A Severe Mercy
Author SHELDON VANAUKEN
First published in the 1970’s this book is still in print in various editions. It has provoked severe criticism from some reviewers. I am not wholly surprised. Some regard is as even being a damaging read to those who might be younger readers. Other readers have testified to the great blessing they have gained from going through its pages. I have known of it for years and never felt a desire to read it until recently and found tremendous food for thought in the writers prose and poetry. It is an unabashed record of love between a man and a woman, so well told in its idealisation of the wonders of that love. The claims of God and of the Lord Jesus at first intrude on that love and slowly but surely invade it. “The shining barrier” that the two had built was breached by God and both of them came to the cross of Christ and walked with Him within the framework of Oxford University life and C.S.Lewis in particular and later as the author lectured in a college in Lynchburg, Virginia. Clearly Vanauken and his wife came from wealthy Virginia backgrounds and were able to live comfortably, both as ‘pagan lovers’ and subsequently as Christians until the passing of Davy, his wife in early 1955 whilst they were both still in their thirties. All the memories, the walk through grief is quite painstakingly considered in these pages. Refreshing insights as to the thought of C.S.Lewis are included in snippets from some of his correspondence with the author. The good staunch Evangelical Christian will find elements objectionable in the life style and shift into high Anglican Church allegiance. Indeed Vanuauken later moved into the Roman Catholic fold, but anyone reading this book will become aware that there is something extremely sensitive, thoughtful, poetic and not a little rebellious in the man. He died in 1996 having published several other books as well. So, probably a book for the older person who is prepared to consider the wonderful ways that God reaches hearts and brings them, by somewhat varied routes through the same unchangeable door to life eternal in Christ Jesus.