Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Book Review: Seeking the Secret Place - The Spiritual Formation of C. S. Lewis

I’ve been reading a lot from and about C. S. Lewis this year.  I think Alister McGrath’s recent excellent biography C. S. Lewis - A Life and coming across two small out-of-print books by Lewis in Oxford may have prompted this direction.  In any case, when I heard of this book, Seeking the Secret Place, about his spiritual formation, about the influences on his growth as a Christian, I knew I had to read it as well.  (So, yes, the book has been out for ten years, but it is new to me.)

Not only was I not disappointed, Seeking the Secret Place: The Spiritual Formation of C. S. Lewis exceeded my expectations. Lyle Dorsett backs his book with extensive research.  As Director of the Wade Center at Wheaton College, he had unusual opportunity to travel, interview, and dig into a treasure trove of primary sources.  He particularly made use of Lewis’ correspondence.

The result is a very readable book that covers some lesser known aspects of C. S. Lewis' personal life and spiritual growth.  Lewis’ relationship with Father Walter Frederick Adams of the Cowley Fathers is an important focus as is Lewis’ faithfulness in his sacrificial commitment to respond thoughtfully to letters, even to fan mail and to those asking a bit much of his time and effort.

I must emphasize the book is not only of historic interest, although it certainly is that.  It can be very helpful to those seeking to grow as Christians themselves. I personally find both the guidance given to Lewis and the guidance he gave to others very instructive and edifying.  Further, I am already using excerpts from Seeking the Secret Place in teaching others.

So Seeking the Secret Place is a book to read both by those interested in the life and spiritual growth of C. S. Lewis and those concerned about their own spiritual formation.  If one finds oneself in both categories, it is then a must-read indeed.

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