January 30, 2014
"One must keep on pointing out that Christianity is a statement which, if false, is of no importance, and, if true, of infinite importance. The one thing it cannot be is moderately important."

— C.S. Lewis

November 21, 2012
"Experience is a brutal teacher, but you learn. My God, do you learn."

— C.S. Lewis

December 27, 2011

(via doramae)

July 26, 2011
Just finished this book. Fantastic.

Just finished this book. Fantastic.

July 14, 2011
"Now the whole offer which Christianity makes is this: that we can, if we let God have His way, come to share in the life of Christ. If we do, we shall then be sharing a life which was begotten, not made, which always existed and always will exist. Christ is the Son of God. If we share in this kind of life we also shall be sons of God. We shall love the Father as He does and the Holy Ghost will arise in us. He came to this world and became a man in order to spread to other men the kind of life He has — by what I call “good infection.” Every Christian is to become a little Christ. The whole purpose of becoming a Christian is simply nothing else."

C.S. Lewis, an excerpt from Mere Christianity

July 11, 2011
"If Christianity was something we were making up, of course we could make it easier. But it is not. We cannot compete, in simplicity, with people who are inventing religions. How could we? We are dealing with Fact. Of course anyone can be simple if he has no facts to bother about."

— C.S. Lewis, an excerpt from Mere Christianity

July 8, 2011
Making and Begetting

I just read the first chapter, “Making and Begetting”, in Book IV of Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. It hit me really hard. This chapter, among with every chapter of this book, has an insane amount of truth in it. I need to share it with everyone so they can get a glimpse of what it means to be Sons of God and how we differentiate from the one and only Son of God.

 

    Making and Begetting

	Everyone  has warned me not to tell you what I am  going to tell you in
this last book.  They  all say "the ordinary reader does  not want Theology;
give  him plain practical religion." I  have rejected their advice. I do not
think the  ordinary reader  is  such  a fool. Theology means "the science of
God," and I think any man who wants to think about God at all  would like to
have the clearest and most accurate ideas about Him which are available. You
are not children: why should you be treated like children?
	In a way I quite  understand why some people are put off by Theology. I
remember  once  when  I  had  been giving  a  talk  to  the  RA.F., an  old,
hard-bitten officer got  up and said, "I've no use  for all that stuff. But,
mind you,  I'm a religious man too. I know there's a God. I've felt Him: out
alone in the desert at night: the tremendous  mystery. And that's just why I
don't believe all your neat little  dogmas and formulas about Him. To anyone
who's met the real thing they all seem so petty and pedantic and unreal!"
	Now in a  sense I quite agreed  with that man.  I think he had probably
had a real experience of God in  the  desert.  And when he  turned from that
experience  to  the  Christian creeds, I think  he really was  turning  from
something real to something less real.  In the same  way,  if a man has once
looked at the Atlantic  from the beach,  and then goes and looks at a map of
the Atlantic, he also will be turning from something real  to something less
real: turning from real waves to a bit of coloured paper. But here comes the
point. The map is admittedly only coloured paper, but  there are  two things
you  have  to remember about  it. In the  first place,  it is  based on what
hundreds  and  thousands  of  people  have found  out  by  sailing the  real
Atlantic. In that way it  has behind it masses of experience just as real as
the one you could have  from the  beach; only, while yours would be a single
isolated glimpse, the map fits all those  different experiences together. In
the  second  place,  if  you want  to  go  anywhere,  the  map is absolutely
necessary. As long  as  you are  content with walks on  the beach,  your own
glimpses are far more fun than  looking at a map. But the map is going to be
more use than walks on the beach if you want to get to America.
		
