Will Vaus is the founder of C. S. Lewis Societies in Columbia, South Carolina, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Harrisonburg, Virginia. Will's book, Speaking of Jack: A C. S. Lewis Discussion Guide, contains introductions and discussion questions for about 40 books by and about C. S. Lewis which Will has used in C. S. Lewis Society meetings.
Below are some bonus discussion questions for three books not included in Speaking of Jack. Feel free to use them for yourself or your group.
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- This book is divided into six parts: Earliest Perspectives, Master, Colleague, Transatlantic Ties, Much More than a Tutor, The Essence that Prevails. How do all of these parts together give us a full-orbed view of C. S. Lewis the Man? Is there anything left out?
- How might any one of these perspectives alone give us a skewed view of Lewis? Do any of the essays present contradictory views of Lewis? If so, which view do you think is correct? Or, do these differing views complement, complete and correct one another?
- Which Lewis would you most like to have known, if you could have met him in person: Lewis the student, the teacher, the colleague or the friend? What unique gift did Lewis bring to each of these relationships?
- If you could spend just one day with Lewis out of his entire life, what day would you pick? Why? Where would you go together? Whom would you meet? What would you do? What question would you most like to ask Lewis or his friends or family?
- Out of all of these authors writing on Lewis, who do you think knew him best? Who expresses the most interesting or attractive portrait in his or her essay?
- Considering Lewis's many friends or family members or acquaintances who do not give voice in this collection of memoirs, from whom would you most like to hear? Why?
- Which essay was your favorite? Why?
- What did you learn about Lewis that you didn't know before? Any surprises?
- Do you have any unanswered questions about the man? If so, what?
- What lessons have you learned from Lewis's life which you would like to apply in your own?
- To which extreme does America tend today: sternness or meekness? How can we recover a balance between the two?
- Would Lewis agree that "all men are created equal"?
- How do we become "the third kind of men"?
- What does Lewis's essay, My First School, teach us about the value of suffering?
- What would Lewis say are the benefits of studying English literature?
- What problem or problems does Lewis see with so-called "democratic education"?
- Of which sort of politics do you think Lewis approved: that which encourages more government? Or less?
- What, do you sense, was Lewis's attitude toward "doing his duty for his country"?
- In his essay, Private Bates, how does Lewis put our seemingly modern problems in perspective?
- Do you think Lewis gives an appropriate place to pleasure in his philosophy of life? Why or why not?
- How can we regain "the invaluable faculty of being shocked"?
- In Modern Man and His Categories of Thought Lewis notes seven obstacles to modern day evangelism. Do these continue to be obstacles in our day? If so, how can we overcome them?
- In Talking about Bicycles Lewis notes four stages of perspective in regard to numerous experiences or endeavors in life. Do you think Lewis's four stages give us a helpful framework for looking at life? Why or why not?
- How does Lewis's essay, On Living in an Atomic Age, put some of our modern day problems in perspective? What is that perspective?
- In The Empty Universe Lewis notes a problem with atheism. What is it? Do you agree? Does the same problem exist for theism? Why or why not?
- What does Lewis say is the problem of removing laws of decency with regard to literature? Do you agree or disagree?
- Based upon Lewis's description, which place do you think you would like better: Oxford or Cambridge? If you have visited both places, which do you like better? Why?
- Do you think that for Lewis the study of history and literature was a means or an end? Which is it for you?
- Lewis states: "When the prevalent morality of a nation comes to differ unduly from that presupposed in its laws, the laws must sooner or later change and conform to it." Do you agree or disagree? Why? How might this principle be applied in our own time? Based upon a reading of Lewis's essay on Sex in Literature published in 1962 and his essay on Prudery and Philology published in 1955, what change do you think took place in British morality and British perspective on literature between those two dates?
- What motivated Calabria to write to Lewis? What do you think motivated Lewis to respond and continue a correspondence, in Latin no less, for so many years?
- How might we go about following Calabria and Lewis' example in seeking and fostering Christian unity? What changes have you seen in terms of Christian unity in your lifetime, for better or for worse?
- What do you think of Lewis' disagreements with Calabria expressed in letter 5? Does Lewis provide us with a good model for dealing with our disagreements as Christians?
- Do you agree with Lewis when he says in Letter 7 that we sometimes concern ourselves too much with the state of nations? How might we best avoid this danger and follow Lewis' example in making a positive difference in our world?
- What do you think of Lewis' comment in Letter 9 regarding his decrease in zeal for writing? What encouragement/guidance is there for each of us in Lewis' attitude toward success or failure?
- In our culture of increasing busyness how does the value of a life like that of Calabria strike you? Does his example make you want to devote more time to prayer? If so, how might those of us with "secular" jobs make more room in our lives for prayer?
- What do you think of Lewis' reference in Letter 15 to "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" as a trifle, something in which he played rather than worked, giving free rein to his imagination but not without a mind for edification? What do Lewis' comments suggest about the value of work which we most enjoy?
- Letter 16 contains profound insight regarding the forgiveness of sins and the importance of not dwelling on our own sins. What are your thoughts on this topic?
- In Letter 17 Lewis speaks of his confessor. In what ways do you think Lewis was close to being or becoming Roman Catholic? In what ways not?
- What do you think of Lewis' comments in Letter 17 and later about the strife in his home country of Northern Ireland and the danger of confusing religion and politics?
- Are there any other points brought out in these letters which you wish to discuss?