Not a Tame Lion (Book Review)

  • Author: Terry Glaspey
  • Publisher: Moody
  • Available Now
  • Synopsis: Part biography and part commentary, Glaspey’s Not a Tame Lion offers a glimpse into the life and works of C.S. Lewis.
  • Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of the book from the publisher. Opinions expressed are my own.

What to Expect

Combining biography and synthesis, the book features two main parts, with short chapters making up the larger sections. The first part is a biography of C.S. Lewis’s life, while the second part is a concordance of sorts, with brief discussions about individual themes discussed in the body of Lewis’ work.

The book also contains a variety of supplemental resources, including a timeline of major events in Lewis’s life, as well as a complete list of his publications.

Favorite Quotes

Lewis believed that just as reason is the organ of truth, so imagination is the organ of meaning. And it was only the imagination that could reveal the depths of reality, moving beyond the abstractions and arguments which so entangle us… In stories, Lewis found, that the truth of the Christian gospel could best be embodied and communicated.

Terry Glaspey, p. 83

This quotation, which references Lewis’ beliefs about imagination, describes a stance with which I heartily agree.

God’s laws are not set up merely as a test for our obedience or as a way to control us, rather they are directions for living human life to its fullest potential.

Terry Glaspey, p. 184

What a beautiful truth! This was both timely and encouraging to me, as I read part two. I thank God for that.

What I Liked

I really enjoyed the biography section of the book, and appreciated how Glaspell wove together real events from Lewis’s life, with realistic narrative. This made for a quick and enjoyable read, and I learned a lot, despite having recently read another Lewis commentary. Glaspell seamlessly integrates primary source material as well, borrowing the words of Lewis himself, as well as his friends and contemporaries.

The book was also well-crafted, in terms of organization. I was impressed that the author was able to simultaneously group together chronological events and thematic content, for the biographical section. It was really neat that he was able to draw out key ideas/themes from specific seasons in Lewis’s life. Likewise, in the second half, it was impressive that Glaspey was able to synthesize the entire body of Lewis’s work in such short, bite-sized passages. The synthesis cohesively connected quotations, while contributing context to Lewis’s words.

In terms of my favorite ideas discussed, I really liked reading about Lewis’s inspiration for writing Narnia. I cannot find the quote in the book, but I found out that Lewis wanted children to learn about God in a new way that didn’t feel dry and sterile. I also really enjoyed the beautiful discussions about heaven. As for the commentary section as a whole, I found the latter half of the book to be immensely rich and insightful.

Respectful Critique

On a content-ish note, I did feel rather odd when it turned out that the phrase, “Not a tame lion,” from Narnia (a reference to Aslan), was being applied to C.S. Lewis. Perhaps, I should have anticipated this, since it was the title of the book, (honestly, I think the phrase hooked me when I was looking at titles to review) but I didn’t like that the description was being applied to a person.

However, the book does conclude, powerfully, returning the description to God. And the ending was great!

While I blitzed through the first part of the book, I found the latter half to be quite dense. I generally enjoyed it while I was actually reading, but felt a bit hesitant about picking it up. This wasn’t because of the writing and content, but more because of the depth of the ideas, even with short overviews. I think I would recommend this more as an almost-index to Lewis’s writing, as opposed to a book that someone would just sit down and read. With that said, there are many ideas worth revisiting.

Recommendation Status

Recommended to those who are interested in learning more about C.S. Lewis and the core ideas of his work. This is a solid layman’s guide that packs a lot of information in its brief 200-pages.

Published by Stephaniesninthsuitcase

Hi, there! My name is Stephanie and I’m a Fresno, CA native. After studying at Biola University, I received my MLIS (Masters in Library Science) from San Jose State University. I live with my mom, poet Kimberly Vargas Agnese, and serve as her unofficial agent. We reside at MeadowArc, a food forest in its infancy. I am called to, and passionate about, purity. In fact, the name Agnes means “pure.” Before I was born, my mom felt led to include the name Agnes in her name, and in the names of her children. My full, hyphenated name includes 26 letters (but not the whole alphabet).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: