there are few books with the impact of a well-written, well-timed letter.
And, third, Paul F. Ford has pulled into these nearly 400 pages a most intriguing, sometimes troubling and always fascinating thematic collection of "Jack" Lewis' letters concerning "spiritual direction." In a very brief introduction, Ford outlines his choices as falling into three categories: "spiritual companionship" (letters to friends on spiritual matters), "spiritual discipleship" (letters Lewis wrote seeking advice) and "spiritual direction" (letters in which Lewis gave advice).
Ford turns this book into a great choice for seasonal reading - forming a kind of pathway of letter-shaped stepping stones out of Lewis' expansive and, quite often, very messy life. Ford is handing us a book that small groups, including Sunday-morning classes, could divide into chunks for at least a two-month study of Lewis and the spiritual legacy of such letters.
Curiously, HarperOne gives Ford precious little space in this book - or perhaps Ford chose not to step too prominently into the path of readers who are eager to encounter Lewis, rather than the editor. Nevertheless, it's important, especially if you're thinking about buying this book, to realize that you're in the hands of widely acknowledged Lewis scholar.
Ford has feet firmly planted both in Catholic and Protestant worlds. He likes to point out that he was the first Roman Catholic in the doctoral program at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena - and he now is a professor of theology and liturgy at St. John Seminary in Camarillo, California. In his spare time, he rolls out Lewis books that I - among thousands of others - keep picking up and enjoying.
He's the creator of one of my own most-thumbed Lewis volumes, the thick little paperback, "Companion to Narnia." I also recommend that book - if you're jumping into that delightful fantasy realm along with millions of other Americans in this era of Narnian revival.
The important point here is that whatever your religious orientation may be as you think about Lewis - and think about this book and its themes - you're in firm hands here whether you're a newly minted evangelical, a curious mainliner or an active Catholic hoping to stir up your parish's adult education program.
Finally, let me point out a couple of personal "favorites" within this new collection.
I love the final section of the book. It's quite well known now among Lewis fans that he died on the same day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated half a world away. JFK's passing completely eclipsed Lewis' passing in global media. And, oddly enough, reading these letters that Ford has excerpted for us -- notes scattered throughout the months of Lewis' demise - I suspect that Lewis himself wouldn't have cared an iota that his death dropped from the front pages. Oh, Lewis loved the media limelight. But, for Lewis, at the actual point of his death -- his own story already had unfolded. His final letters clearly make the case that he had enjoyed the great adventures of his life and settled matters peaceably as he approached these final days.
There's a 1963 letter to a friend here in which he writes that preparation for death "means stripping off that body which is tormenting you: like taking off a hair-shirt or getting out of a dungeon. What is there to be afraid of?" Amazing. Death as "getting out of a dungeon," penned by a dying master of dungeon lore.
And, then, leaping back into the middle of the book: Some of this may be a revelation to you if you haven't read many contemporary spiritual memoirs (and I'm thinking here of the writings left behind by saints such as Dorothy Day). But, in the heart of the book, you'll find that Lewis' amazing life wasn't constructed as one continuous cruise through mystic inspiration. Quite the contrary! Real saints like Lewis, Day and others admit that spiritual life is full of fumbles, dead ends and silences.
I especially recommend a letter penned in 1948 in which Lewis begins by advising his friend: "I very much doubt if I'm good enough at prayer myself to advise others." And then, as he begins to offer his thoughts, friend to friend, he writes like this: "Of course it is very difficult to keep God only before one for more than a few seconds. Our minds are in ruins before we bring them to Him and the rebuilding is gradual."
This is a hefty little book at nearly 400 pages and perhaps not a typical choice for small groups - but I would urge you not to miss this great and often strange spiritual adventure with our old friend, Jack.
If you are like me, you wonder how to sort through so many letters in order to find the advice from Lewis that has spiritual value. There's no reason to wonder anymore. Yours, Jack: Spiritual Direction from C.S. Lewis
is a collection of the best of Lewis' letters from all three collections. In this volume, one finds the letters containing "spiritual direction" from Lewis.
I thoroughly enjoyed Yours, Jack. The editors did a good job of selecting which letters to include in this collection. And they helpfully include a summary of each and an index that makes the letters more accessible to readers looking up a certain topic.
There are some gems here. Let me give you a few worthwhile quotes:
"The trouble about God is that he is like a person who never acknowledge's one's letters and so, in time, one comes to the conclusion either that he does not exist or that you have got the address wrong." (1921)
"One needs the sweetness to start one on the spiritual life but, once started, one must learn to obey God for his own sake, not for the pleasure." (1931)
"(Sensual love) ceases to be a devil when it ceases to be a god. So many things - nay every real thing - is good if only it will be humble and ordinate." (1940)
"I know all about the despair of overcoming chronic temptations. It is not serious provided self-offended petulance, annoyance at breaking records, impatience et cetera doesn't get the upper hand. No amount of falls will really undo us if we keep on picking ourselves up each time. We shall of course be very muddy and tattered children by the time we reach home. But the bathrooms are all ready, the towels put out, and the clean clothes are in the airing cupboard. The only fatal thing is to lose one's temper and give it up. It is when we notice the dirt that God is most present to us: it is the very sign of his presence." (1942)
"The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one's `own', or `real' life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one's real life - the life God is sending one day by day: what one calls one's `real life' is a phantom of one's own imagination." (1943)
"The doctrine of Christ's divinity seems to me not something stuck on which you can unstick but something that peeps out at every point so that you'd have to unravel the whole web to get rid of it." (1944)
"When first things are put first, second things are not suppressed but increased." (1952)
"You ask `for what' God wants you. Isn't the primary answer that he wants you?" (1954)
"The wrath of God: 'something in God of which the best image in the created world is righteous indignation.' I think it quite a mistake to try to soften the idea of anger by substituting something like disapproval or regret. Even with men real anger is far more likely than cold disapproval to lead to full reconciliation. Hot love, hot wrath...." (1963)
These are just a few of my favorite quotes from C.S. Lewis' letters. Yours, Jack offers an inside look into Lewis' correspondence. Readers will benefit from the counsel found in these pages.
Do you like reading other people's mail?
Then you will LOVE this book.
It contains some of the letters that C. S. Lewis wrote during his life. C. S. Lewis spent a couple hours each and every day for most of his adult writing career responding to the letters that people wrote to him. I think I read somewhere that he personally responded to EVERY person who wrote to him.
Can you imagine? I cannot even do that with email...
This book does not contain every letter C. S. Lewis wrote, but several hundred of them. They show some of the struggles he faced, the questions he sought answers for, and the ups and downs of his professional and personal relationships.
And, as with absolutely everything C. S. Lewis writes, the letters of C. S. Lewis are full of theological insights and poignant observations about life, church, writing, theology, relationships, and a whole variety of other topics.
He even writes several letters about *gasp* masturbation...
I highly recommend this book.