C.S. Lewis

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Clive S. Lewis (November 29, 1898 – November 22, 1963) is one of the Church of England’s greatest writers, poet, academic and theologian. Although not classically trained in the ministry, his influence on Western Christian cannot be debated. Some of his best works are:

  • The Chronicles of Narnia
  • The Weight of Glory
  • The Problem of Pain
  • Miracles
  • Space Trilogy
  • …and my personal favorite, Mere Christianity

Quotes

Mere Christianity

“The great thing to remember is that though our feelings come and go, God’s love for us does not.” – C.S. Lewis (Mere Christianity)

“All I am doing is to ask people to face the facts – to understand the questions which Christianity claims to answer. And they are very terrifying facts. I wish it was possible to say something more agreeable. But I must say what I think is true. Of course, I quite agree that the Christian religion is, in the long run, a thing of unspeakable comfort. But it does not begin in comfort; it begins in dismay I have been describing, and it is no use at all trying to go on to that comfort without first going through that dismay. In religion, as in war and everything else, comfort is the one thing you cannot get by looking for it. If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end: if you look for comfort you will not either comfort or truth – only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin with and, in the end, despair.” – C.S. Lewis (Mere Christianity)

“The Christian thinks any good he does comes from the Christ-life inside him. He does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because He loves us; just as the roof of a greenhouse does not attract the sun because it is bright, but becomes bright because the sun shines on it.” – C.S. Lewis (Mere Christianity)

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.” – C.S. Lewis (Mere Christianity)

“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.” – C.S. Lewis (Mere Christianity)

“Christianity has not, and does not profess to have, a detailed political programme for applying ‘Do as you would be done by’ to a particular society at a particular moment. It could not have. It is meant for all men at all times and the particular programme which suited one place or time would not suit another. And anyhow, that is not how Christianity works. When it tells you to feed the hungry, it does not give you lessons in cookery. When it tells you to read the Scriptures, it does not give you lessons in Hebrew or Greek, or even English grammar. It was never intended to replace or supersede the ordinary human arts or sciences: it is rather a director which will set them all to the right jobs, and a source of energy which will give them all new life, if only they will put themselves at its disposal.” – C.S. Lewis (Mere Christianity)

“God made us: invented us as a man invents an engine. A car is made to run on petrol, and it would not run properly on anything else. Now God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other. That is why it is just not good asking God to make us happy in our own way without bothering about religion. God cannot give us happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.” – C.S. Lewis (Mere Christianity)

“The moment you have a self at all, there is possibly of putting yourself first – wanting to be the center – wanting to be God, in fact. That was the sin of Satan: and that was the sin he taught the human race. Some people think the fall of man had something to do with sex, but that is a mistake. What Satan put into the heads of our remote ancestors was the idea that they could ‘be like gods’ – could set up on their own as if they had created themselves – be their own masters – invent some sort of happiness for themselves outside of God, apart from God. And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history – money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery – the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.” – C.S. Lewis (Mere Christianity)

“What is the good of telling the ships how to steer so as to avoid collisions if, in fact, they are such crazy old tubs that they cannot be steered at all? What is the good of drawing up, on paper, rules for social behavior, if we know that, in fact, our greed, cowardice, ill temper, and self-conceit are going to prevent us from keeping them? I do not mean for a moment that we ought not to think and think hard, about improvements in our social and economic system. What I do mean is that all that thinking will be mere moonshine unless we realize that nothing but the courage and usefulness of individuals is ever going to make any system work properly. It is easy enough to remove the particular kinds of graft or bullying that go on under the present system: but as long as men are twisters or bullies they will find some new way of carrying on the old game under the new system. You cannot make men good by law: and without good men you cannot have a good society.” – C.S. Lewis (Mere Christianity)

“The Christian conception of marriage is one: the other is the quite different question – how far Christians, if they are voters or members of parliament, ought to try to force their views of marriage on the rest of the community by embodying them in the divorce laws. A great many people seem to think that if you are a Christian yourself you should try to make divorce difficult for every one. I do not think that. At least I know I should be very angry if the Mohammedans tried to prevent the rest of us from drinking wine. My own view is that the churches should frankly recognize that the majority of British people are not Christians and, therefore, cannot be expected to live Christian lives. There ought to be two distinct kinds of marriage: one governed by the State with rules enforced on all citizens, the other governed by the church with rules enforced by her on her own members.” – C.S. Lewis (Mere Christianity)

“Enemy-occupied territory—that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign of sabotage. When you go to church you are really listening-in to the secret wireless from our friends: that is why the enemy is so anxious to prevent us from going.” – C.S. Lewis (Mere Christianity)

“Remember that, as I said, the right direction leads not only to peace but to knowledge. When a man is getting better he understands more and more clearly the evil that is still left in him. When a man is getting worse he understands his own badness less and less. A moderately bad man knows he is not very good: a thoroughly bad man thinks he is all right. This is common sense, really. You understand sleep when you are awake, not while you are sleeping. You can see mistakes in arithmetic when your mind is working properly: while you are making them you cannot see them. You can understand the nature of drunkenness when you are sober, not when you are drunk. Good people know about both good and evil: bad people do not know about either.” – C.S. Lewis (Mere Christianity)

“Almost certainly God is not in Time. His life does not consists of moments following one another. If a million people are praying to Him at ten-thirty tonight, He need not listen to them all in that one little snippet which we call ten-thirty. Ten-thirty – and every other moment from the beginning of the world – is always the Present for Him.” – C.S. Lewis (Mere Christianity)

“If you think you are not conceited, it means you are very conceited indeed.” – C.S. Lewis (Mere Christianity)

“Now before I became a Christian I was under the impression that the first thing Christians had to believe was one particular theory as to what the point of this dying was. According to that theory God wanted to punish men for having deserted and joined the Great Rebel, but Christ volunteered to be punished instead, and so God let us off. Now I admit that even this theory does not seem quite so immoral and silly as it used to; but that is not the point I want to make. What I came to see later on was that neither this theory nor an other is Christianity. The central belief is that Christ’s death has somehow put us right with God and given us a fresh start. Theories as to how it did this are another matter: A good many different theories have been held as to how it works; what all Christians are agreed on is that it does work.” – C.S. Lewis (Mere Christianity)

“Far deeper objections may be felt—and have been expressed—against my use of the word Christian to mean one who accepts the common doctrines of Christianity. People ask: ‘Who are you, to lay down who is, and who is not a Christian?’ or ‘May not many a man who cannot believe these doctrines be far more truly a Christian, far closer to the spirit of Christ, than some who do?’ Now this objection is in one sense very right, very charitable, very spiritual, very sensitive. It has every available quality except that of being useful. We simply cannot, without disaster, use language as these objectors want us to use it. I will try to make this clear by the history of another, and very much less important, word.” – C.S. Lewis (Mere Christianity)

“I hope no reader will suppose that ‘mere’ Christianity is here put forward as an alternative to the creeds of the existing communions—as if a man could adopt it in preference to Congregationalism or Greek Orthodoxy or anything else. It is more like a hall out of which doors open into several rooms. If I can bring anyone into that hall I shall have done what I attempted. But it is in the rooms, not in the hall, that there are fires and chairs and meals. The hall is a place to wait in, a place from which to try the various doors, not a place to live in.” – C.S. Lewis (Introduction to Mere Christianity)

“Finally, though I have had to speak at some length about sex. I want to make it as clear as I possibly can that the center of Christian morality is not here. If anyone thinks that Christians regard chastity as the supreme vice, he is quite wrong. The sins of the flesh are bad, but they are the least bad of all sins. All the worst pleasures are purely spiritual: the pleasure of putting other people in the wrong, of bossing and patronizing and spoiling sport, and back-biting; the pleasures of power, of hatred. For there are two things inside me, competing with the human self which I must try to become. They are the animal self, and the diabolical self. The diabolical self is the worst of the two. That is why a cold, self-righteous prig who goes regularly to church may be far nearer to hell than a prostitute. But of course, it is better to be neither.” – C.S. Lewis (Mere Christianity)

“My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust?” — C.S. Lewis (Mere Christianity)

Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer

“I think our business as laymen is to take what we are given and make the best of it. And I think we should find this a great deal easier if what we were given was always and everywhere the same. To judge from their practice, very few Anglican clergymen take this view. It looks as if they believed people can be lured to go to church by incessant brightenings, lightenings, lengthenings, abridgements, simplifications, and complications of the service. And it is probably true that a new, keen vicar will usually be able to form within his parish a minority who are in favour of his innovations. The majority, I believe, never are. Those who remain—many give up churchgoing altogether—merely endure.” – C.S. Lewis (Letters to Malcom: Chiefly on Prayer)

“A good shoe is a shoe you don’t notice. Good reading becomes possible when you need not consciously think about eyes, or light, or print, or spelling. The perfect church service would be one we were almost unaware of; our attention would have been on God.” – C.S. Lewis (Letters to Malcom: Chiefly on Prayer)

“There is really some excuse for the man who said, “I wish they’d remember that the charge to Peter was Feed my sheep; not Try experiments on my rats, or even, Teach my performing dogs new tricks.”” – C.S. Lewis (Letters to Malcom: Chiefly on Prayer)

“If you have a vernacular liturgy you must have a changing liturgy: otherwise it will finally be vernacular only in name. The ideal of “timeless English” is sheer nonsense. No living language can be timeless. You might as well ask for a motionless river.” – C.S. Lewis (Letters to Malcom: Chiefly on Prayer)

“Actually my ideas about the sacrament would probably be called “magical” by a good many modern theologians. Surely, the more fully one believes that a strictly supernatural event takes place, the less one can attach any great importance to the dress, gestures, and position of the priest?” – C.S. Lewis (Letters to Malcom: Chiefly on Prayer)

“If grace perfects nature it must expand all our natures into the full richness of the diversity which God intended when He made them, and Heaven will display far more variety than Hell.” – C.S. Lewis (Letters to Malcom: Chiefly on Prayer)

“What pleased me most about a Greek Orthodox mass I once attended was that there seemed to be no prescribed behaviour for the congregation. Some stood, some knelt, some sat, some walked; one crawled about the floor like a caterpillar. And the beauty of it was that nobody took the slightest notice of what anyone else was doing. I wish we Anglicans would follow their example. One meets people who are perturbed because someone in the next pew does, or does not, cross himself.” – C.S. Lewis (Letters to Malcom: Chiefly on Prayer)

“When the golden moments come, when God enables one really to pray without words, who but a fool would reject the gift? But He does not give it—anyway not to me—day in, day out. My mistake was what Pascal, if I remember rightly, calls “Error of Stoicism”: thinking we can do always what we can do sometimes.” – C.S. Lewis (Letters to Malcom: Chiefly on Prayer)

“A few formal, ready-made, prayers serve me as a corrective of—well, let’s call it “cheek.” They keep one side of the paradox alive. Of course it is only one side. It would be better not to be reverent at all than to have a reverence which denied the proximity.” – C.S. Lewis (Letters to Malcom: Chiefly on Prayer)

“The consoling thing is that while Christendom is divided about the rationality, and even the lawfulness, of praying to the saints, we are all agreed about praying with them. “With angels and archangels and all the company of heaven.” – C.S. Lewis (Letters to Malcom: Chiefly on Prayer)

“The relevant point is that kneeling does matter, but other things matter even more. A concentrated mind and a sitting body make for better prayer than a kneeling body and a mind half asleep.” – C.S. Lewis (Letters to Malcom: Chiefly on Prayer)

“To confess our sins before God is certainly to tell Him what He knows much better than we.” – C.S. Lewis (Letters to Malcom: Chiefly on Prayer)

“The change is in us. The passive changes to the active. Instead of merely being known, we show, we tell, we offer ourselves to view.” – C.S. Lewis (Letters to Malcom: Chiefly on Prayer)

“It is no use to ask God with factitious earnestness for A when our whole mind is in reality filled with the desire for B. We must lay before Him what is in us, not what ought to be in us. Even an intimate human friend” – C.S. Lewis (Letters to Malcom: Chiefly on Prayer)

“And perhaps, as those who do not turn to God in petty trials will have no habit or such resort to help them when the great trials come, so those who have not learned to ask Him for childish things will have less readiness to ask Him for great ones. We must not be too high-minded. I fancy we may sometimes be deterred from small prayers by a sense of our own dignity rather than of God’s.” – C.S. Lewis (Letters to Malcom: Chiefly on Prayer)

“But prayer is not the time for pressing our own favourite social or political panacea. Even Queen Victoria didn’t like “being talked to as if she were a public meeting.”” – C.S. Lewis (Letters to Malcom: Chiefly on Prayer)

“It seems to me that we often, almost sulkily, reject the good that God offers us because, at that moment, we expected some other good.” – C.S. Lewis (Letters to Malcom: Chiefly on Prayer)

“To forgive for the moment is not difficult. But to go on forgiving, to forgive the same offence again every time it recurs to the memory—there’s the real tussle. My resource is to look for some action of my own which is open to the same charge as the one I’m resenting.” – C.S. Lewis (Letters to Malcom: Chiefly on Prayer)

“If God had granted all the silly prayers I’ve made in my life, where should I be now?” – C.S. Lewis (Letters to Malcom: Chiefly on Prayer)

“He has substituted religion for God—as if navigation were substituted for arrival, or battle for victory, or wooing for marriage, or in general the means for the end. But even in this present life, there is danger in the very concept of religion. It carries the suggestion that this is one more department of life, an extra department added to the economic, the social, the intellectual, the recreational, and all the rest. But that whose claims are infinite can have no standing as a department. Either it is an illusion or else our whole life falls under it. We have no non-religious activities; only religious and irreligious.” – C.S. Lewis (Letters to Malcom: Chiefly on Prayer)

“It may even come about that a man’s most genuinely Christian actions fall entirely outside that part of his life which he calls religious.” – C.S. Lewis (Letters to Malcom: Chiefly on Prayer)

“There is, we have to admit, a line of demarcation between God’s part in us and the enemy’s region. But it is, we hope, a fighting line; not a frontier fixed by agreement.” – C.S. Lewis (Letters to Malcom: Chiefly on Prayer)

“I sometimes pray not for self-knowledge in general but for just so much self-knowledge at the moment as I can bear and use at the moment; the little daily dose.” – C.S. Lewis (Letters to Malcom: Chiefly on Prayer)

“Some people feel guilty about their anxieties and regard them as a defect of faith. I don’t agree at all. They are afflictions, not sins. Like all afflictions, they are, if we can so take them, our share in the Passion of Christ. For the beginning of the Passion—the first move, so to speak—is in Gethsemane. In Gethsemane a very strange and significant thing seems to have happened.”

