Tag Archives: C.S. Lewis
What Christmas Means to Me (C.S. Lewis)
Three things go by the name of Christmas. One is a religious festival. This is important and obligatory for Christians; but as it can be of no interest to anyone else, I shall naturally say no more about it here. The second (it has complex historical connections with the first, but we needn’t go into them) is a popular holiday, an occasion for merry-making and hospitality. If it were my business too have a ‘view’ on this, I should say that I much approve of merry-making. But what I approve of much more is everybody minding his own business. I see no reason why I should volunteer views as to how other people should spend their own money in their own leisure among their own friends. It is highly probable that they want my advice on such matters as little as I want theirs. But the third thing called Christmas is unfortunately everyone’s business.
I mean of course the commercial racket. The interchange of presents was a very small ingredient in the older English festivity. Mr. Pickwick took a cod with him to Dingley Dell; the reformed Scrooge ordered a turkey for his clerk; lovers sent love gifts; toys and fruit were given to children. But the idea that not only all friends but even all acquaintances should give one another presents, or at least send one another cards, is quite modern and has been forced upon us by the shopkeepers. Neither of these circumstances is in itself a reason for condemning it. I condemn it on the following grounds.
It gives on the whole much more pain than pleasure. You have only to stay over Christmas with a family who seriously try to ‘keep’ it (in its third, or commercial, aspect) in order to see that the thing is a nightmare. Long before December 25th everyone is worn out — physically worn out by weeks of daily struggle in overcrowded shops, mentally worn out by the effort to remember all the right recipients and to think out suitable gifts for them. They are in no trim for merry-making; much less (if they should want to) to take part in a religious act. They look far more as if there had been a long illness in the house.
Most of it is involuntary. The modern rule is that anyone can force you to give him a present by sending you a quite unprovoked present of his own. It is almost a blackmail. Who has not heard the wail of despair, and indeed of resentment, when, at the last moment, just as everyone hoped that the nuisance was over for one more year, the unwanted gift from Mrs. Busy (whom we hardly remember) flops unwelcomed through the letter-box, and back to the dreadful shops one of us has to go?
Things are given as presents which no mortal every bought for himself — gaudy and useless gadgets, ‘novelties’ because no one was ever fool enough to make their like before. Have we really no better use for materials and for human skill and time than to spend them on all this rubbish?
The nuisance. for after all, during the racket we still have all our ordinary and necessary shopping to do, and the racket trebles the labour of it.
We are told that the whole dreary business must go on because it is good for trade. It is in fact merely one annual symptom of that lunatic condition of our country, and indeed of the world, in which everyone lives by persuading everyone else to buy things. I don’t know the way out. But can it really be my duty to buy and receive masses of junk every winter just to help the shopkeepers? If the worst comes to the worst I’d sooner give them money for nothing and write if off as a charity. For nothing? Why, better for nothing than for a nuisance.
From God in the dock—Essays on Theology and Ethics by C. S. Lewis, published by William B. Eerdman’s Publishing Co. © 1970 The Trustees of the Estate of C.S. Lewis, first appearing December, 1957
C.S. Lewis on Responding to the Coronavirus!
I’m taking some liberties here, friends, but C.S. Lewis wrote something about how Christians should respond to . . . World War 2. But if you substitute “Coronavirus” for “the bomb”, there is a lot of wisdom in his statement.
Before I give you the C.S. Lewis quote, I must share a small bit of humor with you. I’m not being insensitive to those who have been afflicted with the virus, and certainly not to those who have died from it. But we all need a bit of lightheartedness in the face of such devastating circumstances.
Here are some of my thoughts:
1. Your sneeze has now become a lethal weapon!
2. Christians are to greet one another with a holy hug or holy kiss. We’re now relegated to a fist or elbow bump.
3. Social distancing — which is being recommended to all of us — is an introvert’s DREAM!
4. With the news of Tom Hanks becoming infected, it gives new meaning to the expression “Run, Forest, Run!” (away from other people). And in his new movie about Mr. Rogers, “Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood” becomes “Mr. Rogers All By Himself”!
Here’s the C.S. Lewis quote. If you substitute “Coronavirus” for “bomb,” you’ll get the point. [By the way, Lewis didn’t capitalize TENNIS. I did].
