Skip to main content

A Severe Mercy--The Movie

Great news! I just read today that a company has purchased the rights to develop A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken into a film, and someone is beginning to work on a script for the movie. To read more about it click here: A Severe Mercy.

A Severe Mercy is one of my favorite books of all time. I was blessed to correspond with Sheldon Vanauken and meet him twice during the last year of his life. To learn more about him and the book click here:


Tiffany said…
What a delight to have stumbled upon your blog tonight, at the end of a series of oddly connected steps: a question on a forum had me relating "must read" books that included several of Lewis's and a conscious but difficult decision to leave off Vanauken in favor of Paul Elie's "The Life You Save May Be Your Own: An American Pilgrimage".

That inspired a post on my own Catholic blog about Elie's book, in which I mentioned that I'd purchased it at the same used bookstore at the same time as "A Severe Mercy", neither of which I'd ever heard of before.

My own mention reminded me how I'd loved Vanauken's book (and its sequel, and Encounter with Light) and I ran a blog search for his name...and learned of this movie.

The idea made me uneasy, but having followed your link and read a bit from the lady in charge, I'm feeling quite hopeful.
Glad to make your acquaintance Tiffany. I too am hopeful for the movie of ASM. I have wanted to see a movie made of this story ever since Van's death in 1996.

Go under the mercy!
Liza's Eyeview said…
This is one of my ALL TIME FAVORITE too :)
Anonymous said…
hi Will.
I've just graduated from University of York (UK). Enjoyed v.much 'Severe Mercy'! Do you know if the film will be over in the UK soon?
If you're ever over in England, please do come to speak at our University Christian Union on C.S.Lewis!
Ed Veale
WILL VAUS, said…
Dear Anonymous,

The movie version of "A Severe Mercy" is still in the very early stages of pre-production: script-writing, fundraising, etc. So I wouldn't expect to see it on the big screen in the UK or in America any time soon. Until then, we can all enjoy re-reading the book!
Anonymous said…
Hello Will,

I am just reading A Severe Mercy for the first time and came across your blog through looking for information on the film.

I see that this post announcing the production is over a year old, I wonder if you happen to know any details about what progress has been made since then?

I'm glad to have found your blog; it seems to be a great CSL resource.

WILL VAUS, said…
Dear Julia,

I am glad you have found the blog and even more happy for you that you are reading "A Severe Mercy" for the first time. You have such treats in store!

I don't know much more about what is happening with the movie other than the fact that Barb Nicolosi is still working on the script and that Origin Entertainment is still raising money to make the movie.

If you like the Lewis stuff on my blog you will like my web site even better

Stay in touch.

alex said…
I just had to read this book for Theology and we were on the topic of pain and suffering. Lets be honest this book was terrible it was a waste of my time and it was pointless. Every quiz I took I got a zero and so I literally hate this book. Its the reason I have to take sophomore theology over again
Will Vaus said…
Alex, how about telling me WHY you didn't like this book....
Bonnie Yvonne Wolfman said…
I was an aftercare counselor for a funeral home, and met with a doctor who had just lost his wife. He was also a lapsed Christian, and had walked away from God.

As I was praying and asking God the direction for this grieving man. A Severe Mercy came to mind, and I told him about the book. He wrote it down and I did not see him again for several months.

I was at an event with Ben Carson speaking and felt these big arms around me, and a voice saying, thank you, thank you, thank you. It was the doctor, and he shared that when he read the book, he felt the sense of God coming back into his life. He ended up reestablishing his relationship with Jesus, and now remarried to a wonderful Christian women, they are both serving the Lord. He also said that he brought a case of the books and gave them away.

It was a blessing to see God bring great restoration in this man's life after such a catastrophic loss.

I thought I would share the life changing aspect of the book.

For me, it had a profound affect on my life many years ago when I first read it, and have reread it since. It is a beautiful book. I am a songwriter and have written some love songs that I believe were the offshoot of this reading...
Will Vaus said…
Thank you for sharing that story. I believe, based upon reading Van's letter log of people who wrote to him about ASM, that your story could be multiplied many times, though everyone's story is unique in some ways.

You might enjoy reading my biography of Sheldon Vanauken, available on Amazon and my web site:

Under the Mercy,

Popular posts from this blog

C. S. Lewis on Homosexuality

Arthur Greeves
In light of recent developments in the United States on the issue of gay marriage, I thought it would be interesting to revisit what C. S. Lewis thought about homosexuality. Lewis, who died in 1963, never wrote about same-sex marriage, but he did write, occasionally, about the topic of homosexuality in general. In the following I am quoting from my book, Mere Theology: A Guide to the Thought of C. S. Lewis. For detailed references and footnotes, you may obtain a copy from Amazon, your local library, or by clicking on the book cover at the right....
In Surprised by Joy, Lewis claimed that homosexuality was a vice to which he was never tempted and that he found opaque to the imagination. For this reason he refused to say anything too strongly against the pederasty that he encountered at Malvern College, where he attended school from the age of fifteen to sixteen. Lewis did not rate pederasty as the greatest evil of the school because he felt the cruelty displayed at Malver…

A Prayer at Ground Zero

Christmas Day Thought from Henri Nouwen

"I keep thinking about the Christmas scene that Anthony arranged under the altar. This probably is the most meaningful "crib" I have ever seen. Three small woodcarved figures made in India: a poor woman, a poor man, and a small child between them. The carving is simple, nearly primitive. No eyes, no ears, no mouths, just the contours of the faces. The figures are smaller than a human hand - nearly too small to attract attention at all.
"But then - a beam of light shines on the three figures and projects large shadows on the wall of the sanctuary. That says it all. The light thrown on the smallness of Mary, Joseph, and the Child projects them as large, hopeful shadows against the walls of our life and our world.
"While looking at the intimate scene we already see the first outlines of the majesty and glory they represent. While witnessing the most human of human events, I see the majesty of God appearing on the horizon of my existence. While being moved by the ge…

Sheldon Vanauken Remembered

A good crowd gathered at the White Hart Cafe in Lynchburg, Virginia on Saturday, February 7 for a powerpoint presentation I gave on the life and work of Sheldon Vanauken. Van, as he was known to family and friends, was best known as the author of A Severe Mercy, the autobiography of his love relationship with his wife Jean "Davy" Palmer Davis.

