I am listening to the audiobook version* of Alister McGrath's very valuable biography CS Lewis: a life (2013; which I previously reviewed). McGrath has many qualities that enable him to write a Lewis biography that is a genuine addition to the earlier examples; and this is indeed an essential secondary resource for the keen Lewis scholar.
However; McGrath is a 'liberal evangelical' theologian and a British Establishment intellectual; in other words he is on the wrong side of the cultural war, including specifically being on the wrong side in the litmus test issues concerning the sexual revolution that have divided and almost destroyed the Church of England.
McGrath is therefore ultimately against Lewis (and, despite his widespread activity as an apologist, ultimately anti-Christian). If there were a barricade, these two men would be fighting on opposite sides. So, despite McGrath's genuine affection and interest in Lewis; there is (I detect) an endemic tendency in this biography towards revisionism and subversion of Lewis's rock bottom convictions which underlies the work and becomes evident from time to time.
For example, on page 228 in discussing the flaws of Lewis's greatest apologetic work, Mere Christianity, we get:
[McGrath's text] Consider, for example, the following ill-judged remarks.
[Quote from Lewis] What makes a pretty girl spread misery wherever she goes by collecting admirers? Certainly not her sexual instinct: that kind of girl is quite often sexually frigid.
[McGrath speaking again] I recall a conversation with a colleague about those two sentences some years ago. We had a copy of Mere Christianity open at the appropriate page. "Why did he write that?" I asked, pointing to the first sentence. "How could he know that?" he replied, pointing to the final part of the second.
That is the full extent of McGrath's 'analysis' of this passage - and he seems to regard it as a knock-down, drag-out argument...
Yet, McGrath does not say why the passage from Mere Christianity really-is 'ill-judged' - he merely tells us that it is. McGrath is simply doing a 'point and sputter' (as, I think, Steve Sailer named it) - and is engaged in 'virtue signalling' to Leftists of his own kind (as Vox Day calls it) - and he is practising Bulverism as defined by CS Lewis himself.
That is, McGrath simply assumes that what he says is ill-judged is indeed ill-judged, and immediately goes on to express abhorrence of the error without showing that it is indeed an error.
The proper answer to McGrath's self-cited rhetorical question 'Why did he wrote that?' - is simply: Because it is true! And if McGrath has genuinely never encountered pretty girls of that type, then Lewis and I have done; and they do indeed spread misery, widely and deeply.
As for 'How could he know that?'... well, there are so many plausible possible answers that I would not know where to start. Let's just say that from a man of such astonishing breadth and depth of wisdom and perception as CS Lewis demonstrates himself to be in many writings; it is very easy to suppose that he would notice that attractive, histrionic, attention-seeking, manipulative women often are 'frigid' in the meaning implied.
In sum, McGrath is doing something very modern and typical of the political correctness of a Social Justice Warrior: that is, he is treating Lewis's passage as a Hate Fact - something factually true that ought not to be said; and when said must be denied. Because those two sentences from Lewis would nowadays be quite sufficient to get him vilified without restraint throughout the international mass media, sacked from his Oxford fellowship, barred from mainstream publication, and hounded-out of 'polite society'.
And, implicitly, that state of affairs is what McGrath (perhaps unconsciously, through sheer ingrained habit, but certainly) is supporting and endorsing by the way he treats this passage. As I said; McGrath is on the wrong side in the Spiritual War of our age; when the gloves are off McGrath is on the same side as Screwtape.
This may seem a bit harsh but I regard it as a simple fact; and it is unsurprising; given how very rare it is for someone in modern Britain (especially among the high status intellectual elite) to be on the right side: whether they genuinely regard themselves as a Christian, or not. Anyone who is a senior Professor at top universities, and has accumulated multiple high status prizes, awards, medals is almost certainly on the wrong side; and when (or rather 'if', because I can't think of any) they are on the right side... well, they would stand-out very sharply indeed.
The only valid question is whether McGrath was/ is fooling himself, or whether his rhetoric is deliberately manipulative. Maybe he was 'in transition' between real and fake Christianity when he wrote this book: it seems rather likely.
But the thing about these End Times is that the centre-ground has been destroyed, there is no neutrality, we are either For or Against. We are pushed to one extreme or another, and lack of clarity about this fact, evasiveness about which side we will personally take our stand, rapidly becomes exactly equivalent to lying.
On the plus side; because of this extreme cultural division between Good and evil; one does not need to be an exceptionally subtle and discerning reader to take what is good about McGrath's biography and to leave aside that which is strategically evil. Now the gloves are finally off, subtle subversion becomes de facto impossible - so (thank Heavens!) we need not avoid all mainstream productions!
*Note added. The Audiobook version is only adequate - despite some 'rave reviews online!). The tone is rather monotonous, and a bit hurried; and there are too many mispronunciations and actual misreadings of important words (e.g. Inkling Humphrey Havard is calle Harvard throughout). I don't blame the voice actor for this (Robin Sachs - aka Ethan Raine from Buffy) but the director - whose job is to know the book's background, establish the style, set the pace and monitor the language.