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Till We Have Faces -- is it Christian? (Contains Spoilers)

Comprising most of Lewis' writings.

Postby splashen » 29 Apr 2008, 15:18

"does this make sense to everyone?"

Yes. Makes perfect sense.
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Re: Till We Have Faces -- is it Christian?

Postby Phoenix Talon » 07 Jan 2009, 02:42

I don't think it's a radical thought at all, definitely one for pondering. But you have to understand Lewis' writing style. He love mythology, Norse being his favorite, and often incorporated them inot his works. Consider the Narnia books, how Bacchus is referenced and river gods as well. Does that make Aslan any less Christ? No.

One of the most amazing things about "Till We Have Faces" is in fact the symbolism used. Lewis used pagan gods as a symbol pointing towards Christianity. The gods were a symbol for God--just as Aslan was. Eros was a symbol for God. The great thing about the Christian God is he is almost undefinable. Symbolism works for him in multiple ways. You'll notice that in the Bible, God describes our relationship with him in several different ways. Master and servant, teacher and student, father and son, as friends, and the most intimate of all--Lover and Beloved. Lewis, in my opinion, was trying to go for a feminine viewpoint and the symbolism of God as a lover fit the best with that viewpoint.
"Are the gods not just?"
"Oh no, child. What would become of us if they were?" --Till We Have Faces
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Re: Till We Have Faces -- is it Christian?

Postby nomad » 15 Jan 2009, 00:03

Should this thread be marked Warning for spoilers? So much of TWHF's impact is based on the reader taking the journey with Orual and a couple people in here have said they're about to read it for the first time... I'm just afraid that if they've read the commentary they might not get that "Aha" moment that kicks you in the gut. Which Lewis set up so masterfully. I think most people who have read it will know what I'm talking about.
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Re: Till We Have Faces -- is it Christian? (Contains Spoilers)

Postby Sven » 15 Jan 2009, 00:08

Good thinking.
Rat! he found breath to whisper, shaking. Are you afraid?
Afraid? murmured the Rat, his eyes shining with unutterable love.
Afraid! Of Him? O, never, never! And yet -- and yet -- O, Mole, I am afraid!
Then the two animals, crouching to the earth, bowed their heads and did worship.
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Re: Till We Have Faces -- is it Christian? (Contains Spoilers)

Postby nomad » 15 Jan 2009, 00:19

Thanks Sven! I love this book. I can't bear the thought of it being spoiled for anyone.
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"Well," said Pooh, "what I like best -- " and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called.
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Re: Till We Have Faces -- is it Christian? (Contains Spoilers)

Postby Sir Linus the True » 18 Jan 2009, 21:10

All of the posts here have been fascinating.

I only read the book once, but I've been meaning to re-read it.

Lewis sometimes has conflicting statements about whether or not he meant his books to evangelize. I think what he means is that all his books have evangelistic themes, though he was not trying to write propaganda.

Also, one shouldn't look too hard for a meaning in every single thing. Yes, Aslan is Christ and the Stone Table is the crucifixion, but what meaning is there in a talking beaver or a faun with an umbrella? They're just part of the fantasy world that Lewis created, and didn't have a specific allegorical meaning. So telling the story from Orual's point of view may have just been because he thought Orual was a fascinating character, and that it would be the most interesting to read the story from her perspective.

I was confused when I first read the book because I wanted every moral to be clear-cut, as it was in Lewis' other works. But here's Orual against the pagan gods. Do I side with her because she's against pagan religion, as I am, or do I side against her because the pagan gods are a stand-in for the true God? I don't think Lewis wanted us to know the first time through. I think he wanted to challenge our own preconceptions.