“But for this last (and erroneous) hope against hope, and the consequent tumult of the soul, the sweat of blood, perhaps He would not have been very Man. To live in a fully predictable world is not to be a man.” – C.S. Lewis (Letters to Malcom: Chiefly on Prayer)

“We all try to accept with some sort of submission our afflictions when they actually arrive. But the prayer in Gethsemane shows that the preceding anxiety is equally God’s will and equally part of our human destiny. The perfect Man experienced it. And the servant is not greater than the master. We are Christians, not Stoics.” – C.S. Lewis (Letters to Malcom: Chiefly on Prayer)

“It is saints, not common people, who experience the “dark night.” It is men and angels, not beasts, who rebel. Inanimate matter sleeps in the bosom of the Father. The “hiddenness” of God perhaps presses most painfully on those who are in another way nearest to Him, and therefore God Himself, made man, will of all men be by God most forsaken?” – C.S. Lewis (Letters to Malcom: Chiefly on Prayer)

“You remember that the ancient Persians debated everything twice: once when they were drunk and once when they were sober.” – C.S. Lewis (Letters to Malcom: Chiefly on Prayer)

“All theology would reject the idea of a transaction in which a creature was the agent and God the patient.” – C.S. Lewis (Letters to Malcom: Chiefly on Prayer)

“For our abstract thinking is itself a tissue of analogies: a continual modelling of spiritual reality in legal or chemical or mechanical terms. Are these likely to be more adequate than the sensuous, organic, and personal images of Scripture—light and darkness, river and well, seed and harvest, master and servant, hen and chickens, father and child? The footprints of the Divine are more visible in that rich soil than across rocks or slag-heaps.” – C.S. Lewis (Letters to Malcom: Chiefly on Prayer)

“We poison the wine as He decants it into us; murder a melody He would play with us as the instrument. We caricature the self-portrait He would paint. Hence all sin, whatever else it is, is sacrilege.” – C.S. Lewis (Letters to Malcom: Chiefly on Prayer)

“The soul that has once been waked, or stung, or uplifted by the desire of God, will inevitably (I think) awake to the fear of losing Him.” – C.S. Lewis (Letters to Malcom: Chiefly on Prayer)

“Every idea of Him we form, He must in mercy shatter. The most blessed result of prayer would be to rise thinking “But I never knew before. I never dreamed . . .” I suppose it was at such a moment that Thomas Aquinas said of all his own theology, “It reminds me of straw.”” – C.S. Lewis (Letters to Malcom: Chiefly on Prayer)

“Joy is the serious business of Heaven.” – C.S. Lewis (Letters to Malcom: Chiefly on Prayer)

“The true Christian’s nostril is to be continually attentive to the inner cesspool.” – C.S. Lewis (Letters to Malcom: Chiefly on Prayer)

“Anyway, in solitude, and also in confession, I have found (to my regret) that the degrees of shame and disgust which I actually feel at my own sins do not at all correspond to what my reason tells me about their comparative gravity. Just as the degree to which, in daily life, I feel the emotion of fear has very little to do with my rational judgement of the danger. I’d sooner have really nasty seas when I’m in an open boat than look down in perfect (actual) safety from the edge of a cliff. Similarly, I have confessed ghastly uncharities with less reluctance than small unmentionables—or those sins which happen to be ungentlemanly as well as un-Christian. Our emotional reactions to our own behaviour are of limited ethical significance.” – C.S. Lewis (Letters to Malcom: Chiefly on Prayer)

“You ask me why I’ve never written anything about the Holy Communion. For the very simple reason that I am not good enough at Theology. I have nothing to offer. Hiding any light I think I’ve got under a bushel is not my besetting sin! I am much more prone to prattle unseasonably. But there is a point at which even I would gladly keep silent. The trouble is that people draw conclusions even from silence. Someone said in print the other day that I seemed to “admit rather than welcome” the sacraments.” – C.S. Lewis (Letters to Malcom: Chiefly on Prayer)

“Some people seem able to discuss different theories of this act as if they understood them all and needed only evidence as to which was best. This light has been withheld from me. I do not know and can’t imagine what the disciples understood Our Lord to mean when, His body still unbroken and His blood unshed, He handed them the bread and wine, saying they were His body and blood. I can find within the forms of my human understanding no connection between eating a man—and it is as Man that the Lord has flesh—and entering into any spiritual oneness or community or with him.” – C.S. Lewis (Letters to Malcom: Chiefly on Prayer)

“On the other hand, I get on no better with those who tell me that the elements are mere bread and mere wine, used symbolically to remind me of the death of Christ. They are, on the natural level, such a very odd symbol of that. But it would be profane to suppose that they are as arbitrary as they seem to me. I well believe there is in reality an appropriateness, even a necessity, in their selection. But it remains, for me, hidden. Again, if they are, if the whole act is, simply memorial, it would seem to follow that its value must be purely psychological, and dependent on the recipient’s sensibility at the moment of reception. And I cannot see why this particular reminder—a hundred other things may, psychologically, remind me of Christ’s death, equally, or perhaps more—should be so uniquely important as all Christendom (and my own heart) unhesitatingly declare.” – C.S. Lewis (Letters to Malcom: Chiefly on Prayer)

“I am not saying to anyone in the world, “Your explanation is wrong.” I am saying, “Your explanation leaves the mystery for me still a mystery.”” – C.S. Lewis (Letters to Malcom: Chiefly on Prayer)

“Now the value, for me, of the magical element in Christianity is this. It is a permanent witness that the heavenly realm, certainly no less than the natural universe and perhaps very much more, is a realm of objective facts—hard, determinate facts, not to be constructed a priori, and not to be dissolved into maxims, ideals, values, and the like. One cannot conceive a more completely “given,” or, if you like, a more “magical,” fact than the existence of God as causa sui.” – C.S. Lewis (Letters to Malcom: Chiefly on Prayer)

“I hope I do not offend God by making my Communions in the frame of mind I have been describing. The command, after all, was Take, eat: not Take, understand. Particularly, I hope I need not be tormented by the question “What is this?”—this wafer, this sip of wine. That has a dreadful effect on me. It invites me to take “this” out of its holy context and regard it as an object among objects, indeed as part of nature. It is like taking a red coal out of the fire to examine it: it becomes a dead coal. To me, I mean. All this is autobiography, not theology.” – C.S. Lewis (Letters to Malcom: Chiefly on Prayer)

““Forgive and you shall be forgiven” sounds like a bargain. But perhaps it is something much more. By heavenly standards, that is, for pure intelligence, it is perhaps a tautology—forgiving and being forgiven are two names for the same thing. The important thing is that a discord has been resolved, and it is certainly the great Resolver who has done it. Finally, and perhaps best of all, I believed anew what is taught us in the parable of the Unjust Judge. No evil habit is so ingrained nor so long prayed against (as it seemed) in vain, that it cannot, even in dry old age, be whisked away.” – C.S. Lewis (Letters to Malcom: Chiefly on Prayer)

“Of course I pray for the dead. The action is so spontaneous, so all but inevitable, that only the most compulsive theological case against it would deter me. And I hardly know how the rest of my prayers would survive if those for the dead were forbidden. At our age the majority of those we love best are dead. What sort of intercourse with God could I have if what I love best were unmentionable to Him?” – C.S. Lewis (Letters to Malcom: Chiefly on Prayer)

“The painful effort which prayer involves is no proof that we are doing something we were not created to do. If we were perfected, prayer would not be a duty, it would be delight. Some day, please God, it will be. The same is true of many other behaviours which now appear as duties. If I loved my neighbour as myself, most of the actions which are now my moral duty would flow out of me as spontaneously as song from a lark or fragrance from a flower. Why is this not so yet? Well, we know, don’t we?” – C.S. Lewis (Letters to Malcom: Chiefly on Prayer)

“I have a notion that what seem our worst prayers may really be, in God’s eyes, our best.” – C.S. Lewis (Letters to Malcom: Chiefly on Prayer)

“God sometimes seems to speak to us most intimately when He catches us, as it were, off our guard. Our preparations to receive Him sometimes have the opposite effect.” – C.S. Lewis (Letters to Malcom: Chiefly on Prayer)

“I don’t know and can’t imagine what the disciples understood our Lord to mean when, His body still unbroken and His blood unshed, He handed them the bread and wine, saying they were His body and blood…I find ‘substance’ (in Aristotle’s sense), when stripped of its own accidents and endowed with the accidents of some other substance, an object I cannot think…On the other hand, I get no better with those who tell me that the elements are mere bread and mere wine, used symbolically to remind me of the death of Christ. They are, on the natural level, such a very odd symbol of that…and I cannot see why this particular reminder – a hundred other things may, psychologically, remind me of Christ’s death, equally, or perhaps more – should be so uniquely important as all Christendom (and my own heart) unhesitatingly declare…Yet I find no difficulty in believing that the veil between the worlds, nowhere else (for me) so opaque to the intellect, is nowhere else so thin and permeable to divine operation. Here a hand from the hidden country touches not only my soul but my body. Here the prig, the don, the modern , in me have no privilege over the savage or the child. Here is big medicine and strong magic…the command, after all, was Take, eat: not Take, understand.” – C.S. Lewis (Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer)

The Problem of Pain

“Traditional doctrine points to a sin against God, an act of disobedience, not a sin against the neighbor. And certainly, if we are to hold the doctrine of the Fall in any real sense, we must look for the great sin on a deeper and more timeless level than that of social morality. This sin has been described by Saint Augustine as the result of Pride, of the movement whereby a creature (that is, an essentially dependent being whose principle of existence lies not in itself but in another) tries to set up on its own, to exist for itself. Such a sin requires no complex social conditions, no extended experience, no great intellectual development. From the moment a creature becomes aware of God as God and of itself as self, the terrible alternative of choosing God or self for the center is opened to it. This sin is committed daily by young children and ignorant peasants as well as by sophisticated persons, by solitaries no less than by those who live in society: it is the fall in every individual life, and in each day of each individual life, the basic sin behind all particular sins: at this very moment you and I are either committing it, or about to commit it, or repenting it.” – C.S. Lewis (The Problem of Pain)

“If God is Love, He is, by definition, something more than mere kindness. And it appears from all the records, that though He has often rebuked us and condemned us, He has never regarded us with contempt. He has paid us the intolerable compliment of loving us, in the deepest, most tragic, most inexorable sense.” – C.S. Lewis (The Problem of Pain)

“You asked for a loving God: you have one. The great spirit you so lightly invoked, the ‘lord of terrible aspect’, is present: not a senile benevolence that drowsily wishes you to be happy in your own way, not the cold philanthropy of a conscientious magistrate, nor the care of a host who feels responsible for the comfort of his guests, but the consuming fire Himself, the Love that made the worlds, persistent as the artist’s love for his work and despotic as a man’s love for a dog, provident and venerable as a father’s love for a child, jealous, inexorable, exacting as love between the sexes.” – C.S. Lewis (The Problem of Pain)

“Man is not the center. God does not exist for the sake of man. Man does not exist for his own sake…we were made not primarily that we may love God (though we were made for that too) but that God may love us, that we may become objects in which the Divine love may rest well pleased.” – C.S. Lewis (The Problem of Pain)

The Weight of Glory

“If we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” – C.S. Lewis (The Weight of Glory)

“As mere biological entities, each with its separate will to live and to expand, we are apparently of no account; we are cross-fodder. But as organs in the Body of Christ, as stones as pillars in the temple, we are assured of our eternal self-identity and shall live to remember the galaxies as an old tale.” – C.S. Lewis (The Weight of Glory)

“To say this is to repeat what everyone here admits already – that we are saved by grace, that in our flesh dwells no good thing, that we are, through and through, creatures not creators, derived beings, living not of ourselves but from Christ.” – C.S. Lewis (The Weight of Glory)

“Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord find our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” – C.S. Lewis (The Weight of Glory)

“Gospel replaces law, longing transforms obedience, as gradually as the tide lifts a grounded ship.” – C.S. Lewis (The Weight of Glory)

“The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things – the beauty, the memory of our own past – are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself, they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.” – C.S. Lewis (The Weight of Glory)

“Almost our whole education has been directed to silencing this shy, persistent, inner voice; almost all our modern philosophies have been devised to convince us that the good of man is to be found on this earth. And yet it is a remarkable thing that such philosophies of Progress or Creative Evolution themselves bear reluctant witness to the truth that our real goal is elsewhere.” – C.S. Lewis (The Weight of Glory)

“I suddenly remembered that no one can enter heaven except as a child; and nothing is so obvious in a child – not in a conceited child, but in a good child – as its great and undisguised pleasure in being praised. Not only in a child either, but even in a dog or a horse. Apparently what I had mistaken for humility had, all these years, prevented me from understanding what is in fact the humblest, the most childlike, the most creaturely of pleasures – nay, the specific pleasure of the inferior: the pleasure of a beast before men, a child before its father, a pupil before his teacher, a creature before its Creator.” – C.S. Lewis (The Weight of Glory)

“I read in a periodical the other day that the fundamental thing is how we think of God. By God Himself, it is not! How God thinks of us is not only more important, but infinitely more important. Indeed, how we think of Him is of no importance except insofar as it is related to how He thinks of us.” – C.S. Lewis (The Weight of Glory)

“The promise of glory is the promise, almost incredible and only possible by the work of Christ, that some of us, that any of us who really chooses, shall actually survive that examination, shall find approval, shall please God…to be a real ingredient in the divine, happiness…to be loved by God, not merely, but delighted in as an artist delights in his work or a son – it seems impossible, a weight or burden of glory which our thoughts can hardly sustain. But so it is.” – C.S. Lewis (The Weight of Glory)

