“So where should we start? There’s little doubt where Lewis would like us to begin – his discover of Christianity, which quickly became the moral and intellectual compass of his world,” Alister McGrath states in the introduction of his book, "If I Had Lunch with C.S. Lewis: Exploring the Ideas of C.S. Lewis on the Meaning of Life." At two hundred and fifty-six pages, this small hardbound book targets those who love to read about one of the best-known writers, Clive Staples Lewis. After a preface, there are eight chapters, followed by acknowledgements, two appendices, notes, and the author’s biography. McGrath, a Christian theologian and professor in England, has spent over forty years reading and studying C.S. Lewis. Approaching the iconic man’s writings from the perspective of a teacher, the author divides the book into eight sections, as if Lewis was having lunch with the reader, discussing a specific topic. Chapter themes range from the meaning of life, friendships, the importance of stories, Christian life, apologetics, education, dealing with pain, and the hope of heaven. Each section reviews Lewis’s works related to the topic, including how he perceived the world, those around him, and his relationship to God. Not only dissected are the cherished author’s processes and meanings behind his published works, the biographical backgrounds, common man struggles, and realization of God’s hand gently guiding him are given. Learning that Lewis’s mother died when he was ten years old, that he was an angry atheist in the British army in World War I, and that his wife passed away from cancer early from in their marriage, readers can immediately connect why his writings were filled with compassion, sorrow, and redemption. As McGrath exposes the thought process behind Lewis’s famed books such as The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, The Four Loves, Mere Christianity, The Problem of Pain, and Surprised by Joy, barely mentioned are favorites such as The Screwtape Letters and The Great Divorce. Although unexpected, this well-written read is not formatted as a casual conversation of Lewis sitting across the lunch table discussing life’s questions and dilemmas. It is more of an in-depth textbook that would make an excellent eight-week semester class study on the viewpoints and Christian beliefs of this twentieth century writer. Thanks to Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. for furnishing this book in exchange for a review of the reader’s honest opinion.
If I had Lunch with CS Lewis by Alister McGrath hopes to summarize Lewis’ work on 7 themes. It’s sometimes a bit difficult to separate Lewis’ quotes with the author’s thoughts & summaries. The topics are more complex than light reading. I listened to the audio book, so I couldn’t see the quotes or headings. It is sometimes repetitive
McGrath (A Life of John Calvin; The Dawkins Delusion) is a busy and prolific writer on Christianity and a number of important Christian thinkers, including scholar and Narnia author C. S. Lewis (1898–1963). McGrath’s most notable claim to public attention has perhaps come from his unashamed confrontation with the champions of the “New Atheism,” particularly Richard Dawkins. This unassuming book is a very straight¬forward introduction to the Christian thought of the perennially popular Lewis. The author’s rich familiarity with Lewis’s work is beyond question; his expositions are most effective where Lewis’s arguments are weak or inconsistent. ¬VERDICT: Lewis is such an effective writer that it is a challenge to come in his wake, but ¬McGrath’s affectionate treatment helps to set his subject in a contemporary context and should appeal to both reading groups and individuals going beyond the Narnia novels and into Lewis’s apologetics.