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Have you experienced Joy

The man. The myth.

Have you ever experienced what Lewis calls joy?

Yes, and I think it is spiritually significant
33
92%
Yes, but I atatch no spiritual significance to it
0
No votes
No, I have never had the experience.
3
8%
 
Total votes : 36

Have you experienced Joy

Postby postodave » 05 Jan 2007, 15:15

This has been raised in my mind by the question about Lewis's Myers Briggs type. Lewis raised this issue of Joy in case others shared his experience. I am wondering whether this is so, and whether it is an experience more common in certain types of person. I have not asked about personality type in the poll as that would be complicated, and people may want to explain that in terms other than Myers Briggs anyway; but comments on that would be interesting.

For myself I can say yes I have had this experience, but for me it is most strongly associated with the hypnagogic phase ie just before falling asleep. I usually revisit particular places, so it is a kind of memory, but I did not have the feeling, at least not as intensly when actually in the places I am remembering .
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Postby Fea_Istra » 05 Jan 2007, 17:28

Interesting! I never really gave this much thought until I read what Lewis had to say about it. It seems to me now that if this is indeed our 'desire for heaven', everyone probably has/had this at some point of their life...but I don't know. You mentioned Myers Briggs...can it be supposed that 'feeling' people would experience Joy more than 'thinking' people? Somehow it seems to me that personality doesn't have much to do with this, since the brain is not the 'source' of Joy. This is all assuming that Lewis was right about it. (I think he was right).

If this experience has nothing to do with heaven, etc, then for all we know it might be merely psychological/neurological. But then I don't see the point of it; Lewis' explanation makes a lot of sense....

Oki so to answer your question, I have experienced this, but strangely never when I was going to sleep...it was usually when I was reading something/looking at something/remembering something... a lot like the examples that Lewis wrote about.
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Postby nomad » 05 Jan 2007, 17:53

Yes, I have. And in similar fashion to Fae Istra. It actually seems to be moments when I am most sharply awake - though which comes first, the Joy or the awakeness, I don't know. I think they come together. More like a music chord than a scale.

I was a "thinking" in the Myers-Briggs thing. But I was also 'intuitive'. I'm not a scientific or mathematical mind. Perhaps different personalities encounter Joy through different things?
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Postby Leslie » 05 Jan 2007, 23:35

I too experience it, and not when falling asleep. My joy triggers are similar to Lewis', so that when I first read Surprised by Joy, it was a little eerie to read that his experiences were so like mine.
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Postby A#minor » 05 Jan 2007, 23:45

I most often have flashes of 'Joy' when I'm out in nature, looking at the sky and the water and the marshgrasses; but sometimes a book or poem or a verse of Scripture will trigger it too. Tolkien does that. Sometimes it's so powerful that it's like pain.
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Postby postodave » 06 Jan 2007, 12:21

Of course the problem with a poll like this is that the people who respond are probably most likely to be people who have had this experience. Still I had not expected the complete lack of dissenting voices we're getting at the moment.

Joy could be a genuine spiritual experience, a foretaste of heaven, but still confined to certain types of people. To give a comparative example: Father Victor White who was an associate Of Jung's points out that when Aquinas discusses revelation he says it is most likely to come to a particular type of person rather than to a particularly holy person. Aquinas uses the classical personality types but the one he uses according to White corresponds to the introverted intuitive which Jung sees as the mysical type.

It does seem that some of these experiences of Joy correspond more in detail to Lewis's experiences than mine do. Which I find interesting.
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Postby girlfreddy » 06 Jan 2007, 19:29

I have to say that I have not participated in the poll. Mostly because it daunted me to search my life for joy. I guess maybe I have: the day I got married, but it was so fast, so overwhelming, so exhausting that I never really got to enjoy the joy, so to speak.

This question may beg another: What is your definition of joy?

Then again, maybe not.
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Postby Sven » 06 Jan 2007, 20:05

girlfreddy wrote: What is your definition of joy?


That's defined by the title of the thread, girlfreddy. Lewis used the word Joy in a very specific, technical sense, most notably in his autobiography Surprised by Joy. It is the English equivalent of the German term sehnsucht. Wikipedia has a fairly good exposition on the term, here.

Edited to add: I should have said the title of the poll; "Have you ever experienced what Lewis calls joy?"
Last edited by Sven on 06 Jan 2007, 20:56, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Karen » 06 Jan 2007, 20:51

I experience it most when listening to certain kinds of music, most notably Bach's B minor Mass. The first time I heard it I was about 20, a devout atheist, had no idea what a 'Mass' even was or anything about Christ. And yet I was moved to tears and felt a great longing, without in the least knowing why or for what. Whenever Lewis talks about Sehnsucht, I think of that experience.
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Postby A#minor » 06 Jan 2007, 21:39

One of my favorite verses about that painful and joyful and indescribable longing feeling is "For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. ... But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly.." Hebrews 11: 14, 16

It reminds of when Professor Kirke tells Susan and Peter that if they listen and watch carefully they may see in other people signs that they too have been to other worlds. People who act that way declare plainly what they are seeking.
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Postby Esther » 08 Jan 2007, 16:12