“In some sense, as dark to the intellect as it is unendurable to the feelings, we can be both banished from the presence of Him who is present everywhere and erased from the knowledge of Him who knows all. We can be left utterly and absolutely outside – repelled, exiled, estranged, finally and unspeakably ignored. On the other hand, we can be called in, welcomed, received, acknowledged. We walk every day on the razor edge between these two incredible possibilities. Apparently, then, our lifelong nostalgia, our longing to be reunited with something in the universe from which we now feel cut off, to be on the inside of some door which we have always seen from the outside, is no mere neurotic fancy, but the truest index of our real situation. And to be at last summoned inside would be both glory and honor beyond all our merits and also the healing of that old ache.” – C.S. Lewis (The Weight of Glory)

“Nature is mortal; we shall outlive her. When all the suns and nebulae have passed away, each one of you will still be alive.” – C.S. Lewis (The Weight of Glory)

“The cross comes before the crown and tomorrow is a Monday morning. A cleft has opened in the pitiless walls of the world, and we are invited to follow our great Captain inside. The following Him is, of course, the essential point.” – C.S. Lewis (The Weight of Glory)

“Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses.” – C.S. Lewis (The Weight of Glory)

“Human life has always been lived on the edge of a precipice. Human culture has always had to exist under the shadow of something infinitely more important than itself. If men had postponed the search for knowledge and beauty until they were secure, the search would never have begun. We are mistaken when we compare war with ‘normal life.’ Life has never been normal. Even those periods which we think most tranquil…” – C.S. Lewis (The Weight of Glory)

“Before I became a Christian I do not think I fully realized that one’s life, after conversion, would inevitably consist in doing most of the same things one had been doing before, one hopes, in a new spirit, but still the same things. Before I went to the last war I certainly expected that my life in the trenches would, in some mysterious sense, be all war. In fact, I found that the nearer you got to the front line the less everyone spoke and thought of the allied cause and the progress of the campaign…” – C.S. Lewis (The Weight of Glory)

“The rescue of drowning men is, then, a duty worth dying for, but not worth living for. It seems to me that all political duties (among which I include military duties) are of this kind. A man may have to die for our country, but no man must, in any exclusive sense, live for his country. He who surrenders himself without reservation to the temporal claims of a nation, or a party, or a class is rendering to Caesar that which, of all things, most emphatically belongs to God: himself.” – C.S. Lewis (The Weight of Glory)

“A cultural life will exist outside the Church whether it exists inside or not. To be ignorant and simple now – not to be able to meet the enemies on their own ground – would be to throw down our weapons, and to betray our uneducated brethren who have, under God, no defense but us against the intellectual attacks of the heathen. Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered.” – C.S. Lewis (The Weight of Glory)

“Never, in peace or war, commit your virtue or your happiness to the future. Happy work is best done by the man who takes his long-term plans somewhat lightly and works from moment to moment ‘as to the Lord.’ It is only our daily bread that we are encouraged to ask for. The present is the only time in which any duty can be done or any grace received.” – C.S. Lewis (The Weight of Glory)

“War does do something to death. It forces us to remember it. The only reason why the cancer at sixty or the paralysis at seventy-five does not bother us is that we forget them. War makes death real to us, and that would have been regarded as one of its blessings by most of the great Christians of the past. They thought it good for us to be always aware of our mortality. I am inclined to think they were right. All the animal life in us, all schemes of happiness that centered in this world, were always doomed to a final frustration. In ordinary times only a wise man can realize it. Now the stupidest of us knows. We see unmistakably the sort of universe in which we have all along been living, and most come to terms with it. If we had foolish un-Christian hopes about human culture, they are now shattered. If we thought we were building up a heaven on earth, if we looked for something that would turn the present world from a place of pilgrimage into a permanent city satisfying the soul of man, we are disillusioned, and not a moment too soon.” – C.S. Lewis (The Weight of Glory)

“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” – C.S. Lewis (The Weight of Glory)

“Theocracy has been rightly abolished not because it is bad that learned priests should govern ignorant laymen, but because priests are wicked men like the rest of us.” – C.S. Lewis (The Weight of Glory)

“God did not die for man because of some value He perceived in him. The value of each human soul considered simply in itself, out of relation to God, is zero. As St. Paul writes, to have died for valuable men would have been not divine but merely heroic; but God died for sinners. He loved us not because we were lovable, but because He is Love.” – C.S. Lewis (The Weight of Glory)

“As mere biological entities, each with its separate will to live and to expand, we are apparently of no account; we are cross-fodder. But as organs in the Body of Christ, as stones and pillars in the temple, we are assured of our eternal self-identity and shall live to remember the galaxies as an old tale.” – C.S. Lewis (The Weight of Glory)

“To say this is to repeat what everyone here admits already – that we are saved by grace, that in our flesh dwells no good things, that we are, through and through, creatures not creators, derived beings, living not of ourselves but from Christ.” – C.S. Lewis (The Weight of Glory)

“Real forgiveness means looking steadily at the sin, the sin that is left over without any excuse, after all allowances have been made, and seeing it in all its horror, dirt, meanness, and malice, and nevertheless being wholly reconciled to the man who has done it. That, and only that, is forgiveness, and that we can always have from God if we ask it.” – C.S. Lewis (The Weight of Glory)

“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.” C.S. Lewis (The Weight of Glory)

“It is perhaps not so hard to forgive a single great injury. But to forgive the incessant provocations of daily life – to keep on forgiving the bossy mother-in-law, the bullying husband, the nagging wife, the selfish daughter, the deceitful son – how can we do it? Only, I think, by remembering where we stand, by meaning our words when we say in our prayers each night ‘forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those that trespass against us.’” – C.S. Lewis (The Weight of Glory)

The World’s Last Night: And Other Essays

“Those who best know a man best know whether, when he did what they asked, he did it because they asked. I think those who best know God will best know whether He sent me to the barber’s shop because the barber prayed.” – C.S. Lewis (The World’s Last Night: And Other Essays)

“The very question “Does prayer work?” puts us in the wrong frame of mind from the outset. “Work”: as if it were magic, or a machine—something that functions automatically. Prayer is either a sheer illusion or a personal contact between embryonic, incomplete persons (ourselves) and the utterly concrete Person. Prayer in the sense of petition, asking for things, is a small part of it; confession and penitence are its threshold, adoration its sanctuary, the presence and vision and enjoyment of God its bread and wine. In it God shows Himself to us. That He answers prayers is a corollary—not necessarily the most important one—from that revelation. What He does is learned from what He is.” – C.S. Lewis (The World’s Last Night: And Other Essays)

“He allows soils and weather and animals and the muscles, minds, and wills of men to co-operate in the execution of His will. “God,” said Pascal, “instituted prayer in order to lend to His creatures the dignity of causality.” But not only prayer; whenever we act at all He lends us that dignity. It is not really stranger, nor less strange, that my prayers should affect the course of events than that my other actions should do so. They have not advised or changed God’s mind—that is, His over-all purpose. But that purpose will be realized in different ways according to the actions, including the prayers, of His creatures.” – C.S. Lewis (The World’s Last Night: And Other Essays)

“Prayer is not a machine. It is not magic. It is not advice offered to God. Our act, when we pray, must not, any more than all our other acts, be separated from the continuous act of God Himself, in which alone all finite causes operate.” – C.S. Lewis (The World’s Last Night: And Other Essays)

“It would be even worse to think of those who get what they pray for as a sort of court favorites, people who have influence with the throne. The refused prayer of Christ in Gethsemane is answer enough to that. And I dare not leave out the hard saying which I once heard from an experienced Christian: “I have seen many striking answers to prayer and more than one that I thought miraculous. But they usually come at the beginning: before conversion, or soon after it. As the Christian life proceeds, they tend to be rarer. The refusals, too, are not only more frequent; they become more unmistakable, more emphatic.”” – C.S. Lewis (The World’s Last Night: And Other Essays)

“The assumption that every man would be pleased, and nothing but pleased, if only he could conclude that Christianity is true, appears to me to be simply preposterous.” – C.S. Lewis (The World’s Last Night: And Other Essays)

“To love involves trusting the beloved beyond the evidence, even against much evidence.” – C.S. Lewis (The World’s Last Night: And Other Essays)

“I fully embrace the maxim that “all power corrupts.” I would go further. The loftier the pretensions of power, the more meddlesome, inhuman, and oppressive it will be. Theocracy is the worst of all possible governments. All political power is at best a necessary evil: but it is least evil when its sanctions are most modest and commonplace, when it claims no more than to be useful or convenient and sets itself strictly limited objectives. Anything transcendental or spiritual, or even anything strongly ethical, in its pretensions is dangerous and encourages it to meddle with our private lives…”Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds.” The higher the pretensions of our rulers are, the more meddlesome and impertinent their rule is likely to be and the more the thing in whose name they rule will be defiled.” – C.S. Lewis (The World’s Last Night)

“Those attitudes and practices to which we give the collective name of religion are themselves concerned with religion hardly at all. To be religious is to have one’s attention fixed on God and on one’s neighbor in relation to God. Therefore, almost by definition, a religious man, or a man when he is being religious, is not thinking about religion; he hasn’t the time. Religion is what we (or he himself at a later moment) call his activity from outside.” – C.S. Lewis (The World’s Last Night: And Other Essays)

“Those who read poetry to improve their minds will never improve their minds by reading poetry. For the true enjoyments must be spontaneous and compulsive and look to no remoter end.” – C.S. Lewis (The World’s Last Night: And Other Essays)

“The loftier the pretensions of the power, the more meddlesome, inhuman, and oppressive it will be. Theocracy is the worst of all possible governments. All political power is at best a necessary evil: but it is least evil when its sanctions are most modest and commonplace, when it claims no more than to be useful or convenient and sets itself strictly limited objectives. Anything transcendental or spiritual, or even anything very strongly ethical, in its pretensions is dangerous and encourages it to meddle with our private lives.” – C.S. Lewis (The World’s Last Night: And Other Essays)

Culture is a bad qualification for a ruling class because it does not qualify men to rule. The things we really need in our rulers—mercy, financial integrity, practical intelligence, hard work, and the like—are no more likely to be found in cultured persons than in anyone else.” – C.S. Lewis (The World’s Last Night: And Other Essays)

“Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds.” – C.S. Lewis (The World’s Last Night: And Other Essays)

“The idea of Good Work is not quite extinct among us, though it is not, I fear, especially characteristic of religious people. I have found it among cabinet-makers, cobblers, and sailors. It is no use at all trying to impress sailors with a new liner because she is the biggest or costliest ship afloat. They look for what they call her “lines”: they predict how she will behave in a heavy sea.” – C.S. Lewis (The World’s Last Night: And Other Essays)

“If there are species, and rational species, other than man, are any or all of them, like us, fallen? This is the point non-Christians always seem to forget. They seem to think that the Incarnation implies some particular merit or excellence in humanity. But of course it implies just the reverse: a particular demerit and depravity. No creature that deserved Redemption would need to be redeemed. They that are whole need not the physician. Christ died for men precisely because men are not worth dying for; to make them worth it.” – C.S. Lewis (The World’s Last Night: And Other Essays)

“The general, deciding where to begin his attack, does not select the prettiest landscape or the most fertile field or the most attractive village. Christ was not born in a stable because a stable is, in itself, the most convenient or distinguished place for a maternity.” – C.S. Lewis (The World’s Last Night: And Other Essays)

“We know what our race does to strangers. Man destroys or enslaves every species he can. Civilized man murders, enslaves, cheats, and corrupts savage man. Even inanimate nature he turns into dust bowls and slag-heaps. There are individuals who don’t. But they are not the sort who are likely to be our pioneers in space. Our ambassador to new worlds will be the needy and greedy adventurer or the ruthless technical expert. They will do as their kind has always done. What that will be if they meet things weaker than themselves, the black man and the red man can tell. If they meet things stronger, they will be, very properly, destroyed.” – C.S. Lewis (The World’s Last Night: And Other Essays)

““Gun and gospel” have been horribly combined in the past. The missionary’s holy desire to save souls has not always been kept quite distinct from the arrogant desire, the busybody’s itch, to (as he calls it) “civilize” the (as he calls them) “natives.”” – C.S. Lewis (The World’s Last Night: And Other Essays)

“I have wondered before now whether the vast astronomical distances may not be God’s quarantine precautions. They prevent the spiritual infection of a fallen species from spreading.” – C.S. Lewis (The World’s Last Night: And Other Essays)

“Luther surely spoke very good sense when he compared humanity to a drunkard who, after falling off his horse on the right, falls off it next time on the left.” – C.S. Lewis (The World’s Last Night: And Other Essays)

“We have been taught to think of the world as something that grows slowly towards perfection, something that “progresses” or “evolves.” Christian Apocalyptic offers us no such hope. It does not even foretell (which would be more tolerable to our habits of thought) a gradual decay. It foretells a sudden, violent end imposed from without; an extinguisher popped onto the candle, a brick flung at the gramophone, a curtain rung down on the play—“Halt!”” – C.S. Lewis (The World’s Last Night: And Other Essays)

“The idea which here shuts out the Second Coming from our minds, the idea of the world slowly ripening to perfection, is a myth, not a generalization from experience. And it is a myth which distracts us from our real duties and our real interest. It is our attempt to guess the plot of a drama in which we are the characters. But how can the characters in a play guess the plot? We are not the playwright, we are not the producer, we are not even the audience. We are on the stage. To play well the scenes in which we are “on” concerns us much more than to guess about the scenes that follow it.” – C.S. Lewis (The World’s Last Night: And Other Essays)

“The doctrine of the Second Coming teaches us that we do not and cannot know when the world drama will end. The curtain may be rung down at any moment: say, before you have finished reading this paragraph. This seems to some people intolerably frustrating. So many things would be interrupted. Perhaps you were going to get married next month, perhaps you were going to get a raise next week: you may be on the verge of a great scientific discovery; you may be maturing great social and political reforms. Surely no good and wise God would be so very unreasonable as to cut all this short? Not now, of all moments!” – C.S. Lewis (The World’s Last Night: And Other Essays)

“The doctrine of the Second Coming, then, is not to be rejected because it conflicts with our favorite modern mythology. It is, for that very reason, to be the more valued and made more frequently the subject of meditation. It is the medicine our condition especially needs.” – C.S. Lewis (The World’s Last Night: And Other Essays)

