I’ve expressed my love for C.S. Lewis and his writings several times before. Not that I agree with Lewis at every point, but I do believe he had a special perspective and spiritual eye for the Christian life that is very rare these days. With that said, Selby’s book Pursuing an Earthy Spirituality, is easily one of the best books I’ve read this year. If you’re a Lewis fan, as I’m sure ALL of you are, please read this book for your own understanding of Lewis and, most importantly, your personal spiritual walk with God.
What Selby does in this book is demonstrate how Lewis wrote about and strongly believed in the connection between the spiritual and the physical; how enjoying the physical, good creation of God enhances and is finely tuned to the spiritual aspect of the Christian life, and even prepares us for the world to come. The detriment of the church is keeping the spiritual locked up in the mind. Instead, the Christian life is earthy and incarnational. Selby states that for Lewis,
savoring the sensations of taste and touch, sight and smell and hearing, these experiences that are often the richest of our earthly lives, represented a doorway into the presence of God and the first step in the spiritual journey.Selby, p. 2
Selby does a wonderful job at digging into most of Lewis’ works that express this view, especially his thoughts fleshed out in his fictional works. We find out that it is very pervasive in his writings and beliefs. We see this contrasted with what Lewis called “negative spirituality,” which renounces the pleasures that come with physical sensation, seeing Christianity on purely spiritual terms. As opposed to creating joy, Lewis believed this empties us of the joy God intended for us as His creatures.
We read about the inner, virtuous life, community, resurrection hope, and yes, even food and other physical pleasures we enjoy. This is really a fantastic book that has changed my perspective on the physical world. You will NOT regret picking this book up and reading and remembering what it says.
We tend to be cautious and skeptical about enjoying earthly pleasures. But should we? Of course, we can turn an earthly pleasure into sin with a snap of a finger because of our flesh. But what if God has designed us to enjoy these pleasures as a signpost of what is to come? A fleeting pleasure that makes us ask, “If this is so great, how much better will it soon be when all things are renewed?”
*This book was graciously provided by IVPress in exchange for an honest review.
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