They begin by trying to persuade you that earth can be made into heaven, thus giving a sop to your sense of exile in earth as it is. Next, they tell you that this fortunate event is still a good way off in the future, thus giving a sop to your knowledge that the fatherland is not here and now. Finally, lest your longing for the transtemporal should awake and spoil the whole affair, they use any rhetoric that comes to hand to keep out of your mind the recollection that even if all the happiness they promised could come to man on earth, yet still each generation would lose it by death, including the last generation of all, and the whole story would be nothing, not even a story, for ever and ever.
Hence all the nonsense that Mr. Do what they will, then, we remain conscious of a desire which no natural happiness will satisfy. But is there any reason to suppose that reality offers any satisfaction to it? A man's physical hunger does not prove that that man will get any bread; he may die of starvation on a raft in the Atlantic. But surely a man's hunger does prove that he comes of a race which repairs its body by eating and inhabits a world where eatable substances exist. In the same way, though I do not believe I wish I did that my desire for Paradise proves that I shall enjoy it, I think it a pretty good indication that such a thing exists and that some men will.
A man may love a woman and not win her; but it would be very odd if the phenomenon called "falling in love" occurred in a sexless world. Here, then, is the desire, still wandering and uncertain of its object and still largely unable to see that object in the direction where it really lies. Our sacred books give us some account of the object. It is, of course, a symbolical account. Heaven is, by definition, outside our experience, but all intelligible descriptions must be of things within our experience.
The scriptural picture of heaven is therefore just as symbolical as the picture which our desire, unaided, invents for itself; heaven is not really full of jewelry any more than it is really the beauty of Nature, or a fine piece of music. The difference is that the scriptural imagery has authority. It comes to us from writers who were closer to God than we, and it has stood the test of Christian experience down the centuries. The natural appeal of this authoritative imagery is to me, at first, very small.
At first sight it chills, rather than awakes, my desire. And that is just what I ought to expect. If Christianity could tell me no more of the far-off land than my own temperament led me to surmise already, then Christianity would be no higher than myself. If it has more to give me, I must expect it to be less immediately attractive than "my own stuff". Sophocles at first seems dull and cold to the boy who has only reached Shelley. If our religion is something objective, then we must never avert our eyes from those elements in it which seem puzzling or repellent; for it will be precisely the puzzling or the repellent which conceals what we do not yet know and need to know.
The promises of Scripture may very roughly be reduced to five heads. It is promised, firstly, that we shall be with Christ; secondly, that we shall be like Him; thirdly, with an enormous wealth of imagery, that we shall have "glory"; fourthly, that we shall, in some sense, be fed or feasted or entertained; and, finally, that we shall have some sort of official position in the universe--ruling cities, judging angels, being pillars of God's temple.
The first question I ask about these promises is: For it must be true, as an old writer says, that he who has God and everything else has no more than he who has God only. I think the answer turns again on the nature of symbols. For though it may escape our notice at first glance, yet it is true that any conception of being with Christ which most of us can now form will be not very much less symbolical than the other promises; for it will smuggle in ideas of proximity in space and loving conversation as we now understand conversation, and it will probably concentrate on the humanity of Christ to the exclusion of His deity.
And, in fact, we find that those Christians who attend solely to this first promise always do fill it up with very earthly imagery indeed--in fact, with hymeneal or erotic imagery. I am not for a moment condemning such imagery. I heartily wish I could enter into it more deeply than I do, and pray that I yet shall.
But my point is that this also is only a symbol, like the reality in some respects, but unlike it in others, and therefore needs correction from the different symbols in the other promises. The variation of the promises does not mean that anything other than God will be our ultimate bliss; but because God is more than a Person, and lest we should imagine the joy of His presence too exclusively in terms of our present poor experience of personal love, with all its narrowness and strain and monotony, a dozen changing images, correcting and relieving each other, are supplied.
I turn next to the idea of glory.
The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses Chapter Summaries (Sponsored)
There is no getting away from the fact that this idea is very prominent in the New Testament and in early Christian writings. Salvation is constantly associated with palms, crowns, white robes, thrones, and splendour like the sun and stars. All this makes no immediate appeal to me at all, and in that respect I fancy I am a typical modern. Glory suggests two ideas to me, of which one seems wicked and the other ridiculous. Either glory means to me fame, or it means luminosity.