No Belief in God? No Belief in Thought! (Time for a great C.S. Lewis quote)
“Supposing there was no intelligence behind the universe, no creative mind. In that case, nobody designed my brain for the purpose of thinking. It is merely that when the atoms inside my skull happen, for physical or chemical reasons, to arrange themselves in a certain way, this gives me, as a by-product, the sensation I call thought. But, if so, how can I trust my own thinking to be true? It’s like upsetting a milk jug and hoping that the way it splashes itself will give you a map of London. But if I can’t trust my own thinking, of course I can’t trust the arguments leading to Atheism, and therefore have no reason to be an Atheist, or anything else. Unless I believe in God, I cannot believe in thought: so, I can never use thought to disbelieve in God.”
What a Surprise! A Free Cruise in Europe! Part 5 (final)
Sooo — We’ve been given a free river cruise on a 90-passenger ship in Europe! Jeff and Gina, who started Teeming River Cruises two years ago, organize their cruises at about 1/3 of the cost of Viking cruises. Their website is here. Two years ago we had a great time with them on their inaugural voyage.
I have the privilege of conducting a Sunday service for the passengers and crew on August 25th. Would you pray for me as I prepare for that service? I’ll be going over the wonderful fish story in Luke 5. Let’s look at that text one more time:
I’m open to any sermon titles that come to your mind. But we’ve noticed so far that Simon Peter is —
I. Doing a Religious Teacher a Favor (vv. 1-3)
Allowing Jesus to use his boat as a floating pulpit, no doubt, made Peter just a tad proud. But then Jesus steps out of His role as spiritual teacher and challenges Peter and the others in —
II. Recognizing Who Jesus REALLY Is! (vv. 4-10)
Invading Peter’s area of expertise by telling him when and where to fish, Jesus promises “a catch” if Peter and the others will simply obey.
What happens when Peter acts on his statement, “but because you say so, I will let down the nets”? We read that the catch is so large that the nets they had been washing were in danger of breaking! They have to call in reinforcements and both boats are so loaded with fish that they began to sink!
That’s a nice problem to have if you are a fisherman, don’t you think? While his co-workers — with $ signs in their eyes — are taking care of the fish, Peter draws a profound conclusion. He doesn’t say, “Jesus, thank you for somehow providing these fish for us!” Or “Wow! I’ve never seen such a catch. How did you know, Jesus, that there would be fish there?” No! Peter launches into an incredible, yet succinct, theological declaration: “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” (v. 8).
It seems reasonable to say that Peter was overwhelmed at his underestimating Jesus. He had Him pegged as simply another religious teacher. But the miraculous prediction and catch of fish overcame Peter with the truth of Jesus’ power (and, perhaps, divinity).
We know from other Scriptures that Jesus is the Creator of all things. We read in Colossians 1: 15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
Aren’t you glad that Jesus didn’t take Peter’s advice and walk away? Instead the Lord does the opposite. Instead of abandoning Peter, Jesus appoints him to become a fisher of men!
I’m reminded of C.S. Lewis’ famous statement — and with it we will conclude the posts on this topic:
Time for a Great C.S. Lewis Quote ….. on Enjoying Heaven!
“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 political meetings or no. Again, we are afraid that heaven is a bribe, and that if we make it our goal we shall no longer be disinterested. It is not so. Heaven offers nothing that a mercenary soul can desire. It is safe to tell the pure in heart that they shall see God, for only the pure in heart want to. There are rewards that do not sully motives. A man’s love for a woman is not mercenary because he wants to marry her, nor his love for poetry mercenary because he wants to read it, nor his love of exercise less disinterested because he wants to run and leap and walk. Love, by definition, seeks to enjoy its object.”
Time for a Great C.S. Lewis Quote — on TRUST and OBEDIENCE!
“[To have Faith in Christ] means, of course, trying to do all that He says. There would be no sense in saying you trusted a person if you would not take his advice. Thus if you have really handed yourself over to Him, it must follow that you are trying to obey Him. But trying in a new way, a less worried way. Not doing these things in order to be saved, but because He has begun to save you already. Not hoping to get to Heaven as a reward for your actions, but inevitably wanting to act in a certain way because a first faint gleam of Heaven is already inside you.” (Mere Christianity)
Playing with Philosophy (Time for a Great C.S. Lewis Quote)
Joe Barnard in his forthcoming book The Way Forward: Clear Advice for Confused Men gives the following illustration from C.S. Lewis as Lewis powerfully describes his first encounter with the living presence of God in Surprised by Joy.
He says, “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-clothes, and stood upright and became a living presence. I was allowed to play with philosophy no longer.”