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Seeking the Secret Place: The Spiritual Formation of C. S. Lewis [Paperback]

By Lyle W. Dorsett (Author)
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Item description for Seeking the Secret Place: The Spiritual Formation of C. S. Lewis by Lyle W. Dorsett...

Draws on Lewis's life and work to trace his spiritual development and offer insights for today's readers.

Publishers Description
C. S. Lewis is perhaps the most beloved modern Christian author. From The Chronicles of Narnia to Mere Christianity, his works have enthralled readers of all ages. Yet, though numerous books have been written about Lewis's life and his dramatic conversion to Christianity, none have asked the important question of how he grew spiritually. Lyle Dorsett sets out to answer that question in Seeking the Secret Place.
Drawing on Lewis's books, letters, and interviews with his contemporaries, Dorsett reveals how Lewis's faith grew on a steady diet of Scripture, prayer, and the sacraments--not only to show how his faith developed but to encourage readers on the path to spiritual growth. C. S. Lewis fans and anyone looking to grow spiritually will value this book.

Citations And Professional Reviews
Seeking the Secret Place: The Spiritual Formation of C. S. Lewis by Lyle W. Dorsett has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
  • Christian Retailing - 11/15/2004 page 15

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Brazos Press
Pages   182
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.68" Width: 5.56" Height: 0.56"
Weight:   0.56 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Dec 1, 2004
Publisher   Brazos Press
ISBN  158743122X  
ISBN13  9781587431227  

Availability  0 units.

More About Lyle W. Dorsett

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Lyle W. Dorsett has a Ph.D. in American history, served in the Marine Corps Reserves, and taught twentieth-century U.S. history at the University of Southern California, University of Missouri St. Louis, University of Colorado Denver, Denver University, and Wheaton College in Illinois. Dorsett is also rector of Christ the King Anglican Church in Birmingham, Alabama, and he currently holds the Billy Graham Chair of Evangelism at Beeson Divinity School, Samford University."

Lyle W. Dorsett currently resides in the state of Illinois.

Lyle W. Dorsett has published or released items in the following series...
  1. C.S. Lewis Classics
  2. Hendrickson Classic Biographies
  3. Library of Religious Biography

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > Leaders & Notable People > Religious
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > History & Criticism > Criticism & Theory > General
3Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > World Literature > United States > History & Criticism > General
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Spirituality > General

Christian Product Categories
Books > Christian Living > Spiritual Growth > General

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Reviews - What do customers think about Seeking the Secret Place: The Spiritual Formation of C. S. Lewis?

a few nuggets but very disappointing  Feb 6, 2006
Twenty years of doing interviews, one year of time off to write, and we get THIS book? Where are the interview quotes? Where is the meat? Where are the diverse human personalities of voices other than the author? I borrowed this from the library and read it in an hour. There are a few nuggets in the chapter on spiritual direction, but the Cowley monks in Cambridge recently printed another version of that chapter in their magazine which is as good as this whole book. Read that and Alan Jacobs' The Narnian if you want good new stuff on Lewis. But best of all, skip the biographers and just read Lewis himself, especially the Letters.
I wanted to like this book  Dec 29, 2005
I truly wanted and expected to like this book. Aside from the Holy Scriptures themselves, no other writings have meant so much to me personally as those of C.S. Lewis. Dorsett is a leading, respected Lewis scholar. This volume is well researched and contains important information not readily available elsewhere. Dorsett takes care to appreciate Lewis' Anglican context. (Aside from saying that the 1662 English Book of Common Prayer was the official Anglican version in Lewis' lifetime - the American Episcopal Church issued its first in 1789 and the Scottish Episcopal Church issued its first in 1639 - Dorsett does fairly well with this.)

The problem, as I see it, could have been dealt with by an editor's more active feedback. It's a question of readability outside of Dorsett's own ecclesiastical circle. All Christian traditions seem to have acquired very disctinctive manners of expressing their faith and piety. There's nothing wrong with this, of course. There are Roman Catholic, Anglican, Reformed, Eastern Orthodox forms of "in-house-speak," and many, many more. The issue, in a work intended for broad distribution, is that if one isn't careful, the result can come across as affected - and certainly, distracting. It can seem like code language, in other words, insider-talk. To be very clear here, this is NOT a matter of authorial commitment to Christ. The issue is mode of expression. One of the greatest gifts of Lewis himself was his avoidance of clubbishness in tone when speaking of his faith.

With regret, I have to say that this volume, at least to me, was so dripping in the style of Revival Evangelicalism, that I found it actually hard to read. 165 pages is a long dose of the gospel tract genre. Who knows, maybe what Dorsett did here, at least to some extent, was to transcribe oral presentations. Sadly, what could have been a valuable addition to Lewis studies, has been set in a small circle, literarily speaking.

I didn't do so, but most readers not in this particular club membership will either give up before finishing or disregard what Dorsett had to offer here.
A truly inspirational look at a truly inspirational life...  Oct 6, 2005
This book is obviously the result of an incredible amount of research. Thank you, Professor Dorsett, for all of your hard work. Lyle Dorsett has drawn from numerous sources, but the most interesting are the detailed accounts of Lewis's correspondence with ordinary individuals who sought out his spiritual advice. Lewis corresponded regularly with some of these people for over 20 years, and Professor Dorsett personally interviewed many of them. Equally informative are the interviews with many of Lewis's former students, friends and colleagues.

