Sunday, September 19, 2010

Our September Meeting

Some of the main points of the discussion, lead by Rev. Beckmann, were:
1) The book, Surprised by Joy, is not an autobiography, properly speaking, but a treatise on what Lewis calls "joy" using autobiographical elements. He calls his work "the history of joy" at the beginning of chapter 11.
2) The technical term used in literary studies for what Lewis calls "joy" is Sehnsucht. Lewis mentions it in the first chapter of the book. Corbin Carnell's definition of Sehnsucht is that it is an attitude, the essence of which is a sense of separation from what is desired, a ceaseless longing which always points beyond. (Carnell, Corbin Scott, Bright Shadow of Reality - Spiritual Longing in C. S. Lewis, Eerdmans, 1974, ISBN: 0802846270, p. 23.)
3) We noted the way "joy" is described by other authors, especially Wordsworth, in his poem "Surprised by joy - impatient as the wind."
4) Simone Weil, in Waiting on God, p. 165 (1951), "When we possess a beautiful thing, we still desire something. We do not in the least know what it is. We want to get behind the beauty, but it ... like a mirror sends back our own desire for goodness. It is a ... mystery that is painfully tantalizing."
5) We looked at how Lewis uses the theme of joy in his various writings, reading his poem "The Landing" and from The Pilgrim's Regress and Perelandra.
6) The idea of the land of fairie is a powerful catalyst for Sehnsucht, but Lewis does not try to write fairie stories like MacDonald or Tolkien. See Tolkien's Smyth of Wooton Major.
7) Lewis' argument that "joy" establishes the fact of the reality of what is desired is critical for Christian apologetic.
8) Short audio of my comments at the end of the meeting, relating the experience of "joy" with Christian living.