As for the first, since to be famous means to be better known than other people, the desire for fame appears to me as a competitive passion and therefore of hell rather than heaven. As for the second, who wishes to become a kind of living electric light bulb? When I began to look into this matter I was shocked to find such different Christians as Milton, Johnson and Thomas Aquinas taking heavenly glory quite frankly in the sense of fame or good report.
But not fame conferred by our fellow creatures--fame with God, approval or I might say "appreciation" by God. And then, when I had thought it over, I saw that this view was scriptural; nothing can eliminate from the parable the divine accolade , "Well done, thou good and faithful servant. I suddenly remembered that no one can enter heaven except as a child; and nothing is so obvious in a child--not in a conceited child, but in a good child--as its great and undisguised pleasure in being praised. Not only in a child, either, but even in a dog or a horse.
Apparently what I had mistaken for humility had, all these years, prevented me from understanding what is in fact the humblest, the most childlike, the most creaturely of pleasures--nay, the specific pleasure of the inferior: I am not forgetting how horribly this most innocent desire is parodied in our human ambitions, or how very quickly, in my own experience, the lawful pleasure of praise from those whom it was my duty to please turns into the deadly poison of self-admiration.
But I thought I could detect a moment--a very, very short moment--before this happened, during which the satisfaction of having pleased those whom I rightly loved and rightly feared was pure.
And that is enough to raise our thoughts to what may happen when the redeemed soul, beyond all hope and nearly beyond belief, learns at last that she has pleased Him whom she was created to please. There will be no room for vanity then. She will be free from the miserable illusion that it is her doing. With no taint of what we should now call self-approval she will most innocently rejoice in the thing that God has made her to be, and the moment which heals her old inferiority complex for ever will also drown her pride deeper than Prospero's book.
Perfect humility dispenses with modesty. If God is satisfied with the work, the work may be satisfied with itself; "it is not for her to bandy compliments with her Sovereign". I can imagine someone saying that he dislikes my idea of heaven as a place where we are patted on the back.
But proud misunderstanding is behind that dislike. In the end that Face which is the delight or the terror of the universe must be turned upon each of us either with one expression or with the other, either conferring glory inexpressible or inflicting shame that can never be cured or disguised. I read in a periodical the other day that the fundamental thing is how we think of God. By God Himself, it is not!
How God thinks of us is not only more important, but infinitely more important. Indeed, how we think of Him is of no importance except in so far as it is related to how He thinks of us. It is written that we shall "stand before" Him, shall appear, shall be inspected. The promise of glory is the promise, almost incredible and only possible by the work of Christ, that some of us, that any of us who really chooses, shall actually survive that examination, shall find approval, shall please God. But so it is. And now notice what is happening.
If I had rejected the authoritative and scriptural image of glory and stuck obstinately to the vague desire which was, at the outset, my only pointer to heaven, I could have seen no connexion at all between that desire and the Christian promise. But now, having followed up what seemed puzzling and repellent in the sacred books, I find, to my great surprise, looking back, that the connexion is perfectly clear. Glory, as Christianity teaches me to hope for it, turns out to satisfy my original desire and indeed to reveal an element in that desire which I had not noticed.
By ceasing for a moment to consider my own wants I have begun to learn better what I really wanted. When I attempted, a few minutes ago, to describe our spiritual longings, I was omitting one of their most curious characteristics. We usually notice it just as the moment of vision dies away, as the music ends or as the landscape loses the celestial light. What we feel then has been well described by Keats as "the journey homeward to habitual self". You know what I mean. For a few minutes we have had the illusion of belonging to that world.
Now we wake to find that it is no such thing. We have been mere spectators. Beauty has smiled, but not to welcome us; her face was turned in our direction, but not to see us. We have not been accepted, welcomed, or taken into the dance. We may go when we please, we may stay if we can: That, of course, is true.
