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Sunday, March 29, 2009

In college, I was told that this is a book that is generally understood better as one matures and ages. That is true for me. I still don't get it all, but I understood more of it this time! Orual is the oldest of three daughters of a king in a small land. She is not beautiful, and is not treated well by those around her, but nor does she treat them well. Their father provides them with a Greek tutor who becomes like a father to them, caring for them and teaching them in a way that is very different than the beliefs of their people. There are variety of themes that run throughout the book .. religion vs. reason .. faith vs. knowledge .. and love of self vs. love of other. The youngest daughter, Psyche, is given as a sacrifice to the gods to save the people, and Orual finds herself in a fight with the gods over this .. and fights until the end of her life.

Lewis repeatedly and variously asks questions about love. What is love? Is love that is selfish really love? As humans how much can we love? Can humans understand divine love? What does love demands of others? These are almost all asked through story and not simply words. They (and Lewis' answers) are seen in the lives of characters, for either good or ill. Orual tells her own story, and of course she tells it as she sees it, through her own eyes. The reader confronts his own selfishness, the way that emotions and actions which are not really love are treated and conveyed as love. Human love is so far from divine love .. and we have no way to make it perfect or right. At the end Orual confronts the gods and is left speechless. As it should be. Except for the gracious gift that God makes to give us one to speak for us, we have no defense. A book worth reading and re-reading, giving its truth space to work its way down into one's soul.

Title:Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold
Author: C. S. Lewis
Date published:1956
Genre: Fiction
Number of pages: 313
Notes: Repeat reading


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