“His teaching on the subject quite clearly consisted of three propositions. (1) That he will certainly return. (2) That we cannot possibly find out when. (3) And that therefore we must always be ready for him.” – C.S. Lewis (The World’s Last Night: And Other Essays)

“Feelings come and go, and when they come a good use can be made of them: they cannot be our regular spiritual diet.” – C.S. Lewis (The World’s Last Night: And Other Essays)

“…the point is to remember that an empire or a civilization is also transitory. All achievements and triumphs, in so far as they are merely this-worldly achievements and triumphs, will come to nothing in the end. Most scientists here join hands with the theologians; the earth will not always be habitable. Man, though longer-lived than men, is equally mortal. The difference is that whereas the scientists expect only a slow decay from within, we reckon with sudden interruption from without—at any moment.” – C.S. Lewis (The World’s Last Night: And Other Essays)

“For what comes is Judgment: happy are those whom it finds laboring in their vocations, whether they were merely going out to feed the pigs or laying good plans to deliver humanity a hundred years hence from some great evil. The curtain has indeed now fallen. Those pigs will never in fact be fed, the great campaign against White Slavery or Governmental Tyranny will never in fact proceed to victory. No matter; you were at your post when the Inspection came.” – C.S. Lewis (The World’s Last Night: And Other Essays)

“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 our 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.” – C.S. Lewis (The World’s Last Night: And Other Essays)

Christian Reflections

“A Christian is to Christ as a mirror to an object.” – C.S. Lewis (Christian Reflections)

“The highest good of a creature must be creaturely – that is, derivative or reflective good. In other words, as St. Augustine makes plain, pride does not only go before a fall but is a fall – a fall of the creature’s attention from what is better, God, to what is worse, self.” – C.S. Lewis (Christian Reflections)

“I conclude that culture has a distinct part to play in bringing certain souls to Christ. Not all souls – there is a shorter, and safer, way which has always been followed by thousands of simple affectional natures who begin, where we hope to end, with devotion to the person of Christ.” – C.S. Lewis (Christian Reflections)

“God is not merely good, but goodness; goodness is not merely divine, but God.” – C.S. Lewis (Christian Reflections)

“That is the lesson of the Book of Job. No explanation of the problem of unjust suffering is there given: that is not the point of the poem. The point is that the man who accepts our ordinary standard of good and by it hotly criticizes divine justice receives divine approval: the orthodox, pious people who palter with that standard in the attempt to justify God are condemned. Apparently the way to advance from our imperfect apprehension of justice to the absolute justice is not to throw our imperfect apprehensions aside but boldly to go on applying them. Just as the pupil advances the more perfect arithmetic not by throwing his multiplication table away, but by working it for all its worth.” – C.S. Lewis (Christian Reflections)

“Everyone is indignant when he hears the Germans define justice as that which is to the interest of the Third Reich. But it is not always remembered that this indignation is perfectly groundless if we ourselves regard morality as a subjective sentiment to be altered at will.” – C.S. Lewis (Christian Reflections)

“The Scriptures come before me as a book claiming divine inspiration. I am not prepared to argue with the prophets. But if any man thinks that because God was pleased to reveal certain calamities as ‘judgments’ to certain chosen persons, he is therefore entitled to generalize and read all calamities in the same way.” – C.S. Lewis (Christian Reflections)

“I do not at all mean that the Hebrews were just ‘better’ than the Greeks and the Romans. On the contrary we shall find in the Psalms expressions of a cruelty more vindictive and self-righteous more complete than anything in the classics. If we ignore such passages and read only a few selected favorite Psalms, we miss the point. For the point is precisely this: that these same fanatical and homicidal Hebrews, and not the more enlightened peoples, again and again – for brief moments – reach a Christian level of spirituality. It is not that they are better or worse than the Pagans, but that they are both better and worse. One is forced to recognize that, in one respect, these alien poets are our predecessors, and the only predecessors we can find in all antiquity. They have something the Pagans have not. They know something of which Socrates was ignorant. This Something does not seem to us to arise at all naturally from what else we can see of their character. It looks like something that has been given them from outside; in fact, like what it professes to be, a revelation. Their claim to be the ‘Chosen’ people is strong.” – C.S. Lewis (Christian Reflections)

“We may, indeed, be surprised at the choice. If we had been allowed to see the world as it was, say, in the fifteenth century B.C., and asked to guess which of the stocks then existing was going to be entrusted with the consciousness of God and with the transmissions of that blood which would one day produce a body for the incarnation of God Himself, I do not think many of us would have guess right.” – C.S. Lewis (Christian Reflections)

“The psalmists, with very few exceptions, are eager for judgment because they believe themselves to be wholly in the right. Others have sinned against them; their own conduct (as they frequently assure us) has been impeccable. They earnestly invite the divine inspection, certain that they will emerge from it with flying colors. The adversary may have things to hide, but they have not. The more God examines their case, the more unanswerable it will appear. The Christian, on the other hand, trembles because he knows he is a sinner.” – C.S. Lewis (Christian Reflections)

“I must often be glad that certain past prayers of my own were not granted.” – C.S. Lewis (Christian Reflections)

“It might perhaps be maintained that in some instances the faith in question is not a faith that this particular healing will take place but a deeper, more all-embracing faith in the person of Christ Himself.” – C.S. Lewis (Christian Reflections)

“The faith that moves mountains is a gift from Him who created mountains.” – C.S. Lewis (Christian Reflections)

“He chose on that night to plumb the depths of Christian experience, to resemble not the heroes of His army but the very weakest camp followers and unfits.” – C.S. Lewis (Christian Reflections)

“Looking for God – or Heaven – by exploring space is like seeing all Shakepeare’s plays in the hope that you will find Shakespeare as one of the characters or Stratford as one of the places. Shakespeare is in one sense present at every moment in every play. But he is never present in the same way as Falstaff or Lady Macbeth. Nor is he diffused through the play like a gas.” – C.S. Lewis (Christian Reflections)

“If God created the universe, He created space-time, which is to the universe as the metre is to a poem or the key is to music. To look for Him as one item within the framework which He Himself invented is nonsensical.” – C.S. Lewis (Christian Reflections)

“If God – such a God as any adult religion believes in – exists, mere movement in space will never bring you any nearer to Him or any farther from Him than you are at this very moment. You can neither reach Him nor avoid Him by traveling to Alpha Centauri or even to other galaxies. A fish is no more, and no less, in the sea after it has swum a thousand miles than it was when it set out.” – C.S. Lewis (Christian Reflections)

“I am a far less reliable guide. That is because I never had the experience of looking for God. It was the other way round; He was the hunter (or so it seemed to me) and I was the deer. He stalked me like a redskin, took unerring aim, and fired. And I am very thankful that that is how the first (conscious) meeting occurred.” – C.S. Lewis (Christian Reflections)

A Grief Observed

“I sometimes think that shame, mere awkward, senseless shame, does more towards preventing good acts and straightforward happiness as any of our vices can do.” – C.S. Lewis (A Grief Observed)

“You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you. It is easy to say you believe a rope to be strong and sound as long as you are merely using it to cord a box. But suppose you had to hang by that rope over a precipice. Wouldn’t you then first discover how much you really trusted it?” C.S. Lewis (A Grief Observed)

“Talk to me about the truth of religion and I’ll listen gladly. Talk to me about the duty of religion and I’ll listen submissively. But don’t come talking to me about the consolations of religion or I shall suspect that you don’t understand.” – C.S. Lewis (A Grief Observed)

“There is nothing we can do with suffering except to suffer it…” – C.S. Lewis (A Grief Observed)

“What do people mean when they say ‘I am not afraid of God because I know He is good’? Have they never been to a dentist?” – C.S. Lewis (A Grief Observed)

“‘If only I could bear it, or the worst of it, or any of it, instead of her.’ But one can’t tell how serious that bid is, for nothing is staked on it. If it suddenly became a real possibility, then, for the first time, we should discover how seriously we had meant it. But is it ever allowed? It was allowed to One, we are told, and I find I can now believe again, that He has done vicariously whatever can be so done. He replies to our babble, ‘You cannot and you dare not. I could and dared.'” – C.S. Lewis (A Grief Observed)

“God has not been trying an experiment on my faith or love in order to find out their quality. He knew it already. It was I who didn’t. In this trial He makes us occupy the dock, the witness box, and the bench all at once. He always knew my temple was a house of cards. His only way of making me realize the fact was to knock it down.” – C.S. Lewis (A Grief Observed)

“Images of the Holy easily become holy images – sacrosanct. My idea of God is not a divine idea. It has to be shattered time after time. He shatters it Himself. He is the great iconoclast. Could we not almost say that this is shattering is one of the marks of His presence? The Incarnation is the supreme example; it leaves all previous ideas of the Messiah in ruins.” – C.S. Lewis (A Grief Observed)

“Can a mortal ask questions which God finds unanswerable? Quite easily, I should think. All non-sense questions are unanswerable. How many hours are there in a mile? Is yellow a square or round? Probably half the questions we ask – half our great theological and metaphysical problems – are like that.” – C.S. Lewis (A Grief Observed)

“Heaven will solve our problems, but not, I think, by showing us subtle reconciliations between all our apparently contradictory notions. The notions will all be knocked off from under our feet. We shall see that there never was any problem. And, more than once, that impression which I can’t describe except by saying that it’s like the sound of a chuckle in the darkness. The sense that some shattering and disarming simplicity is the real answer.” – C.S. Lewis (A Grief Observed)

“To see, in some measure, like God. His love and His knowledge are not distinct from one another, nor from Him. We could almost say He sees because He loves, and therefore loves although He sees.” – C.S. Lewis (A Grief Observed)

“Can a mortal ask questions which God finds unanswerable? Quite easily, I should think. All non- sense questions are unanswerable. How many hours are there in a mile? Is yellow square or round? Probably half the questions we ask—half our great theological and metaphysical problems—are like that.” – C.S. Lewis (A Grief Observed)

The Screwtape Letters

NOTE: This book was originally written in 1942 by Lewis, and is the one book he states that he did not enjoy writing. The quotes from this book take a different tone because it’s written from the perspective of a demon named Screwtape to his nephew Wormwood. The demons are responsible for corrupting the human, known in this book as ‘the patient.’ Please keep this in mind when looking over the quotes.

“There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.” – C.S. Lewis (The Screwtape Letters)

“One of our great allies at present is the Church itself. Do not misunderstand me. I do not mean the Church as we see her spread out through all time and space and rooted in eternity, terrible as an army with banners. That, I confess, is a spectacle which makes our boldest tempters uneasy. But fortunately it is quite invisible to these humans. All your patient sees is the half-finished, sham Gothic erection on the new building estate. When he goes inside, he sees the local grocer with rather an oily expression on his face bustling up to offer him one shiny little book containing a liturgy which neither of them understands, and one shabby little book containing corrupt texts of a number of religious lyrics, mostly bad, and in very small print. When he gets to his pew and looks round him he sees just that selection of his neighbors whom he has hitherto avoided. You want to lean pretty heavily on those neighbors. Make his mind flit to and fro between an expression like ‘the body of Christ’ and the actual faces in the next pew. It matters very little, of course, what kind of people that next pew really contains. You may know one of them to be a great warrior on the Enemy’s side.” – C.S. Lewis (The Screwtape Letters)

“Work hard, then, on the disappointment or anticlimax which is certainly coming to the patient during his first few weeks as a churchman. The Enemy allows this disappointment to occur on the threshold of every human endeavor. It occurs when the boy who has been enchanted in the nursery by Stories from the Odyssey buckles down to really learning Greek. It occurs when lovers have got married and begin the real task of learning to live together. In every department of life it marks the transition from dreaming aspiration to laborious doing. The Enemy takes this risk because He has a curious fantasy of making all these disgusting little human vermin into what He calls His ‘free’ lovers and servants—‘sons’ is the word He uses, with His inveterate love of degrading the whole spiritual world by unnatural liaisons with the two-legged animals. Desiring their freedom, He therefore refuses to carry them, by their mere affections and habits, to any of the goals which He sets before them: He leaves them to ‘do it on their own’. And there lies our opportunity. But also, remember, there lies our danger. If once they get through this initial dryness successfully, they become much less dependent on emotion and therefore much harder to tempt.” – C.S. Lewis (The Screwtape Letters)

“What he says, even on his knees, about his own sinfulness is all parrot talk. At bottom, he still believes he has run up a very favorable credit-balance in the Enemy’s ledger by allowing himself to be converted, and thinks that he is showing great humility and condescension in going to church with these ‘smug’, commonplace neighbors at all. Keep him in that state of mind as long as you can.” – C.S. Lewis (The Screwtape Letters)

“Keep his mind on the inner life. He thinks his conversion is something inside him and his attention is therefore chiefly turned at present to the states of his own mind—or rather to that very expurgated version of them which is all you should allow him to see. Encourage this. Keep his mind off the most elementary duties by directing it to the most advanced and spiritual ones. Aggravate that most useful human characteristic, the horror and neglect of the obvious. You must bring him to a condition in which he can practice self-examination for an hour without discovering any of those facts about himself which are perfectly clear to anyone who has ever lived in the same house with him or worked in the same office.” – C.S. Lewis (The Screwtape Letters)

“I have had patients of my own so well in hand that they could be turned at a moment’s notice from impassioned prayer for a wife’s or son’s ‘soul’ to beating or insulting the real wife or son without a qualm.” – C.S. Lewis (The Screwtape Letters)

“It is funny how mortals always picture us as putting things into their minds: in reality our best work is done by keeping things out.” – C.S. Lewis (The Screwtape Letters)

“Teach them to estimate the value of each prayer by their success in producing the desired feeling; and never let them suspect how much success or failure of that kind depends on whether they are well or ill, fresh or tired, at the moment.” – C.S. Lewis (The Screwtape Letters)

“Give me without fail in your next letter a full account of the patient’s reactions to the war, so that we can consider whether you are likely to do more good by making him an extreme patriot or an ardent pacifist.” – C.S. Lewis (The Screwtape Letters)