While living in Oxford, England in the early 1950's, Van and Davy came to faith in Christ through the influence of C. S. Lewis. Van was a professor of history and English literature at Lynchburg College from 1948 until his retirement around 1980. A Severe Mercy tells the story of Davy's death from a mysterious liver ailment in 1955 and Van's subsequent dealing with grief. Van himself died from cancer in 1996.

It was my privilege to know Van for a brief period of time during the last year of his life. However, present at the White Hart on February 7 were some who knew Van far better than I did--Floyd Newman, one of Van's…

Fact, Faith, Feeling

"Now Faith, in the sense in which I am here using the word, is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods. For moods will change, whatever view your reason takes. I know that by experience. Now that I am a Christian I do have moods in which the whole thing looks very improbable: but when I was an atheist I had moods in which Christianity looked terribly probable. This rebellion of your moods against your real self is going to come anyway. That is why Faith is such a necessary virtue: unless you teach your moods 'where to get off', you can never be either a sound Christian or even a sound atheist, but just a creature dithering to and fro, with its beliefs really dependent on the weather and the state of its digestion. Consequently one must train the habit of Faith." Mere Christianity

Many years ago, when I was a young Christian, I remember seeing the graphic illustration above of what C. S. Lewis has, here, so eloquen…

C. S. Lewis Tour--London

The final two days of our C. S. Lewis Tour of Ireland & England were spent in London. Upon our arrival we enjoyed a panoramic tour of the city that included Westminster Abbey. A number of our tour participants chose to tour the inside of the Abbey where they were able to view the new C. S. Lewis plaque in Poets' Corner.

Though London was not one of Lewis' favorite places to visit, there are a number of locations associated with him. One which I have noted in my new book, In the Footsteps of C. S. Lewis, is Endsleigh Palace Hospital (25 Gordon Street, London) where Lewis recovered from his wounds received during the First World War....

Not too far away from this location is King's College, part of the University of London, located on the Strand, just off the River Thames. This is the location where Lewis gave the annual commemoration oration entitled The Inner Ring on 14 December 1944....

C. S. Lewis occasionally attended theatrical events in London. One of his favorites w…

C. S. Lewis on Church Attendance

A friend's blog written yesterday ( got me thinking about C. S. Lewis's experience of the church. I wrote this in a comment on Wes Robert's blog:
It is interesting to note that C. S. Lewis attended the same small church for over thirty years. The experience was nothing spectacular on a weekly basis. For most of those years Lewis didn't care much for the sermons; he even sat behind a pillar so that the priest would not see the expression on his face. He attended the service without music because he so disliked hymns. And he left right after holy communion was served probably because he didn't like to engage in small talk with other parishioners after the service. But that life-long obedience in the same direction shaped Lewis in a way that nothing else could.
Lewis was once asked, "Is attendance at a place of worship or membership with a Christian community necessary to a Christian way of life?"
His answer was as follows: &q…

C. S. Lewis's Parish Church

The first time I visited Oxford, in 1982, the porter at Magdalen College didn't even recognize the name--C. S. Lewis. I had asked him if he could give me directions to Lewis's former home in Headington Quarry. Obviously, he could not and did not. (Directions to Lewis's former home are now much easier to obtain. Just click here for directions and to arrange a tour: The Kilns.)
Things have changed a lot since 1982. Now Lewis is remembered all around Oxford. At the pub where the Inklings met, at Magdalen College, and not least--at his parish church--Holy Trinity Headington Quarry. The first time I visited the church I only saw the outside and Lewis's grave, shared with his brother Warnie.
Since that first visit I have returned to Holy Trinity a number of times and worshiped there. Father Tom Honey is a real gem. Under his leadership the congregation has grown and now includes a number of young families. I was overwhelmed by the number of children who came into the sanctuary…

A Christmas Psalm

Psalm 110
The Lord says to my Lord:
"Sit at my right hand
until I make your enemies
a footstool for your feet."

The Lord will extend your mighty scepter from Zion;
you will rule in the midst of your enemies.
Your troops will be willing on your day of battle.
Arrayed in holy majesty,
from the womb of the dawn
you will receive the dew of your youth.

The Lord has sworn
and will not change his mind:
"You are a priest forever,
in the order of Melchizedek."

The Lord is at your right hand;
he will crush kings on the day of his wrath.
He will judge the nations, heaping up the dead
and crushing the rulers of the whole earth.
He will drink from a brook beside the way;
therefore he will lift up his head.

C. S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms,
Chapter XII, paragraphs 4 & 5:

"We find in our Prayer Books that Psalm 110 is one of those appointed for Christmas Day. We may at first be surprised by this. There is nothing in it about peace and good-will, nothing remotely sugg…