Huldra Forsvant (Theodor Kittelsen)

Huldra Forsvant (Theodor Kittelsen)
Huldra Forsvant (Theodor Kittelsen)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Book Review Wednesday

Surprised By Joy
by C.S.Lewis

'You must picture me alone in that room at Magdalen, night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 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?' (p.182)

This morning on the train I finished Surprised By Joy by C.S. Lewis. Written in 1935, this is really a fantastic little book, easy to read, and timeless in it's subject matter. In a very frank and down to earth manner, Lewis writes his autobiography, which centres on his quest to capture and define 'joy', and in the process, moving from Atheism, to Theism, to eventually meeting God.

As an autobiography it is somewhat vague, and large chunks of his life are brushed over or ignored completely (for example, he goes to war and is wounded in battle, all of which is described in about three sentences!). But as a record of a fellow humans' spiritual discovery, it is fascinating.

As the chunk I quoted above suggests, Lewis has no desire whatsoever to become a Christian, and he does everything he can to try and explain it away, but it tells of the beautiful, gentle and lovingly unerring way that God quietly pursues Him, guiding him eventually to the place he needs to be. It is a great reminder of God's beautiful character, and in the futility of trying to be 'your own person'.


Laetitia :-) said...

Evidently Lewis considered a 'flesh wound' to be of no consequence in comparison with his spiritual experience.

Belle said...

Sounds like my conversion experience! I've been meaning to read more C.S. Lewis for years now - I loved The Great Divorce. Will have to add Surprised by Joy to my list!

Ben McLaughlin said...

This was the first one I'd read cover to cover, and it's inspired me to read more. I've read about 3/4 of Screwtape, so I'll knock that off and then attempt another I think. What is the Great Divorce about?

Belle said...

It's about heaven. It's not one of his essays, though, it's a "work of fantasy" (according to Wikipedia). It's a pretty short book, easy to read, and it makes you think (if you want to).