The Radiance of the King

I’ve just finished reading “The Radiance of the King“, a book I discovered on accident at a Salvation Army in Hillsboro, IL.  It’s an African literature classic, written originally in French in 1954 by Camara Laye.  It’s a great book on many levels…but for me, it hit strongly on two in particular.

First – the levels of mystery and difference it reveals that exist between ancient African cultures and my own.  The confused main character, who has been shipwrecked and finds himself navigating alone through unknown lands.  At first he’s demaning an audience with the King, and that yields to submitting and humbling himself to a journey larger than he’d intended.  Second – probably unintended, but it’s hard to imagine not making a connection here – the levels of connection between this story and our experience of Jesus as King.  The entire book, Clarence desires to come before the King.  He might miss an opportunity, and he may not always have it as his first thought, but it is nevertheless foundational for who he is becoming.

Here’s a sample to make you want to grab a copy….
“Still the king did not turn his eyes away.  And his eyes…In spite of everything, his eyes seemed to be calling…Then, suddently, Clarence went up to him.  He ought to have bumped into the outer wall, but as he approached it the wall melted away, the hut behind him melted away, and he walked on.

He went forward and he had no garment upon his nakedness. But the thought did not enter his head that he ought first of all to have put his (covering) on; the king was looking at him, and nothing, nothing had any more meaning beside that look.  It was so luminous a look, one in which there was so much sweetness that hope, a foolish hope, woke in Clarence’s heart.  Yes, hope now strove with fear within him, and hope was growing stronger than fear.  And though the sense of his impurity seemed to be holding him back, at the same time Clarence was going forward.  He went on with stumbling steps; he stumbled as he trod on the rich carpet; every moment it seemed to him as if his legs or the ground beneat him were going to disappear.   But he kept moving forward, forward all the time, and his legs did not betray him, nor did the ground open up under him.  And that look….That look still did not turn away from him.  “My lord! My lord!” Clarence kept whispering, “Is it true that you are calling me?  Is it true that the odor which is upon me does not offend you and does not make you turn away in horror?”

And because that look still calmly rested upon him, because the call was still going out to him, he was pierced as if by a tongue of fire….”
So what happens to Clarence?  Was this his first meeting with the King?  His last?  How did the King respond?  Note: there may be one or two scenes that may offend readers.  If that happens, simply skip to the next paragraph.  Let me know if you wanna borrow my copy, or check here to order yours!

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