It is not the physical objects that I am speaking of, but that indescribable something of which they become for a moment the messengers. And part of the bitterness which mixes with the sweetness of that message is due to the fact that it so seldom seems to be a message intended for us, but rather something we have overheard. By bitterness I mean pain, not resentment. We should hardly dare to ask that any notice be taken of ourselves. The sense that in this universe we are treated as strangers, the longing to be acknowledged, to meet with some response, to bridge some chasm that yawns between us and reality, is part of our inconsolable secret.
And surely, from this point of view, the promise of glory, in the sense described, becomes highly relevant to our deep desire. For glory meant good report with God, acceptance by God, response, acknowledgment, and welcome into the heart of things. The door on which we have been knocking all our lives will open at last. Perhaps it seems rather crude to describe glory as the fact of being "noticed" by God. But this is almost the language of the New Testament.
Paul promises to those who love God not, as we should expect, that they will know Him, but that they will be known by Him 1 Cor. It is a strange promise. Does not God know all things at all times? But it is dreadfully re-echoed in another passage of the New Testament. There we are warned that it may happen to any one of us to appear at last before the face of God and hear only the appalling words: We can be left utterly and absolutely outside --repelled, exiled, estranged, finally and unspeakably ignored.
On the other hand, we can be called in, welcomed, received, acknowledged. We walk every day on the razor edge between these two incredible possibilities. Apparently, then, our lifelong nostalgia, our longing to be reunited with something in the universe from which we now feel cut off, to be on the inside of some door which we have always seen from the outside, is no mere neurotic fancy, but the truest index of our real situation.
And to be at last summoned inside would be both glory and honour beyond all our merits and also the healing of that old ache. And this brings me to the other sense of glory--glory as brightness, splendour, luminosity. We are to shine as the sun, we are to be given the Morning Star. I think I begin to see what it means. In one way, of course, God has given us the Morning Star already: What more, you may ask, do we want?
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Ah, but we want so much more--something the books on aesthetics take little notice of. But the poets and the mythologies know all about it. We do not want merely to see beauty, though, God knows, even that is bounty enough. We want something else which can hardly be put into words--to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it. That is why we have peopled air and earth and water with gods and goddesses and nymphs and elves--that, though we cannot, yet these projections can, enjoy in themselves that beauty, grace, and power of which Nature is the image.
That is why the poets tell us such lovely falsehoods. They talk as if the west wind could really sweep into a human soul; but it can't. They tell us that "beauty born of murmuring sound" will pass into a human face; but it won't. For if we take the imagery of Scripture seriously, if we believe that God will one day give us the Morning Star and cause us to put on the splendour of the sun, then we may surmise that both the ancient myths and the modern poetry, so false as history, may be very near the truth as prophecy.
At present we are on the outside of the world, the wrong side of the door. We discern the freshness and purity of morning, but they do not make us fresh and pure. We cannot mingle with the splendours we see. But all the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumour that it will not always be so. Some day, God willing, we shall get in. When human souls have become as perfect in voluntary obedience as the inanimate creation is in its lifeless obedience, then they will put on its glory, or rather that greater glory of which Nature is only the first sketch.
For you must not think that I am putting forward any heathen fancy of being absorbed into Nature. Nature is mortal; we shall outlive her. When all the suns and nebulae have passed away, each one of you will still be alive. Nature is only the image, the symbol; but it is the symbol Scripture invites me to use. We are summoned to pass in through Nature, beyond her, into that splendour which she fitfully reflects. And in there, in beyond Nature, we shall eat of the tree of life. At present, if we are reborn in Christ, the spirit in us lives directly on God; but the mind, and still more the body, receives life from Him at a thousand removes--through our ancestors, through our food, through the elements.
The faint, far-off results of those energies which God's creative rapture implanted in matter when He made the worlds are what we now call physical pleasures; and even thus filtered, they are too much for our present management. What would it be to taste at the fountain-head that stream of which even these lower reaches prove so intoxicating? Yet that, I believe, is what lies before us.
