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The Last Interview with C.S. Lewis – "I Was Decided Upon"

February 19, 2007
A few years back I bought a used copy of Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis. I had never read any of the space trilogies written by Lewis (and if I’m honest, I still have not), so I bought it for $.50. Opening up the book, out fell a worn piece of folded paper. It was obviously as old as the book (about 30-35 yrs old). I opened it up and it was an interview with C.S. Lewis from Decision magazine, September 1963. This paper had literally been ripped out the issue itself. It was the first of a two part interview (I quickly searched for the second part) called I Was Decided Upon. The interviewer, Sherwood E. Wirt, asked questions pertaining to Lewis’ style, favorite books, and greatest influences. Lewis seemed to breeze through these questions (and almost seemed to bore him, as if he had been asked the same questions a million times over). Then the topic of questions turned to his conversion, to which Lewis seemed to be more engaged in:

Wirt: In your book Surprised by Joy you remark that you were brought into the faith kicking and struggling and resentful, with eyes darting in every direction looking for an escape. You suggest that you were compelled, as it were, to become a Christian. Do you feel that you made a decision at the time of your conversion?

Lewis: “I would not put it that way. What I wrote in Surprised by Joy was that ‘before God closed in on me, I was offered what now appears a moment of wholly free choice.’ But I feel my decision was not so important. I was the object rather than the subject in this affair. I was decided upon. I was glad afterwards at the way it came out, but at the moment what I heard was God saying, ‘Put down your gun and we’ll talk.’”

Wirt: That sounds to me as if you came to a very definite point of decision.

Lewis: “Well, I would say that the most deeply compelled action is also the freest action. By that I mean, no part of you is outside the action. It is a paradox. I expressed it in Surprised by Joy by saying that I chose, yet it really did not seem possible to do the opposite.”

One Comment leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    February 25, 2007 1:19 am

    Interesting article in the February edition of CT on Lewis’s unpublished books…
    The Space Trilogy is a hard series to get into. There are some excellent nuggets here and there, but it can really slog at times.

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