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This review is from: The Problem of Pain (C.S. Lewis Classics) (Paperback)
The problem is a real one, and Lewis brings considerable intellectual power to bear. But the result is disappointing. If his role is to "justify the ways of God to man", then in an intellectual sense he has succeeded to the extent of internal consistency. But his chapter on animal pain is chilling; if he had ever seen an animal in pain he could hardly have written so callously. His avowed fear of pain makes him intellectualize it to the vanishing point. This was an intensely human man, in some ways a noble man, but the humanity and nobility are missing and all that is left is the Oxford don. Read this, then read A Grief Observed, when he has to face the loss of his wife. That's the real book. That book gives the whole truth about the problem of pain. As he says in A Grief Observed, the cardplayers are right. if there's no money riding on the game, no one takes it seriously. The problem with The Problem of Pain is that Lewis had no money riding on the game when he wrote it.
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Initial post: Jul 10, 2010 4:33:32 AM PDT
Charles T. Bauer says:
Very well said. Thank you.
Posted on Jul 16, 2012 11:40:18 AM PDT
D Skopp says:
I must agree...and I am grateful that my response to Lewis's work, despite his gifts and his gifts to all of us, is not unlike yours. He doesn't account for the pain of innocents, aside to "reassure" us that it is in God's plan. With his faith, this might work. Without it, it just doesn't.
My novel, Shadows Walking, attempts to describe how a well-meaning German physician could become a Nazi doctor and inflict pain on so many innocents...Shadows Walking: A Novel At the least, I hope, I evoke the compassion that Lewis would have welcomed, as well as evidence for his argument that a choice to do evil results in evil. Still, Lewis' explanation for that evil does not persuade me. Just saying, 'the devil did it' or 'man's failure to choose good' is the cause of evil in the world may well fit his theology but does little to help us understand and perhaps be on our guard against making evil choices ourselves.
Posted on Apr 10, 2013 11:57:31 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 10, 2013 11:58:20 PM PDT
I have to disagree. I think it's as unlikely that being in pain especially qualifies one to write about pain as it is that being drunk especially qualifies one to write about drunkenness. It might do the reverse.
I also expect that after Lewis recovered from his grief, he would have had few objections to his earlier conclusions. To put it mildly, you can't always think straight when you're hurting. Even if you're a great thinker.
And claiming that he's so scared of pain he's pushing it way by intellectualizing it sounds like a bit of unwarranted psycho-analysis. He set out to write a book. That's an intellectualizing exercize. What was he supposed to do in this book, hit his thumb with a hammer? :)
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