C.S. Lewis has encouraged innumerable prominent individuals in their own faith and writing journeys. I know of no others who offer at no cost a book about his influence.
John Piper is a pleasant exception to that. In a moment I’ll provide the link where you can download a free copy of Alive to Wonder: Celebrating the Influence of C.S. Lewis.
The volume includes a number of extended excerpts from Piper’s fifty-plus books . . . passages where Lewis’ imprint is particularly vivid. For example:
The synthesis of mind and heart was embodied in C.S. Lewis. Lewis became for me in my college days what Jonathan Edwards became in my seminary days. He was a “romantic rationalist”—that was the name of a small book about Lewis that got me very excited because it summed up what I thought I was (which may be very akin to “pastor-scholar”). Lewis has had a tremendous influence on me in several ways.
Lewis embodied the fact that rigorous, precise, penetrating logic is not inimical to deep, soul-stirring feeling and vivid, lively—even playful—imagination. He combined what almost everybody today assumes are mutually exclusive terms: rationalism and poetry, cool logic and warm feeling, disciplined prose and free imagination. In shattering these old stereotypes, he freed me to think hard and to write poetry, to argue for the resurrection and to compose hymns to Christ, to smash an argument and to hug a friend, to demand a definition and to use a metaphor.
The author is chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. It was founded by Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, where Piper served as pastor for several decades.
The writer’s desiringGod website actually offers free PDF copies of many of his books and articles, even though most remain in print and available for regular purchase.
As delightful as Alive to Wonder is, most students of Lewis will find the materials from the 2013 desiringGod National Conference even more welcome. This year’s theme was “The Romantic Rationalist: God, Life, and Imagination in the Work of C.S. Lewis.”
Piper’s website includes ten keynote presentations plus an informative panel discussion, all of which are available for download in audio files. Best of all, the lineup of speakers is first-class, featuring a number of familiar names.
And, since we’re on the subject of “free books,” allow me to share another interesting website.
Forgotten Books offers approximately a million volumes, to which “subscribers” have unlimited access. What sets them apart from other “public domain aggregates,” is that they (unlike books.google.com) provide a searchable text, in a variety of epub formats.
For those who are not interested in purchasing a subscription, they offer a Free Book of the Day option in which you receive the link to one of their texts which is good for twenty-four hours.
I recently used it to add Pure English: A Treatise on Words and Phrases, or Practical Lessons in the Use of Language to my kindle library. I find the reading of dated literary books to be:
and, occasionally, even
Here are a few sample passages from Pure English. The first sounds remarkably contemporary:
The abuse to which the English language is so generally subjected must be a source of sincere regret to all who appreciate its beauties. Ours is an age of progress and civilization, and it ought to be remembered that language, is also progressive.
In a section entitled “Objectionable and Obsolete Words” we read:
Banister is a common barbarism. The proper word is baluster, or balustrade.
— Noted. In the future I will alternate between baluster and balustrade.
“Disremember,” often employed in the sense of do not remember, although given in Webster, is condemned by the critics as a low vulgarism.
— Apparently so vulgar as to have fallen out of usage completely.
Hence, authoress and poetess are superfluous. So, also, are such words as conductress, directress, inspectress, waitress, etc., all of which have recently come into current use. Perhaps the next edition of our dictionaries will, if the custom continues, be enriched by the addition of such words as writeress, officeress, carpenteress, manageress, secretaryess, treasureress, singeress, walkeress, talkeress, etc.
— How did “waitress” survive, especially in the wake of such witty sarcasm?
It is questionable taste to call a coffin a casket. The pleasing name applicable to a case for jewels does not lessen the dread of death and burial.
— I hadn’t known before the sentiment behind the adoption of the word “casket,” since it’s become so thoroughly associated with this usage that was apparently at one time novel.
If you are interested in the books I’ve mentioned above, you You can download a free copy of Alive to Wonder here, and you can sign up for the free book of the day here.