The whole man is to drink joy from the fountain of joy. Augustine said, the rapture of the saved soul will "flow over" into the glorified body. In the light of our present specialized and depraved appetites we cannot imagine this torrens voluptatis , and I warn everyone most seriously not to try. But it must be mentioned, to drive out thoughts even more misleading--thoughts that what is saved is a mere ghost, or that the risen body lives in numb insensibility.
The body was made for the Lord, and these dismal fancies are wide of the mark. Meanwhile the cross comes before the crown and tomorrow is a Monday morning. A cleft has opened in the pitiless walls of the world, and we are invited to follow our great Captain inside. The following Him is, of course, the essential point. That being so, it may be asked what practical use there is in the speculations which I have been indulging. I can think of at least one such use. It may be possible for each to think too much of his own potential glory hereafter; it is hardly possible for him to think too often or too deeply about that of his neighbour.
The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbour's glory should be laid daily on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken. It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations.
It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations--these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit--immortal horrors or everlasting splendours. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn.
But our merriment must be of that kind and it is, in fact, the merriest kind which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously--no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption. And our charity must be a real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner--no mere tolerance or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment. Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbour is the holiest object presented to your senses. If he is your Christian neighbour he is holy in almost the same way, for in him also Christ vere latitat --the glorifier and the glorified, Glory Himself, is truly hidden.
No Christian and, indeed, no historian could accept the epigram which defines religion as "what a man does with his solitude". It was one of the Wesleys, I think, who said that the New Testament knows nothing of solitary religion. We are forbidden to neglect the assembling of ourselves together. Christianity is already institutional in the earliest of its documents. The Church is the Bride of Christ. We are members of one another.
In our own age the idea that religion belongs to our private life--that it is, in fact, an occupation for the individual's hour of leisure--is at once paradoxical, dangerous, and natural. It is paradoxical because this exaltation of the individual in the religious field springs up in an age when collectivism is ruthlessly defeating the individual in every other field. I see this even in a University. When I first went to Oxford the typical undergraduate society consisted of a dozen men, who knew one another intimately, hearing a paper by one of their own number in a small sitting-room and hammering out their problem till one or two in the morning.
Before the war the typical undergraduate society had come to be a mixed audience of one or two hundred students assembled in a public hall to hear a lecture from some visiting celebrity. Even on those rare occasions when a modern undergraduate is not attending some such society he is seldom engaged in those solitary walks, or walks with a single companion, which built the minds of the previous generations. He lives in a crowd; caucus has replaced friendship. And this tendency not only exists both within and without the University, but is often approved.
There is a crowd of busybodies, self-appointed masters of ceremonies, whose life is devoted to destroying solitude wherever solitude still exists. They call it "taking the young people out of themselves", or "waking them up", or "overcoming their apathy". If an Augustine, a Vaughan, a Traherne or a Wordsworth should be born in the modern world, the leaders of a Youth Organization would soon cure him.
Yonge's families, existed to-day, it would be denounced as bourgeois and every engine of destruction would be levelled against it. And even where the planners fail and someone is left physically by himself, the wireless has seen to it that he will be--in a sense not intended by Scipio--never less alone than when alone. We live, in fact, in a world starved for solitude, silence, and privacy: That religion should be relegated to solitude in such an age is, then, paradoxical. But it is also dangerous for two reasons. In the first place, when the modern world says to us aloud, "You may be religious when you are alone," it adds under its breath, "and I will see to it that you never are alone.
That is one of the enemy's stratagems. In the second place, there is the danger that real Christians who know that Christianity is not a solitary affair may react against that error by simply transporting into our spiritual life that same collectivism which has already conquered our secular life. That is the enemy's other stratagem.
Like a good chess player he is always trying to manoeuvre you into a position where you can save your castle only by losing your bishop. In order to avoid the trap we must insist that though the private conception of Christianity is an error it is a profoundly natural one, and is clumsily attempting to guard a great truth. Behind it is the obvious feeling that our modern collectivism is an outrage upon human nature and that from this, as from all other evils, God will be our shield and buckler. This feeling is just. As personal and private life is lower than participation in the Body of Christ, so the collective life is lower than the personal and private life and has no value save in its service.