“Consider too what undesirable deaths occur in wartime. Men are killed in places where they knew they might be killed and to which they go, if they are at all of the Enemy’s party, prepared. How much better for us if all humans died in costly nursing homes amid doctors who lie, nurses who lie, friends who lie, as we have trained them, promising life to the dying, encouraging the belief that sickness excuses every indulgence, and even, if our workers know their job, withholding all suggestion of a priest lest it should betray to the sick man his true condition! And how disastrous for us is the continual remembrance of death which war enforces. One of our best weapons, contented worldliness, is rendered useless. In wartime not even a human can believe that he is going to live forever.” – C.S. Lewis (The Screwtape Letters)

“We want him to be in the maximum uncertainty, so that his mind will be filled with contradictory pictures of the future, every one of which arouses hope or fear. There is nothing like suspense and anxiety for barricading a human’s mind against the Enemy. He wants men to be concerned with what they do; our business is to keep them thinking about what will happen to them.” – C.S. Lewis (The Screwtape Letters)

“I had not forgotten my promise to consider whether we should make the patient an extreme patriot or an extreme pacifist. All extremes, except extreme devotion to the Enemy, are to be encouraged.” – C.S. Lewis (The Screwtape Letters)

“We want the Church to be small not only that fewer men may know the Enemy but also that those who do may acquire the uneasy intensity and the defensive self-righteousness of a secret society or a clique. The Church herself is, of course, heavily defended and we have never yet quite succeeded in giving her all the characteristics of a faction; but subordinate factions within her have often produced admirable results, from the parties of Paul and of Apollos at Corinth down to the High and Low parties in the Church of England.” – C.S. Lewis (The Screwtape Letters)

“Whichever he adopts, your main task will be the same. Let him begin by treating the Patriotism or the Pacifism as a part of his religion. Then let him, under the influence of partisan spirit, come to regard it as the most important part. Then quietly and gradually nurse him on to the stage at which the religion becomes merely part of the ‘cause’, in which Christianity is valued chiefly because of the excellent arguments it can produce in favor of the British war-effort or of Pacifism. The attitude which you want to guard against is that in which temporal affairs are treated primarily as material for obedience. Once you have made the World an end, and faith a means, you have almost won your man, and it makes very little difference what kind of worldly end he is pursuing. Provided that meetings, pamphlets, policies, movements, causes, and crusades, matter more to him than prayers and sacraments and charity, he is ours—and the more ‘religious’ (on those terms) the more securely ours. I could show you a pretty cageful down here.” – C.S. Lewis (The Screwtape Letters)

“If you had watched your patient carefully you would have seen this undulation in every department of his life—his interest in his work, his affection for his friends, his physical appetites, all go up and down. As long as he lives on earth periods of emotional and bodily richness and liveliness will alternate with periods of numbness and poverty. The dryness and dullness through which your patient is now going are not, as you fondly suppose, your workmanship; they are merely a natural phenomenon which will do us no good unless you make a good use of it.” – C.S. Lewis (The Screwtape Letters)

“One must face the fact that all the talk about His love for men, and His service being perfect freedom, is not (as one would gladly believe) mere propaganda, but an appalling truth. He really does want to fill the universe with a lot of loathsome little replicas of Himself—creatures whose life, on its miniature scale, will be qualitatively like His own, not because He has absorbed them but because their wills freely conform to His. We want cattle who can finally become food; He wants servants who can finally become sons. We want to suck in, He wants to give out. We are empty and would be filled; He is full and flows over. Our war aim is a world in which Our Father Below has drawn all other beings into himself: the Enemy wants a world full of beings united to Him but still distinct.” – C.S. Lewis (The Screwtape Letters)

“Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.” – C.S. Lewis (The Screwtape Letters)

“Let him assume that the first ardors of his conversion might have been expected to last, and ought to have lasted, forever, and that his present dryness is an equally permanent condition. Having once got this misconception well fixed in his head, you may then proceed in various ways. It all depends on whether your man is of the desponding type who can be tempted to despair, or of the wishful-thinking type who can be assured that all is well. The former type is getting rare among the humans. If your patient should happen to belong to it, everything is easy. You have only got to keep him out of the way of experienced Christians (an easy task now-adays), to direct his attention to the appropriate passages in scripture, and then to set him to work on the desperate design of recovering his old feelings by sheer will-power, and the game is ours. If he is of the more hopeful type your job is to make him acquiesce in the present low temperature of his spirit and gradually become content with it, persuading himself that it is not so low after all. In a week or two you will be making him doubt whether the first days of his Christianity were not, perhaps, a little excessive. Talk to him about ‘moderation in all things’. If you can once get him to the point of thinking that ‘religion is all very well up to a point’, you can feel quite happy about his soul. A moderated religion is as good for us as no religion at all—and more amusing.” – C.S. Lewis (The Screwtape Letters)

“All mortals tend to turn into the thing they are pretending to be. This is elementary. The real question is how to prepare for the Enemy’s counterattack.” – C.S. Lewis (The Screwtape Letters)

“A few weeks ago you had to tempt him to unreality and inattention in his prayers: but now you will find him opening his arms to you and almost begging you to distract his purpose and benumb his heart. He will want his prayers to be unreal, for he will dread nothing so much as effective contact with the Enemy. His aim will be to let sleeping worms lie.” – C.S. Lewis (The Screwtape Letters)

“The Christians describe the Enemy as one ‘without whom Nothing is strong’. And Nothing is very strong: strong enough to steal away a man’s best years not in sweet sins but in a dreary flickering of the mind over it knows not what and knows not why, in the gratification of curiosities so feeble that the man is only half aware of them, in drumming of fingers and kicking of heels, in whistling tunes that he does not like, or in the long, dim labyrinth of reveries that have not even lust or ambition to give them a relish, but which, once chance association has started them, the creature is too weak and fuddled to shake off. You will say that these are very small sins; and doubtless, like all young tempters, you are anxious to be able to report spectacular wickedness. But do remember, the only thing that matters is the extent to which you separate the man from the Enemy. It does not matter how small the sins are provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and out into the Nothing. Murder is no better than cards if cards can do the trick. Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one—the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts” – C.S. Lewis (The Screwtape Letters)

“Of course I know that the Enemy also wants to detach men from themselves, but in a different way. Remember always, that He really likes the little vermin, and sets an absurd value on the distinctness of every one of them. When He talks of their losing their selves, He only means abandoning the clamor of self-will; once they have done that, He really gives them back all their personality, and boasts (I am afraid, sincerely) that when they are wholly His they will be more themselves than ever.” – C.S. Lewis (The Screwtape Letters)

“You should always try to make the patient abandon the people or food or books he really likes in favor of the ‘best’ people, the ‘right’ food, the ‘important’ books.” – C.S. Lewis (The Screwtape Letters)

“The most alarming thing in your last account of the patient is that he is making none of those confident resolutions which marked his original conversion. No more lavish promises of perpetual virtue, I gather; not even the expectation of an endowment of ‘grace’ for life, but only a hope for the daily and hourly pittance to meet the daily and hourly temptation! This is very bad.” – C.S. Lewis (The Screwtape Letters)

“I see only one thing to do at the moment. Your patient has become humble; have you drawn his attention to the fact? All virtues are less formidable to us once the man is aware that he has them, but this is specially true of humility. Catch him at the moment when he is really poor in spirit and smuggle into his mind the gratifying reflection, ‘By jove! I’m being humble’, and almost immediately pride—pride at his own humility—will appear. If he awakes to the danger and tries to smother this new form of pride, make him proud of his attempt—and so on, through as many stages as you please. But don’t try this too long, for fear you awake his sense of humor and proportion, in which case he will merely laugh at you and go to bed.” – C.S. Lewis (The Screwtape Letters)

“To anticipate the Enemy’s strategy, we must consider His aims. The Enemy wants to bring the man to a state of mind in which he could design the best cathedral in the world, and know it to be the best, and rejoice in the fact, without being any more (or less) or otherwise glad at having done it than he would be if it had been done by another. The Enemy wants him, in the end, to be so free from any bias in his own favor that he can rejoice in his own talents as frankly and gratefully as in his neighbors talents—or in a sunrise, an elephant, or a waterfall. He wants each man, in the long run, to be able to recognize all creatures (even himself) as glorious and excellent things.” – C.S. Lewis (The Screwtape Letters)

“Tortured fear and stupid confidence are both desirable states of mind. Our choice between them raises important questions. The humans live in time but our Enemy destines them to eternity. He therefore, I believe, wants them to attend chiefly to two things, to eternity itself, and to that point of time which they call the Present. For the Present is the point at which time touches eternity.” – C.S. Lewis (The Screwtape Letters)

“He does not want men to give the Future their hearts, to place their treasure in it. We do. His ideal is a man who, having worked all day for the good of posterity (if that is his vocation), washes his mind of the whole subject, commits the issue to Heaven, and returns at once to the patience or gratitude demanded by the moment that is passing over him. But we want a man hag-ridden by the Future—haunted by visions of an imminent heaven or hell upon earth—ready to break the Enemy’s commands in the present if by so doing we make him think he can attain the one or avert the other—dependent for his faith on the success or failure of schemes whose end he will not live to see. We want a whole race perpetually in pursuit of the rainbow’s end, never honest, nor kind, nor happy now, but always using as mere fuel wherewith to heap the altar of the future every real gift which is offered them in the Present.” – C.S. Lewis (The Screwtape Letters)

“Surely you know that if a man can’t be cured of churchgoing, the next best thing is to send him all over the neighborhood looking for the church that ‘suits’ him until he becomes a taster or connoisseur of churches.” – C.S. Lewis (The Screwtape Letters)

“I think I warned you before that if your patient can’t be kept out of the Church, he ought at least to be violently attached to some party within it. I don’t mean on really doctrinal issues; about those, the more lukewarm he is the better. And it isn’t the doctrines on which we chiefly depend for producing malice. The real fun is working up hatred between those who say ‘mass’ and those who say ‘holy communion’ when neither party could possibly state the difference between, say, Hooker’s doctrine and Thomas Aquinas’, in any form which would hold water for five minutes. And all the purely indifferent things—candles and clothes and what not—are an admirable ground for our activities.” – C.S. Lewis (The Screwtape Letters)

“A spoiled saint, a Pharisee, an inquisitor, or a magician, makes better sport in Hell than a mere common tyrant or debauchee.” – C.S. Lewis (The Screwtape Letters)

“Certainly we do not want men to allow their Christianity to flow over into their political life, for the establishment of anything like a really just society would be a major disaster. On the other hand we do want, and want very much, to make men treat Christianity as a means; preferably, of course, as a means to their own advancement, but, failing that, as a means to anything—even to social justice. The thing to do is to get a man at first to value social justice as a thing which the Enemy demands, and then work him on to the stage at which he values Christianity because it may produce social justice. For the Enemy will not be used as a convenience. Men or nations who think they can revive the Faith in order to make a good society might just as well think they can use the stairs of Heaven as a short cut to the nearest chemist’s shop.” – C.S. Lewis (The Screwtape Letters)

“Some theories which he may meet in modern Christian circles may here prove helpful; theories, I mean, that place the hope of society in some inner ring of ‘clerks’, some trained minority of theocrats. It is no affair of yours whether those theories are true or false; the great thing is to make Christianity a mystery religion in which he feels himself one of the initiates.” – C.S. Lewis (The Screwtape Letters)

“What we want, if men become Christians at all, is to keep them in the state of mind I call ‘Christianity And’. You know—Christianity and the Crisis, Christianity and the New Psychology, Christianity and the New Order, Christianity and Faith Healing, Christianity and Psychical Research, Christianity and Vegetarianism, Christianity and Spelling Reform. If they must be Christians let them at least be Christians with a difference. Substitute for the faith itself some Fashion with a Christian coloring. Work on their horror of the Same Old Thing.” – C.S. Lewis (The Screwtape Letters)

“On the seemingly pious ground that ‘praise and communion with God is the true prayer’, humans can often be lured into direct disobedience to the Enemy who (in His usual flat, commonplace, uninteresting way) has definitely told them to pray for their daily bread and the recovery of their sick. You will, of course, conceal from him the fact that the prayer for daily bread, interpreted in a ‘spiritual sense’, is really just as crudely petitionary as it is in any other sense.” – C.S. Lewis (The Screwtape Letters)

“Prosperity knits a man to the World. He feels that he is ‘finding his place in it’, while really it is finding its place in him. His increasing reputation, his widening circle of acquaintances, his sense of importance, the growing pressure of absorbing and agreeable work, build up in him a sense of being really at home in earth, which is just what we want. You will notice that the young are generally less unwilling to die than the middle-aged and the old.” – C.S. Lewis (The Screwtape Letters)

“So inveterate is their appetite for Heaven that our best method, at this stage, of attaching them to earth is to make them believe that earth can be turned into Heaven at some future date by politics or eugenics or ‘science’ or psychology, or what not.” – C.S. Lewis (The Screwtape Letters)

“A great human philosopher nearly let our secret out when he said that where Virtue is concerned ‘Experience is the mother of illusion’; but thanks to a change in Fashion, and also, of course, to the Historical Point of View, we have largely rendered his book innocuous.” – C.S. Lewis (The Screwtape Letters)

“Though I had never written anything more easily, I never wrote with less enjoyment.” – C.S. Lewis (The Screwtape Letters)

“The fine flower of unholiness can grow only in the close neighborhood of the Holy. Nowhere do we tempt so successfully as on the very steps of the altar.” – C.S. Lewis (The Screwtape Letters)

Reflections on the Psalms

“A man can’t be always defending the truth; there must be a time to feed on it.” – C.S. Lewis (Reflections on the Psalms)

“There is no use in talking as if forgiveness were easy…For we find that the work of forgiveness has to be done over and over again. We forgive, we mortify our resentment; a week later some chain of thought carries us back to the original offense and we discover the old resentment blazing away as if nothing had been done about it at all. We need to forgive our brother seventy times seven not only for 490 offenses but for one offense.” – C.S. Lewis (Reflections on the Psalms)

“It is surely, therefore, very possible that when God began to reveal Himself to men, to show them that He, and nothing else is their true goal and the satisfaction of their needs, and that He has a claim upon them simply by being what He is.” – C.S. Lewis (Reflections on the Psalms)

