Two comments on David’s interesting and wise column on the absence of contemporary C.S. Lewis equivalents:
I think the absence of Lewis-like figures in the university world is part of a larger change in academic culture. Used to be, the best professors at the best universities were expected to engage with the world outside universities. Lewis was hardly alone in this. His rough contemporary, British historian A.J.P. Taylor, was a major public figure even as he wrote first-rate historical scholarship. In mid-twentieth-century America, sociologist Daniel Bell, historian Arthur Schlesinger, and economist John Kenneth Galbraith are all famous examples of the same type. Today, economists still play this “public citizen” role, but few academics in other disciplines do. And most academic writing is now so technical and jargon-filled that no one outside the relevant discipline could bear reading it.
The second comment is about Lewis’ past: I think one big reason Lewis’ apologetic writing is so strong is that he came to Christianity as an adult, not as one who grew up inside the fold. The worst thing about most contemporary Christian writing is that it lacks the ability to imagine the mental universe of a non-believer. That seems natural, since most of the writers have never inhabited that universe themselves. Lewis did, and it showed. Even as he defended his faith, his language showed real empathy for those outside it. Sadly, that kind of empathy seems to me in short supply in evangelical churches today.