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If I Had Lunch with Lewis Hardcover – 1 Apr 2014

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 225 pages
  • Publisher: Tyndale House (1 April 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1414383789
  • ISBN-13: 978-1414383781
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 13.3 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 813,103 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


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.--Library Journal"

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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
McGrath's biography of Lewis 'covered the territory' of Lewis's life well, but oddly I though it lacked something. I think what it might have lacked, McGrath saved for this book, which I think gives readable and perceptive insight into CSL's thought.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x99a76ea0) out of 5 stars 244 reviews
80 of 85 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x99b8281c) out of 5 stars This book isn't so much "If I Had Lunch with C. S. Lewis" . . . 1 May 2014
By David Zampino - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
. . . as it is "If I pretended to have lunch with Professor McGrath, and listened to his interpretation of Lewis".

Okay, so maybe that's a bit harsh. I respect what Professor McGrath has attained and contributed during a long career in science, literature, and in theology. But this book promised so much . . . and, in the eyes of this reviewer, delivered so little.

Item: Professor McGrath promises in the introduction that each "lunch" with Lewis would present Lewis's views on important subjects. Rather, I found more McGrath than I did Lewis -- and I didn't always find myself in agreement with McGrath's interpretations.

Item: Two chapters were spent in discussing the "Chronicles of Narnia". No problem there. However, in McGrath's conversation, he makes a number of careless errors about the "Chronicles" (events/characters/etc.) than fans would no doubt pick up on. (I've read the "Chronicles" probably 25-30 times; I can safely make this assertion!)

Item: In the discussion on friendship, McGrath's analysis of Lewis's relationship with Tolkien is horribly distorted; distorted to the point of inaccuracy; even calumny. This seems to be becoming a popular theme with Evangelical commentators on Lewis -- and it isn't fair.

Item: McGrath mentions Lewis's civil marriage to Joy Davidman on a number of occasions. What he does not mention is either the reason for the civil marriage (so Joy could legally remain in England) and that after her cancer diagnosis, there was a religious ceremony as well. Why would these significant details be omitted? McGrath essentially implies a moral failing where none existed.

There were a number of other issues I had with the book (McGrath's commentary on Lewis's frame of mind when writing "The Abolition of Man", McGrath's mis-stating the early foundations of Lewis's atheism, McGrath's dreadful categorization of "The Space Trilogy") but I think that I've made my point.

I was originally hoping that I could use this book to introduce Lewis to others, particularly to my students. Nope.

Not recommended.
31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x99a9e7c8) out of 5 stars Would that I Could have Lunch with CS Lewis 2 May 2014
By Jess Hayes - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Having grown up on the tales of Clive Staples (CS) Lewis and having become something of a minor theologian in my adulthood, just the title of this book had me hooked. From the first page right through to the last, I'm pleased to say it did not disappoint. If I Had Lunch with CS Lewis takes the reader on a fascinating journey as it explores Lewis's life and the hardships he faced, what this led him to surmise about religion and what life really means, and, of course, how this ultimately shaped his writings.

This is the first and certainly will not the last of Dr. Alistair McGrath's books that I've read. However having studied Christian Theology I've been familiar with him and his opinions for some time. I think he may have been included in Reasoned Faith: Essays in Philosophical Theology in Honor of Norman Kretzmann... He provided a wonderful insight into Lewis's life, going much further than anything I'd read on the subject before, and tackled difficult questions on religion, life, and meaning in a very tactful manor.

The book is well structured and has been divided into eight broad topics making it easy to read. Each of these topics cover vast amounts of information, however it's all relatively easy to digest seeing as its presented in a rather laid back manner.

While I wouldn't call this book "light reading" its certainly not a chore to read either. McGrath writes so as to inform the reader of Lewis's life and opinions while still making the book entertaining. It's factual, but with a distinct fun side too.

"So why does meaning matter?" McGrath asks in the book. Well, its a difficult question but between him and Lewis he seems to have the answer pretty much covered. Overall, I really enjoyed the book. It was insightful, entertaining, and factual = everything I want in a book.
30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x99b930a8) out of 5 stars A summary of Lewis' life and work, not a conversational lunch 13 July 2014
By RuthSophia - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
A summary of Lewis' life and work, not a conversational lunch

Alister McGrath’s latest book, If I Had Lunch with C. S. Lewis, engages what Lewis believed about the big picture of life with the aim to help the reader answer some of life’s big questions personally. The idea behind the book is simple: what would it be like to have a series of lunches with C. S. Lewis? What would it be like to engage him in discussion? To pick his brain? Unfortunately, it is in this aspect of the work that McGrath fails. McGrath summarizes Lewis, paraphrases Lewis, and, on occasion, actually quotes Lewis. But McGrath does not allow us to engage Lewis – to hear what he says on the topics at hand.

