Red Booth Notes: C.S. Lewis, D.L. Moody, and the Real Business of Life
Owen Barfield once said his friend C.S. Lewis “felt it was the duty of every Christian to go out into the world and try to save souls.” In his essay, “Christianity and Culture,” Lewis himself asserted that “the glory of God, and, as our only means to glorifying him, the salvation of the human soul, is the real business of life.”
For Lewis, the writing of books afforded myriad opportunities to thoughtfully consider the real business of life. With consummate skill, he wove the thread of faith into the tapestry of his art—so much so that one scholar has described Lewis as a “literary evangelist.”
When it came to D.L. Moody, The New York Times was among many prominent sources that described the character of his Christian witness. Writing of “the Lion of Northfield” in November 1927, the Times observed: “society will have reason to be grateful if there arises a revivalist so sound in himself, so true to his faith, so human in his contacts…as D.L. Moody.”
The Times was on to something. There was a manifestly winsome quality about Moody’s witness—a trait that President Woodrow Wilson once experienced first hand. During his presidency, the editor of The Congregationalist magazine asked Wilson if an incident recounted years before in print had been correctly reported. That incident concerned D.L. Moody, and in response Wilson wrote:
This is not a legend; it is a fact. My admiration and esteem for Mr. Moody has been very deep indeed. This is the story:
I was in a very plebeian place. I was in a barber shop, sitting in a chair, when I became aware that a personality had entered the room. A man had come quietly in upon the same errand as myself, and sat in the chair next to me. Every word that he uttered, though it was not in the least didactic, showed a personal interest in the man who was serving him; and before I got through with what was being done for me, I was aware that I had attended an evangelistic service, because Mr. Moody was in the next chair. I purposely lingered in the room after he left and noted the singular effect his visit had upon the barbers in that shop. They talked in undertones. They did not know his name, but they knew that something had elevated their thought. And I felt that I left that place as I should have left a place of worship.
President Wilson’s account is a remarkable instance of the simple, unaffected way Moody’s words and demeanor attracted others. Something about his words and life was profoundly compelling. The same was true of C.S. Lewis.
May it also be said of us, and may we seek God’s guidance prayerfully to that end. So many around us do not possess the hope of heaven. Ours is the high privilege of commending that hope—in every aspect of our lives. May we always seek to be about our Father’s business.
 Owen Barfield, as quoted in an Oral History Interview, conducted by Lyle W. Dorsett, Kent, England, July 19 and 20, 1984, for the Marion E. Wade Center, p. 61.
 C.S. Lewis, from the essay, “Christianity and Culture,” in Christian Reflections, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1992), p. 14.
 Lyle W. Dorsett, The Essential C.S. Lewis, (New York: Macmillan, 1988), p. 8.
 Shortly before his death, Moody said to a friend as they parted at the train station in East Northfield, Massachusetts: “Tell them they have caged the old lion at last.” See. J. Wilbur Chapman, (London: James Nisbet & Co. Ltd., 1900), p. 268. The copy of Chapman’s book from which this quote is taken is housed at the University of Toronto Library in Canada. Princeton University owns a copy of the American edition of this book.
 From “Dwight L. Moody Was a Really Great Man,” a 2,102-word review by P.W. Wilson in the Sunday, November 6, 1927 edition of The New York Times Book Review, page BR5.
 Woodrow Wilson, as quoted on page 242 of the February 1915 issue of Association Men, volume XL, No. 5. Association Men was a monthly periodical billed as “The News of the Young Men’s Christian Association’s Work for Men and Boys the World Around.”