The secular community, since it exists for our natural good and not for our supernatural, has no higher end than to facilitate and safeguard the family, and friendship, and solitude. To be happy at home, said Johnson, is the end of all human endeavour. As long as we are thinking only of natural values we must say that the sun looks down on nothing half so good as a household laughing together over a meal, or two friends talking over a pint of beer, or a man alone reading a book that interests him; and that all economics, politics, laws, armies, and institutions, save in so far as they prolong and multiply such scenes, are a mere ploughing the sand and sowing the ocean, a meaningless vanity and vexation of spirit.
Collective activities are, of course, necessary; but this is the end to which they are necessary. Great sacrifices of this private happiness by those who have it may be necessary in order that it may be more widely distributed. All may have to be a little hungry in order that none may starve. But do not let us mistake necessary evils for good. The mistake is easily made. Fruit has to be tinned if it is to be transported, and has to lose thereby some of its good qualities. But one meets people who have learned actually to prefer the tinned fruit to the fresh. A sick society must think much about politics, as a sick man must think much about his digestion: But if either comes to regard it as the natural food of the mind--if either forgets that we think of such things only in order to be able to think of something else--then what was undertaken for the sake of health has become itself a new and deadly disease.
There is, in fact, a fatal tendency in all human activities for the means to encroach upon the very ends which they were intended to serve. Thus money comes to hinder the exchange of commodities, and rules of art to hamper genius, and examinations to prevent young men from becoming learned. It does not, unfortunately, always follow that the encroaching means can be dispensed with. I think it probable that the collectivism of our life is necessary and will increase; and I think that our only safeguard against its deathly properties is in a Christian life; for we were promised that we could handle serpents and drink deadly things and yet live.
That is the truth behind the erroneous definition of religion with which we started. Where it went wrong was in opposing to the collective mass mere solitude. The Christian is called, not to individualism but to membership in the mystical body.
A consideration of the differences between the secular collective and the mystical body is therefore the first step to understanding how Christianity without being individualistic can yet counteract collectivism. At the outset we are hampered by a difficulty of language. The very word membership is of Christian origin, but it has been taken over by the world and emptied of all meaning.
In any book on logic you may see the expression "members of a class". It must be most emphatically stated that the items or particulars included in a homogeneous class are almost the reverse of what St. Paul meant by members. Thus, in a club, the committee as a whole, and the servants as a whole, may both properly be regarded as "members"; what we should call the members of the club are merely units. A row of identically dressed and identically trained soldiers set side by side, or a number of citizens listed as voters in a constituency, are not members of anything in the Pauline sense.
I am afraid that when we describe a man as "a member of the Church" we usually mean nothing Pauline: How true membership in a body differs from inclusion in a collective may be seen in the structure of a family. The grandfather, the parents, the grown-up son, the child, the dog, and the cat are true members in the organic sense precisely because they are not members or units of a homogeneous class. They are not interchangeable. Each person is almost a species in himself. The mother is not simply a different person from the daughter, she is a different kind of person.
The grown-up brother is not simply one unit in the class children, he is a separate estate of the realm. The father and grandfather are almost as different as the cat and the dog. If you subtract any one member you have not simply reduced the family in number, you have inflicted an injury on its structure. Its unity is a unity of unlikes, almost of incommensurables. A dim perception of the richness inherent in this kind of unity is one reason why we enjoy a book like The Wind in the Willows ; a trio such as Rat, Mole, and Badger symbolizes the extreme differentiation of persons in harmonious union which we know intuitively to be our true refuge both from solitude and from the collective.
Summary of The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses by C. S. Lewis
The affection between such oddly matched couples as Dick Swiveller and the Marchioness, or Mr. Pickwick and Sam Weller, pleases in the same way. That is why the modern notion that children should call their parents by their Christian names is so perverse. For this is an effort to ignore the difference in kind which makes for real organic unity. They are trying to inoculate the child with the preposterous view that one's mother is simply a fellow-citizen like anyone else, to make it ignorant of what all men know and insensible to what all men feel.