On the one hand, this makes perfect sense – McGrath is summarizing the cannon of Lewis’ thought and trying to distill the ideas for us in one book. On the other hand, the result is not what McGrath promises his readers in the foreword.
As an overview of Lewis’ thought in the eight areas covered, McGrath does a good job. As someone who has read Lewis extensively (but not entirely) I was able to recognize much of what McGrath said as a paraphrase of Lewis. Reading the paraphrase, though, is not as dynamic or persuasive as reading what Lewis actually said. McGrath relies extensively on italics for emphasizing Lewis’ points so the reader doesn’t miss what is being said. Lewis is able to make those points with the use of merely words. One of Lewis’ strengths was being able to take deep complicated thoughts and explain them using ordinary language, or imaginatively describe a complex idea making it understandable. McGrath lacks that knack and occasionally slips into academic language.

McGrath frequently submits his own words to explain Lewis, instead of allowing Lewis to speak for himself – when he does allow Lewis to speak , it is frequently in the form of two famous quotes, and while these are wonderful quotes to use, they are, unfortunately, overused by McGrath in this book.

For people who are not familiar with Lewis and want an overview of who he is and what he believed, this book provides a good springboard, but for those who already dove into Lewis and are familiar with him and his works, this book adds little.
It is a daunting task to effectively summarize someone who has written as extensively as Lewis, and McGrath does that job well, but he fails to provide the “lunch with Lewis” quality. In that vein we can imagine Lewis sitting across the table, but hardly ever speaking while McGrath does all the talking for him!

Many times as I read this book I would recognize Lewis behind McGrath’s words, and I wanted to say to McGrath: Why are you talking? Lewis explains his point! Use his words – they are more winsome and memorable than yours. Be my guide, pull Lewis’ words out of his books and bring them here conversationally so I can experience what it might be like if I had lunch with C. S. Lewis.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x99d855d0) out of 5 stars Lunch with C. S. Lewis 1 Sept. 2014
By booklover1983 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This book was hard to read and did not keep my attention. It was not what I expected. There was no dialogue between C. S. Lewis and the author. The whole lunch thing was mentioned at the very beginning and end of each chapter. It was if we were at lunch with C. S. Lewis and asked him this question, this is what he might say. It felt tedious reading it and I barely made it through the whole book. The questions addressed subjects like death, the meaning of life, friendship, faith, learning, and suffering. It also explored some of the Chronicles of Narnia series and what certain things meant in them. I think I would rather read C. S. Lewis's actual books. I have read a few of them. I read this book because I really enjoyed the biography this author wrote last summer on C. S. Lewis. I recommend that book over this one. Also I recommend reading C. S. Lewis's books.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x99c9327c) out of 5 stars If I Had Lunch with C.S. Lewis 1 Mar. 2014
By Learning Table - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Alister McGrath's If I Had Lunch with C.S. Lewis: Exploring the Ideas of C.S. Lewis on the Meaning of Life is, in Dr. McGrath's own words, "A distillation of what Lewis thought about the greatest questions of life."

A lifelong scholar of C.S. Lewis, Dr. McGrath imagines what we could learn through conversations with Lewis over a series of lunches. In this book, readers get to know more about C.S. Lewis the man, the author, and the theologian.

If I Had Lunch with C.S. Lewis is a nice way to become acquainted with Lewis' wisdom for readers who are new to his works, as well as readers who are already fans. Because I have read the Narnia series to my children, I was interested in learning more about Lewis' life and his philosophies to share with them. This book is a nice resource for our homeschool.

C.S. Lewis was a longtime atheist, who admitted how easily he had been taken in by it. He said that we are easily "spellbound, caught up in a secular and secularising metanarrative that insists our destiny and good lie in this world" (p. 59). He warned that our educational system was "designed to suppress our deepest instincts about right and wrong, and open the way to an insipid moral relativism" (p. 136).

The chapter, "A Love of Learning," is especially compelling as Dr. McGrath discusses how Lewis reacted to the second world war, and how people were unable to get "a firm grasp of what is right and what is wrong," giving rise to the evils of Nazism. Lewis grapples with this in his book, The Abolition of Man. Lewis actually advocated a classical approach to education, familiar to homeschoolers, and believed it helps people "to love the good and hate the bad" (p. 138).

If I Had Lunch with C.S. Lewis introduces Lewis as a teacher and mentor, and it is not only a compelling read, but it is also a valuable resource for students and anyone who wants to learn more about both Lewis and themselves.

{The publisher provided me with a review copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinions.}
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