An interview with C.S. Lewis’ stepson
By Brittany Butler
Senior Features Writer
When 13 Asbury students and staff were individually asked to describe Douglas Gresham, stepson of C.S Lewis and co-producer of the Narnia films, the same adjectives appeared in each of their descriptions: “genuine,” “kind,” “passionate” and “generous.”
Senior Brady Parks found Gresham to be “passionate about both the Lord and storytelling.” Professor of Ancient Languages Gerald Miller thought Gresham was “charming, disarmingly humorous.”
Yet, perhaps junior Priscilla DeFini best described the Gresham behind Lewis when she said he is “overwhelmingly honest about the reality of his conversion, and the person he was before that.”
She went on to say, “He even views his testimony completely divorced from his childhood with Lewis. He doesn’t view his relationship with Lewis as a one-way ticket to heaven—he still has his own distinct relationship with God.”
Although Gresham’s life is heavily influenced by his stepfather, he still maintains his own identity while representing an illustrious literary legend.
Currently residing in Malta, an island in the Mediterranean, Gresham is married with five children. Gresham delights in big fish, fast cars and smooth sailing. He lives a life aside from the articles, conferences, biographies and movies inspired by Lewis.
“The impression is that all I ever do is C.S. Lewis-related material, but I do an awful lot of counseling by email and also face-to-face counseling,” Gresham said, wearing his traditional knee-length black boots, khaki vest, turtleneck and pectoral cross.
He laughed before saying, “I suppose I am probably too conceited and have too large of an ego to let the fact that I am mostly working with Jack’s work influence me very greatly.”
Though he is currently “mostly working with Jack’s work,” Gresham has experienced quite the list of other jobs, including volunteer firefighting, radio broadcasting in Australia and farming, one of the “greatest loves in [his] life.”
“I did aerobatic flying in Australia years ago, and I think it is probably rooted in my incredible, insatiable curiosity about the world and everything in it,” said Gresham.
His insatiable curiosity is the reason for his adventurous lifestyle, but God is the reason for his insatiable curiosity. “I think God has made us such a varied world, such a beautifully diverse world that we really ought to explore what there is in it and enjoy as much of it as we can.”
Lewis left many memories and an augmented imagination with Gresham, but his appreciation for the hard work and perseverance in our “varied” and “beautifully diverse” world was inspired by his mother, Joy Davidman, an American poet and writer.
“She taught me never to give up,” he said. “This woman probably was at death’s door four or five times, and never, ever gave up. She fought every inch of the way to the last moment.”
Following his mother’s example, Gresham chooses to work hard. He maintains his own identity, but he will also continue promoting Lewis’ books.
“People accuse me of being sycophantic,” he said.
Yet, Gresham finds this entirely irrelevant.
“They [the books] are a lifeline of a dying world right now and will be as long as I am alive,” he said. “If you have a product in front of you which is going to save lives, and in this case the eternal life of human beings, and you fail to promote it, you are either negligent or idiotic.”
Not everyone’s mission is advocating Lewis, but Gresham believes that all varieties of ministry go hand in hand with courage, and that every individual can advocate truth.
“I do use the Australian phrase and make no apology for it,” he said. “I think the American people are finally getting tired of [crap]. Start standing up and telling the truth. Tell it loud and tell it blatantly.”f