They are trying to drag the featureless repetitions of the collective into the fuller and more concrete world of the family. A convict has a number instead of a name. That is the collective idea carried to its extreme. But a man in his own house may also lose his name, because he is called simply "Father". That is membership in a body. The loss of the name in both cases reminds us that there are two opposite ways of departing from isolation. The society into which the Christian is called at baptism is not a collective but a Body.
It is in fact that Body of which the family is an image on the natural level. If anyone came to it with the misconception that membership of the Church was membership in a debased modern sense--a massing together of persons as if they were pennies or counters--he would be corrected at the threshold by the discovery that the Head of this Body is so unlike the inferior members that they share no predicate with Him save by analogy.
We are summoned from the outset to combine as creatures with our Creator, as mortals with immortal, as redeemed sinners with sinless Redeemer. His presence, the interaction between Him and us, must always be the overwhelmingly dominant factor in the life we are to lead within the Body; and any conception of Christian fellowship which does not mean primarily fellowship with Him is out of court.
After that it seems almost trivial to trace further down the diversity of operations to the unity of the Spirit. But it is very plainly there. There are priests divided from the laity, catechumens divided from those who are in full fellowship. There is authority of husbands over wives and parents over children.
There is, in forms too subtle for official embodiment, a continual interchange of complementary ministrations. We are all constantly teaching and learning, forgiving and being forgiven, representing Christ to man when we intercede, and man to Christ when others intercede for us.
The sacrifice of selfish privacy which is daily demanded of us is daily repaid a hundredfold in the true growth of personality which the life of the Body encourages. Those who are members of one another become as diverse as the hand and the ear. That is why the worldlings are so monotonously alike compared with the almost fantastic variety of the saints.
Obedience is the road to freedom, humility the road to pleasure, unity the road to personality. And now I must say something that may appear to you a paradox. You have often heard that, though in the world we hold different stations, yet we are all equal in the sight of God. There are of course senses in which this is true. God is no accepter of persons: His love for us is not measured by our social rank or our intellectual talents.
But I believe there is a sense in which this maxim is the reverse of the truth. I am going to venture to say that artificial equality is necessary in the life of the State, but that in the Church we strip off this disguise, we recover our real inequalities, and are thereby refreshed and quickened. I believe in political equality. But there are two opposite reasons for being a democrat. You may think all men so good that they deserve a share in the government of the commonwealth, and so wise that the commonwealth needs their advice.
That is, in my opinion, the false, romantic doctrine of democracy. On the other hand, you may believe fallen men to be so wicked that not one of them can be trusted with any irresponsible power over his fellows. That I believe to be the true ground of democracy. I do not believe that God created an egalitarian world. I believe the authority of parent over child, husband over wife, learned over simple, to have been as much a part of the original plan as the authority of man over beast.
I believe that if we had not fallen Filmer would be right, and patriarchal monarchy would be the sole lawful government. But since we have learned sin, we have found, as Lord Acton says, that "all power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely". The only remedy has been to take away the powers and substitute a legal fiction of equality. The authority of Father and Husband has been rightly abolished on the legal plane, not because this authority is in itself bad on the contrary, it is, I hold, divine in origin but because Fathers and Husbands are bad. Theocracy has been rightly abolished not because it is bad that learned priests should govern ignorant laymen, but because priests are wicked men like the rest of us.
Even the authority of man over beast has had to be interfered with because it is constantly abused.
The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses Summary & Study Guide Description
Equality is for me in the same position as clothes. It is a result of the Fall and the remedy for it. Any attempt to retrace the steps by which we have arrived at egalitarianism and to re-introduce the old authorities on the political level is for me as foolish as it would be to take off our clothes.
The Nazi and the Nudist make the same mistake. But it is the naked body, still there beneath the clothes of each one of us, which really lives. Do not misunderstand me. I am not in the least belittling the value of this egalitarian fiction which is our only defence against one another's cruelty. I should view with the strongest disapproval any proposal to abolish manhood suffrage, or the Married Women's Property Act.
But the function of equality is purely protective. It is medicine, not food. By treating human persons in judicious defiance of the observed facts as if they were all the same kind of thing, we avoid innumerable evils. But it is not on this that we were made to live. It is idle to say that men are of equal value. If value is taken in a worldly sense--if we mean that all men are equally useful or beautiful or good or entertaining--then it is nonsense. If it means that all are of equal value as immortal souls then I think it conceals a dangerous error. The infinite value of each human soul is not a Christian doctrine.
