Clive Staples Lewis ("Jack" Lewis to his friends) was a tutor and lecturer at Oxford University, and later Professor of Medieval and Renaissance English Literature at Cambridge University. In the judgment of many, he is the most popular and most effective explainer and defender of the Christian faith writing in English in the 20th century. He tried to make a point of avoiding disputes on matters where Christians disagree, and defending those beliefs which they hold in common. His work was valued by many Christians of widely differing backgrounds: Anglican, Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostal, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, etc.
Lewis was a close friend of J. R. R. Tolkien, the author of The Lord of the Rings. Both authors were leading figures in the English faculty at Oxford University and in the informal Oxford literary group known as the "Inklings". According to his memoir Surprised by Joy, Lewis had been baptized in the Church of Ireland at birth, but fell away from his faith during his adolescence. Owing to the influence of Tolkien and other friends, at about the age of 30, Lewis re-converted to Christianity, becoming "a very ordinary layman of the Church of England" (Lewis 1952, p. 6). His conversion had a profound effect on his work, and his wartime radio broadcasts on the subject of Christianity brought him wide acclaim. Later in life he married the American writer Joy Gresham, who died of bone cancer four years later at the age of 45.
In early June 1961, Lewis began experiencing medical problems and was diagnosed with inflammation of the kidneys which resulted in blood poisoning. His illness caused him to miss the autumn term at Cambridge, though his health gradually began improving in 1962 and he returned that April. Lewis's health continued to improve, and according to his friend George Sayer, Lewis was fully himself by the spring of 1963. However, on July 15, 1963 he fell ill and was admitted to hospital. The next day at 5:00 pm, Lewis suffered a heart attack and lapsed into a coma, unexpectedly awaking the following day at 2:00 pm. After he was discharged from hospital, Lewis returned to the Kilns though he was too ill to return to work. As a result, he resigned from his post at Cambridge in August. Lewis's condition continued to decline and in mid-November, he was diagnosed with end stage renal failure. On November 22, 1963, Lewis collapsed in his bedroom at 5:30 pm and died a few minutes later, exactly one week before what would have been his 65th birthday. He is buried in the churchyard of Holy Trinity Church, Headington, Oxford.
Almighty God, whose servant C.S. Lewis received of Thy grace singular gifts of insight in understanding the truth in Christ Jesus, and of eloquence and clarity in presenting that truth to his readers: Raise up in our day faithful interpreters of Thy Word, that we, being set free from all error and unbelief, may come to the knowledge that maketh us wise unto salvation: through Jesus Christ Thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
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