Friday, April 30, 2010
Christians are taught to love their neighbours. How, there- lore, can they justify their attitude of supporting the war?
You are told to love your neighbour as yourself. How do you love yourself? When I look into my own mind, I find that I do not love myself by thinking myself a dear old chap or having affectionate feelings. I do not think that I love myself because I am particularly good, but just because I am myself and quite apart from my character. I might detest something which I have done. Nevertheless, I do not cease to love myself. In other words, that definite distinction that Christians make between hating sin and loving the sinner is one that you have been making in your own case since you were born. You dislike what you have done, but you don’t cease to love yourself. You may even think that you ought to he hanged. You may even think that you ought to go to the Police and own up and be hanged. Love is not affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person’s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained. It seems to me, therefore, that when the worst comes to the worst, if you cannot restrain a man by any method except by trying to kill him, then a Christian must do that. That is my answer. But I may be wrong. It is very difficult to answer, of course.
"Answers to Questions on Christianity," God in the Dock (Eerdmans: 1970) 48.
Thursday, April 29, 2010
I have been asked to open with a few words on Christianity and Modern Industry. Now Modern Industry is a subject of which I know nothing at all. But for that very reason it may illustrate what Christianity, in my opinion, does and does not do. Christianity does not replace the technical. When it tells you to feed the hungry it doesn’t give you lessons in cookery. If you want to learn that, you must go to a cook rather than a Christian. If you are not a professional Economist and have no experience of Industry, simply being a Christian won’t give you the answer to industrial problems. My own idea is that modern industry is a radically hopeless system. You can improve wages, hours, conditions, etc., but all that doesn’t cure the deepest trouble: i.e., that numbers of people are kept all their lives doing dull repetition work which gives no full play to their faculties. How that is to be overcome, I do not know. If a single country abandoned the system it would merely fall a prey to the other countries which hadn’t abandoned it. I don’t know the solution: that is not the kind of thing Christianity teaches a person like me. Let’s now carry on with the questions.
"Answers to Questions on Christianity," God in the Dock (Eerdmans: 1970) 48.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Sunday, April 25, 2010
C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves (1960; Harcourt Brace: 1991) 129.
Saturday, April 24, 2010
Friday, April 23, 2010
C.S. Lewis, "Christian Apologetics" (1945) included in God in the Dock (Eerdmans, 1970) 89-90. This paper was read to an assembly of Anglican priests and youth leaders at the ‘Carmarthen Conference for Youth Leaders and Junior ‘clergy’ of the Church in Wales at Carmarthen.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Monday, April 19, 2010
C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves (1960; Harcourt Brace: 1991) 111.
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Friday, April 16, 2010
And as all Christians know there is another way of giving to God; every stranger whom we feed or clothe is Christ. And this apparently is Gift-love to God whether we know it or not. Love Himself can work in those who know nothing of Him. The “sheep” in the parable had no idea either of the God hidden in the prisoner whom they visited or of the God hidden in themselves when they made the visit. (I take the whole parable to be about the judgment of the heathen. For it begins by saying, in the Greek, that the Lord will summon all “the nations” before Him—presumably, the Gentiles, the Goyim.)
C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves (1960; Harcourt Brace: 1991) 129.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Finally, by a high paradox, God enables men to have a Gift-love towards Himself. There is of course a sense in which no one can give to God anything which is not already His; and if it is already His what have you given? But since it is only too obvious that we can withhold ourselves, our wills and hearts, from God, we can, in that sense, also give them. What is His by right and would not exist for a moment if it ceased to be His (as the song is the singer’s), He has nevertheless made ours in such a way that we can freely offer it back to Him. “Our wills are ours to make them Thine.”
C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves (1960; Harcourt Brace: 1991) 128-129.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
As so often, Our Lord’s own words are both far fiercer and far more tolerable than those of the theologians. He says nothing about guarding against earthly loves for fear we might be hurt; He says something that cracks like a whip about trampling them all under foot the moment they hold us back from following Him. “If any man come to me and hate not his father and mother and wife . . . and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26).
But how are we to understand the word hate? That Love Himself should be commanding what we ordinarily mean by hatred—commanding us to cherish resentment, to gloat over another’s misery, to delight in injuring him—is almost a contradiction in terms. I think Our Lord, in the sense here intended, “hated” St. Peter when he said, “Get thee behind me.” To hate is to reject, to set one’s face against, to make no concession to, the Beloved when the Beloved utters, however sweetly and however pitiably, the suggestions of the Devil. A man, said Jesus, who tries to serve two masters, will “hate” the one and “love” the other. It is not, surely, mere feelings of aversion and liking that are here in question. He will adhere to, consent to, work for, the one and not for the other.
C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves (1960; Harcourt Brace: 1991) 123.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves (1960; Harcourt Brace: 1991) 121.
Monday, April 12, 2010
Of course this is excellent sense. Don’t put your goods in a leaky vessel. Don’t spend too much on a house you may be turned out of. And there is no man alive who responds more naturally than I to such canny maxims. I am a safety-first creature. Of all arguments against love none makes so strong an appeal to my nature as “Careful! This might lead you to suffering.”