The Four Loves

“We shall draw near to God, not by trying to avoid sufferings inherent in all loves, but accepting them and offering them to Him. Throwing away all defensive armor. If our hearts need to be broken and if He chooses this as a way in which they should break, so be it.” – C.S. Lewis (The Four Loves)

“In Heaven there will be no anguish and no duty of turning away from our earthly Beloveds. First, because we shall have turned already; from the portraits to the Original, from the rivulets to the Fountain, from the creatures He made lovable to Love Himself. But secondly, because we shall find them all in Him. By loving Him more than them we shall love them more than we now do.” – C.S. Lewis (The Four Loves)

God in the Dock

“Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see.” – C.S. Lewis (God in the Dock)

“If thought is the undesigned and irrelevant product of cerebral motions, what reason have we to trust it?” – C.S. Lewis (God in the Dock)

“A sound theory of value demands something different. It demands that good should be original and evil a mere perversion; that good should be the tree and evil the ivy; that good should be able to see all round evil (as when sane men understand lunacy) while evil cannot retaliate in kind; that good should be able to exist on its own while evil requires the good on which it is parasitic in order to continue its parasitic existence.” – C.S. Lewis (God in the Dock)

“I have known only one person in my life who claimed to have seen a ghost. It was a woman; and the interesting thing is that she disbelieved in the immortality of the soul before seeing the ghost and still disbelieves after having seen it. She thinks it was a hallucination. In other words, seeing is not believing. This is the first thing to get clear in talking about miracles.” – C.S. Lewis (God in the Dock)

“…true miracles express not simply a god, but God: that which is outside Nature, not as a foreigner, but as her sovereign. They announce not merely that a King has visited our town, but that it is the King, our King.” – C.S. Lewis (God in the Dock)

“And the story told by modern physics might be told briefly in the words ‘Humpty Dumpty was falling.’ That is, it proclaims itself an incomplete story. There must have been a time before he fell, when he was sitting on the wall; there must be a time after he had reached the ground. It is quite true that science knows of no horses and men who can put him together again once he has reached the ground and broken. But then she also knows of no means by which he could originally have been put on the wall. You wouldn’t expect her to. All science rests on observation: all our observations are taken during Humpty Dumpty’s fall, because we were born after he lost his seat on the wall and shall be extinct long before he reaches the ground. But to assume from observations taken while the clock is running down that the unimaginable winding-up which must have preceded this process cannot occur when the process is over is the merest dogmatism.” – C.S. Lewis (God in the Dock)

“If anything emerges clearly from modern physics, it is that nature is not everlasting. The universe had a beginning, and will have an end. But the great materialistic systems of the past all believed in the eternity, and thence in the self-existence of matter.” – C.S. Lewis (God in the Dock)

“When the doctor at a post-mortem diagnoses poison, pointing to the state of the dead man’s organs, his argument is rational because he has a clear idea of that opposite state in which the organs would have been found if no poison were present. In the same way, if we use the vastness of space and the smallness of earth to disprove the existence of God, we ought to have a clear idea of the sort of universe we should expect if God did exist. But have we?” – C.S. Lewis (God in the Dock)

“Really, we are hard to please. We treat God as the police treat a man when he is arrested; whatever He does will be used in evidence against Him. I do not think this is due to our wickedness. I suspect there is something in our very mode of thought which makes it inevitable that we should always be baffled by actual existence, whatever character actual existence may have.” – C.S. Lewis (God in the Dock)

“We are in no position to draw up maps of God’s psychology, and prescribe limits to His interests. We would not do so even for a man whom we knew to be greater than ourselves. The doctrines that God is love and that He delights in men, are positive doctrines, not limiting doctrines. He is not less than this. What more He may be, we do not know; we know only that He must be more than we can conceive. It is to be expected that His creation should be, in the main, unintelligible to us.” – C.S. Lewis (God in the Dock)

“No. It is not Christianity which need fear the giant universe. It is those systems which place the whole meaning of existence in biological or social evolution on our own planet. It is the creative evolutionist, the Bergsonian or Shavian, or the Communist, who should tremble when he looks up at the night sky. For he really is committed to a sinking ship. He really is attempting to ignore the discovered nature of things, as though by concentrating on the possibly upward trend in a single planet he could make himself forget the inevitable downward trend in the universe as a whole, the trend to low temperatures and irrevocable disorganization.” – C.S. Lewis (God in the Dock)

“When any man comes into the presence of God he will find, whether he wishes it or not, that all those things which seemed to make him so different from the men of other times, or even from his earlier self, have fallen off him. He is back where he always was, where every man always is… Do not let us deceive ourselves. No possible complexity which we can give to our picture of the universe can hide us from God: there is no copse, no forest, no jungle thick enough to provide cover. We read in Revelation of Him that sat on the throne ‘from whose face the earth and heaven fled away’. It may happen to any of us at any moment. In the twinkling of an eye, in a time too small to be measured, and in any place, all that seems to divide us from God can flee away, vanish leaving us naked before Him, like the first man, like the only man, as if nothing but He and I existed. And since that contact cannot be avoided for long, and since it means either bliss or horror, the business of life is to learn to like it.” – C.S. Lewis (God in the Dock)

“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.” – C.S. Lewis (God in the Dock)

“…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 be 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.”

“But I am beginning to find out that what people call the cruel doctrines are really the kindest ones in the long run. I used to think it was a ‘cruel’ doctrine to say that troubles and sorrows were ‘punishments’. But I find in practice that when you are in trouble, the moment you regard it as a ‘punishment’, it becomes easier to bear. If you think of this world as a place intended simply for our happiness, you find it quite intolerable: think of it as a place of training and correction and it’s not so bad.” – C.S. Lewis (God in the Dock)

“The people who try to hold an optimistic view of this world would become pessimists: the people who hold a pretty stern view of it become optimistic.” – C.S. Lewis (God in the Dock)

“We don’t qualify for heaven by practice, but salvation is obtained at the Cross. We do nothing to obtain it, but follow Christ. We may have pain or tribulation, but nothing we do qualifies us for heaven, but Christ.” – C.S. Lewis (God in the Dock)

“It is the people who are fully awake and trying hard to be good who would be most aware of the Devil. It is when you start arming against Hitler that you first realize your country is full of Nazi agents. Of course, they don’t want you to believe in the Devil. If devils exist, their first aim is to give you an anesthetic—to put you off your guard. Only if that fails, do you become aware of them.” – C.S. Lewis (God in the Dock)

“Which of the religions of the world gives to its followers the greatest happiness? While it lasts, the religion of worshiping oneself is the best.” – C.S. Lewis (God in the Dock)

“As you perhaps know, I haven’t always been a Christian. I didn’t go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity. I am certain there must be a patent American article on the market which will suit you far better, but I can’t give any advice on it.” – C.S. Lewis (God in the Dock)

“If you don’t want God, why are you so anxious to want to want Him? I think that in reality the want is a real one, and I should say that this person has in fact found God, although it may not be fully recognized yet. We are not always aware of things at the time they happen. At any rate, what is more important is that God has found this person, and that is the main thing.” – C.S. Lewis (God in the Dock)

“One people picked out of the whole earth; that people purged and proved again and again. Some are lost in the desert before they reach Palestine; some stay in Babylon; some becoming indifferent. The whole thing narrows and narrows, until at last it comes down to a little point, small as the point of a spear—a Jewish girl at her prayers. That is what the whole of human nature has narrowed down to before the Incarnation takes place. Very unlike what we expected, but, of course, not in the least unlike what seems, in general, as shown by nature, to be God’s way of working. The universe is quite a shockingly selective, undemocratic place out of apparently infinite space, a relatively tiny proportion occupied by matter of any kind.” – C.S. Lewis (God in the Dock)

“The miracles that have already happened are, of course, as Scripture so often says, the first fruits of that cosmic summer which is presently coming on.8 Christ has risen, and so we shall rise.” – C.S. Lewis (God in the Dock)

“If one has to choose between reading the new books and reading the old, one must choose the old: not because they are necessarily better but because they contain precisely those truths of which our own age is neglectful.” – C.S. Lewis (God in the Dock)

“We must attack the enemy’s line of communication. What we want is not more little books about Christianity, but more little books by Christians on other subjects—with their Christianity latent.” – C.S. Lewis (God in the Dock)

“Most political sermons teach the congregation nothing except what newspapers are taken at the Rectory.” – C.S. Lewis (God in the Dock)

“We address people who have been trained to believe that whatever goes wrong in the world is someone else’s fault—the Capitalists’, the Government’s, the Nazis’, the Generals’ etc. They approach God Himself as His judges. They want to know, not whether they can be acquitted for sin, but whether He can be acquitted for creating such a world.” – C.S. Lewis (God in the Dock)

“If Christianity is untrue, then no honest man will want to believe it, however helpful it might be: if it is true, every honest man will want to believe it, even if it gives him no help at all.” – C.S. Lewis (God in the Dock)

“Those who do not think about their own sins make up for it by thinking incessantly about the sins of others. It is healthier to think of one’s own. It is the reverse of morbid. It is not even, in the long run, very gloomy. A serious attempt to repent and really to know one’s own sins is in the long run a lightening and relieving process. Of course, there is bound to be a first dismay and often terror and later great pain, yet that is much less in the long run than the anguish of a mass of unrepented and unexamined sins, lurking in the background of our minds. It is the difference between the pain of the tooth about which you should go to the dentist, and the simple straight-forward pain which you know is getting less and less every moment when you have had the tooth out.” – C.S. Lewis (God in the Dock)

“I do not think that science has shown, or, by its nature, could ever show that the miraculous element in religion is erroneous.” – C.S. Lewis (God in the Dock)

“The god of whom no dogmas are believed is a mere shadow. He will not produce that fear of the Lord in which wisdom begins, and, therefore, will not produce that love in which it is consummated.” – C.S. Lewis (God in the Dock)

“If He can be known it will be by self-revelation on His part, not by speculation on ours. We, therefore, look for Him where it is claimed that He has revealed Himself by miracle, by inspired teachers, by enjoined ritual. The traditions conflict, yet the longer and more sympathetically we study them the more we become aware of a common element in many of them: the theme of sacrifice, of mystical communion through the shed blood, of death and rebirth, of redemption, is too clear to escape notice.” – C.S. Lewis (God in the Dock)

“…we follow One who stood and wept at the grave of Lazarus—not surely, because He was grieved that Mary and Martha wept, and sorrowed for their lack of faith (though some thus interpret) but because death, the punishment of sin, is even more horrible in His eyes than in ours.” – C.S. Lewis (God in the Dock)

“Because we love something else more than this world we love even this world better than those who know no other.” – C.S. Lewis (God in the Dock)

“For the real question is not what are we to make of Christ, but what is He to make of us?” – C.S. Lewis (God in the Dock)

“If you put yourself first you will be last. Come to Me everyone who is carrying a heavy load, I will set that right. Your sins, all of them, are wiped out, I can do that. I am Re-birth, I am Life. Eat Me, drink Me, I am your Food. And finally, do not be afraid, I have overcome the whole Universe.’ That is the issue.” – C.S. Lewis (God in the Dock)

“As to ‘caring for’ the Sermon on the Mount, if ‘caring for’ here means ‘liking’ or enjoying, I suppose no one ‘cares for’ it. Who can like being knocked flat on his face by a sledge-hammer? I can hardly imagine a more deadly spiritual condition than that of the man who can read that passage with tranquil pleasure.” – C.S. Lewis (God in the Dock)

“On those who add ‘Thus said the Lord’ to their merely human utterances descends the doom of a conscience which seems clearer and clearer the more it is loaded with sin.” – C.S. Lewis (God in the Dock)

“He who converts his neighbor has performed the most practical Christian-political act of all.” – C.S. Lewis (God in the Dock)

“You have to go outside the sequence of engines, into the world of men, to find the real originator of the Rocket. Is it not equally reasonable to look outside Nature for the real Originator of the natural order?” – C.S. Lewis (God in the Dock)

“The truth is that if we are to have translation at all we must have periodical re-translation. There is no such thing as translating a book into another language once and for all, for a language is a changing thing. If your son is to have clothes it is no good buying him a suit once and for all: he will grow out of it and have to be re-clothed.” – C.S. Lewis (God in the Dock)

“The Middle Ages carried their reverence for one Woman to a point at which the charge could be plausibly made that the Blessed Virgin became in their eyes almost ‘a fourth Person of the Trinity’.” – C.S. Lewis (God in the Dock)

“We men may often make very bad priests. That is because we are insufficiently masculine. It is no cure to call in those who are not masculine at all. A given man may make a very bad husband; you cannot mend matters by trying to reverse the roles. He may make a bad male partner in a dance. The cure for that is that men should more diligently attend dancing classes; not that the ballroom should henceforward ignore distinctions of sex and treat all dancers as neuter.” – C.S. Lewis (God in the Dock)

“Apart from this linguistic difficulty, the greatest barrier I have met is the almost total absence from the minds of my audience of any sense of sin.” – C.S. Lewis (God in the Dock)

“The early Christian preachers could assume in their hearers, whether Jews, Metuentes or Pagans, a sense of guilt. Thus the Christian message was in those days unmistakably the Evangelium, the Good News. It promised healing to those who knew they were sick. We have to convince our hearers of the unwelcome diagnosis before we can expect them to welcome the news of the remedy. The ancient man approached God (or even the gods) as the accused person approaches his judge. For the modern man the roles are reversed. He is the judge: God is in the dock. He is quite a kindly judge: if God should have a reasonable defense for being the god who permits war, poverty and disease, he is ready to listen to it. The trial may even end in God’s acquittal. But the important thing is that Man is on the Bench and God in the Dock.” – C.S. Lewis (God in the Dock)

“The simple, emotional appeal (‘Come to Jesus’) is still often successful. But those who, like myself, lack the gift for making it, had better not attempt it.” – C.S. Lewis (God in the Dock)

“God has shown us that he can use any instrument. Balaam’s ass, you remember, preached a very effective sermon in the midst of his ‘hee-haws’.” – C.S. Lewis (God in the Dock)

