C. S. Lewis

PSALMS: Death In The Psalms (Part 2) by C. S. Lewis

January 15, 2019

From Reflections on the Psalms In many passages this is quite clear, even in our translation, to every attentive reader.  The clearest of all is the cry in Psalm 89:46: “O remember how short my time is: why hast thou made all men for nought?”  We all come to nothing in the end.  Therefore “every man living is altogether vanity,” (Psalm 39:6).  Wise and foolish have the same fate, (Psalm 49:10).  Once dead, a man worships God no more; “Shall the dust give thanks unto thee?” (Psalm 30:10); “for in death no man remembereth thee,” (Psalm 6:5).  Death is “the land” where, not only worldly things, but all things, “are forgotten, (Psalm 88:12).  When a man dies “all his thoughts perish,” (Psalm 146:3).  Every man [...]

PSALMS: Death In The Psalms (Part 1) by C. S. Lewis

January 8, 2019

From Reflections on the Psalms According to my policy of taking first what is most unattractive, I should now proceed to the self-righteousness in many of the psalms.  But we cannot deal with that properly until some other matters have been noticed.  I turn first to a very different subject. Our ancestors seem to have read the psalms and the rest of the Old Testament under the impression that the authors wrote with a pretty full understanding of Christian theology; the main difference being that the Incarnation, which for us is something recorded, was for them something predicted.  In particular, they seldom doubted that the old authors were, like ourselves, concerned with a life beyond death, that they feared damnation and hoped for [...]

PSALMS: The Cursings (Part 2) by C. S. Lewis

November 20, 2018

From Reflections on the Psalms Then another thought occurred which led me in an unexpected, and at first unwelcome, direction.  The reaction of the psalmists to injury, though profoundly natural, is profoundly wrong.  One may try to excuse it on the ground that they were not Christians and knew no better.  But there are two reasons why this defense, though it will go some way, will not go very far. The first is that within Judaism itself the corrective to this natural reaction already existed.  “Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart…thou shalt not avenge or bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself,” says Leviticus, (19:17, 18).  In Exodus we read, “If thou seest [...]

PSALMS: The Cursings (Part 1) by C. S. Lewis

November 13, 2018

From Reflections on the Psalms In some of the psalms the spirit of hatred which strikes us in the face is like the heat from a furnace mouth.  In others the same spirit ceases to be frightful only by becoming (to a modern mind) almost comic in its naïvety. Examples of the first can be found all over the Psalter, but perhaps the worst is in 109.  The poet prays that an ungodly man may rule over his enemy and that “Satan” may stand at his right hand, (v. 5).  This probably does not mean what a Christian reader naturally supposes.  The “Satan” is an accuser, perhaps an informer.  When the enemy is tried, let him be convicted and sentenced, “and let his prayer be turned into sin,” (v. 6).  This again means, I think, not his [...]

PSALMS: “Judgment” In The Psalms (Part 2) by C. S. Lewis

November 6, 2018

From Reflections on the Psalms I think there are very good reasons for regarding the Christian picture of God’s judgment as far more profound and far safer for our souls than the Jewish.  But this does not mean that the Jewish conception must simply be thrown away.  I, at least, believe I can still get a good deal of nourishment out of it. It supplements the Christian picture in one important way.  For what alarms us in the Christian picture is the infinite purity of the standard against which our actions will be judged.  But then we know that none of us will ever come up to that standard.  We are all in the same boat.  We must all pin our hopes on the mercy of God and the work of Christ, not on our own goodness.  Now the Jewish [...]

PSALMS: “Judgment” In The Psalms (Part 1) by C. S. Lewis

October 30, 2018

From Reflections on the Psalms If there is any thought at which a Christian trembles it is the thought of God’s “judgment.”  The “Day” of Judgment is “that day of wrath, that dreadful day.”  We pray for God to deliver us “in the hour of death and at the Day of Judgment.”  Christian art and literature for centuries have depicted its terrors.  This note in Christianity certainly goes back to the teaching of Our Lord himself; especially to the terrible Parable of the Sheep and the Goats.  This can leave no conscience untouched, for in it the “goats” are condemned entirely for their sins of omission; as if to make us fairly sure that the heaviest charge against each of us turns not upon the things he has done but on [...]

