Larry and I recently watched a short documentary about C.S. Lewis and I was inspired to read some of his works. (By the way, did you know that J.R.R. Tolkien led him to be saved?) I’ve read the Chronicles of Narnia (and watched the movies), but have never read any of his books for a more grown up audience. Since some consider him THE top Christian apologist, as a Christian, I thought at the least I should be somewhat familiar with what he said. So during one of my weekly trips to the library, I picked up a copy of Til We Have Faces.
Before I jot down my impressions of the book, I must first insert a caveat…or maybe a confession. I’m an avid reader, but mostly what I’ve been reading lately are floofy feel-good novels. Let’s face it…when you spend most of your time chasing a toddler around, cooking and cleaning, and having company over two or three times a week…what you really need at the end of the day is to curl up with a floofy, feel-good, chick novel. But after reading too many of those, I start to feel like a kid who has indulged in too much candy…you’re satiated for a while, but it kind of leaves you craving for something healthier and more substantial.
Just after a couple of pages into Til We Have Faces, I realized how much I’ve missed reading good writing. I miss reading the kind of stuff you would study in a literature class…the sentences crafted so artfully that you have to go back and read them again and again, the stories that have layer upon layers of meanings. Til We Have Faces is Lewis’ retelling of the myth of Psyche and Cupid from the point of view of Psyche’s half-sister Orual. The first part of the book is Orual’s complaint against “the gods,” and the second part is the answer to her complaint. Although the story told is completely pagan, it’s full of Christian overtones – Lewis really was a genius in being able to do this. Some conjecture that this book was somewhat autobiographical – it was Lewis’ own complaining and railing against God. Orual’s story is similar to the story of Job. She suffers loss, challenges “the gods” and wants to know why, while boasting of her own righteousness. But in the end she sees that she’s not righteous at all, that even her love for others is motivated by self-interest, and that the answer to her question is a person. Pretty profound, huh?
This book had me thinking for days and I was even prompted to read some excerpts to my husband, not something that ordinarily happens with the books I read. Although it’s fine to indulge in candy sometimes…once in a while it’s nice to read something that will stick to your mental bones.