Thursday, June 01, 2006

Joy

I read a few blogs regularly, one being Foma, and all this talk of science fiction conventions has got me thinking on something I read a while back.

I am struggling to remember something I read in C.S. Lewis's Surprised by Joy, akin to the idea that our propensity to create beautiful, fantastical fictional worlds amounts to proof of God's existence, that it illuminates our desire to be united with perfection. He recounts some experiences he had as a very small child that were the start of his life-long inquiry and eventual conversion to Christianity, describing that the quality these experiences had in common was "an unsatisfied desire which is itself more desirable than any other satisfaction." He calls this desire Joy.

I have to re-read Surprised by Joy, I can't find exactly where the connection is made in just skimming it, but I remember reading it one night in bed and having the aha! moment, that I understood what he was talking about. It's like trying to see something that you know exists but is just outside your field of vision. The knowing that it exists, that's what the longing is about.

This was the first thing I read on the subject that actually I connected with. The Bible itself is very confusing, full of contradiction and subject to various edits through the years that make it in my view less than an authoritative work, and the fact that it is very conveniently interpreted however best suits the interpreter, to further the interpreter's personal viewpoint and quash all others ( or so it is hoped) makes most of it fairly irrelevant to my belief system. For instance, Leviticus says a man shall not lie with another man (though it makes no mention of women, interestingly) but also says we should not eat shellfish or wear cloth made of two fibers blended together. Yet the anti-gay sentiment is broadcast far and wide by shrimp-eating nylon-blend-wearing bigots daily. We pick and we choose... and obviously when we don't agree on which parts to pick and which to ignore, there is strife.

Interesting stuff.

5 comments:

Liz said...

Hi,
I love C.S. Lewis. I am just now reading Anne Rice's new book about Jesus’ life as a young boy. I read in some magazine that she was born again or something and will now only write books about God. She's an amazing writer and this book is really good so far. You can tell how much research she's put in to how people lived back then and their culture and food and habits. It's not really preachy, just intriguing! Thanks for the post, I think I'll go dig out some of my C.S. Lewis too!

J.Po said...

I was in a new member class at church once when a visitor asked our minister (a very liberal woman, btw...what would Leviticus have said about THAT?) about how she preached to the Bible. Our minister paused and said "I take the Bible very seriously, but not at all literally."

Never saw the visitor again.

Impetua said...

That's an excellent way of saying it! I may steal that for the very infrequent occasion that I might be asked about my views on the Bible... Pretty much I think the Jesus parts of it are the parts I take the most seriously; much of the rest just doesn't apply except in very theoretical ways.

J.Po said...

impetua, I sense you'd like some of our minister's writings...as likely to quote Annie Dillard or the Sunday Times as she is Jesus, but serious none the less. I'll try and remember you to email the link separately.

And it's also nice to have her know that the bar is always open at the House of Po...

yellojkt said...

My wife went to a Baptist college and CS Lewis was very popular. I was reading The Screwtape Latters off and on and was shocked by how true they rang.