Feb 11, 2012

Learning to Laugh With C.S. Lewis

If you've read C.S. Lewis, you know that even in some of his more serious works, there is humor. Have you ever stopped to wonder why Lewis writes this way? I think that there are many of us today who ignore the power of laughter, humor, and even joy in the life of a Christian. Lewis knew the power and used it in his writing to convey truth in a very powerful way. In his book Surprised by Laughter: The Comic World of C.S. Lewis, Terry Lindvall explains the power of laughter in the life and work of C.S. Lewis. He explains in four sections: joy, fun, the joke proper, and satire and flippancy. In each section Lindvall breaks down what each idea is and how is shown through the work of Lewis.

Anyone familiar with Lewis will not be surprised the joy is included as one of the sections because he built his autobiography Surprised by Joy around the concept. Joy is probably the most important in the world of Lewis is really finds itself far about all the other topics. It is only joy that one can possess no matter the circumstance. Lindvall explains how Lewis believe joy is always found in our lives even through times of suffering. Fun and joking are also evident in the work of Lewis. Many of his stories portray characters having fun and adventure. Jokes abound in his fiction. He even tells the story of the first joke in Narnia in The Magician's Nephew. Lindvall explains the importance of having fun and enjoying a good laugh with friends. The last section of the book is a little different from the rest. Satire and flippancy are related, but come from opposite attitudes. Satire is offen used by Lewis. He uses humor to expose and comment on serious situations that he believes need to change. Flippancy, however, is something that Lewis opposes. It makes light of serious points without the desire to correct. According to Lewis, a flippant person has no joy but merely laughs at the awful state of the world.

The main message of this book is that Lewis preaches a joyful and fun Christianity. Many take issue with having fun and believe we should all be very serious. Lindvall points out that in Lewis' work serious people think to much of themselves and it is instead the ones who are willing to laugh (especially at themselves) who understand humility in life. True laughter and joking is always done in love and is never more important than love.

Lindvall's book is very well done. It is easy to tell that he is very familiar with Lewis and his work. If you are studying Lewis in depth, this is a fantastic read. I highly recommend it. I must, however, make two comments about this book. First, it is long. At around 450 pages, this is an in depth study. It will take a while to get through this book for most people. Second, this often discussions more than Lewis. While the heart of this book is Lewis and his work, he often discussion the works of G.K. Chesterton and other influences on C.S. Lewis. For the most part, this makes sense, but in some chapters Lindvall writes as much about Chesterton as he does about Lewis. That being said, this is still a very good book. It is a great read for anyone who love C.S. Lewis and cannot get enough of him. It will help you to better understand Lewis and his work.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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