Posted by: mattcolvin | May 19, 2011

Lewis on Reading Essays

”Bree said, ’And now, Tarkheena, tell us your story. And don’t hurry it – I’m feeling comfortable now.’

”Aravis immediately began, sitting quite still and using a rather different tone and style from her usual one. For in Calormen, story-telling (whether the stories are true or made up) is a thing you’re taught, just as English boys and girls are taught essay writing. The difference is that people want to hear the stories, whereas I never heard of anyone who wanted to read the essays.”

— C.S. Lewis, The Horse and His Boy, p. 35.



  1. “people want to hear the stories” – this is an observation similar to Keller’s thoughts about preaching to pomo audiences, and it’s one of (the few) insight’s of Keller that I’ve appreciated as essentially correct. There’s a lot in this quote that could be unpacked to great benefit in our pastoral seminaries.

  2. I haven’t read Keller, but I don’t think there’s anything unique to Pomo audiences about responding to stories. It is human to do so.

    • Maybe I should have prefaced my comments with the proviso that I’ve conflated essays with essay-type sermons vs. stories and narrative sermons.

      Agree it’s not unique; but evidently our forebears were willing to listen to multi-hour sermons that were as dry as burnt toast (both in oral and ocular form). I am still puzzled as to why 17th century Scots were willing to walk all day Saturday to listen to a three hour sermon on Sunday that turned short, tight Biblical narratives into treatises on minutiae. A return to narrative sermons would be a welcome development.

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