Today – November 22nd, 2013 – is the 50th anniversary of the death of C.S. Lewis. And today, in Westminster Abbey, London, a Memorial to Lewis is being unveiled in Poets’ Corner.
At HBU, we’re especially proud today: first, because we have such a high esteem for the work of CS Lewis, and because we put his vision of “mere Christianity” into practice here; and second, because HBU Professor of Apologetics Dr Michael Ward is the lead organizer of the Poets’ Corner Memorial!
Dr Ward wrote the cover article for this month’s Christianity Today, focusing on Lewis’s contribution to imaginative apologetics. You can read the whole article here; here is the introduction in which Dr Ward tells us a bit about Lewis in Poets’ Corner:
In the south transept of London’s Westminster Abbey—where for a thousand years the kings and queens of England have been enthroned—sits a crowded collection of statues, plaques, and engraved flagstones. Geoffrey Chaucer, Alfred Lord Tennyson, and Charles Dickens are buried there; dozens more are commemorated there. On November 22, 2013, 50 years to the day after his death, C. S. Lewis will join them.
Poets’ Corner may seem like an odd place for a writer whose poetry is largely overlooked (though his first two publications were volumes of verse, and Lewis’s poetry is far better than many remember or realize). But you needn’t be a poet to join Poets’ Corner. Musicians like George Frideric Handel and actors like Laurence Olivier mingle with Tennyson and Chaucer. The Corner is devoted to poets in the older, deeper sense of the word. They are “makers” who assemble words (or musical notes or dramatic performances) for artistic ends.
In this older, deeper sense, there is no place Lewis more rightly belongs. Indeed, perhaps we should think of the celebrated Oxford novelist, literary critic, and apologist above all as a poet. For Lewis believed that knowledge itself was fundamentally poetic—that is to say, shaped by the imagination. And his poetic approach to commending and defending the Christian faith still lights the way for us today.
We give thanks for God’s work in and through His faithful servant C.S. Lewis. May we go forward boldly, inspired by his work and witness, to do equally powerful work in our own day, showing that our Christian faith is both rational and imaginative, reasonable and poetic; may we, with God’s help, commend and defend the faith in ways that show it to be both true and richly, deeply meaningful.