What one comes away with is a very distinct picture of what the man C.S. Lewis was really like. I already had great appreciation for Lewis the Christian thinker, writer, and apologist. After reading the book, I have a much greater appreciation for Lewis the follower of Christ. His greatness and his influence were not primarily the result of his brilliant mind, but rather his determination to "see Jesus Christ, to know and love Him". And to Lewis, this meant "a steady attempt to obey all the time", because "I cannot learn to love God except by learning to obey Him".

Through this precious book, one learns what "obeying Him" looked like to C.S. Lewis. He was a man of constant prayer, commitment to the local church, devotion to the Word of God, submission to spiritual direction, and a tireless dedication to being used by God in the spiritual encouragement and mentoring of others. His faithfulness to this last conviction was truly remarkable. As Dorsett points out, to one correspondent who feared she took up too much of his valuable time, Lewis responded that "every human being, still more every Christian, has an absolute claim on me for any service I can render them without neglecting other duties". Wow.

After reading this book, I see Lewis even more as a true saint who took serious the call of Christ to "deny yourself, pick up your cross daily, and follow me". When Lewis advised us in Mere Christianity to "give up yourself, and you will find your real self. Lose your life and you will save it", he was only telling us to do what he was already committed to doing. Thank God for his life. And thank you, Professor Dorsett, for this book.
The Chronicles of C. S. Lewis' Spiritual Formation  May 11, 2005
In "Seeking the Secret Places," historian and C. S. Lewis scholar, Dr. Lyle Dorsett, writes a lively story of the spiritual life of author C. S. Lewis. As Dorsett notes in his Preface, much has been written about Lewis the Christian author, but much less about "how he grew from infancy to maturity in the Christian faith" (p. 15). Thus, Dorsett's purpose is pinpoint: "As a student of his life and writings for well over two decades, I have been intrigued by a question that has inspired this book: How did C. S. Lewis mature spiritually after his conversion to Christianity in 1931?" (p. 15).

Prayer is the first of Lewis' spiritual habits that Dorsett explores. Appropriately so, since Lewis himself taught other young converts that the first rule of spiritual growth was "be busy learning to pray" (p. 30). Dorsett's description of Lewis' struggle with believing prayer, brought on it part by the death of Lewis' mother when he was only nine, is worth the price of the book. Lewis summarized his own battle, as only he could: "Often when I pray, I wonder if I am not posting letters to a non-existent address" (p. 34). Throughout his excellent chapter on prayer, Dorsett demonstrates the stages of growth in Lewis' prayer life and the nature of that life of prayer. In no small part, prayer for Lewis had to be real, not sentimental, because our lives "do in truth influence God" (p. 39), and because "one of the purposes for which God instituted prayer may have been to bear witness that the course of events is not governed like a state but created like a work of art to which every being makes its contribution (in prayer) a conscious contribution, and in which every being is both an end and a means" (p. 39).

Reading this chapter not only informed me, but enthused me, even as "joining into this artistic enterprise enthused C. S. Lewis" (p. 39). "That we creatures are coworkers with the Creator quite simply excited him" (p. 39). As he grew in the school of prayer, Lewis was delighted to learn "that God invites us to be partakers in the execution of his will" (p. 46). Dorsett's explanation of Lewis' views on the age-old issue of Divine sovereignty, human responsibility, and prayer, provide some of the clearest, most practical theology that you can read on the topic.

Real regarding prayer as petition, Lewis was even more raw concerning prayer as praise, noting that initially he felt as if God said, "What I most want is to be told that I am good and great" (p. 47). "He wrote that such an attitude disgusts us when we encounter it in humans" (p. 47). A lifetime of struggle to praise led to a depth of insight toward the end of his life. "It is not that God insists or demands our praises, it is that when we begin to see Him more clearly--then who He is demands one's praise" (p. 48).

To his description of Lewis growing in grace through the spiritual discipline of prayer, Dorsett adds equally compelling chapters on Lewis and Scripture, Lewis and the Church, Lewis and Spiritual Friends, Lewis and Spiritual Guidance, and Lewis on Soul Care (what I call "sufferology"). Dorsett then concludes with an important chapter summarizing Lewis' spiritual formation legacy.

If you want to understand C. S. Lewis' practice of the traditional spiritual disciplines of the faith, I know of no better source than "Seeking the Secret Place." If you want to be schooled in why and how to practice these disciplines, and if you want to be motivated to do so, then "Seeking the Secret Place" is the place for you.

Reviewer: Dr. Robert W. Kellemen is the author of "Soul Physicians: A Theology of Soul Care and Spiritual Direction," "Spiritual Friends: A Methodology of Soul Care and Spiritual Direction," and the forthcoming "Sacred Companions: A History of Soul Care and Spiritual Direction."
Lewis in his own words  Feb 10, 2005
A powerful book that outlines Lewis' spiritual development using primary source material. Topically arranged, it shows how prayer, scripture, and obedience refined and tempered the man who's works have influenced countless thousands. Read it not only as a guide to the life of C.S. Lewis, but also to bless your own life with the study of one of the church's greatest 20th century saints and the God whom he served.

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