One of the beautiful things about living in New Jersey (and there are many, I assure you), is the proximity to New York City. My husband makes the interstate journey via train every day for work. A few weeks ago, we both commuted on a Saturday afternoon to see a play we’d been eyeing for some time.
C.S. Lewis Onstage: The Most Reluctant Convert is a one-man show on the renowned author’s life up until he received—I mean really received—Communion for the first time. The show is a production by the Fellowship for Performing Arts, whose mission is to “[produce]theatre from a Christian worldview that engages a diverse audience.” Mission accomplished.
My husband and I have read an assortment of Lewis’s books. Our kids may or may not believe Narnia is a real place (isn’t it, though?) Lewis is quite literally a household name around here.
While John and I knew something of Lewis’s life going into the show, we didn’t know as much as we came to understand from these eighty minutes in Lewis’s study.
Lewis is portrayed as a thoughtful, intelligent, and earnestly searching human being. There is humor and there is pain, to use the man’s own words. But there are also moments that sparked something deeper, the most moving of which—to my mind—came from a revelation by a friend Lewis respected greatly.
What struck me was that Lewis’s conversion wasn’t so much the result of someone telling him, “Hey! Over here! Look! This is Truth!” but more the sharing of a journey with people he admired and looked up to in certain ways. He didn’t want to convert. He knew that if he did, there would be consequences, responsibility. It was his friends’ examples and witness that led him to find what he’d been searching for in so many other places. And once he knew the Truth, he had no choice but to live it out.
After the show, Max McLean, who created the play, directed it, and starred in it, came out for a Q&A with the audience. It was a great conversation about faith, art, and where these things fit into our lives. I’m sure it’s different with every group, and it was a special and engaging way to close the show.
John and I had our own great conversation on the way home. There were some characters we didn’t know much about—authors Lewis had read, people he knew—that we’ve added to our reading list.
This was a play that left us wanting more, but I think that’s the point. It wasn’t meant to chronicle Lewis’s whole life. The story brought us to the point where he found what he had been hungering for. It was a story of conversion. As any Christian will tell you, that’s just the beginning.
Copyright 2017 Lindsay Schlegel