 	Now, Theology  is like the  map. Merely learning and thinking about the
Christian doctrines, if  you stop there, is less real and less exciting than
the sort  of thing my friend got  in the desert. Doctrines are not God: they
are only a  kind of map. But that map is based on the experience of hundreds
of people who really were  in touch with God-experiences compared with which
any thrills or  pious feelings you and I  are likely to  get on our own  are
very  elementary  and  very  confused. And  secondly, if you want to get any
further, you  must  use the map. You  see, what  happened to that man in the
desert may have been real, and was certainly exciting, but nothing comes  of
it. It leads nowhere. There is nothing to do about it In fact, that  is just
why  a vague  religion-all  about feeling God  in nature,  and so  on-is  so
attractive. It is all  thrills and no work; like watching the waves from the
beach. But you will not get to  Newfoundland  by studying  the Atlantic that
way, and you will not get eternal life by simply feeling the presence of God
in  flowers or music. Neither  will  you  get anywhere  by looking  at  maps
without going to sea. Nor will you be very safe if  you go to sea  without a
map.
	In  other words, Theology is practical: especially now. In Ac old days,
when there was less education and discussion, perhaps it was possible to get
on with  a very few simple ideas about God. But it  is not  so now. Everyone
reads, everyone hears things discussed.  Consequently,  if you do not listen
to Theology, that will not mean  that  you have no  ideas about God. It will
mean that you have a lot  of wrong ones-bad, muddled, out-of-date ideas. For
a great many of the ideas  about  God which  are  trotted out  as  novelties
today, are  simply  the ones which real  Theologians tried centuries ago and
rejected.  To   believe  in  the  popular  religion  of  modern  England  is
retrogression-like believing the earth is fiat.
	For when you get down  to it, is not the  popular  idea of Christianity
simply this: that Jesus Christ was a great moral teacher and that if only we
took his advice we might be able to  establish  a  better  social  order and
avoid another war? Now, mind you, that  is quite true. But it tells you much
less than  the  whole  truth  about  Christianity  and  it has no  practical
importance at all.
	It  is quite true  that if we  took Christ's advice we  should  soon be
living in a happier world. You need not even  go as far as Christ. If we did
all that Plato or Aristotle or Confucius told us, we should  get on  a great
deal better than we do. And so what? We never have followed  the  advice  of
the great  teachers. Why are we likely to begin now? Why  are we more likely
to  follow  Christ  than any of the  others? Because he  is the  best  moral
teacher? But that makes it even less likely that  we shall follow him. If we
cannot  take the elementary lessons, is  it likely we  are going to take the
most advanced one? If Christianity  only means one  more bit of good advice,
then Christianity is of no importance. There has been no lack of good advice
for the last four thousand years. A bit more makes no difference.
	But as soon as  you look at any real Christian writings,  you find that
they are talking about something quite different from this popular religion.
They say that Christ is the Son of God (whatever that  means). They say that
those who give Him  their confidence can also become Sons  of God  (whatever
that means). They say that His death saved  us from our sins (whatever  that
means).
	There  is no  good  complaining that  these  statements  are  difficult
Christianity  claims  to be  telling us about another world, about something
behind the  world we  can touch and  hear  and see. You may think  the claim
false;  but  if  it  were  true, what  it  tells us  would be  bound  to  be
difficult-at least as difficult as modern Physics, and for the same reason.
	Now the point in Christianity which gives us the greatest  shock is the
statement that by  attaching ourselves to  Christ, we  can  "become Sons  of
God." One asks "Aren't we Sons of God  already? Surely the fatherhood of God
is one of  the main Christian ideas?" Well, in a certain sense, no doubt  we
are sons of God already. I mean, God has brought us into existence and loves
us and looks after us, and in that way is  like a father. But when the Bible
talks  of our  "becoming" Sons of  God, obviously  it  must  mean  something
different. And that brings us up against the very centre of Theology.
	One  of  the creeds  says that Christ is the Son of God "begotten,  not
created"; and it  adds  "begotten by his Father before all worlds." Will you