God did not die for man because of some value He perceived in him. The value of each human soul considered simply in itself, out of relation to God, is zero. Paul writes, to have died for valuable men would have been not divine but merely heroic; but God died for sinners. He loved us not because we were lovable, but because He is Love.
Though Lewis gave the sermons some time ago, their truths apply in a largely timeless fashion to any time and culture. What's more, even in the printed form, the arguments retain much of their impact. Few clues about the speaker's delivery remain. Lewis offers no apologies for his views about Christianity. In fact, he refutes many other beliefs systems in favor of Christianity. His arguments appear so clearly and concisely that the reader, though he may disagree, may have a difficult time refuting Lewis.
The language of the volume clues the reader in to the period of time the sermons were given: Difficulties in understanding Lewis stem not from differing language due to time or space, however. Instead, Lewis's education may make the sermons difficult to understand.
Frequently, he refers to Latin terms while offering no explanation. Often, though, context clues offer help in figuring out the meaning of such statements. Read more from the Study Guide. Browse all BookRags Study Guides. It was eloquently written without the fire and brimstone speech. Sometimes books like this, tend to ma This book made my reread list. Sometimes books like this, tend to make the reader point the finger at those around them who aren't living up to their professed standards without looking into their own hearts.
With this book, I don't know how one could possibly do that. It was gently stated. View all 4 comments. Read "The Weight of Glory" here Feb. Can't believe it took me this far along in my life to read it. Read "Learning in War-Time" for the first time on Jan. Read "The Weight of Glory" for the second time on Jan. Read "The Inner Ring" for the first time in Oct. Lewis's Weight of Glory is just wonderful. His writing style is breezy and flows perfectly.
His ideas about glory too are really inspiration and thought provoking. And the edition I was reading this in. Floppy paperback and deckle edged! Mar 27, Sally Linford rated it it was amazing. One of Lewis's most brilliant, the title essay in this collection will blow you away with its rationale for pre-earth life, our longing to be recognized by God, and the remarkable practicality of the ending: The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbor's glory should be laid on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken. It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you say it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare.
All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or the other of these destinations. There are no ordinary people. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations--these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit--immortal horrors or everlasting splendours. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. But our merriment must be of that kind and it is, in fact, the merriest kind which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously--no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption.
Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbour is the holiest object presented to your senses. If he is your Christian neighbor, he is holy in almost the same way, for in him also Christ vere latitat--the glorifier and the glorified, Glory Himself, is truly hidden. I was just going to quote a couple of lines there, but you see how remarkable it is! Jan 20, Emily rated it it was amazing Shelves: That's the feeling I always get after finishing one of C.
Lewis's works; Mere Christianity was the same way for me. It's the feeling of, "well, that was that, and it was perfect, and there's nothing more I can even say". Read this beautiful, thought-provoking book. It'll challenge you, convict you, and help you view the world-- and the Lord-- in light of eternity. I underlined and marked so many quotes in this book, but these are a few of my favorites: These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshipers.
For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited. We are far too easily pleased. Oct 07, Julie Davis rated it it was amazing. I listened to the audiobook and really enjoyed thinking that I was hearing these speeches as the first recipients did. Lewis wasn't speaking the words but an intermediary is necessary since I wasn't there to hear him. Some of these talks have names that sound as if they will be antiquated or not particularly relevant to one's own life. However, what one soon discovers is that Lewis quickly winds up cov I listened to the audiobook and really enjoyed thinking that I was hearing these speeches as the first recipients did.
However, what one soon discovers is that Lewis quickly winds up covering many other topics under these umbrellas, so to speak, and there are always thought provoking ideas and logic put forth for any interested thinker. Once again I am in awe of Lewis's logic and his understanding of the human my condition. We really are all more alike than we are different and I appreciate having his insights to inspire me to a more fully lived Christian life. Jul 03, Nick rated it it was amazing Shelves: A great collection of essays and papers delivered to students during the 's.
