C.S. Lewis sets out to disentangle this knotty issue, but wisely adds that in the end no intellectual solution can dispense with the necessity for patience and courage.
©1940 C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd.; (P)2000 Blackstone Audiobooks
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"An Extraordinary Little Book"
This book is not for people who fear a questioning of their faith. Nor is it for those who hate intellectualizing religion.
No Bible thumping, no cute or warm stories, no inane pycho-babble. It is a dispassionate and logical tour de force showing first why the notion of God arises in humans and then why morality based on a loving God is possible in a world that seems at times totally cold and empty. His discussion of the concept of omnipotence is probably the best I've ever heard. Very persuasive.
Lewis was a celebrated professor of English at Oxford. He became an atheist at the tender age of 13, but later converted to Christianity (with the help of his colleague Tolkein) at the age of 31. He is perhaps the most famous modern Christian intellectual.
The narration of this audiobook is unbelievably good. The narrator Robert Whitfield is not often given praise in the reviews. He is a true professional and his readings only add to the quality of the experience. He has the same type of perfect British cadence and disinterested tone that James Mason had in the movies. What a voice!
"The meaning of our existence"
I think this book has a very unfortunate title. Two things people are most likely to shun are problems and pain; therefore this very precious book is perhaps overlooked by many. It is not a book about pain but an explanation of first, why pain in the world, is a problem at all. If our existence were not attributed to a loving creator, then no explanation for why there is pain would be necessary. Second, if God does truly love us, then why is there so much suffering? Does He lack the ability or the will to make things better for us, His creatures? Of course not, so why does He allow us to go on like this?
Lewis takes a very interesting approach to show that the world is the way it is because it is the only possible way God could be who He is and love us the way He does and most important of all - reveal Him self to us. This book is a journey into understanding the God who created us, loves us, and gave his Son to save us to the uttermost.
The narration is very good also.
"Finally some decent answers"
I write, "finally" some decent answers, and yet this book has been around since before World War II. The author, an agnostic-turned-Christian explores the knotty questions of whether God is good, powerful, and omnicient all at once, and whether and why such a god would permit pain in the human experience.
This is one of those I'll read/listen to several times.
"Everyone experiences pain; understand why."
A genius at work. Listen to this work, but keep a tissue close.
The loss of a beloved and the struggle of a Christian to understand "why life is so hard".
"very helpful book."
I enjoy the audio version as I am in my long commute to and from the office.
With this particular author it is important to re-listen to some sections as it is hard to comprehend totally the first time one listens due to the depth of the subject.
"Such Great Insight"
I have always loved CSL's work. He has no fear to tackle the big conflicts of Christianity and unravel them in a way that is unbiased. So many authors, both Christian and athiestic, tend to write based on how they want to see the world, or how their pre-conceived notions push them. CSL's insight into pain, why it exists and why it compels us to see a good God, is so deep and yet so basic that it demands attention. I have already listend to this book twice and will most likely listen several times again.
"It was Very complex"
You really cant listen to this well your driving it takes all of your concentration to follow
"Not a book easy to listen to"
Yes in order to get all that I missed or misinterpreted the first time.
Lewis's explanation of pain in light of man's now being a genetically new creature, a fallen creature in need of salvation and why pain goes on as man is reshaped back into the form of Adam and Christ, the second, sinless Adam.
The reshaping of man.
This is not a book easy to listen to. Although Vance does an excellent job of getting out there what Lewis said, Lewis is a Brit, and I as a poor American with my limited exposure to English in its truest form have such a hard time discerning what a man with such an extensive knowledge of the language (who seems aeons beyond me in how he chooses to present things) chooses to say. I had to back up and re-listen so many times. This seems as though it might not require so much of this had I enjoyed the book in print instead. WHEW!
"Unsuited For Audio"
This excellent book is one of those that needs to be read in small doses, set aside for a few minutes, and then resumed after careful consideration. The nature of the spoken word is much different that the written word. The written word stays put on the page and can be revisited at will for further study, but the spoken word proceeds apace and must be digested and analyzed on the fly. This is why great orators are so highly regarded, and also explains the widespread nature of demagoguery.
In this book the author raises many issues that require further examination if one is to gain anything at all from the presentation, and he raises them in rapid succession. In spite of the excellent, undistracting narration, the listener is wont to pause the reading, then resume it, pause, resume, backtrack, resume, backtrack, and so on. I've found that by repeating the chapters two, three, and even four or five times one can come away with a grasp of the material that satisfies.
"Precede with Mere Christianity"
This was, in my opinion, a very satisfactory supplement after reading Mere Christianity by the same author. I would however advise that readers follow my same order when reading the two, especially non-Christians, for the sake of helpful (although certainly not absolutely necessary) background. As always with Lewis however, the readership can be as diverse or secular as you please, and they still would no doubt appreciate this as a work of satisfyingly thorough philosophy if not also divine meditation on a very human level of humility.
"Not such a classic"
I found this book confusing.
C S Lewis wrote that it was a book for 'ley people', i.e. normal folk and not theological academics. I can only assume that normal folk were a lot smarter 50 years ago then I am now!
This is one of Lewis's earlier books on Christianity and it shows. To mind my he writes here for the Oxford undergraduates and fellow Dons he enjoyed debating with, even if that was not what he set out to do. The problem is that he doesn't take a very straight forward approach to the main question ('How can a good God allow bad things to happen to people?'), but asks lots of smaller questions that certainly never occured to me and didn't shed a lot of light on the main problem. E.g. the first chapter is a brilliant piece on the historical acceptance of the pressence of God, but it doesn't say much about pain. There's fascinating stuff abotu dinosaurs and all sorts of things later on, but it won't give you any comfort.
The book is brimming with ideas and gives an interesting back ground to his fantastic novel Out of a Silent Planet, which works some of them into a story.
I would advise anybody who wants some solid answers on the problem of pain or anyone starting to read Lewis to stay away from this book. The issues are much better (and more clearly) examined in the undisputed Lewis classic Mere Christianity and the far more personal A Grief Observed, both great books that I highly recommend.
"Brilliant, if very packed with concepts and ideas."
Near perfect answer to the questions like: Why does a good God allow evil,pain and suffering.
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