Note: the following blog post is a repost from our 2009 Southwest Regional Retreat Writers Workshop blog page. Click here for the main 2009 C.S. Lewis Southwest Regional Retreat page.
Review of Not a Tame Lion: The Spiritual Legacy of C.S. Lewis by Terry Glaspey, Editor, Harvest House
Review by Nan Rinella
NOT A TAME LION is a book about a hero. Not as the world sees, but as God sees, and men of God desire to learn from and emulate. A lion of a man with a voice heard round the world, turning men to God.
It’s a small book as books about Lewis go, but it’s brimming with Lewis’s wisdom and dramatized scenes of his life. Terry Glaspey uses elements of creative nonfiction with fleshed out scenes that touch the senses and transport you into Lewis’s life.
The book begins on a cold foggy morning with “Jack” Lewis sitting in the sidecar of his brother Warren’s motorcycle on a trip from Oxford to Whipsnade Zoo. “When we set out I did not believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God,” wrote Lewis in his autobiography, “and when we reached the zoo I did.”
As a boy of nine, Lewis lost his mother and turned from God. He would be a poet but went to war and was wounded. It is through his deep respect for logic that he returns to God via his intellect.
Terry met Lewis-not in person-but in the pages of his books. He was captivated by “the winsome, creative, intelligent personality that radiated between the lines of his writing. If such a man could wholeheartedly embrace Christianity, then perhaps it deserved a more careful look . . . Here was a God who did not fit into my comfortable preconceptions or a denominational box, a God upon whom I could not press my personal agendas. For as one of the characters [of Narnia] says of him, ‘He is not a tame lion.’ Neither was Lewis a ‘tame lion.'”
Terry treats us to Jack’s first sight of Oxford-“absolutely ripping,” he writes a friend, although he got off the train the wrong way looking first in the opposite direction.
We peek in on Lewis preparing to give a lecture on right and wrong for a BBC radio broadcast in 1941, rehearsing the first lines he hoped would grab his listeners. He went on to make many broadcasts, becoming “one of the most visible public defenders of the faith.”
We find him in church one morning in 1942, privy to the birth of The Screwtape Letters. Later he wrote, “Before the service was over . . . I was struck with an idea for a book . . . called ‘As One Devil to Another’ and would consist of letters from an elderly retired devil to a young devil who has just started to work on his ‘patient’ . . . .”
Biographer A.N. Wilson wrote, “Narnia is the inside of Lewis’s mind, peopled with a rich enjoyment of old books and old stories and the beauties of nature.”
This is a perfect book to enter into the mind, heart, and spirit of the man who gave his life away to God and his fellow man. He followed Jesus’ commandment to love God and men. Also, here an opportunity for those who haven’t the time or inclination to steep themselves in and explore the many biographies and letters, to learn more of the man.
Terry has digested the books I’ve thought to “elfish” for my “hobbit” brain. However, the brief snippets from these tomes, tempt me to try. The rich quotes sent me scurrying to the endnotes.
On God: “We want, in fact, not so much a Father in Heaven as a grandfather in heaven-a senile benevolence who, as they say, ‘liked to see young people enjoying themselves’ and whose plan for the universe was simply that it might be said at the end of each day ‘a good time was had by all.'”
Of Jesus: “There is no question of what we can make of Him, it is entirely a question of what He intends to make of us.”
On Pain: “God whispers to us in our pleasure, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
Miracles “in fact are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see.”
Heart of a Child: “When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.”
Common Sense: “. . . one of humanity’s key tools for determining truth . . . .”
Morality: ” . . . is not an abstract question for debate, it is the foundation for the growth of character.”
Obedience: “To have the kind of faith that obeys God even when there is not attending feeling of conviction is to defuse one of the Devil’s most powerful tools.”
Humility: “. . . a really humble man . . . will not be thinking about humility; he will not be thinking about himself at all.
These delicious gems sprinkled throughout Terry’s delectable prose made a delightful feast, and left me wanting more.
How about you? Do you want more? Read Terry’s book. It’s is not a tame read. It’s not a safe read. But it is good. Even better is getting to know Terry and Lewis too.