Reflections on one of my first Christian literary loves
I read a ton of C. S. Lewis in high school: The Space Trilogy, The Great Divorce, Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters, The Problem of Pain, A Grief Observed, The Weight of Glory, and a whole bunch of his shorter essays. At the time I felt immensely enlightened by him and could not get enough.
I’m more cautious in my enthusiasm now. While I’m still deeply fond of Lewis, I understand that his arguments had their share of flaws, and I no longer see books like Mere Christianity as the end-all solution for flagging Christian testimonies or skeptical criticism of Christianity. As one Christianity Today author recently noted:
[O]ne friend has had distinctly postmodern misgivings. When his father learned of his decision to leave the faith, he rushed his son a copy of Mere Christianity, hoping the book would bring him back. But C. S. Lewis’s logical style left him cold. “All that rationality comes from the Western philosophical tradition,” he told me. “I don’t think that’s the only way to find truth.”
However, if there is one C. S. Lewis book that I continue to adore even after ten years, it’s Till We Have Faces.
TWHF is a re-imagining of the Greek Psyche myth. In this version, the pagan elements become thin stand-ins for Christian values and truths. The tale deals with the selfish nature of human love and the need for total abandonment to the transforming power of “the gods,” as well as the lies people tell themselves to avoid accountability for their own sins. Plus, the main character is a warrior queen who gets some solid butt-kicking action over the course of the novel. What’s not to love about that?
For my AP English Literature class during my senior year of high school, I had to complete an extended project on a novel of my choosing. Since my teacher was a Christian, she allowed me to do Till We Have Faces. Even though I wrote it in high school, I actually think that my summary of TWHF was half-decent, so I’m re-posting it here. While it is marred by youthful self-righteousness, an ignorant and intolerant attitude toward paganism, and basic errors in writing, I still think it’s valuable because it shows how I thought and reasoned as a young Christian engaging a Christian text.
Book Review Grade: A