“Our best havings are wantings” by C.S. Lewis

“All joy (as distinct from mere pleasure, still more amusement) emphasizes our pilgrim status: always reminds, beckons, awakes desire.

Our best havings are wantings.”

–C.S. Lewis, Letters of C.S. Lewis, eds. W.H. Lewis and Walter Hooper (New York: Harper, 1966), 565.

“Put first things first” by C.S. Lewis

“You can’t get second things by putting them first; you can get second things only by putting first things first.

From which it would follow that the question, ‘What things are first?’ is of concern not only to philosophers but to everyone.

It is impossible, in this context, not to inquire what our own civilization has been putting first for the last thirty years. And the answer is plain.

It has been putting itself first.”

–C.S. Lewis, “First and Second Things,” God in the Dock: Essays on God and Ethics, Ed. Walter Hooper (New York: Harper, 1970), 280-281.

“The only way of flying your flag” by C.S. Lewis

Question 16: Is attendance at a place of worship or membership with a Christian community necessary to a Christian way of life?

Lewis: That’s a question which I cannot answer. My own experience is that when I first became a Christian, about fourteen years ago, I thought that I could do it on my own, by retiring to my rooms and reading theology, and I wouldn’t go to the churches and Gospel Halls.

And then later I found that it was the only way of flying your flag. And, of course, I found that this meant being a target. It is extraordinary how inconvenient to your family it becomes for you to get up early to go to Church.

It doesn’t matter so much if you get up early for anything else, but if you get up early to go to Church it’s very selfish of you and you upset the house.

If there is anything in the teaching of the New Testament which is in the nature of a command, it is you are obliged to take the Sacrament, and you can’t do it without going to Church.

I disliked very much their hymns, which I considered to be fifth-rate poems set to sixth-rate music. But as I went on I saw the great merit of it. I came up against different people of quite different outlooks and different education, and then gradually my conceit just began peeling off.

I realized that the hymns (which were just sixth-rate music) were, nevertheless, being sung with devotion and benefit by an old saint in elastic-side boots in the opposite pew, and then you realize that you aren’t fit to clean those boots. It gets you out of your solitary conceit.

But it is not for me to lay down laws, as I am only a layman, and I don’t know much.”

–C.S. Lewis, “Answers to Questions on Christianity,” in God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics, Ed. Walter Hooper (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1970), 61-62.

Do you “like” the Sermon on the Mount? by C.S. Lewis

“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. This is indeed to be ‘at ease in Zion’ (Amos 6:1).”

–C.S. Lewis, “Rejoinder to Dr. Pittenger” in God In The Dock, ed. by Walter Hooper. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1970), p. 182.