Friday, June 15, 2012

30 Day Book Challenge! Day 14: Author + Book

A right logical question to follow yesterday's, I suppose.

Day 14: What is your favorite book by your favorite author?

This is an impossible question. Logical, as I admitted, but impossible. I mean, really? An author who writes wonderfully and has the talent for spinning ideas in ways you've never heard of before can hardly have a best book. He might have a worst one - from the beginning of his writing career, or when he got a bit too carried away with themes or ideas and abandoned his outline in raptures - but I think it would be very hard to have a best. Thus, when I am asked for my favorite book by C.S. Lewis, it does not mean I value or like any of his other books less (with the exception, perhaps, of Out of the Silent Planet) but simply that this book had an idea - a definition, specifically - that was so completely refreshing, bang-on, and different-from-anything-I'd-ever-heard that it immediately became my favorite quote and, in a way, my motto. It is from the book...

Surprised by Joy is C.S. Lewis' autobiography, and aside from being enjoyable both because of his style of writing and the thought-provoking lessons he learned in life (from his earliest recollection through about the time he became a Christian) it was enlightening to see how he got to certain conclusions which one finds throughout his writings. At times I disagreed with his end philosophy, but still found it very interesting to see how he arrived at each one. For example, "Jack" believed that, as Christians learning and studying Truth, we ought to study not only the Bible, but other religions - because every lie has a small germ of truth to make it palatable - to find the truth encased at the bottom of the weed. While I do not agree with this (I am not saying that one shouldn't study other religions, or at least know the basic tenants and logical thought progressions of religions he comes in contact with, simply that I disagree that one should study them to learn truth), it was interesting to learn why he advocated this: because, in his pursuit of joy and his determination that the answer could not be God, he essentially "tried out" just about every religion presented to him before becoming a Christian. Working as He always does, supernaturally, God did reveal to him a little truth in each fake pursuit, although Lewis could not see what was truth and what was lies until he came to know the Truth.

My favorite quote from this book - the reason I call it my "favorite" - is Lewis' definition of Joy, which you will know by now if you know me much at all. If you don't know it, however, you will have to wait - that's a question coming up later! :) In the meantime, I shall leave you with another passage which is also quite profound:

"...I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England. I did not then see what is now the most shining and obvious thing; the Divine humility which will accept a convert even on such terms. The Prodigal Son at least walked home on his own feet. But who can duly adore that Love which will open the high gates to a prodigal who is brought in kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance of escape? The words compelle intrare, compel them to come in, have been so abused by wicked men that we shudder at them; but, properly understood, they plumb the depth of the Divine mercy. The hardness of God is kinder than the softness of men, and His compulsion is our liberation."

1 comment:

jean@pilgrimscottage said...

Interesting post, Sarah Jayne. I don't know a whole lot of CS Lewis. I do agree with you that we do not need to study other religions to come to truth. But, the Truth revealed to us is revealed by God Himself, through His own word. And always, as Lewis said in the last quote of your post, we are brought into His truth, kicking and screaming, for by nature, we are against God. He gives us a willing heart in the day of His power.