please get it quite clear  that this has  nothing  to do  with the fact that
when Christ was born on earth as a man, that man was the son of a virgin? We
are not now thinking about the Virgin Birth. We are thinking about something
that happened before  Nature was created at all, before time  began. "Before
all worlds" Christ is begotten, not created. What does it mean?
	We don't use the words  begetting or  begotten much in modern English,
but  everyone still  knows  what they mean. To beget is to become the father
of:  to create is  to make. And the difference is this. When  you beget, you
beget something of  the same kind as yourself. A man begets human babies,  a
beaver begets  little  beavers and a bird begets eggs which turn into little
birds. But when  you  make,  you make  something  of a  different  kind from
yourself. A bird makes a nest, a beaver builds a dam, a man makes a wireless
set-or he  may make  something more like himself than a wireless set: say, a
statue. If he is a clever enough carver  he may make  a statue which is very
like a man indeed. But, of  course, it is not a real man; it only looks like
one. It cannot breathe or think. It is not alive.
	Now that is the first thing to get clear. What God begets  is God; just
as  what man begets is man.  What God creates  is not God; just as  what man
makes is not man. That is  why men are not Sons of  God in  the  sense  that
Christ is. They may be like God in certain ways, but they are not things  of
the same kind. They are more like statues or pictures of God.
	A statue has the shape of a man but  it is not alive. In the same way,
man has  (in a sense I am going to explain) the "shape" or  likeness of God,
but he has  not got the kind of  life  God has. Let us  take the first point
(man's resemblance to God)  first. Everything God has made has some likeness
to Himself. Space is like  Him in  its  hugeness: not that the  greatness of
space is the same  kind of greatness as God's, but it is a sort of symbol of
it, or a translation of it into non-spiritual terms. Matter is  like  God in
having energy: though, again, of course, physical energy is a different kind
of thing from the power of God. The vegetable world  is like Him because  it
is alive, and He is the "living God." But life, in this biological sense, is
not the same as the  life there is in God:  it is only  a kind of  symbol or
shadow  of it.  When we  come  on  to the  animals, we find  other  kinds of
resemblance  in  addition  to  biological life.  The  intense  activity  and
fertility of the insects, for  example, is a first  dim  resemblance to  the
unceasing activity and the creativeness of God. In the higher mammals we get
the beginnings of instinctive  affection. That is not  the same thing as the
love that exists in God: but it is like it-rather in the  way that a picture
drawn on a flat piece of  paper can nevertheless be "like" a landscape. When
we  come  to  man,  the  highest  of  the animals,  we  get  the  completest
resemblance to God which we know of. (There may be creatures in other worlds
who are more like God  than man is, but we  do not know about them.) Man not
only lives, but loves and reasons: biological life reaches its highest known
level in him.
	But what  man,  in  his natural condition,  has not  got, is  Spiritual
life-the  higher and different sort of life that exists in God.  We use  the
same word life for both: but  if you thought that both must therefore be the
same  sort  of  thing, that would be like thinking  that the  "greatness" of
space  and  the  "greatness" of  God  were  the  same  sort of greatness. In
reality, the  difference between  Biological  life and spiritual life  is so
important that  I  am  going to give them two distinct names. The Biological
sort which comes  to us through Nature, and  which (like  everything else in
Nature) is always  tending to run down and decay so that it can only be kept
up by incessant subsidies from Nature in the form of air, water, food, etc.,
is Bios. The Spiritual life  which is in  God from  all eternity, and  which
made the whole natural  universe, is Zoe. Bios has,  to  be sure, a  certain
shadowy or  symbolic resemblance  to  Zoe: but only  the sort of resemblance
there is between a photo  and  a  place, or  a statue  and a man. A  man who
changed from  having Bios  to having Zoe  would have gone through  as big  a
change as a statue which changed from being  a carved stone to being  a real
man.
	And that is precisely what Christianity is about. This world is a great
sculptor's  shop. We are the  statues and there is a  rumour going round the
shop that some of us are some day going to come to life.

