Narnia Wrap-Up and Bonus Review!

With the end of July comes the end of Carrie’s annual Chronicles of Narnia reading challenge–which means that it’s time to wrap things up.

In this year’s trip to Narnia, I have explored Shasta’s seeking and Aslan’s sovereignty in The Horse and His Boy. My thoughts of the book centered around two Scriptural passages.

The first was Paul’s Mars Hill sermon in which he speaks of the Gentiles groping for God–just as Shasta (and Lewis himself) gropes for the joy the thought of the North sparks in him. Paul says that God is truly not far from the many gropers. Aslan, as a type of Christ, was also never far from the groping pilgrims. See my complete (er, complete written) thoughts here and here.

The second passage (or, perhaps more accurately, the second story) is that of Joseph telling his brothers that what they intended for evil, God meant for good. In a sort of parallel to Joseph’s story, Shasta experiences exile at the hand of jealous men, enslavement in a foreign land, and is ultimately used to bring deliverance to his people. Just like God was at work all throughout Joseph’s story, using the evil intentions of man to accomplish His own good purposes, so Aslan is at work throughout Shasta’s story. The characters in The Horse and His Boy have many intents, most of them evil–but it is Aslan’s good plan that prevails. Read my thoughts on this parallel here.

In addition to mining The Horse and His Boy, I did read a couple of biographies of Lewis.

The first, C.S. Lewis: Writer, Dreamer, and Mentor by Lionel Adey, I dismissed in my last Nightstand post–probably long after I should have.

The second biography, The Most Reluctant Convert by David C. Downing, was as different from Writer, Dreamer, and Mentor as two books can be (thankfully!)

Let’s just say that while Adey’s only apparent goal in writing Writer, Dreamer, and Mentor was tenure, Downing’s goal in The Most Reluctant Convert was clearly to tell a story–particularly the story of Jack Lewis’s religious conversion.

Where Adey discussed Lewis’s writings apparently to hear himself speak, Downing discussed them to show patterns of thought that Lewis held to at various times in his life.

In The Most Reluctant Convert, we read of Lewis’s naive childhood Christianity, his boyhood and adolescent atheism, his later dualism, the “baptism of his imagination” through reading George MacDonald. We learn of his “reluctant” conversion to theism–and finally of his wholehearted embracing of Christ Himself.

Downing posits that Lewis’s brilliance in apologetics and as a writer of semi-allegorical Christian works comes from his experience with every rejection of Christianity–and the process by which God overcame his every objection.

This was a small, but wonderfully informative volume about Lewis’s life-focusing especially on the conversion of his mind and heart.

I highly recommend this biography.

Chronicles of Narnia Reading Challenge
If you haven’t been by Reading to Know to check out some of the other posts from this month’s challenge, you’d best get over there! This year’s challenge page is found here–and Carrie’s concluding post (pending completion of a round up of everyone’s posts) is here.

WiW: A quest for Joy

The Week in Words

There’s a pang in my heart, a rumbling in my gut, a nagging in my mind.

Something in my soul says this can’t be all there is.

Somewhere deep inside, I have an insatiable, unquenchable thirst.

I’m not sure exactly what it signifies–but one thing is sure.

THIS will not satisfy.

Is this what Lewis spoke of when he talks of his quest for Joy?

“Even when he first experienced Joy as a child, Lewis recognized that the feeling was not mere nostalgia or love of nature. It was a desire, then, for what? Trying to answer that became a kind of personal grail quest for Jack, a quest he would recount first in his highly autobiographical allegory, The Pilgrim’s Regress, and again in his memoir, Surprised by Joy. Both books are organized around the search for Joy, trying and setting aside many false objects of “Sweet Desire,” until one finally comes to rest in humble recognition of the true Object one has been seeking since childhood.”
~David Downing in The Most Reluctant Convert

I can identify with Lewis’s grail, his quest to capture the elusive Joy.

I think we all can.

What was Solomon’s story but a search for Joy? Spending every resource at his disposal, seeking a Joy that none of his resources could give.

Money. Fame. Women. Wisdom. Work.

The same things I try to find meaning and purpose, Joy, in.

“Solomon had the resources to do whatever he wanted, which is exactly what he did. He gorged himself on pleasure and filled himself with wine. He poured himself into great architectural projects and bought hordes of slaves…He had money, sex, power, fame, a big house, and entertainment. He was a test case for human happiness.

If the things of the world could satisfy, then Solomon should have been the happiest man to have ever lived. And yet, after standing at the pinnacle of life and surveying all that he had accomplished and accumulated, he came to one conclusion: ‘All is vanity.’

In reality, we’re not that different from Solomon. We have our vision of what would make us happy, of what would finally give us satisfaction. And so we pursue our dreams…

And you know what? Sometimes dreams come true. We get married, have children, land the new job, buy the new house. But we’re not cured of our madness. One dream replaces another, and the circle of discontentment starts all over.”

~Stephen Altrogge in The Greener Grass Conspiracy

Joy, the elusive fulfillment of my inner longing.

The flavor I taste in a thousand things, but can only satiate in One.

“You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of Joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
~Psalm 16:11

Don’t forget to take a look at Barbara H’s meme “The Week in Words”, where bloggers collect quotes they’ve read throughout the week.