A few months ago, I finished reading Mere Christianity. The “book” is a series of talks that Lewis gave on a radio show. However–at least in the edition I have–he did add some points into the book-version so that it read a bit more like a book, and not a mere written speech. Additionally, it is important to take note of the time period: 1942-44 in England. All of this said, I do recommend the book to others. It is a brief look at the basic principles of Christianity, and is a text that is easy to work through. On a personal level, I think what I enjoyed the most from Mere Christianity were the noteworthy statements (i.e., quotes) to pull from Lewis. Without a doubt, C.S. Lewis is a brilliant scholar when it comes to language. I think that this “pseudo”-book (radio broadcast) proves that. In this post, I want to share and discuss some of Lewis’ statements that resonated with me. Lastly, this will be complete in a few posts: there is too much to show in just one!
“Progress means not just changing but changing for the better.” “We all want progress. But progress means getting nearer to the place where you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turning, then to go forward does not get you any nearer.”
While this post is not meant to enter into the political turmoil in which we live, I think, after looking at quotes such as these, it’s impossible not to. Who, in today’s political market, does not promise progress? Often times, too, it is a promise for progress through radical change. Yet, we must ask the question: Where are we going? Is it progress when the smallest person of society, because they may inhibit others pleasure, are murdered? Is it progress when we let relativism flood education? Is it progress when technology replaces books, character, human development? Is it progress when marriage and the family is not the center of society and culture, but is diminished to something created by the State and the State only? Is it progress when intervention means war, guns, bombs, and death? Is it progress when charity does not form the nucleus of our lives? Is it progress when man loses sight of the Divine goal? Is this progress?
If we want progress, then we need to gaze into that which is above, into the Divine. If we want progress, then we must think above materialism; what if instead we consider spirituality, and with that virtue, ontological maturation, and love? Moreover, peace cannot be scrutinized as just a hippy’s dream, but rather as the ultimate satisfaction and desire of the human person. Progress must be examined through that lens. And that implies God. Culture and politics without God is a joke. “Change” is only progressive when it in fact generates authentic progress–love, service, peace and closeness with God.
“If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end: if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth–only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin with and, in the end, despair”.
If we reduce man’s greatest satisfaction to mere comfort, then we are reducing, too, the potential greatness of man. It seems to me that is what Lewis is suggesting here. True greatness is, well, greater than comfort. He acknowledges that it may eventually lead to some experience of comfort, but if we degrade life to a comfort-seeking journey, then where will that take us? I am reminded of Plato’s conception of the soul as once having wings. Shall we be content with a wingless lifestyle? Or perhaps, shall we try to cultivate our wings and fly? To limit our desire is to attempt and limit the Divine, in which case, then end will only be “despair”.
“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.”
That is just awesome.
San Francisco: HarperCollins, 2001. Quotes (in order given here): pp. 13, 28, 32