“He does not find, but makes her, lovely” by C.S. Lewis

“The Church has no beauty but what the Bridegroom gives her; He does not find, but makes her, lovely.”

–C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves (New York: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1960/1988), 105.

“The love of one’s country” by C.S. Lewis

“I turn now to the love of one’s country. Here there is no need to labour M. de Rougemont’s maxim; we all know now that this love becomes a demon when it becomes a god.

Some begin to suspect that it is never anything but a demon. But then they have to reject half the high poetry and half the heroic action our race has achieved.

We cannot keep even Christ’s lament over Jerusalem. He too exhibits love for His country. Let us limit our field.

There is no need here for an essay on international ethics. When this love becomes demoniac it will of course produce wicked acts.

But others, more skilled, may say what acts between nations are wicked. We are only considering the sentiment itself in the hope of being able to distinguish its innocent from its demoniac condition. Neither of these is the efficient cause of national behaviour.

For strictly speaking it is rulers, not nations, who behave internationally. Demoniac patriotism in their subjects—I write only for subjects—will make it easier for them to act wickedly; healthy patriotism may make it harder: when they are wicked they may by propaganda encourage a demoniac condition of our sentiments in order to secure our acquiescence in their wickedness.

If they are good, they could do the opposite. That is one reason why we private persons should keep a wary eye on the health or disease of our own love for our country. And that is what I am writing about.

How ambivalent patriotism is may be gauged by the fact that no two writers have expressed it more vigorously than Kipling and Chesterton.

If it were one element two such men could not both have praised it. In reality it contains many ingredients, of which many different blends are possible.

First, there is love of home, of the place we grew up in or the places, perhaps many, which have been our homes; and of all places fairly near these and fairly like them; love of old acquaintances, of familiar sights, sounds and smells.

Note that at its largest this is, for us, a love of England, Wales, Scotland, or Ulster. Only foreigners and politicians talk about “Britain.” Kipling’s “I do not love my empire’s foes” strikes a ludicrously false note.

My empire! With this love for the place there goes a love for the way of life; for beer and tea and open fires, trains with compartments in them and an unarmed police force and all the rest of it; for the local dialect and (a shade less) for our native language.

As Chesterton says, a man’s reasons for not wanting his country to be ruled by foreigners are very like his reasons for not wanting his house to be burned down; because he could not even begin to enumerate all the things he would miss.

It would be hard to find any legitimate point of view from which this feeling could be condemned. As the family offers us the first step beyond self-love, so this offers us the first step beyond family selfishness.

Of course it is not pure charity; it involves love of our neighbours in the local, not of our Neighbour, in the Dominical, sense. But those who do not love the fellow-villagers or fellow-townsmen whom they have seen are not likely to have got very far towards loving “Man” whom they have not.

All natural affections, including this, can become rivals to spiritual love: but they can also be preparatory imitations of it, training (so to speak) of the spiritual muscles which Grace may later put to a higher service; as women nurse dolls in childhood and later nurse children.

There may come an occasion for renouncing this love; pluck out your right eye. But you need to have an eye first.”

–C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves (New York: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1960/1988), 22-24.

“Those are the golden sessions” by C.S. Lewis

“In a perfect Friendship this Appreciative love is, I think, often so great and so firmly based that each member of the circle feels, in his secret heart, humbled before all the rest. Sometimes he wonders what he is doing there among his betters. He is lucky beyond desert to be in such company. Especially when the whole group is together, each bringing out all that is best, wisest, or funniest in all the others.

Those are the golden sessions; when four or five of us after a hard day’s walking have come to our inn; when our slippers are on, our feet spread out towards the blaze and our drinks at our elbows; when the whole world, and something beyond the world, opens itself to our minds as we talk; and no one has any claim on or any responsibility for another, but all are freemen and equals as if we had first met an hour ago, while at the same time an Affection mellowed by the years enfolds us. Life — natural life — has no better gift to give. Who could have deserved it?”

–C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves (New York: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1960/1988), 71-2.

“Read with him, argue with him, pray with him” by C.S. Lewis

“One knows nobody so well as one’s ‘fellow.’ Every step of the common journey tests his metal; and the tests are tests we fully understand because we are undergoing them ourselves. Hence, as he rings true time after time, our reliance, our respect and our admiration blossom into an Appreciative love of a singularly robust and well-informed kind.

If, at the outset, we had attended more to him and less to the thing our Friendship is ‘about,’ we should not have come to know or love him so well. You will not find the warrior, the poet, the philosopher, or the Christian by staring in his eyes as if he were your mistress: better fight beside him, read with him, argue with him, pray with him.”

–C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves (New York: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1960/1988), 71.

“There is no safe investment” by C.S. Lewis

“I am a safety-first creature. Of all arguments against love none makes so strong an appeal to my nature as ‘Careful! This might lead you to suffering.’ To my nature, my temperament, yes. Not to my conscience.

When I respond to that appeal I seem to myself to be a thousand miles away from Christ. If I am sure of anything I am sure that His teaching was never meant to confirm my congenital preference for safe investments and limited liabilities. I doubt whether there is anything in me that pleases Him less…

There is no safe investment. 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 safe 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 Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.”

–C. S. Lewis, The Four Loves (New York: Harcourt, 1960/1988), 120-1.