In a class I took on Lewis at a Christian college, my professor asked a similar question, but instead of using Lewis's term, he asked if any of us had ever had a "transcendent moment," (which might make the idea a little more accessible for those who have not read Surprised By Joy.) I too, relate very much to Lewis's and several other's expereinces of Joy or transcendent moments, while listening to certain music, reading certain books, or experiencing nature. One moment that I remember particularly well was one afternoon when I had been on jury duty, and we had been given a long lunch break. It was a sunny summer day and I went to a nearby park to eat my lunch. As I was watching a butterfly drift past, I was suddenly struck with an overwhelming sense of God's presence, his intimate knowledge of everything I was seeing and feeling, and his perfect joy in his creation. I know it might sound a little cheesy, but it was really a very striking moment for me.

What I find so interesting about Lewis's description of Joy is that he says that he no longer had the experience, or at least did not pay any attention to it, after he became a Christian. Having become a Christian at a very young age, I have never been able to experience it in anything but a post-conversion state. He says that he no longer needed the feeling to draw him to God because he had already found God, but I find that I still need such occaisional expereinces as an encouragement or a reminder of what is truly important. They seem to put things in spiritual perspective for me. Can anyone else relate to that?
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Postby Stanley Anderson » 08 Jan 2007, 19:07

I've mentioned before on these forums a theory I have about Lewis' concept of Joy and I'll recreate it here since it seems pertinent. Note that what I will be describing are only my wandering thoughts about the idea and are not necessarily what I "believe" about any of it, but simply find it interesting to think about and conjecture about. If any of it conflicts with established Christian doctrine, I would obviously concede to that of course.

The scriptural concept of Hope, to me always seemed a bit "corrupted" by our worldly concept of hope in that the worldly concept apparently has a "desire" aspect, and an "uncertain" aspect combined. In other words, when I say I hope so-and-so wins an election, I have a desire for that to happen, but by saying "hope" I also imply that I'm not sure that it actually WILL happen.

But the "uncertain" aspect seems to me to be out of place in the Scriptural concept of Hope (as in "Faith, Hope, and Charity"). It seems to me that Faith is the act of our belief, while Hope is a longing or desire for God and his Will without the necessity of being uncertain. I tend to relate it a bit to the letter to the church at Ephesus where it says "Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love". I think of that criticism as saying that they are doing the things they should by rote, but have lost the desire or the longing to do them -- ie, their first love -- or their Hope, if you will.

So, back to Lewis' concept of Joy as being an intense desire for "I know not what". He acknowledged (before his conversion) that the apparent object of that intense desire or longing never seemed to "pan out" -- ie, if he actually walked over to that distant hillside that seemed to call out to him and manifest the pain and longing of Joy, he would find out that it disappeared or seemed to come from somewhere else. The physical thing that seemed to be the source of Joy always turned out to be more just a "tool" to call it up, but was not the true source of the Joy.

And of course, as we all know, what he finally concluded was that the pangs of Joy were really longings for God and were only "disguised" as it were, as coming from His Creation, and Joy's elusive manner was meant to eventually draw the one experiencing it to God Himself.

And so my "theory" about Lewis' idea of Joy is that it is a sort of "pre-conversion" version of Scriptural Hope, its difference being that in Hope we know what the true object of the desire of that Hope is (ie God), but in Lewis' Joy the one experiencing it has yet to discover that true object of longing that it seems to call forth.

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Postby Leslie » 09 Jan 2007, 03:02

Stanley Anderson wrote:And so my "theory" about Lewis' idea of Joy is that it is a sort of "pre-conversion" version of Scriptural Hope, its difference being that in Hope we know what the true object of the desire of that Hope is (ie God), but in Lewis' Joy the one experiencing it has yet to discover that true object of longing that it seems to call forth.

I can't speak for Lewis, but in my experience, Lewisian joy did not diminish when I became a Christian and identified these longings with a longing for God. If anything, it intensified.
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Postby A#minor » 10 Jan 2007, 14:53

Leslie wrote:I can't speak for Lewis, but in my experience, Lewisian joy did not diminish when I became a Christian and identified these longings with a longing for God. If anything, it intensified.

I agree. The closer I am to God, the more and more I long for what I don't know yet - for what I can't have until heaven.
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Postby Esther » 11 Jan 2007, 00:15

Stanley Anderson wrote:And so my "theory" about Lewis' idea of Joy is that it is a sort of "pre-conversion" version of Scriptural Hope, its difference being that in Hope we know what the true object of the desire of that Hope is (ie God), but in Lewis' Joy the one experiencing it has yet to discover that true object of longing that it seems to call forth.


Yes, I think that's a great way of putting it, Stanley, and I see now that if I had gone back to the original, I could have answered my own question. Upon re-reading the last page of Surprised By Joy, Lewis isn't saying that he never felt Joy again; in fact, he says that it "has come to me as often and as sharply since my conversion as at any time of my life whatever." But now he is no longer mystified and confused by it. He knows what it means and where it comes from. And so now it may serve as an encouragement (as many of us have said it does for us), but is no longer a deep mystery needing to be solved.
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