Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis

Summer UCF allowed me the opportunity to read a book that I had been wanting to read for a long time: C.S. Lewis’ Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold. It is a beautiful retelling of Apuleius’ Metamorphoses, a second century Latin novel which is itself most likely a retelling of an older Greek myth. Lewis continually amazes me with his ability to tell a story and infuse it with so much meaning. I wanted to highlight three passages here, both of which come towards the end of the book.

I saw well why the gods do not speak to us openly, nor let us answer. Till that word can be dug out of us, why should they hear the babble that we think we mean? How can they meet us face to face till we have faces?

Wise words I think. We are often very arrogant when we speak to God; what makes us so sure we are justified in our petitions? Why are we so quick to complain about things? We need to grow up and draw close to him before we should expect Him to listen to us. Because He is gracious, He does often listen to us even before then, but why should we expect it?

The next scene is just after Orual has made her petition to the gods, the Fox explains to her what will happen next:

“We must go to your true judges now. I am to bring you there.”

“My judges?”

“Why, yes, child. The gods have been accused by you. Now’s their turn.”

“I cannot hope for mercy.”

“Infinite hopes - and fears - may both be yours. Be sure that, whatever else you get, you will not get justice.”

“Are the gods not just?”

“Oh no, child. What would become of us if they were? But come and see.”

I love this passage! We should be thankful God doesn’t deal with us justly! This is so profound I think.

And finally, just before Orual’s death, Lewis hits us across the face with her final monologe:

I ended my first book with the words no answer. I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer. You are yourself the answer. Before yoru face questions die away. What other answer would suffice? Only words, words; to be led out to battle against other words.

Beautiful. Read the book.

Categories: Literature
  1. JillW
    September 24th, 2007 at 07:11 | #1

    Excellent comments, Matt. I bought the book after seeing that you had it at the beach - it’s the next one on my list to read.

    We want to know how the teaching is going???


  2. salmypal
    September 25th, 2007 at 09:38 | #2

    Just great. Another fine book for the already long list. This one sounds really thought provoking. That second quote reminded me of the saying;

    Justice: when you get what you deserve
    Mercy: when you don’t get what you deserve
    Grace: when you get what you don’t deserve

    Thank God life isn’t fair!

  3. October 1st, 2007 at 23:17 | #3

    It really is a great read. And, aside from the fact that it took a really long time period for me to finish it, it can be read pretty quickly I think.

    Sal, that saying is something I think about all the time and Lewis just pounded it in even more!

  4. October 24th, 2007 at 12:08 | #4

    I love that last passage. I recently added to my C.S. Lewis collection, but have yet to pick them up and actually devour them. Soon, perhaps?

  5. Peter
    June 24th, 2010 at 17:50 | #5

    Hello, please visit my page and listen to the sermons of Scott about Lewis “In His Own

    Words”, they are eye-opening! He quotes him from his own books (and so on), showing who

    he really was. Its very important, you should listen to!
    :) Peter

  1. September 30th, 2007 at 21:06 | #1
  2. October 5th, 2007 at 02:04 | #2

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