Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Happy Birthday, C.S. Lewis

Today is C.S. Lewis's birthday. He would have been 113 years old, two years past his eleventy first birthday.  So, instead of writing a tribute essay or some such thing - I asked the facebook world today to list their favorite C.S. Lewis quote. If you have any to contribute this is a fine place to do so. After all, this blog, E-nklings, is, at least in part, dedicated to the fine work of the Inklings (of whom Lewis was a major player). And it seemed most fitting to include a few words of the man known as Jack, or now better known as Saint Jack. Thanks for all your writing. I certainly looking forward to seeing this man in the resurrection counted among the many faithful in the great cloud of witnesses. Enjoy the quotes. Under the mercy.

"God never meant man to be a purely spiritual creature. That is why He uses material things like bread and wine to put the new life into us. We may think this rather crude and unspiritual. God does not: He invented eating. He likes matter. He invented it." Mere Christianity, book 2, chapter 5.

He is not a tame lion. Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe.

 “Experience is a brutal teacher, but you learn. My God, do you learn.” - attributed to Lewis, possibly from the Problem of Pain.

"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."  The World's Last Night.

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up save in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket - safe, dark, motionless, airless - it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside of Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.” - The Four Love.

"The mark of Friendship is not that help will be given when the pinch comes (of course it will) but that, having been given, it makes no difference at all." 

"A young man who wishes to remain a sound Atheist cannot be too careful of his reading. There are traps everywhere -- 'Bibles laid open, millions of surprises,' as Herbert says, 'fine nets and stratagems.' God is, if I may say it, very unscrupulous." 
"The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning."
     And as He spoke, He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at least they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before." 
The Last Battle.
"Oh, Aslan!" whispered Susan...Can't we do something about the Deep Magic? "Work against the EMPEROR'S Magic?"... said Aslan with something like a frown...nobody EVER made that suggestion to Him again..."What does it mean? Is it more magic?" "It means said Aslan, that though the Witch knew the Deep Magic, there is a magic deeper still which she does not know. Her knowledge goes back only to the dawn of time. But if she could have looked further back...before Time dawned...She would have known...when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitors stead...Death itself would start working backward". Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe.


  1. Happy Birthday to C.S. Lewis, what a great man of God.

  2. "There is either a warning or an encouragement here for every one of us. If you are a nice person--if virtue comes easily to you--beware! Much is expected from those to whom much is given. If you mistake for your own merits what are really God's gifts to you through nature, and if you are contented with simply being nice, you are still a rebel: and all those gifts will only make your fall more terrible, your corruption more complicated, you bad example more distastrous. The Devil was an archangel once; and his gifts were as far above yours as yours are above a chimpanzee's.
    "But if ...you are a poor creature--poisoned by a wretched upbringing in some house full of vulgar jealousies and senseless quarrels--saddled by no choice of your own with some loathsome sexual perversion--nagged day in and day out by some inferiority complex that makes you snap at your best friends--do not despair. He knows all about it. You are one of the poor whom He has blessed. He knows what a wretched machine you are trying to drive. Keep on. Do what you can. One day (perhaps in another world but perhaps far sooner than that) He will fling it on the scrap heap and give you a new one. And then you may astonish us all--not least yourself: for you have learned your driving in a hard school." C.S. Lewis in "Mere Christianity"

    “Perhaps, even now, my Absolute Spirit still differed in some way from the God of religion. The real issue was not, or not yet, there. The real terror was that if you seriously believed in even such a “God” or “Spirit” as I admitted, a wholly new situation developed. As the dry bones shook and came together in that dreadful valley of Ezekiel’s, so now a philosophical theorem, cerebrally entertained, began to stir and heave and throw off its grave cloths, and stood upright and became a living presence. I was to be allowed to play at philosophy no longer. It might, as I say, still be true that my “Spirit” differed in some way from “the God of popular religion.” My Adversary waived the point. It sank into utter unimportance. He would not argue about it. He only said, “I am the Lord”; “I am that I am”; “I am.”
    —Surprised by Joy by C.S. Lewis

    “Where is the epicureanism of Lucretius, the pagan revival of Julian the Apostate? Where are the Gnostics, where is the monism of Averoes, the deism of Voltaire, the dogmatic materialism of the great Victorians? They have moved with the times. But the thing they were all attacking remains…”
    —C.S. Lewis in God in the Dock

    ”I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare…If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us,… they are too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our charitable expenditures excludes them.” Mere Christianity

  3. "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." The Screwtape Letters

    "In speaking of this desire for our own faroff country, which we find in ourselves
    even now, I feel a certain shyness. I am
    almost committing an indecency. I am
    trying to rip open the inconsolable secret
    in each one of you—the secret which hurts
    so much that you take your revenge on it
    by calling it names like Nostalgia and
    Romanticism and Adolescence; the secret
    also which pierces with such sweetness that
    when, in very intimate conversation, the
    mention of it becomes imminent, we grow
    awkward and affect to laugh at ourselves;
    the secret we cannot hide and cannot tell,
    though we desire to do both. We cannot
    tell it because it is a desire for something
    that has never actually appeared in our
    experience. We cannot hide it because our
    experience is constantly suggesting it, and
    we betray ourselves like lovers at the
    mention of a name. Our commonest
    expedient is to call it beauty and behave as
    if that had settled the matter.
    Wordsworth’s expedient was to identify it
    with certain moments in his own past. But
    all this is a cheat. If Wordsworth had gone
    back to those moments in the past, he
    would not have found the thing itself, but
    only the reminder of it; what he
    remembered would turn out to be itself a
    remembering. 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. Do you think I am trying to
    weave a spell? Perhaps I am; but remember
    your fairy tales. Spells are used for breaking
    enchantments as well as for inducing them.
    And you and I have need of the strongest
    spell that can be found to wake us from
    the evil enchantment of worldliness which
    has been laid upon us for nearly a hundred
    years." The Weight of Glory

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

    This is why I put off posting quotes on the actual day. Not only can I not choose just one, I can't even limit myself to ten without extreme effort.

  4. Brett,

    Thanks for your quotes...I agree. It's too hard to narrow it down even to ten! But thanks for taking the time to post some of your favorites.