“It is not enough to want to get rid of one’s sins. We also need to believe in the One who saves us from our sins. Not only do we need to recognize that we are sinners; we need to believe in a Saviour who takes away sin. Matthew Arnold once wrote, ‘Nor does the being hungry prove that we have bread.’ Because we are sinners, it does not follow that we are saved.” – C.S. Lewis (God in the Dock)

“What I wrote in Surprised by Joy was that ‘before God closed in on me, I was in fact offered what now appears a moment of wholly free choice.’4 But I feel my decision was not so important. I was the object rather than the subject in this affair. I was decided upon. I was glad afterwards at the way it came out, but at the moment what I heard was God saying, ‘Put down your gun and we’ll talk.’” – C.S. Lewis (God in the Dock)

“You can’t lay down any pattern for God. There are many different ways of bringing people into His Kingdom, even some ways that I specially dislike! I have therefore learned to be cautious in my judgment. But we can block it in many ways. As Christians we are tempted to make unnecessary concessions to those outside the Faith. We give in too much. Now, I don’t mean that we should run the risk of making a nuisance of ourselves by witnessing at improper times, but there comes a time when we must show that we disagree. We must show our Christian colors, if we are to be true to Jesus Christ. We cannot remain silent or concede everything away.” – C.S. Lewis (God in the Dock)

“I sometimes think that writing is like driving sheep down a road. If there is any gate open to the left or the right the readers will most certainly go into it.” – C.S. Lewis (God in the Dock)

“God is not interested only in Christian writers as such. He is concerned with all kinds of writing. In the same way a sacred calling is not limited to ecclesiastical functions. The man who is weeding a field of turnips is also serving God.” – C.S. Lewis (God in the Dock)

“Moral collapse follows upon spiritual collapse. I look upon the immediate future with great apprehension.” – C.S. Lewis (God in the Dock)

“Jesus Christ did not say ‘Go into all the world and tell the world that it is quite right.’ The Gospel is something completely different. In fact, it is directly opposed to the world. The case against Christianity that is made out in the world is quite strong. Every war, every shipwreck, every cancer case, every calamity, contributes to making a prima facie case against Christianity. It is not easy to be a believer in the face of this surface evidence. It calls for a strong faith in Jesus Christ.” – C.S. Lewis (God in the Dock)

“The world might stop in ten minutes; meanwhile, we are to go on doing our duty. The great thing is to be found at one’s post as a child of God, living each day as though it were our last, but planning as though our world might last a hundred years.” – C.S. Lewis (God in the Dock)

“I look forward with horror to contact with the other inhabited planets, if there are such. We would only transport to them all of our sin and our acquisitiveness, and establish a new colonialism. I can’t bear to think of it.” – C.S. Lewis (God in the Dock)

“Charlotte M. Yonge makes it abundantly clear that domesticity is no passport to heaven on earth but an arduous vocation—a sea full of hidden rocks and perilous ice shores only to be navigated by one who uses a celestial chart. That is the first point on which we must be absolutely clear. The family, like the nation, can be offered to God, can be converted and redeemed, and will then become the channel of particular blessings and graces. But, like everything else that is human, it needs redemption. Unredeemed, it will produce only particular temptations, corruptions, and miseries. Charity begins at home: so does uncharity.” – C.S. Lewis (God in the Dock)

“The practical problem of Christian politics is not that of drawing up schemes for a Christian society, but that of living as innocently as we can with unbelieving fellow-subjects under unbelieving rulers who will never be perfectly wise and good and who will sometimes be very wicked and very foolish.” – C.S. Lewis (God in the Dock)

“Now I care far more how humanity lives than how long. Progress, for me, means increasing goodness and happiness of individual lives. For the species, as for each man, mere longevity seems to me a contemptible ideal.” – C.S. Lewis (God in the Dock)

“One meets young people who make the threat of it a reason for poisoning every pleasure and evading every duty in the present. Didn’t they know that, Bomb or no Bomb, all men die (many in horrible ways)? There’s no good moping and sulking about it.” – C.S. Lewis (God in the Dock)

“Christendom has made two efforts to deal with the evil of war—chivalry and pacifism. Neither succeeded. But I doubt whether chivalry has such an unbroken record of failure as pacifism.” – C.S. Lewis (God in the Dock)

“Perhaps the trouble is that as supernaturalists, whether ‘Low’ or ‘High’ Church, thus taken together, they lack a name. May I suggest ‘Deep Church’; or, if that fails in humility, Baxter’s ‘mere Christians’?” – C.S. Lewis (God in the Dock)

Miracles

“…the question whether miracles occur can never be answered simply by experience. Every event which might claim to be a miracle is, in the last resort, something presented to our senses, something seen, heard, touched, smelled, or tasted. And our senses are not infallible. If anything extraordinary seems to have happened, we can always say that we have been the victims of an illusion. If we hold a philosophy which excludes the supernatural, this is what we always shall say. What we learn from experience depends on the kind of philosophy we bring to experience. It is therefore useless to appeal to experience before we have settled, as well as we can, the philosophical question.” – C.S. Lewis (Miracles)

“Those who assume that miracles cannot happen are merely wasting their time by looking into the texts: we know in advance what results they will find for they have begun by begging the question.” – C.S. Lewis (Miracles)

“…no thoroughgoing Naturalist believes in free will: for free will would mean that human beings have the power of independent action, the power of doing something more or other than what was involved by the total series of events. And any such separate power of originating events is what the Naturalist denies. Spontaneity, originality, action ‘on its own’, is a privilege reserved for ‘the whole show’, which he calls Nature.” – C.S. Lewis (Miracles)

“The difference between the two views might be expressed by saying that Naturalism gives us a democratic, Supernaturalism a monarchical, picture of reality.” – C.S. Lewis (Miracles)

“What Naturalism cannot accept is the idea of a God who stands outside Nature and made it.” – C.S. Lewis (Miracles)

“If we decide that Nature is not the only thing there is, then we cannot say in advance whether she is safe from miracles or not. There are things outside her: we do not yet know whether they can get in. The gates may be barred, or they may not. But if Naturalism is true, then we do know in advance that miracles are impossible: nothing can come into Nature from the outside because there is nothing outside to come in, Nature being everything. No doubt, events which we in our ignorance should mistake for miracles might occur: but they would in reality be (just like the commonest events) an inevitable result of the character of the whole system.” – C.S. Lewis (Miracles)

“Those who like myself have had a philosophical rather than a scientific education find it almost impossible to believe that the scientists really mean what they seem to be saying.” – C.S. Lewis (Miracles)

“…a strict materialism refutes itself for the reason given long ago by Professor Haldane: ‘If my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain, I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true…and hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms.’” – C.S. Lewis (Miracles)

“If the value of our reasoning is in doubt, you cannot try to establish it by reasoning.” – C.S. Lewis (Miracles)

“The earliest Christian documents give a casual and unemphatic assent to the belief that the supernatural part of a man survives the death of the natural organism. But they are very little interested in the matter. What they are intensely interested in is the restoration or ‘resurrection’ of the whole composite creature by a miraculous divine act: and until we have come to some conclusion about miracles in general we shall certainly not discuss that. At this stage the super-natural element in man concerns us solely as evidence that something beyond Nature exists.” – C.S. Lewis (Miracles)

“The Naturalists have been engaged in thinking about Nature. They have not attended to the fact that they were thinking. The moment one attends to this it is obvious that one’s own thinking cannot be merely a natural event, and that therefore something other than Nature exists. The Supernatural is not remote and abstruse: it is a matter of daily and hourly experience, as intimate as breathing.” – C.S. Lewis (Miracles)

“If there ever were men who did not know the laws of nature at all, they would have no idea of a miracle and feel no particular interest in one if it were performed before them. Nothing can seem extraordinary until you have discovered what is ordinary. Belief in miracles, far from depending on an ignorance of the laws of nature, is only possible in so far as those laws are known. We have already seen that if you begin by ruling out the supernatural you will perceive no miracles. We must now add that you will equally perceive no miracles until you believe that nature works according to regular laws. If you have not yet noticed that the sun always rises in the East you will see nothing miraculous about his rising one morning in the West.” – C.S. Lewis (Miracles)

“The immensity of the universe is not a recent discovery. More than seventeen hundred years ago Ptolemy taught that in relation to the distance of the fixed stars the whole Earth must be regarded as a point with no magnitude. His astronomical system was universally accepted in the Dark and Middle Ages. The insignificance of Earth was as much a commonplace to Boethius, King Alfred, Dante, and Chaucer as it is to Mr H. G. Wells or Professor Haldane. Statements to the contrary in modern books are due to ignorance.” – C.S. Lewis (Miracles)

“We treat God as the policeman in the story treated the suspect; whatever he does ‘will be used in evidence against Him’. This kind of objection to the Christian faith is not really based on the observed nature of the actual universe at all.” – C.S. Lewis (Miracles)

“For no man was, I suppose, ever so mad as to think that man, or all creation, filled the Divine Mind; if we are a small thing to space and time, space and time are a much smaller thing to God. It is a profound mistake to imagine that Christianity ever intended to dissipate the bewilderment and even the terror, the sense of our own nothingness, which come upon us when we think about the nature of things. It comes to intensify them. Without such sensations there is no religion.” – C.S. Lewis (Miracles)

“Christianity does not involve the belief that all things were made for man. It does involve the belief that God loves man and for his sake became man and died. I have not yet succeeded in seeing how what we know (and have known since the days of Ptolemy) about the size of the universe affects the credibility of this doctrine one way or the other.” – C.S. Lewis (Miracles)

“If it is maintained that anything so small as the Earth must, in any event, be too unimportant to merit the love of the Creator, we reply that no Christian ever supposed we did merit it. Christ did not die for men because they were intrinsically worth dying for, but because He is intrinsically love, and therefore loves infinitely. And what, after all, does the size of a world or a creature tell us about its ‘importance’ or value?” – C.S. Lewis (Miracles)

“The arithmetician, as an arithmetician, does not know how likely A is to steal some of B’s pennies when the shilling is being divided; you had better ask a criminologist. The physicist, as a physicist, does not know how likely I am to catch up a cue and ‘spoil’ his experiment with the billiard balls: you had better ask someone who knows me. In the same way the physicist, as such, does not know how likely it is that some supernatural power is going to interfere with them: you had better ask a metaphysician.” – C.S. Lewis (Miracles)

“There is no need any longer to select and slur. It is not in her, but in Something far beyond her, that all lines meet and all contrasts are explained. It is no more baffling that the creature called Nature should be both fair and cruel than that the first man you meet in the train should be a dishonest grocer and a kind husband. For she is not the Absolute: she is one of the creatures, with her good points and her bad points and her own unmistakable flavor running through them all.” – C.S. Lewis (Miracles)

“God’s creative freedom is to be conceived as the freedom of a poet: the freedom to create a consistent, positive thing with its own inimitable flavor.” – C.S. Lewis (Miracles)

“Nature is by human (and probably by Divine) standards partly good and partly evil. We Christians believe that she has been corrupted. But the same tang or flavor runs through both her corruptions and her excellences.” – C.S. Lewis (Miracles)

“In the same way and for the same reason, only Supernaturalists really see Nature. You must go a little away from her, and then turn round, and look back. Then at last the true landscape will become visible. You must have tasted, however briefly, the pure water from beyond the world before you can be distinctly conscious of the hot, salty tang of Nature’s current. To treat her as God, or as Everything, is to lose the whole pith and pleasure of her. Come out, look back, and then you will see…this astonishing cataract of bears, babies, and bananas: this immoderate deluge of atoms, orchids, oranges, cancers, canaries, fleas, gases, tornadoes and toads. How could you ever have thought this was the ultimate reality? How could you ever have thought that it was merely a stage-set for the moral drama of men and women? She is herself. Offer her neither worship nor contempt. Meet her and know her. If we are immortal, and if she is doomed (as the scientists tell us) to run down and die, we shall miss this half-shy and half-flamboyant creature, this ogress, this hoyden, this incorrigible fairy, this dumb witch. But the theologians tell us that she, like ourselves, is to be redeemed. The ‘vanity’ to which she was subjected was her disease, not her essence. She will be cured in character: not tamed (Heaven forbid) nor sterilized. We shall still be able to recognize our old enemy, friend, playfellow and foster-mother, so perfected as to be not less, but more, herself. And that will be a merry meeting.” – C.S. Lewis (Miracles)

“The Christian doctrines, and even the Jewish doctrines which preceded them, have always been statements about spiritual reality, not specimens of primitive physical science. Whatever is positive in the conception of the spiritual has always been contained in them; it is only its negative aspect (immateriality) which has had to wait for recognition until abstract thought was fully developed.” – C.S. Lewis (Miracles)

“So far from being the final religious refinement, Pantheism is in fact the permanent natural bent of the human mind; the permanent ordinary level below which man sometimes sinks, under the influence of priestcraft and superstition, but above which his own unaided efforts can never raise him for very long.” – C.S. Lewis (Miracles)

“It is clear that there never was a time when nothing existed; otherwise nothing would exist now. But to exist means to be a positive Something, to have (metaphorically) a certain shape or structure, to be this and not that. The Thing which always existed, namely God, has therefore always had His own positive character. Throughout all eternity certain statements about Him would have been true and others false. And from the mere fact of our own existence and Nature’s we already know to some extent which are which. We know that He invents, acts, creates. After that there can be no ground for assuming in advance that He does not do miracles.” – C.S. Lewis (Miracles)

“Great prophets and saints have an intuition of God which is positive and concrete in the highest degree. Because, just touching the fringes of His being, they have seen that He is plenitude of life and energy and joy, therefore (and for no other reason) they have to pronounce that He transcends those limitations which we call personality, passion, change, materiality, and the like.” – C.S. Lewis (Miracles)

“If we must have a mental picture to symbolize Spirit, we should represent it as something heavier than matter.” – C.S. Lewis (Miracles)

“The passion of love is something that happens to us, as ‘getting wet’ happens to a body: and God is exempt from that ‘passion’ in the same way that water is exempt from ‘getting wet’. He cannot be affected with love, because He is love. To imagine that love as something less torrential or less sharp than our own temporary and derivative ‘passions’ is a most disastrous fantasy.” – C.S. Lewis (Miracles)

