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Podcast: Episode Three— Did C. S. Lewis Ever Lose His Faith? With Dr. David Downing

Updated: Jan 30, 2022

Did C. S. Lewis ever lose his faith?

Behind the Scenes of Becoming Mrs. Lewis

A New🎙Podcast Series

Episode Three 

Dearest Listener,

That question — did Lewis lose his faith when Joy died — is what we talk about on Episode Three of our podcast.

This week we hear from Dr. David Downing from Wheaton College’s Marion E. Wade Center regarding C. S. Lewis' faith after Joy's death, and more. His essay titled A GRIEF OBSCURED addresses some of our questions about C. S. Lewis’s book, A GRIEF OBSERVED, which he wrote after Joy’s death. Join us for this fascinating discussion. 

If you forgot to tune in last week, we heard again from Douglas Gresham, Joy’s son, about his life as Lewis’s stepson and beyond. These interviews have inspired me and I hope they do the same for you. As we learn more and more about Joy and Jack’s fascinating life, we dive deeper into our own stories.

Each of these episodes begins with Joy’s startlingly beautiful poetry, so tune in! 

We’ve had thousands of downloads, and I am so grateful to all of you for listening and spreading the word. Help me keep it up! Our reviews are glowing and I am thrilled that my listeners love hearing from these experts. 


Patti Callahan 

Behind the Scenes of 

Becoming Mrs. Lewis Podcast

Episode Three   

(Three of a Seven-Part Series) 

“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear,” C.S. Lewis writes in his raw and beautiful book, A Grief Observed, which chronicled his heartbreak after losing his wife, Joy Davidman, to cancer in 1960. Many have read this text and have interpreted that Lewis might have lost his Christian faith after losing Joy. Patti joins Dr. David and Crystal Downing in Wheaton College’s Marion E. Wade Center to discuss how this grief impacted Lewis, his future writing, and ultimately, his Christianity. She discusses the fascinating essay “A Grief Obscured” by Dr. David Downing.

End Notes: 

Dr. David C Downing: The Co-Director (with his wife Crystal Downing) of the Marion E. Wade Center at Wheaton College in Illinois.

Marion E. Wade Center:  A living literary center of scholarly, artistic, and ongoing spiritual renewal, located in Wheaton, IL.  A special thanks for the recording. 

A Grief Obscured: C. S. Lewis On Sorrow and Hope.  Essay by David C. Downing.  Paradox and Persona, ed. by Suzanne Bray. Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2012. 

A Grief Observed: C. S. Lewis  (Author), Madeleine L'Engle (Foreword) 2001 Harper One.  Written after his wife's tragic death as a way of surviving the "mad midnight moments," A Grief Observed is C. S. Lewis's honest reflection on the fundamental issues of life, death, and faith in the midst of loss.

Joy Davidman's PoetryA Naked Tree: Love Sonnets to C.S. Lewis and other poems by Joy Davidman and edited by Don W. King.  "Yet One More Spring." 


"What will come of me After the fern has feathered from my brain And the rosetree out of my blood; what will come of me In the end, under the rainy locustblossom Shaking its honey out on springtime air Under the wind, under the stooping sky? What will come of me and shall 1 lie Voiceless forever in earth and unremembered, And be forever the cold green blood of flowers And speak forever with the tongue of grass

Unsylabled, and sound no louder Than the slow falling downward of white water, And only speak the quickened sandgrain stirring, Only the whisper of the leaf unfolding, Only the tongue of leaves forever and ever?

Out of my heart the bloodroot, Out of my tongue the rose, Out of my bone the jointed corn, Out of my fiber trees, Out of my mouth a sunflower, And from my fingers vines, And the rank dandelion shall laugh from my loins Over million seeded earth; but out of my heart,

Core of my heart, blood of my heart, the bloodroot Coming to lift a petal in peril of snow, Coming to dribble from a broken stem Bitterly the bright color of blood forever.

But I would be more than a cold voice of flowers And more than water, more than sprouting earth Under the quiet passion of the spring; I would leave you the trouble of my heart To trouble you at evening; I would perplex you With lightning coming and going about my head, Outrageous signs, and wonders; I would leave you The shape of my body filled with images, The shape of my mind filled with imaginations, The shape of myself. I would create myself In a little fume of words and leave my words After my death to kiss you forever and ever."

Joy Davidman, A NAKED TREE  

Edited by Don W. King

"Yet One More Spring"

Host and Author: The New York Times bestselling (Author) Patti Callahan Henry writing as Patti Callahan.  Patti Callahan Website. (The Novel)  Becoming Mrs. Lewis: The Improbable Love Story of Joy Davidman and C. S. Lewis. (The Podcast) Behind the Scenes of Becoming Mrs. Lewis Podcast Series

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September 12, 2019



Episode 1 

October 1, 2019  


— With Douglas Gresham (before Joy's cancer)

As Joy Davidman’s son and C.S. Lewis’s stepson, Douglas Gresham has a distinctly unique perspective on the love story that transpired between the two writers. Gresham shares with Patti his first years of knowing and meeting Lewis and explains how Joy and Lewis’s correspondence, romance, and marriage affected the entire Gresham family.