June 11, 2011
"I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that other country and to help others to do the same."

— C.S. Lewis, an excerpt from Mere Christianity

June 1, 2011
"But the great thing to remember is that, though our feelings come and go, His love for us does not. It is not wearied by our sins, or our indifference; and, therefore, it is quite relentless in its determination that we shall be cured of those sins, at whatever cost to us, at whatever cost to Him."

— C.S. Lewis, an excerpt from Mere Christianity

May 26, 2011
Attention Christians:

Pride is the Great Sin. Please read the following exhortation regarding how to fix this hellish transgression.

Taken from the chapter The Great Sin in Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis…

//

I now come to that part of Christian morals where they differ most sharply from all other morals. There is one vice of which no man in the world is 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. I have heard people admit that they are bad-tempered, or that they cannot keep their heads about girls or drink, or even that they are cowards. I do not think I have ever heard anyone who was not a Christian accuse himself of this vice. And at the same time I have very seldom met anyone, who was not a Christian, who showed the slightest mercy to it in others. There is no fault which makes a man more unpopular, and no fault which we are more unconscious of in ourselves. And the more we have it ourselves, the more we dislike it in others.

The vice I am talking of is Pride or Self-Conceit: and the virtue opposite to it, in Christian morals, is called Humility. You may remember, when I was talking about sexual morality, I warned you that the centre of Christian morals did not lie there. Well, now, we have come to the centre. According to Christian teachers, 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.

Does this seem to you exaggerated? If so, think it over. I pointed out a moment ago that the more pride one had, the more one disliked pride in others. In fact, if you want to find out how proud you are the easiest way is to ask yourself, ‘How much do I dislike it when other people snub me, or refuse to take any notice of me, or shove their oar in, or patronise me, or show off?’ The point is that each person’s pride is in competition with every one else’s pride. It is because I wanted to be the big noise at the party that I am so annoyed at someone else being the big noise. Two of a trade never agree. Now what you want to get clear is that Pride is essentially competitive - is competitive by its very nature - while the other vices are competitive only, so to speak, by accident. Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. We say that people are proud of being rich, or clever, or good-looking, but they are not. They are proud of being richer, or cleverer, or better-looking than others. If everyone else became equally rich, or clever, or good-looking there would be nothing to be proud about. It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition has gone, pride has gone. That is why I say that Pride is essentially competitive in a way the other vices are not. The sexual impulse may drive two men into competition if they both want the same girl. But that is only by accident; they might just as likely have wanted two different girls. But a proud man will take your girl from you, not because he wants her, but just to prove to himself that he is a better man than you. Greed may drive men into competition if there is not enough to go round; but the proud man, even when he has got more than he can possibly want, will try to get still more just to assert his power. Nearly all those evils in the world which people put down to greed or selfishness are really far more the result of Pride.

Take it with money. Greed will certainly make a man want money, for the sake of a better house, better holidays, better things to eat and drink. But only up to a point. What is it that makes a man with œ10,000 a year anxious to get œ20,000 a year? It is not the greed for more pleasure. œ10,000 will give all the luxuries that any man can really enjoy. It is Pride - the wish to be richer than some other rich man, and (still more) the wish for power. For, of course, power is what Pride really enjoys: there is nothing makes a man feel so superior to others as being able to move them about like toy soldiers. What makes a pretty girl spread misery wherever she goes by collecting admirers? Certainly not her sexual instinct: that kind of girl is quite often sexually frigid. It is Pride. What is it that makes a political leader or a whole nation go on and on, demanding more and more? Pride again. Pride is competitive by its very nature: that is why it goes on and on. If I am a proud man, then, as long as there is one man in the whole world more powerful, or richer, or cleverer than I, he is my rival and my enemy.

The Christians are right: it is Pride which has been the chief cause of misery in every nation and every family since the world began. Other vices may sometimes bring people together: you may find good fellowship and jokes and friendliness among drunken people or unchaste people. But pride always means enmity - it is enmity. And not only enmity between man and man, but enmity to God.

In God you come up against something which is in every respect immeasurably superior to yourself. Unless you know God as that - and, therefore, know yourself as nothing in comparison - you do not know God at all. 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.

That raises a terrible question. How is it that people who are quite obviously eaten up with Pride can say they believe in God and appear to themselves very religious? I am afraid it means they are worshipping an imaginary God. They theoretically admit themselves to be nothing in the presence of this phantom God, but are really all the time imagining how He approves of them and thinks them far better than ordinary people: that is, they pay a pennyworth of imaginary humility to Him and get out of it a pound’s worth of Pride towards their fellow-men. I suppose it was of those people Christ was thinking when He said that some would preach about Him and cast out devils in His name, only to be told at the end of the world that He had never known them. And any of us may at any moment be in this death-trap. Luckily, we have a test. Whenever we find that our religious life is making us feel that we are good - above all, that we are better than someone else - I think we may be sure that we are being acted on, not by God, but by the devil. 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.

It is a terrible thing that the worst of all the vices can smuggle itself into the very centre of our religious life. But you can see why. The other, and less bad, vices come from the devil working on us through our animal nature. But this does not come through our animal nature at all. It comes direct from Hell. It is purely spiritual: consequently it is far more subtle and deadly. For the same reason, Pride can often be used to beat down the simpler vices. Teachers, in fact, often appeal to a boy’s Pride, or, as they call it, his self-respect, to make him behave decently: many a man has overcome cowardice, or lust, or ill-temper, by learning to think that they are beneath his dignity - that is, by Pride. The devil laughs. He is perfectly content to see you becoming chaste and brave and self-controlled provided, all the time, he is setting up in you the Dictatorship of Pride - just as he would be quite content to see your chilblains cured if he was allowed, in return, to give you cancer. For Pride is spiritual cancer: it eats up the very possibility of love, or contentment, or even common sense.

