Saturday, 10 December 2011

Reflections on C.S. Lewis

C.S Lewis is one of the rarest kind of Christian apologist: both atheists and believers read his material with delight. Part of his appeal comes from the great modesty he beheld. He was not, after all, very impressed with himself. A great deal lies within his clear impatience with routine hypocrisy among Christians and his disgust with lingering Puritanism. Lewis was known to describe himself  as a "converted pagan living among apostate Puritans". Recognized as a man of great knowledge, wit, and formidable logic. Lewis has exercised a profound influence on the quality of contemporary Christian belief.  Here are a few quotes from his greatest works:

'Welcome, child,' he said.
'Alsan,' said Lucy, 'you're bigger.'
'That is because you are older, little one,' answered he.
'Not because you are?'
'I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger.' 
- Prince Caspian, ch.10

"Precisely because we cannot predict the moment. we must be ready at all moments. Our Lord repeated this practical conclusion again and again; as if the promise of the Return had been made for the sake of this conclusion alone. Watch, watch, is the burden of his advice. I shall come like a thief. You will not, I most solemnly assure you, you will not, see me approaching...The point is surely simple enough. The schoolboy does not know which part of his Virgil lesson he will be made to translate: that is why he must be prepared to translate any passage. The sentry does not know what what time an enemy will attach, or an officer inspect, his post; that is why he must keep awake all the time...
Women sometimes have the problem of trying to judge by artificial light how a dress will look by daylight. That is very like the problem of all of us to dress out souls not for the electric lights of the present world but for the daylight of the next. The good dress is the one that will face that light. For that light will last longer"
- Ibid

"There is one vice of which no man in the world if free; which every one in the world loathes when he sees it in someone else; and of which hardly any people, except Christians, ever imagine that they are guilty themselves...The essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere fleabites in comparison: it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind...
If I am a proud man, that, as long as there is one man in the whole world more powerful, or richer, or cleverer and I, he is my rival and my enemy...
As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on things and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you...
The real test of being in the presence of God is that you either forget about yourself altogether or see yourself as a small, dirty object. It is better to forget about yourself altogether."
- Mere Christianity, bk 3, ch.8

"I am inclined to think a Christian would be wise to avoid, where he decently can, any meeting with people who are bullies, lascivious, cruel, dishonest, spiteful and so forth. Not because we are 'too good' for them. In a sense because we are not good enough. We are not good enough to cope with all the temptations, nor clever enough to cope with all the problems, which an evening spent in such society produces." 
- Reflections on the Psalms, ch.7

"Do not waste time bothering whether you 'love' your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him. If you injure someone you dislike, you will find yourself disliking him more. If you do him a good turn, you will find yourself disliking him less."
- Mere Christianity, bk 3, ch.9 

"The Christian attitude does not mean that there is anything wrong with sexual pleasure, any more that about the pleasure of eating. It means that you must not isolate that pleasure and try to get it by itself, any more that you ought to try ti get the pleasures of taste without swallowing and digesting, by chewing things and spitting them out again."
- Mere Christianity, bk. 3, ch.5

"We live, in fact, in a world starved for solitude, silence, and privacy: and therefore starved for meditation and true friendship."
- Transpositions and Other Addresses, ch.3

Resources: A mind awake: An anthology of C.S. Lewis, Edited by Chyde S. Kilby


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