Episode 2 

October 8, 2019  


—With Douglas Gresham (after Joy's cancer)

When Douglas Gresham first learned of his mother’s cancer diagnosis, he very clearly heard the Lord say, “If you can’t make it, if you really can’t make it without your mother, I can fix it. All you have to do is ask.” Joy Davidman’s cancer later went miraculously into remission and gave her, her two children, and Lewis four more blissful years before fatally returning. In this episode, Douglas takes Patti through the years following his mother’s death and shares how her cancer diagnosis not only changed him but also changed the people whom he learned to call family. 

Episode 3 

October 15, 2019  LOSING FAITH  

—Did Lewis lose his faith after Joy’s death?

With Dr. David Downing

“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear,” C.S. Lewis writes in his raw and beautiful book, A Grief Observed, which chronicled his heartbreak after losing his wife, Joy Davidman, to cancer in 1960. Many have read this text and have interpreted that Lewis might have lost his Christian faith after losing Joy. Patti joins Dr. David and Crystal Downing in Wheaton College’s Marion E. Wade Center to discuss how this grief impacted Lewis, his future writing, and ultimately, his Christianity. She discusses the fascinating essay “A Grief Obscured” by Dr. David Downing.

Episode 4

October 22, 2019 


—Why did Lewis choose Joy Davidman?  Dr. Crystal Hurd and Dr. Crystal Downing

One of the questions that Patti asked while writing Becoming Mrs. Lewis was: Why Joy? Why was Joy Davidman the woman who finally ended Lewis’s long run as a bachelor?  Patti speaks with Dr. Crystal Downing about how Dorothy Sayers introduced Lewis to an appreciation of brilliant, fiery women who bristled against cultural gender expectations. In another conversation, Dr. Crystal Hurd gives insight on how Lewis’s mother, Flora Lewis, also paved the way to Lewis finding his soul mate in the feisty Joy Davidman.

Episode 5

October 29, 2019 


—Joy as Lewis’s muse and co-Author with Andrew Lazo

Till We Have Faces, a retelling of the ancient story of Cupid and Psyche, is often hailed as one of C.S. Lewis’s most mature and sophisticated novels. In fact, Lewis himself credits the title as being one of his best books.  Patti speaks with scholar Andrew Lazo about how Till We Have Faces was heavily influenced—and arguably cowritten—by wife Joy Davidman and how Lewis’s other works show Davidman’s literary fingerprint.

Episode 6

November 5, 2019  


—Joy’s poetry to C.S. Lewis with Dr. Don W. King

Over 300 poems by Joy Davidman were never published during her lifetime and were, in fact, lost until quite recently. Dr. Don King has edited, analyzed, and published them in his book Yet One More Spring: A Critical Study of the Works of Joy Davidman. During their compelling conversation in this episode, Patti and Don discuss how Joy’s poetry reveals her desires, persistence, and even her pain. Together, they also ask: Did Joy give Lewis these poems? And how do these poems reflect their love story? Quite racy in parts, Joy’s desire and love for Lewis is palpable in these lost sonnets. 

Episode 7

November 12, 2019 


—How love found C.S. Lewis with Andrew Lazo

A once-proclaimed “confirmed bachelor,” C.S. Lewis found himself contradicted when he fell in love with Joy Davidman. However, it is up for debate WHEN Lewis discovered this deep love for Joy. Scholar Andrew Lazo discusses how the letters and works of C.S. Lewis showcase his evolving self-awareness as he realized that he had helplessly fallen in love with the imperious Joy Davidman.

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Behind the Scenes Media PDF 

Joy & Patti 📺 In the News


Love Magazine UK 

BECOMING JOY: She was crossing the Atlantic to meet a pen pal she'd never seen . . .

Sunday Short Story by Author Patti Callahan Sept 29, 2019 Love Magazine UK. View Blog PostDownload PDF.  


Podcast Interview: Pints with Jack

After Hours with Patti Callahan 

Podcast Interview: Pints with Jack

Matt Bush talks with Patti about the release of her new podcast. View Blog Post 

View earlier David Bates Podcast Interview with Patti. 


Video Interview:

Bookreporter Talks To Patti Callahan Becoming Mrs. Lewis

Carol Fitzgerald from Bookreporter talks to Patti Callahan, author of BECOMING MRS LEWIS, about her research and her writing about the life of Joy Davidman, the wife of C.S. Lewis.  They also discuss Patti's new podcast, "Behind the Scenes of Becoming Mrs. Lewis," which will give readers more insight into Joy and the writing of the book.  View Blog Post 

Podcast Interview

Bookreporter Talks Too . . .

Patti Callahan Becoming Mrs. Lewis 

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