Now that I know the answer to my question, I would probably enjoy the book more. But I would also probably enjoy the book simply because I enjoy moral complexity in my fiction now. (Not moral ambiguity, which is "There is no right or wrong," but moral complexity, which is "There is a definite right and wrong, but sometimes as fallen humans, we have a hard time telling the difference.") Though I enjoy the CoN more, TWHF is arguably Lewis' most accomplished work.
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Re: Till We Have Faces -- is it Christian? (Contains Spoilers)

Postby Phoenix Talon » 18 Jan 2009, 23:56

I agree with Sir Linus the True, explanation of C.S Lewis' writings was dead on.
"Are the gods not just?"
"Oh no, child. What would become of us if they were?" --Till We Have Faces
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Re: Till We Have Faces -- is it Christian? (Contains Spoilers)

Postby nomad » 24 Jan 2009, 04:10

Oh, for sure he wanted to challenge preconceptions. And he succeeded in my case. I so need to read this again, but it seems to me that Lewis was presenting several different perceptions of God - from the simple villagers who worshiped Ungit to the Fox's worship of reason and Orual lost somewhere in between. And with our pre-conditioned responses and assumptions about "civilization", tend to react negatively, or at least condescendingly, to the faith that expresses itself in a pagan ritual, and we react with sympathy to the Fox. Even those of us who ultimately disagree with him tend to find his view more acceptable. But in the end, both miss the truth and both impede their adherents from going deeper. And although we moderns sympathize more with the Fox, I think the story brings us to understand that it is not for us to say which might be closer to the truth. Because, if I remember correctly, in the end, while there were elements of both Ungit and the Fox's teachings which hindered, there were also elements of both which helped Orual forward to something that was neither one nor the other.

If anything, Psyche's faith seems to be the "ideal". But it's also not the focus of the book.
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"Well," said Pooh, "what I like best -- " and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called.
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Re: Till We Have Faces -- is it Christian? (Contains Spoilers)

Postby gameld » 05 Feb 2009, 13:59

i agree that psyche's faith is ideal and that it is not the focus of the book... sort of.

i actually think that psyche's faith is the focus indirectly. orual's lack of faith is the perfect counter-point to psyche's faith. where orual cannot quite accept either reason or "simple" belief (like fox and the villagers), psyche accepts both in their place and enjoys both fully, probably just how lewis longed to be.

many of us here on the forums have commented that we love lewis' work specifically because he is both a beautiful writer and a logical one. his essays and speeches are so beautifully told, and his creative fiction makes so much sense.

orual, though, thought both reason and beauty were unsatisfactory and so rejected both. psyche on the other hand thought both were unsatisfactory and so filled up the lack in one with the other. certainly we can say that orual's struggle with a lack of faith is the focus of the book. thus psyche's faith is the focus when considered that orual's lack of faith is in perfect counterpoint to it.
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Re: Till We Have Faces -- is it Christian? (Contains Spoilers)

Postby Peter P » 08 Mar 2009, 01:42

Hi everyone.
I don't know if this has been mentioned before, but I think Till We have Faces is Christian in the same way the Lord of the Rings is Christian. In both, it is a profoundly moral universe in which we live.
Also, TWHF reminds me of the Lewis essay "Good Work and Good Works", i.e. in my mind, it is an example of good works because it is good work.
Anyway, it is my favourite of Lewis' fiction. I think he was shaped in the writing of it by Joy D.

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Re: Till We Have Faces -- is it Christian? (Contains Spoilers)

Postby nomad » 11 Mar 2009, 04:43

That's an interesting point, gameld. About Psyche filling up the shortcomings of each with the other. Could you say then that Orual is looking for a simple answer... meaning a sort single silver-bullet answer, and only saw reason and belief as contradictory rather than complementary.
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"Well," said Pooh, "what I like best -- " and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called.
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Re: Till We Have Faces -- is it Christian? (Contains Spoilers)

Postby gameld » 13 Mar 2009, 15:57

i would say that orual was trying to find a beauty that satisfied reason or vice versa, not necessarily that she was looking for a "silver bullet." she wanted one fit in the other in order to have faith where as psyche was showed that they fit together like... i guess like marital sex: they "fit" together (slot A, tab B) and become one completed flesh; a whole that is incomplete without one another.
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Re: Till We Have Faces -- is it Christian? (Contains Spoilers)

Postby nomad » 17 Mar 2009, 22:50

I think you could even say A whole that is greater than its parts. So that as long as you look at them as separate, or in contradiction, or as if one is greater and the other must somehow bow to it, you wouldn't see how they could fit together.

That seems to be one of Orual's biggest beefs with the gods... why they make it so that some people, like Psyche, can see the whole quite easily and others, like herself, are blind to it. Why don't they show themselves clearly to everyone?
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"Well," said Pooh, "what I like best -- " and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called.
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