C. S. Lewis at War: The Dramatic Story Behind Mere Christianity (Radio Theatre) by C.S. Lewis and Paul McCusker. Tyndale Entertainment, 2013. Ages 12 and up.
It’s last minute stocking stuffer time at my house! But even if you aren’t frantically looking for one last gift, this is an audiobook I think many of you will want to take notice of. Since it’s a busy time for all of us, I’ll keep it short and sweet….
This eight-disc audiobook includes a two-disc dramatic production of C.S. Lewis’s life during World War II. As the story opens, he’s not yet become famous–this is before Narnia, before The Problem of Pain, and even Mere Christianity. Hitler is on the march, and Lewis is searching for ways to make his Christian faith relevant to the troubled times around him. Much of the story is set in a domestic setting, with Lewis interacting with his housekeeper and the children who come from London to live with them to avoid the nightly German bombings. We see him not as a distant intellectual, but someone deeply concerned with the “problem of pain” in the people around him. He comes across as a fellow older kids will be able to relate to.
Fans of the Inklings will be happy to know that the team has also dramatized those famous meetings of the minds between Tolkien, Lewis, and other important thinkers in their circle. And then of course, at the same time we follow the BBC’s search for someone to speak to the spiritual needs of the people as World War II presses them harder and harder.
With Winston Churchill’s speeches playing in the background and the sounds of bombers flying overhead, the dramatic birth of Lewis’ classic summary of Christian faith, Mere Christianity–beloved by so many of God’s people over the last seventy years–is here made accessible to teens and adults alike. This is first-class entertainment, Christianity 101, and a world history lesson all rolled into one. If I had teens, it’s one I wouldn’t want to miss.
That’s not to say there are NO negatives. I think some teens won’t get the radio theatre genre–it may seem a little hokey compared to movies and TV of the day. And I think some folks will find the BBC’s search for a speaker a little less compelling than other aspects of the story.
But in my opinion, this is a very unique resource that many families will find worth investing in. If for no other reason, the last six CDs of the set are a dramatic reading of Mere Christianity which still stands as one of the best books to inoculate teens against the secularism of our day.
Plus, the cast assembled here is first class. The radio theater genre is one that Focus on the Family has been honing for years (think Adventures in Odyssey and renditions of classics like Screwtape Letters or Ben Hur). You can read more about the cast as well as hear samples of the audio at Focus on the Family’s website.
- Worldview/Moral Value: 5
- Literary Value: 5
Read more about audiobooks for younger kids in Betsy’s recent post, Road Trip! You can also get some great advice on introducing your kids to Narnia (plus a link to a $.99 radio theater version) in Megan’s post The Narnia Dilemma.
Question: What do you guys think about radio theatre? Do you find it cheesy at times? Do you think your kids would be interested in this kind of dramatization, despite the genre?