To my nature, my temperament, yes. Not to my conscience. When I respond to that appeal I seem to myself to be a thousand miles away from Christ. If I am sure of anything I am sure that His teaching was never meant to confirm my congenital preference for safe investments and limited liabilities. I doubt whether there is anything in me that pleases Him less. And who could conceivably begin to love God on such a prudential ground—because the security (so to speak) is better? Who could even include it among the grounds for loving? Would you choose a wife or a Friend—if it comes to that, would you choose a dog—in this spirit? One must be outside the world of love, of all loves, before one thus calculates. Eros, lawless Eros, preferring the Beloved to happiness, is more like Love himself than this.
I think that this passage in the Confessions is less a part of St. Augustine’s Christendom than a hangover from the high-minded Pagan philosophies in which he grew up. It is closer to Stoic “apathy” or neo-Platonic mysticism than to charity. We follow One who wept over Jerusalem and at the grave of Lazarus, and, loving all, yet had one disciple whom, in a special sense, he “loved.” St. Paul has a higher authority with us than St. Augustine—St. Paul who shows no sign that he would not have suffered like a man, and no feeling that he ought not so to have suffered, if Epaphroditus had died (Phil. 2:27).
C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves (1960; Harcourt Brace: 1991) 120-121.
Sunday, April 11, 2010
C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves (1960; Harcourt Brace: 1991) 119.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
I believe we are all being encouraged to take Venus too seriously; at any rate, with a wrong kind of seriousness. All my life a ludicrous and portentous solemnisation of sex has been going on.
One author tells us that Venus should recur through the married life in “a solemn, sacramental rhythm.” A young man to whom I had described as “pornographic” a novel that he much admired, replied with genuine bewilderment, “Pornographic? But how can it be? It treats the whole thing so seriously”—as if a long face were a sort of moral disinfectant. Our friends who harbour Dark Gods, the “pillar of blood” school, attempt seriousiy to restore something like the Phallic religion. Our advertisements, at their sexiest, paint the whole business in terms of the rapt, the intense, the swoony-devout; seldom a hint of gaiety. And the psychologists have so bedevilled us with the infinite importance of complete sexual adjustment and the all but impossibility of achieving it, that I could believe some young couples now go to it with the complete works of Freud, Kraft-Ebbing, Havelock Ellis and Dr. Stopes spread out on bed-tables all round them.... We have reached the stage at which nothing is more needed than a roar of old-fashioned laughter.
But, it will be replied, the thing is serious. Yes; quadruply so. First, theologically, because this is the body’s share in marriage which, by God’s choice, is the mystical image of the union between God and Man. Secondly, as what I will venture to call a sub-Christian, or Pagan or natural sacrament, our human participation in, and exposition of, the natural forces of life and fertility— the marriage of Sky-Father and Earth-Mother. Thirdly, on the moral level, in view of the obligations involved and the incalculable momentousness of being a parent and ancestor. Finally it has (sometimes, not always) a great emotional seriousness in the minds of the participants.
But eating is also serious; theologically, as the vehicle of the Blessed Sacrament; ethically in view of our duty to feed the hungry; socially, because the table is from time immemorial the place for talk; medically, as all dyspeptics know. Yet we do not bring bluebooks to dinner nor behave there as if we were in church. And it is gourmets, not saints, who come nearest to doing so. Animals are always serious about food.
We must not be totally serious about Venus. Indeed we can’t be totally serious without doing violence to our humanity. It is not for nothing that every language and literature in the world is full of jokes about sex. Many of them may be dull or disgusting and nearly all of them are old. But we must insist that they embody an attitude to Venus which in the long run endangers the Christian life far less than a reverential gravity. We must not attempt to find an absolute in the flesh. Banish play and laughter from the bed of love and you may let in a false goddess. She will be even falser than the Aphrodite of the Greeks; for they, even while they worshipped her, knew that she was “laughter-loving.” The mass of the people are perfectly right in their conviction that Venus is a partly comic spirit. We are under no obligation at all to sing all our love-duets in the throbbing, world- without-end, heart-breaking manner of Tristan and Isolde; let us often sing like Papageno and Papagena instead.
C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves (1960; Harcourt Brace: 1991) 91-92, 97-99.
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Sexual desire, without Eros, wants it, the thing in itself; Eros wants the Beloved. The thing is a sensory pleasure; that is, an event occurring within one’s own body. We use a most unfortunate idiom when we say, of a lustful man prowling the streets, at he “wants a woman.” Strictly speaking, a woman is just what he does not want. He wants a pleasure for which a woman happens to be the necessary piece of apparatus. How much he cares about the woman as such may be gauged by his attitude to her five minutes after fruition (one does not keep the carton after one has smoked the cigarettes). Now Eros makes a man really want, not a woman, but one particular woman. In some mysterious but quite indisputable fashion the lover desires the Beloved herself, not the pleasure she can give.
C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves (1960; Harcourt Brace: 1991) 91, 94.
