47. Till We All Have Faces by C.S. Lewis

Of all the books C.S. Lewis wrote, this was his favorite and he called it his best-written book. 

am still pondering its meaning for me. It is allegorical and the "retold" myth of Cupid and Psyche. I was told by my best friends' husband that I had picked one of his more difficult books to read. I love his writing though. I believe he really was one of the most brilliant writers of his time; so lyrical!

Favorite quote: 


 I now know , Lord, why you utter no answer. 
You are yourself the answer.

This harkens back to what I always say, "God is God, and we are not!" 

On the title for the book:
Orual says, "How can [the gods] meet us face to face till we have faces?"[5]He defended his choice in a letter to his long-time correspondent, Dorothea Conybeare, explaining the idea that a human "must be speaking with its own voice (not one of its borrowed voices), expressing its actual desires (not what it imagines that it desires), being for good or ill itself, not any mask."[6http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Till_We_Have_Faces#cite_note-6
Hearing this line as I returned from a day filled with transparent talk with Elizabeth from 6 - 11 am and  hiking at the beach with Elizabeth and Steph after that made me realize how important transparency is before God and trusted brothers and sisters in Christ. We must learn not to wear a mask, no matter how ugly we are underneath it. But sometimes that means people freaking out when they see that ugliness as was the case in a situation that Elizabeth and I talked about that morning. 

As I already mentioned, I am still "plumbing the depths" of the meaning behind this book and do not confess to having grasped it totally. 

Here is a thoughtful review by another person:
Till We Have Faces explores love and its subtle counterfeits and presents the tension between mystery and reason in conceptions of God. Lewis engages these themes directly in essays and longer theological writings, and he explores them in the garb of overtly Christian fiction in works like The Great Divorce and The Screwtape Letters. His penetrating insight and powerful style are a joy to read in both sorts of writing. Till We Have Faces is equally good, but it represents, more than any of Lewis's other works, a third sort of approach.

Lewis’s approach here calls to mind his statement that while he was still an atheist, Christianity wafted about him again and again in his reading, permeating his English studies and breathing from the most unexpected pages like an “all too familiar smell.” It is this familiar smell of Christianity with which Lewis scents the pages of Till We Have Faces. It is more subtle than in many of Lewis’s works, but the smell is there.

Till We Have Faces leads me to consider the complex motives that underlie my actions — even the ones that seem most altruistic; it raises the possibility that there are precious few who yet have faces. I ask myself whether my holy places are dark like Orual’s or whether I am quick, like The Fox, to explain with glib reason just what the “divine nature” is or is not like.

Till We Have Faces is a thought-provoking book that is read too little. C. S. Lewis and I recommend it.

Caleb Rasmussen is a graduate student at Pacific Union College who plans to teach high school English. He lives in Angwin with his wife, Launa, and enjoys juggling and photography. http://spectrummagazine.org/node/1435
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