Jeremiah Braudrick, Crossings Director of Prison Ministry, is author of his first book, Removing the Dragon Skin: How C.S. Lewis Helped Me Get Over My Low Spiritual Self-Esteem and Fall Back in Love with God. A gifted leader and advocate for prison ministry, Jeremiah discovered his passion for exploring the prolific works of C. S. Lewis during his seminary graduate work, which ultimately led to him publishing this unique collection of essays and memoirs.
Read on to hear from Jeremiah about his writing process, how Removing the Dragon Skin got its start, C.S. Lewis, and more.
Describe your writing process.
I’m still developing it. If I’m writing about a topic that interests me, I can get overly excited. I think faster than I can type, which causes me to go back, reread, and rearrange to make sure what I’ve written is logically sound. Thankfully, while I’ve been pursuing my Doctor of Ministry at Fuller Theological Seminary, I have had opportunities to write about things that interest me often, and I’ve been a part of wonderful classes. Writing definitely energizes me!
How did Removing the Dragon Skin get its start?
Removing the Dragon Skin began as a series of essays. I was fortunate to study C. S. Lewis at Oxford and Cambridge throughout my seminary education while simultaneously wrapping up a several-year journey to read and study everything Lewis ever wrote. During this time, I discovered that I enjoyed writing about Lewis; not only his life and work, but how deeply he has impacted me personally. His wartime experience, spiritual struggles, the way he treated others, his domestic issues–they all resonated deeply with me. Studying his works painted a picture of a life that not only inspired me, but also brought me comfort and spiritual self-assurance at a time when I desperately needed it (and often still do).
When I wrapped up my course on Lewis and finalized my research paper, Robert Banks, my professor and an incredible theologian and author, recommended me to his publishing company, Wipf and Stock, and they accepted.
Describe the moment you found out the book was going to be published.
I was obviously extremely excited! C. S. Lewis has meant so much to me on my spiritual journey. What was most exciting to me wasn’t that I was going to have a book for sale, but it was that I could make some small contribution to this man’s incredible legacy. I felt, for all that Lewis had done for me, I was able to pay him back in some small way.
What would you say to someone who is struggling with spiritual self-esteem or self-worth?
For one, they’re in good company. Our church history is filled with people who struggle spiritually, have relentless depression, and are routinely unsure whether they measure up. I’d rather remain dependent on Christ’s work on the cross than to be so sure of my spiritual self that I am given over to pride.
Mistakes and self-doubt give Christ room to be the savior. To the person who struggles with spiritual self-worth, take your eyes off yourself and onto others. Take your eyes off yourself and onto the cross.
What were the first books you read by C. S. Lewis? How did they impact you?
Some early books I read that I fell in love with–besides The Chronicles of Narnia, of course–were Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer, The Weight of Glory, The Abolition of Man, The Great Divorce, and Letters to Children. As much as I love his timeless classics, Lewis’ essays are my favorite. There is so much wisdom in them, and often humor.
Why should someone read Removing the Dragon Skin?
The whole point of Removing the Dragon Skin is to take our eyes off ourselves and the problems in our lives and put them on God and others. We can’t rely on ourselves to do the trick. C. S. Lewis helped me (and continues to help me) learn how not to rely on my own efforts but to lay my life down before God.
If I can make Lewis’ work relevant in someone’s life today and introduce them to the healing his logic and the artistry of his writing brought me, I would be happy. That’s the point of Removing the Dragon Skin and why I hope someone would read it.
What was something you learned during the process of writing and publishing Removing the Dragon Skin?
Ask for help. Find people who are doing or have done what you want to do, and surround yourself with them. Professor Robert Banks and his wife, Linda, were incredibly gracious to spend time with me and give me their feedback, and even offer me the chance to teach with them while they taught at Oxford via Fuller Seminary. Author Rene Gutteridge has given me ample time, feedback, and cherished advice on this journey, and so has author and pastor, Marty Grubbs.
Did you always feel God was leading you to write this book, or was it an unexpected part of your journey?
It was definitely unexpected, but more than welcome!
Finally, what is your favorite quote from C. S. Lewis?
That is an incredibly difficult question to answer; Lewis doesn’t waste words. One of my favorites comes from Mere Christianity: “But the great thing to remember is that, though our feelings come and go, His love for us does not. It is not wearied by our sins, or our indifference; and, therefore, it is quite relentless in its determination that we shall be cured of those sins, at whatever cost to us, at whatever cost to him.”
PRAISE FOR REMOVING THE DRAGON SKIN
“Mingled with the brilliance of C. S. Lewis, you will read Jeremiah’s journey to renewed ‘spiritual’ self-esteem and a clearer picture of God’s love. You will find it hard to put this book down!” —Marty Grubbs, Senior Pastor, Crossings Community Church
“Jeremiah articulates his journey through shame and into the knowing place of God’s longing to be in relationship with him. One of love and friendship. And Jeremiah uses the gifted writing of one of the all-time best writers we’ve ever had the privilege of reading—C. S. Lewis.” —Sandi Patty Peslis, Christian artist and C. S. Lewis fan