I like to think I’m a CS Lewis fan. Having come across his writings not too long ago, I have read quite a number of his books. I’ve thought about writing some sort of review on some of the books I’ve been reading and I’m finally getting to it.
Every review or critic is in truth some sort of commentary. Sometimes, even speaking more of the author than the subject. There’s a fine line.
On Surprised by Joy
This is an autobiography by CS Lewis. He writes about his upbringing including losing his mother at a very early age to an illness. It was a significant event which I don’t remember he stated clearly but he alluded to as one of the reasons for his atheism later in life.
He also covered being catered for by a governess before being sent off to boarding school, some of the imaginary games he and his brother played when they were younger with very detailed kingdoms and characters. It’s amazing really, what the imagination of a child can produce and when nurtured properly, the great things a man can go on to contribute to society. CS says that the games laid the foundation for his later life career as a fiction writer. Think the Chronicles of Narnia and some of his other acclaimed fictional works.
At the base of the book which comes forefront towards the end of the book is his journey from the aforementioned atheism to Christianity. Losing his mother at a young age to cancer, lack of a very present father amongst other things kept him away. His conversion (as described) was not quite “instant” like that of Saul of Tarsus but a slow-burning wrestle. He doesn’t quite talk about the theological give and takes that led him there. I think Mere Christianity covers that more. If you want to read about very detailed description of nature, the hills, valleys, flowers and all the awesome creations of God in nature that some of us take for granted by someone who is clearly awed and has a firm grasp on English language, then parts of this book is for you.
Overall, it was an interesting book for me to read although it wasn’t as comprehensive as I would have thought but One’s stories are important. Our stories make us and we make our stories. It is best when we get to tell our stories.
Perhaps this excerpt from the Solid Joys devotional clearly sheds more light on the very interesting title:
“In the end, the heart longs not for any of God’s good gifts, but for God himself. To see him and know him and be in his presence is the soul’s final quest. Beyond this there is no quest. Words fail. We call it pleasure, joy, delight. But these are weak pointers to the unpack-able experience.”
On The Screwtape Letters
This book contains a series of letters from a Senior Demon named Screwtape to his younger relative Wormwood who is just starting out in the business – demonic business – tormenting, tempting and plotting the downfall of the Saints. Screwtape counsels his younger relative in the letters, explaining some of the actions and behaviours he may observe in a Christian both new and old and why they do some of what they do. Amongst the many things I loved about these letters, I loved that in all the letters, Screwtape still recognized that God – the “Enemy” was greater and the creator.
God is referred to as “the Enemy” and Satan as “Father”. If you’ve read Mere Christianity and you enjoyed it, this would be right up there for you as it is for me.
At the end of the book, CS does concede that to write the book, he had to go into a frame of mind that was unhealthy for him as a believer. I reckon that to be true.
This letter (read here) written in the same vein as the book is a wonderful snippet of what to expect from the book.
On The Four Loves
That feeling, emotion, flow of chemicals.
O the things people could write, say or do in it’s name.
O the things people have done, written or said in it’s name.
If it were a person, O, the tales it could tell.
What more can be said about it.
Much more shall be said and written about it.
The more these insights seem new, the greater the chance that they are nothing new.
I love love.
CS discusses the concept of love through philosophical lenses and the Christian view. In the book, he wrote about the four loves (duh! 😆), and he posited that the greatest of them is Charity – Agape Love. In discussing the other three (affection, friendship, romantic), he pointed out that their good characteristics all pointed to the greatest love. God.
To love at all is to be vulnerable. – CS Lewis
I’ve previously written here about the above quote in another one of my Musings.
My light bulb moment when reading this book as when he discussed the three elements of love; need-love, gift-love and appreciation-love. He had this to say:
“Need-love cries to God from our poverty; Gift-love longs to serve, or even to suffer for, God. Appreciative-love says: ‘We give thanks to thee for thy great glory’.”
“Need-love says of a woman ‘I cannot live without her’; Gift-love longs to give her happiness, comfort, protection – if possible, wealth; Appreciative-love gazes and holds its breath and is silent, rejoiced that such a wonder should exist even if not for him, will not be wholly dejected by losing her, would rather have it so than never to have seen her at all.”
“In actual life, thank God, the 3 elements of love mix and succeed one another, moment by moment. Perhaps none of them except Need-love ever exists alone, in ‘Chemical’ purity , for even more than a few seconds. And perhaps that is because nothing about us except our neediness is, in this life, permanent.”
Have you read any of the aforementioned books or any other books of his? Thoughts?
Have a wonderful week!