Sunday, August 22, 2010

Book Review: The Problem of Pain

The Problem of Pain
by C.S. Lewis

I really enjoy Lewis's writing.  He makes logical, well-supported arguments, but using language and syntax that are eminently understandable and natural.  I feel like I could read his work out loud without tripping over myself; parsing his sentences is effortless.  Even beyond the loveliness of his writing, however, is the intelligence and care with which he treats his subject.

For example, when he wishes to make distinction between two related ideas, he very clearly outlines what it is he is not talking about, or not trying to prove.  He makes it very clear that pain, and Hell, are not good, nor tolerable, but necessary according to the laws of free will and God's love.

Augh, I can't even do justice to a review without quoting most of the book to you.  Lewis explains things better than I could summarize them.  Here's just a few of the quotes I enjoyed:

"We are... a  Divine work of art, something that God is making, and therefore something with which He will not be satisfied until it has a certain character."

"Love may forgive all infirmities and love still in spite of them: but Love cannot cease to will their removal."

"If, when walking on slippery pavement, you neglect the law of Prudence, you suddenly find yourself obeying the law of gravitation."

"For you will certainly carry out God's purpose, however you act, but it makes a difference to you whether you serve like Judas or like John."

"Be sure that the ins and outs of your individuality are no mystery to Him; and one day they will no longer be a mystery to you.  The mould in which a key is made would be a strange thing, if you had never seen a key: and the key itself a strange thing if you had never seen a lock.  Your soul has a curious shape because it is a hollow made to fit a particular swelling in the infinite contours of the Divine substance, or a key to unlock one of the doors in the house with many mansions.  For it is not humanity in the abstract that is to be saved, but you-- you, the individual reader, John Stubbs or Janet Smith.  Blessed and fortunate creature, your eyes shall behold Him and not another's.  All that you are, sins apart, is destined, if you will let God have his good way, to utter satisfaction... God will look to every soul like its first love because He is its first love.  Your place in heaven will seem to be made for you and you alone, because you were  made for it-- made for it stitch by stitch as a glove is made for a hand."

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