PSALMS: Introductory by C. S. Lewis

October 23, 2018

From Reflections on the Psalms This is not a work of scholarship.  I am no Hebraist, no higher critic, no ancient historian, no archaeologist.  I write for the unlearned about things in which I am unlearned myself.  If an excuse is needed (and perhaps it is) for writing such a book, my excuse would be something like this.  It often happens that two schoolboys can solve difficulties in their work for one another better than the master can.  When you took the problem to a master, as we all remember, he was very likely to explain what you understood already, to add a great deal of information which you didn’t want, and say nothing at all about the thing that was puzzling you.  I have watched this from both sides of the net; for when, [...]

EASTER STORY: The Death Of The Lizard, by C. S. Lewis

May 13, 2017

From: The Great Divorce: A Dream I saw coming towards us a Ghost who carried something on his shoulder.  Like all Ghosts, he was unsubstantial, but they differed from one another as smokes differ.  Some had been whitish; this one was dark and oily.  What sat on his shoulder was a little red lizard, and it was twitching its tail like a whip and whispering things in his ear.  As we caught sight of him, he turned his head to the reptile with a snarl of impatience.  Shut up, I tell you! he said.  It wagged its tail and continued to whisper to him.  He ceased snarling, and presently began to smile.  Then he fumed and started to limp westward, away from the mountains. Off so soon? said a voice. The speaker was more or less human in shape [...]

RESURRECTION: The Strangest Story Of All, by C. S. Lewis

April 11, 2016

From God in the Dock We come to the strangest story of all, the story of the Resurrection.  It is very necessary to get the story clear.  I heard a man say, “The importance of the Resurrection is that it gives evidence of survival, evidence that the human personality survives death.”  On that view what happened to Christ would be what had always happened to all men, the difference being that in Christ’s case we were privileged to see it happening. This is certainly not what the earliest Christian writers thought.  Something perfectly new in the history of the Universe had happened.  Christ had defeated death.  The door which had always been locked had for the very first time been forced open.  This is something [...]

LOVE: Flexing Our Muscles

May 29, 2014

I was tempted to entitle this essay, Flexing The Muscles Of Our Heart, except that the more I have studied the concept of love, the more I have become aware that love is not restricted to the heart.  It can take over the mind, the body, our actions; and it can profoundly affect the functioning of our souls. I gave up a whole long time ago on thinking of love as an emotion.  A simple emotion.  Like cheerfulness.  Or being touched.  Or even resentful.  Something that can infuse our thoughts and body with a change of sensing in that moment, but which can diffuse just as easily as it was stimulated. Love, in the strong sense of the word, is clearly not something that just comes and goes.  It is very much a [...]

HEALING: Heaven and Pain, by C. S. Lewis

April 9, 2013

From The Problem of Pain Scripture and tradition habitually put the joys of Heaven into the scale against the sufferings of Earth, and no solution of the problem of pain which does not do so can be called a Christian one.  We are very shy nowadays of even mentioning Heaven.  We are afraid of the jeer about “pie in the sky,” and of being told that we are trying to “escape” from the duty of making a happy world here and now into dreams of a happy world elsewhere.   But either there is “pie in the sky” or there is not.  If there is not, then Christianity is false, for this doctrine is woven into its whole fabric.  If there is, then this truth, like any other, must be faced, whether it is useful at [...]

MORNING DEW: On Theology, by C. S. Lewis

February 11, 2013

From The Joyful Christian Everyone has warned me not to tell you what I am going to tell you. . . .  They all say, “the ordinary reader does not want Theology; give him plain practical religion.”  I have rejected their advice.  I do not think the ordinary reader is such a fool.  Theology means “the science of God,” and I think any man who wants to think about God at all would like to have the clearest and most accurate ideas about him which are available.  You are not children: why should you be treated like children? In a way, I quite understand why some people are put off by Theology.  I remember once when I had been giving a talk to the R.A.F., an old, hard-bitten officer got up and said, “I’ve [...]

SERMON: The Weight of Glory, by C. S. Lewis

December 9, 2012

If you asked twenty good men to-day what they thought the highest of the virtues, nineteen of them would reply, Unselfishness. But if you asked almost any of the great Christians of old he would have replied, Love. You see what has happened? A negative term has been substituted for a positive, and this is of more than philological importance. The negative ideal of Unselfishness carries with it the suggestion not primarily of securing good things for others, but of going without them ourselves, as if our abstinence and not their happiness was the important point. I do not think this is the Christian virtue of Love. The New Testament has lots to say about self-denial, but not about self-denial as an end in itself.  We are told to deny [...]