Before leaving this subject I must guard against some possible misunderstandings:

(1) Pleasure in being praised is not Pride. The child who is patted on the back for doing a lesson well, the woman whose beauty is praised by her lover, the saved soul to whom Christ says ‘Well done,’ are pleased and ought to be. For here the pleasure lies not in what you are but in the fact that you have pleased someone you wanted (and rightly wanted) to please. The trouble begins when you pass from thinking, ‘I have pleased him; all is well,’ to thinking, ‘What a fine person I must be to have done it.’ The more you delight in yourself and the less you delight in the praise, the worse you are becoming. When you delight wholly in yourself and do not care about the praise at all, you have reached the bottom. That is why vanity, though it is the sort of Pride which shows most on the surface, is really the least bad and most pardonable sort. The vain person wants praise, applause, admiration, too much and is always angling for it. It is a fault, but a child-like and even (in an odd way) a humble fault. It shows that you are not yet completely contented with your own admiration. You value other people enough to want them to look at you. You are, in fact, still human. The real black, diabolical Pride, comes when you look down on others so much that you do not care what they think of you. Of course, it is very right, and often our duty, not to care what people think of us, if we do so for the right reason; namely, because we care so incomparably more what God thinks. But the Proud man has a different reason for not caring. He says ‘Why should I care for the applause of that rabble as if their opinion were worth anything? And even if their opinions were of value, am I the sort of man to blush with pleasure at a compliment like some chit of a girl at her first dance? No, I am an integrated, adult personality. All I have done has been done to satisfy my own ideals - or my artistic conscience - or the traditions of my family - or, in a word, because I’m That Kind of Chap. If the mob like it, let them. They’re nothing to me.’ In this way real thorough-going pride may act as a check on vanity; for, as I said a moment ago, the devil loves ‘curing’ a small fault by giving you a great one. We must try not to be vain, but we must never call in our Pride to cure our vanity.

(2) We say in English that a man is ‘proud’ of his son, or his father, or his school, or regiment, and it may be asked whether ‘pride’ in this sense is a sin. I think it depends on what, exactly, we mean by ‘proud of’. Very often, in such sentences, the phrase ‘is proud of’ means ‘has a warm-hearted admiration for’. Such an admiration is, of course, very far from being a sin. But it might, perhaps, mean that the person in question gives himself airs on the ground of his distinguished father, or because he belongs to a famous regiment. This would, clearly, be a fault; but even then, it would be better than being proud simply of himself. To love and admire anything outside yourself is to take one step away from utter spiritual ruin; though we shall not be well so long as we love and admire anything more than we love and admire God.

(3) We must not think Pride is something God forbids because He is offended at it, or that Humility is something He demands as due to His own dignity - as if God Himself was proud. He is not in the least worried about His dignity. The point is, He wants you to know Him: wants to give you Himself. And He and you are two things of such a kind that if you really get into any kind of touch with Him you will, in fact, be humble - delightedly humble, feeling the infinite relief of having for once got rid of all the silly nonsense about your own dignity which has made you restless and unhappy all your life. He is trying to make you humble in order to make this moment possible: trying to take off a lot of silly, ugly, fancy-dress in which we have all got ourselves up and are strutting about like the little idiots we are. I wish I had got a bit further with humility myself: if I had, I could probably tell you more about the relief, the comfort, of taking the fancy-dress off - getting rid of the false self, with all its ‘Look at me’ and ‘Aren’t I a good boy?’ and all its posing and posturing. To get even near it, even for a moment, is like a drink of cold water to a man in a desert.

(4) Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call ‘humble’ nowadays: he will not be a sort of greasy, smarmy person, who is always telling you that, of course, he is nobody. Probably all you will think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you said to him. If you do dislike him it will be because you feel a little envious of anyone who seems to enjoy life so easily. He will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all.

If anyone would like to acquire humility, I can, I think, tell him the first step. The first step is to realise that one is proud. And a biggish step, too. At least, nothing whatever can be done before it. If you think you are not conceited, it means you are very conceited indeed.