Hello fellow readers! If you’ve been paying attention, I decided to read a lot more books in 2020 and first up was a month of CS Lewis. So I’d like to leave a short review/reflection on each book, and hopefully key you in to some of what I’ve enjoyed over the past month.
Book 1: Till We Have Faces
This retelling of classic Greek mythology had me very interested in the story and relating with “The Fox” quite a bit, as he represents the stoic Greek philosophers Lewis is so key to emulate. This story, through the eyes of Orual, the eldest daughter of a king, reflects on her dealings with political and supernatural powers, often refusing to accept status quo and forging her own path, leaving those closest to her in their unfortunate or, in the case of Istra (Psyche), fortunate circumstances. I will admit that the middle third of the book was a bit murky, though I enjoyed Orual’s assertion as the new ruler of her land and the independence she strove for. Revealing the journey of a headstrong and cunning character, Orual’s tale is a great epic in the style of Lewis.
Book 2: A Grief Observed
Although I knew this book was a memoir of Lewis reflecting on his love lost, in the form of his late wife Joy Davidman, seeing his grief poured into his journaling was a truly authentic journey. From page to page, the way he processed through his grief was a major inspiration. But honestly, it also strummed that heart chord inside me that truly desires a companion in life, one of the heart, of the mind, of the soul, and of the body. As he rightfully says, it is always better to have loved and lost, than to never love at all. And having seen one great thinker express his emotional journey in a truly raw style, steels this belief all the more.
Book 3: Miracles
This one was heavy, and took me nearly two weeks to read and process. Prior knowledge of the Naturalist and Humanist movement in contemporary philosopher are extremely helpful if one dares to dive into this defense of the supernatural. By examining the possibility of miracles, to the evidence of their occurrence, to breaking down the greatest miracle of all (The Incarnation, aka Lewis’ “True Myth”), Lewis appeals to both the logic of the Rationalist and the emotion of the Spiritualist. Granted, he intentionally acknowledges specific tangents he leaves untouched, but the argument he makes lays the groundwork for later authors like Lee Patrick Strobel. Ultimately, this book left me much to digest and will need a revisit before too long.
Book 4: The Abolition of Man
This critique of the model and method of “current” (that is, in Lewis’ time) education and the emergent veins of ideologies and philosophies debases the trend of training young men to think based on emotion or realism instead of taking all knowledge to the ultimate source of value, which Lewis refers to as the “Tao”. I appreciated that Lewis points out his religious affiliations but does not rely on them to make his arguments about the absurdities of Man’s conquest of Nature or the systems by which they believe value can be derived. Objective value is not something to be determined, but rather something that is self-existent and, if rationally considered, self-evident. As a firm believer in Jehovah, the One True God, the Creator and Author of the True Myth, it is no stretch to believe that His Nature and, by extension, His Law are the objective values by which human instinct, morality, and rationale arise. To ignore this objective value source, modern society creates “Men without Chests”, a man as hollow as his beliefs.
Hopefully you find these reflections enough of a morsel to consider these books yourself and, if not, to at least appreciate the potential wisdom they contained. As an avid fan of CS Lewis, I must say I did enjoy this month. However, as one month ends so another begins, and I shall now turn to my next set of books for February, themed around the nature of love within friendships, relationships & marriage, and community. Stay tuned for those reviews by the end of next month!