Monday, April 5, 2010
Alone among unsympathetic companions, I hold certain views and standards timidly, half ashamed to avow them and half doubtful if they can after all be right. Put me back among my Friends and in half an hour—in ten minutes—these same views and standards become once more indisputable. The opinion of this little circle, while I am in it, outweighs that of a thousand outsiders: as Friendship strengthens, it will do this even when my Friends are far away. For we all wish to be judged by our peers, by the men “after our own heart.” Only they really know our mind and only they judge it by standards we fully acknowledge. Theirs is the praise we really covet and the blame we really dread. The little pockets of early Christians survived because they cared exclusively for the love of “the brethren” and stopped their ears to the opinion of the Pagan society all round them.
C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves (1960; Harcourt Brace: 1991) 79.
Sunday, April 4, 2010
I hope no one who reads this book has been quite as miserable as Susan and Lucy were that night; but if you have been—if you’ve been up all night and cried till you have no more tears left in you—you will know that there comes in the end a sort of quietness. You feel as if nothing was ever going to happen again At any rate that was how it felt to these two....
It was quite definitely early morning now, not late night. “I’m so cold,” said Lucy.
“So am I,” said Susan. “Let’s walk about a bit.” They walked to and fro more times than they could count between the dead Aslan and the Eastern ridge, trying to keep warm; and oh, how tired their legs felt.... At that moment they heard from behind them a loud noise—a great cracking, deafening noise as if a giant had broken a giant’s plate.
“What’s that?” said Lucy, clutching Susan’s arm.
“I—I feel afraid to turn round,” said Susan; “something awful is happening.”
“They’re doing something worse to him,” said Lucy. “Come on!” And she turned, pulling Susan round with her.
The rising of the sun had made everything look so different—all the colours and shadows were changed—that for a moment they didn’t see the important thing. Then they did. The Stone Table was broken into two pieces by a great crack that ran down it from end to end; and there was no Aslan.
“Oh, oh, oh!” cried the two girls rushing back to the Table.
“Oh, it’s too bad,” sobbed Lucy; “they might have left the body alone.”
“Who’s done it?” cried Susan. “What does it mean? Is it more magic?”
“Yes!” said a great voice behind their backs. “It is more magic.” They looked round. There, shining in the sunrise, larger than they had seen him before, shaking his mane (for it had apparently grown again) stood Aslan himself.
“Oh, Aslan!” cried both the children, staring up at him, almost as much frightened as they were glad.
“Aren’t you dead then, dear Aslan?” said Lucy.
“Not now,” said Aslan.
“You’re not—not a—?” asked Susan in a shaky voice. She couldn’t bring herself to say the word ghost.
Aslan stooped his golden head and licked her forehead. The warmth of his breath and a rich sort of smell that seemed to hang about his hair came all over her.
“Do I look it?” he said.
“Oh, you’re real, you’re real! Oh, Aslan!” cried Lucy and both girls flung themselves upon him and covered him with kisses.
“But what does it all mean?” asked Susan when they were somewhat calmer.
“It means,” said Aslan, “that though the Witch knew the Deep Magic, there is a magic deeper still which she did not know. Her knowledge goes back only to the dawn of Time. But if she could have looked a little further back, into the stillness and the darkness before Time dawned, she would have read there a different incantation. She would have known that when a willing victim who has committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the Table would crack an Death itself would start working backwards. And now—”
“Oh yes. Now?” said Lucy jumping up and clapping her hands....
And now,” said Aslan presently, “to business. I feel I am going to roar....
C.S. Lewis, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, Chapter XV: "Deeper Magic from Before the Dawn of Time".
Saturday, April 3, 2010
... we think we have chosen our peers. In reality, a few years’ difference in the dates of our births, a few more miles between certain houses, the choice of one university instead of another, posting to different regiments, the accident of a topic being raised or not raised at a first meeting—any of these chances might have kept us apart. But, for a Christian, there are, strictly speaking, no chances. A secret Master of the Ceremonies has been at work. Christ, who said to the disciples “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,” can truly say to every group of Christian friends “You have not chosen one another but I have chosen you for one another.” The Friendship is not a reward for our discrimination and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each the beauties of all the others. They are no greater than the beauties of a thousand other men; by Friendship God opens our eyes to them. They are,
like all beauties, derived from Him, and then, in a good
Friendship, increased by Him through the Friendship
itself, so that it is His instrument for creating as well as
for revealing. At this feast it is He who has spread the
board and it is He who has chosen the guests. It is He,
we may dare to hope, who sometimes does, and always
should, preside. Let us not reckon without our Host.
C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves (1960; Harcourt Brace: 1991) 89-90.
Thursday, April 1, 2010
Even if the common ground of the Friendship is nothing more momentous than stamp-collecting, the circle rightly and inevitably ignores the views of the millions who think it a silly occupation and of the thousands who have merely dabbled in it. The founders of meteorology rightly and inevitably ignored the views of the millions who still attributed storms to witchcraft. There is no offence in this. As I know that I should be an Outsider to a circle of golfers, mathematicians, or motorists, so I claim the equal right of regarding them as Outsiders to mine. People who bore one another should meet seldom; people who interest one another, often.
C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves (1960; Harcourt Brace: 1991) 81.