“There comes a moment when the children who have been playing at burglars hush suddenly: was that a real footstep in the hall? There comes a moment when people who have been dabbling in religion (‘Man’s search for God!’) suddenly draw back. Supposing we really found Him? We never meant it to come to that! Worse still, supposing He had found us?” – C.S. Lewis (Miracles)

“The central miracle asserted by Christians is the Incarnation. They say that God became Man. Every other miracle prepares for this, or exhibits this, or results from this. Just as every natural event is the manifestation at a particular place and moment of Nature’s total character, so every particular Christian miracle manifests at a particular place and moment the character and significance of the Incarnation. There is no question in Christianity of arbitrary interferences just scattered about. It relates not a series of disconnected raids on Nature but the various steps of a strategically coherent invasion—an invasion which intends complete conquest and ‘occupation’. The fitness, and therefore credibility, of the particular miracles depends on their relation to the Grand Miracle; all discussion of them in isolation from it is futile.” – C.S. Lewis (Miracles)

“In the Christian story God descends to reascend. He comes down; down from the heights of absolute being into time and space, down into humanity; down further still, if embryologists are right, to recapitulate in the womb ancient and pre-human phases of life; down to the very roots and seabed of the Nature He has created. But He goes down to come up again and bring the whole ruined world up with Him. One has the picture of a strong man stooping lower and lower to get himself underneath some great complicated burden. He must stoop in order to lift, he must almost disappear under the load before he incredibly straightens his back and marches off with the whole mass swaying on his shoulders.” – C.S. Lewis (Miracles)

“To be quite frank, we do not at all like the idea of a ‘chosen people’. Democrats by birth and education, we should prefer to think that all nations and individuals start level in the search for God, or even that all religions are equally true. It must be admitted at once that Christianity makes no concessions to this point of view. It does not tell of a human search for God at all, but of something done by God for, to, and about, Man. And the way in which it is done is selective, undemocratic, to the highest degree. After the knowledge of God had been universally lost or obscured, one man from the whole earth (Abraham) is picked out. He is separated (miserably enough, we may suppose) from his natural surroundings, sent into a strange country, and made the ancestor of a nation who are to carry the knowledge of the true God. Within this nation there is further selection: some die in the desert, some remain behind in Babylon. There is further selection still. The process grows narrower and narrower, sharpens at last into one small bright point like the head of a spear. It is a Jewish girl at her prayers. All humanity (so far as concerns its redemption) has narrowed to that.” – C.S. Lewis (Miracles)

“…the morbid inquisitiveness about such beings which led our ancestors to a pseudo-science of Demonology, is to be sternly discouraged: our attitude should be that of the sensible citizen in wartime who believes that there are enemy spies in our midst but disbelieves nearly every particular spy story.” – C.S. Lewis (Miracles)

“Because he has fallen, for him God does the great deed; just as in the parable it is the one lost sheep for whom the shepherd hunts. Let Man’s pre-eminence or solitude be one not of superiority but of misery and evil: then, all the more, Man will be the very species into which Mercy will descend.” – C.S. Lewis (Miracles)

“For God is not merely mending, not simply restoring a status quo. Redeemed humanity is to be something more glorious than unfallen humanity would have been, more glorious than any unfallen race now is (if at this moment the night sky conceals any such). The greater the sin, the greater the mercy: the deeper the death the brighter the rebirth.” – C.S. Lewis (Miracles)

“To be high or central means to abdicate continually: to be low means to be raised: all good masters are servants: God washes the feet of men. The concepts we usually bring to the consideration of such matters are miserably political and prosaic.” – C.S. Lewis (Miracles)

“On the one hand Death is the triumph of Satan, the punishment of the Fall, and the last enemy. Christ shed tears at the grave of Lazarus and sweated blood in Gethsemane: the Life of Lives that was in Him detested this penal obscenity not less than we do, but more. On the other hand, only he who loses his life will save it. We are baptized into the death of Christ, and it is the remedy for the Fall. Death is, in fact, what some modern people call ‘ambivalent’. It is Satan’s great weapon and also God’s great weapon: it is holy and unholy; our supreme disgrace and our only hope; the thing Christ came to conquer and the means by which He conquered.” – C.S. Lewis (Miracles)

“So much for the sense in which human Death is the result of sin and the triumph of Satan. But it is also the means of redemption from sin, God’s medicine for Man and His weapon against Satan. In a general way it is not difficult to understand how the same thing can be a masterstroke on the part of one combatant and also the very means whereby the superior combatant defeats him. Every good general, every good chess-player, takes what is precisely the strong point of his opponent’s plan and makes it the pivot of his own plan.” – C.S. Lewis (Miracles)

“In science we have been reading only the notes to a poem; in Christianity we find the poem itself.” – C.S. Lewis (Miracles)

“But when Christ walks on the water we have a miracle of the New Creation. God had not made the Old Nature, the world before the Incarnation, of such a kind that water would support a human body. This miracle is the foretaste of a Nature that is still in the future. The New creation is just breaking in. For a moment it looks as if it were going to spread. For a moment two men are living in that new world. St Peter also walks on the water—a pace or two: then his trust fails him and he sinks. He is back in Old Nature. That momentary glimpse was a snowdrop of a miracle. The snowdrops show that we have turned the corner of the year. Summer is coming. But it is a long way off and the snowdrops do not last long.” – C.S. Lewis (Miracles)

“The New Testament writers speak as if Christ’s achievement in rising from the dead was the first event of its kind in the whole history of the universe. He is the ‘first fruits’, the ‘pioneer of life’. He has forced open a door that has been locked since the death of the first man. He has met, fought, and beaten the King of Death. Everything is different because He has done so. This is the beginning of the New Creation: a new chapter in cosmic history has opened.” – C.S. Lewis (Miracles)

“The raising of Lazarus differs from the Resurrection of Christ Himself because Lazarus, so far as we know, was not raised to a new and more glorious mode of existence but merely restored to the sort of life he had had before. The fitness of the miracle lies in the fact that He who will raise all men at the general resurrection here does it small and close, and in an inferior—a merely anticipatory—fashion. For the mere restoration of Lazarus is as inferior in splendor to the glorious resurrection of the New Humanity as stone jars are to the green and growing vine or five little barley loaves to all the waving bronze and gold of a fat valley ripe for harvest. The resuscitation of Lazarus, so far as we can see, is simple reversal: a series of changes working in the direction opposite to that we have always experienced.” – C.S. Lewis (Miracles)

“Humpty Dumpty is going to be replaced on the wall—at least in the sense that what has died is going to recover life, probably in the sense that the inorganic universe is going to be reordered. Either Humpty Dumpty will never reach the ground (being caught in mid-fall by the everlasting arms) or else when he reaches it he will be put together again and replaced on a new and better wall. Admittedly, science discerns no ‘king’s horses and men’ who can ‘put Humpty Dumpty together again’. But you would not expect her to. She is based on observation: and all our observations are observations of Humpty Dumpty in mid-air. They do not reach either the wall above or the ground below—much less the King with his horses and men hastening towards the spot.” – C.S. Lewis (Miracles)

“…when you turn from the New Testament to modern scholars, remember that you go among them as a sheep among wolves.” – C.S. Lewis (Miracles)

“The Christian is not to ask whether this or that event happened because of a prayer. He is rather to believe that all events without exception are answers to prayer in the sense that whether they are grantings or refusals the prayers of all concerned and their needs have all been taken into account. All prayers are heard, though not all prayers are granted.” – C.S. Lewis (Miracles)

The Great Divorce

“In what they call Hell? Yes. It’s a flop too. They lead you to expect red fire and devils and all sorts of interesting people sizzling on grids – Henry VIII and all that – but when you get there it’s just like any other town.” – C.S. Lewis (The Great Divorce)

“People have been telling me that sort of thing all my life. They told me in nursery that if I were good I’d be happy. And they told me at school that Latin would be easier as I went on. After I’d been married a month some fool was telling me that there were always difficulties at first, but with Tact and Patience I’d soon settle down and like it. And all through two wars what didn’t they say about the good time coming if only I’d be a brave boy and go on being shot at? Of course they’ll play the old game here if anyone’s fool enough to listen.” – C.S. Lewis (The Great Divorce)

“Could you, only for a moment, fix your mind on something not yourself?” – C.S. Lewis (The Great Divorce)

“Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory.” – C.S. Lewis (The Great Divorce)

“One will say he has always served his country right or wrong; and another that he has sacrificed everything to his Art; and some that they’ve never been taken in, and some that, thank God, they’ve always looked after Number One, and nearly all, that, at least they’ve been true to themselves. And the saved? Ah, the saved…what happens to them is best described as the opposite of a mirage. What seemed, when they entered it, to be the vale of misery turns out, when they look back, to have been a well; and where present experiences saw only salt deserts, memory truthfully records that the pools were full of water.” – C.S. Lewis (The Great Divorce)

“Hell is a state of mind – ye never said a truer word. And every state of mind, left to itself, every shutting up of the creature within the dungeon of its own mind – is, in the end, Hell. But Heaven is not a state of mind. Heaven is a reality itself. All that is fully real is Heavenly.” – C.S. Lewis (The Great Divorce)

“There have been men before now who got so interested in proving the existence of God that they came to care nothing for God Himself…as if the good Lord had nothing to do but exist! There have been some who were so occupied with spreading Christianity that they never gave a thought to Christ.” – C.S. Lewis (The Great Divorce)

“The sane would do no good if they made themselves mad to help madmen.” – C.S. Lewis (The Great Divorce)

“There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’ All that are in Hell, chose it.” – C.S. Lewis (The Great Divorce)

“You can never love a fellow creature fully till you love God.” – C.S. Lewis (The Great Divorce)

“…no natural feelings are high or low, holy or unholy, in themselves. They are all holy when God’s hand is on the rein. They all go bad when they set up on their own and make themselves into false gods.” – C.S. Lewis (The Great Divorce)

“I willingly believe that the damned are, in one sense, successful rebels to the end; that the doors of hell are locked on the inside.” – C.S. Lewis (The Great Divorce)

The Abolition of Man

“For every one pupil who needs to be guarded from a weak excess of sensibility there are three who need to be awakened from the slumber of cold vulgarity. The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles but to irrigate deserts. The right defence against false sentiments is to inculcate just sentiments.” – C.S. Lewis (The Abolition of Man)

“The heart never takes the place of the head: but it can, and should, obey it.” – C.S. Lewis (The Abolition of Man)

“In battle it is not syllogisms that will keep the reluctant nerves and muscles to their post in the third hour of the bombardment.” – C.S. Lewis (The Abolition of Man)

“And all the time—such is the tragi-comedy of our situation—we continue to clamour for those very qualities we are rendering impossible. You can hardly open a periodical without coming across the statement that what our civilization needs is more ‘drive’, or dynamism, or self-sacrifice, or ‘creativity’. In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.” – C.S. Lewis (The Abolition of Man)

“A great many of those who ‘debunk’ traditional or (as they would say) ‘sentimental’ values have in the background values of their own which they believe to be immune from the debunking process.” – C.S. Lewis (The Abolition of Man)

“The human mind has no more power of inventing a new value than of imagining a new primary colour, or, indeed, of creating a new sun and a new sky for it to move in.” – C.S. Lewis (The Abolition of Man)

“An open mind, in questions that are not ultimate, is useful. But an open mind about the ultimate foundations either of Theoretical or of Practical Reason is idiocy.” – C.S. Lewis (The Abolition of Man)

“Human nature will be the last part of Nature to surrender to Man.” – C.S. Lewis (The Abolition of Man)

“Man’s final conquest has proved to be the abolition of Man.” – C.S. Lewis (The Abolition of Man)

“The belief that we can invent ‘ideologies’ at pleasure, and the consequent treatment of mankind as mere specimens, preparations, begins to affect our very language. Once we killed bad men: now we liquidate unsocial elements. Virtue has become integration and diligence dynamism, and boys likely to be worthy of a commission are ‘potential officer material’. Most wonderful of all, the virtues of thrift and temperance, and even of ordinary intelligence, are sales-resistance.” – C.S. Lewis (The Abolition of Man)

Letters

“The doctrine of Christ’s divinity seems to me not something stuck on which you can unstick but something that peeps out at every point so that you’d have to unravel the whole web to get rid of it.” – C.S. Lewis (Letter to Arthur Greeves)

“If you are really a product of a materialistic universe, how is it that you don’t feel at home there? Do fish complain of the sea for being wet? Or if they did, would that fact itself not strongly suggest that they had not always been, or would not always be, purely aquatic creatures? Notice how we are perpetually surprised at Time. (“How time flies! Fancy John being grown-up & married! I can hardly believe it!”) In heavens name, why? Unless, indeed, there is something in us which is not temporal.” – C.S. Lewis (Letter to Vanauken)

Misc

“It takes a good man to repent. And here comes the catch. Only a bad person needs to repent: only a good person can repent perfectly. The only person who could do it perfectly would be a perfect person – and he would not need it.” – C.S. Lewis

“There comes a moment when the children who have been playing at burglars hush suddenly: was that a real footstep in the hall? There comes a moment when people who have been dabbling in religion (“Man’s search for God!”) suddenly draw back. Supposing we really found Him? We never meant it to come to that! Worse still, supposing He had found us?” – C. S. Lewis

“I haven’t always been a Christian. I didn’t go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity.” – C. S. Lewis

Present Concerns

“There was, to be sure, a rumor in the last century that wolves would gradually become extinct by some natural process; but this seems to have been an exaggeration.” – C.S. Lewis (Present Concerns)

“A Nation of dunces can be safe only in a world of dunces.” – C.S. Lewis (Present Concerns)

“If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things—praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts—not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.” – C.S. Lewis (Present Concerns)

The Chronicles of Narnia

“Safe? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course He isn’t safe. But He’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” – C.S. Lewis (The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe)

“‘You come of the Lord Adam and the Lady Eve,’ said Aslan. ‘And that is both honor enough to erect the head of the poorest beggar, and shame enough to bow the shoulders of the greatest emperor in earth.'” – C.S. Lewis (Prince Caspian)

The Space Trilogy

Coming Soon

More quotes are coming!!!

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