This book changed my life. I can’t say that about a lot of books, but Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis did. No book, outside of the Bible, has had more impact on me. Through logic, Mr. Lewis reasons his way into why Christianity is true. He addresses many objections he had when he was an atheist.
My dad gave me a copy of Mere Christianity in college, but I didn’t read it until just after I was married. I’m sorry I didn’t read it earlier, since it was a gift, but I’m not sure if I could have handled the weight of the subject at a younger age.
I had never read such an intellectually challenging book. I loved it. My brain couldn’t get enough of it. Apart from the way it changed my life, this book also influenced how I write my fiction.
Creating Precise Images
Mr. Lewis writes about some extremely difficult theological concepts but makes them accessible through his use of precise analogies.
One of my favorites is comparing human society to a convoy of ships. The convoy is only a success if it reaches its destination. It can’t do that if the ships don’t watch each other to prevent collisions or if the crew of each ship doesn’t maintain its internal mechanisms.
Humans operate the same way. We can collide when we don’t care about other people or when we have so many internal problems that we can’t help but create conflict with others.
Such well-constructed, clear images inspire me to create metaphors and similes like that for my fiction. I want to describe people or settings or even explanations of a mystery so well that readers see it like a sharp-focused photo.
Building Better Villains
Mr. Lewis has many sections on the nature of evil. Although I know when I’ve done sinful things, it was helpful to learn the reasons why. Not only does this give me insight into my spiritual life, it also helped me build better villains.
In a passage, the author explains that one huge difference between good and evil is that people will do good even when they don’t feel like it, or when it won’t benefit them. They do good because they know they ought to.
No one ever did bad because they thought they ought to, when they didn’t feel like it. Every evil action benefits the person somehow. Even cruelty, which seems like evil for evil’s sake, provides satisfaction or pleasure to the person or else he wouldn’t bother.
Those explanations about evil have helped me climb into the skins of my villains and understand their motivations, helping me create believable characters.
What books have changed your life?
Great idea, JPC. I’ve never thought to use Mere Christianity as a pattern for better writing. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks for stopping by! Mr. Lewis was such an amazing writer. I think all writers can take away something from reading his books.
You’re welcome. I agree. I love his writing.
I love CS Lewis- this one has been on my TBR list for too long!