Lewis never ceases to inspire me with his prose. He's simply a great writer. But that's not all he is. He is a great thinker and teacher too. This is one example of how he teaches beyond the bounds of his topic. This book was a joy to read. That being said, I A great collection of essays and papers delivered to students during the 's. That being said, I realized while reading the chapter "Is Theology Poetry?
I do wonder if he would hold this opinion today if he were still alive. Still, these minor discrepancies are not so unforgivable or so prolonged as to decrease my enjoyment of this book. And, heck, you shouldn't swallow everything you read whole anyway. I really do get the impression that we could have enjoyed some wonderful discussions, if I could have had the opportunity. That's the way his writing makes me feel. Conversational, learned, and thought provoking.
Sep 04, Ron rated it it was amazing Shelves: All bring fresh insight to difficult issues of Christian apologetics, even though most were written while bombs of the Blitz still fell about the English audience. For the Christian reader, this collection may provide more food for thought than even Lewis's famous Mere Christianity. I re-read this book periodically and am usually rewarded w "The Weight of Glory" and "Transposition" are worth the price of the book, though the other essays--mostly public addresses from the forties--merit pondering. I re-read this book periodically and am usually rewarded with new insights.
It's not easy reading, but it is rewarding. Jan 05, Kells Next Read rated it really liked it Shelves: Jan 11, Michelle Griep rated it really liked it. A lowly thinker such as myself has no business giving the great C. Lewis anything lower than a 5 star, yet here I am, awarding it a 4. Well, honestly, in some parts I felt he belabored a point or two. Great points, obviously, but just a few a little overdone. Other than that, if you're looking for some food for thought, this is the meal for you. A few favorite quotes: But is there any reason to suppose tha I know.
But is there any reason to suppose that reality offers any satisfaction to it? Indeed, how we think of Him is of no importance except insofar as it is related to how He thinks of us. You have never talked to a mere mortal. He who surrenders himself without reservation to the temporal claims of a nation, or a party, or a class is rendering to Caesar that which, of all things, most emphatically belongs to God: Each piece in this collection of nine essays is worth reading.
Some of better than others for sure, but each one creatively introduces a new idea or thought. And as typical of Lewis, he explains and elaborates so well. His thoughts are quite profound. My favorites were in order: Below here is an inadequate summary of each essay. We substitute true virtue for negative ones Love for Unselfishness and we fool around with mud pies when God incentivizes us with holidays at the sea.
And it is this idea of proper rewards that he focuses on. He shows that God unblemished offers us the proper reward of joy in himself in Christianity.
The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses Summary & Study Guide
The majority of the essay is him talking about what it will be for us to attain glory as our reward. Rather, we will please God as a father delights in his son, or an artist in his work. This divine accolade—which will have no pride or selfishness in it—is the weight of glory coming for us. He then ends the essay with a brilliant perspective on human life.
And all we do in this life helps others to one of these two options. Notice the weight of glory! There are therefore no ordinary people. From his weighty truth, we must truly live and love. For the other essays, I will not write as long of a summary. And his big point is that since we believe in eternal heaven and hell, this is the real issue: Compared to these, war is so small. He argues that yes, learning is still worth while. This essay is worth reading for its stirring toward work and productivity.
His analogy is of an artist mother who was thrown into a dungeon, then raised her son in there. He never knew anything of the outside world, but she does. So, she draws it for him. All the while, she draws things and explains that this is the sun, these are mountains, etc. And then after years, the boy says something in which she realizes that he thinks that out there everything is 2D and made out of pencil marks! In this way Lewis explains it better, so read him!
Rather, he shows that compared to the Scientific Outlook aka. Naturalism , Christian theology is much more likely to be true. This was a total new idea to me—not the idea of wanting to be on the inside, but the insight that this dominates so much of life! It was convicting, but also encouraging. For even those who get on that inside then are never satisfied, because so much of it comes from the desire to be inside.
And he shows how God can help you here. This was a great piece on the church. I will from here on out talk about watching out for excuses when I discuss forgiveness in the future. It was convicting, but Lewis shows that it is better to truly give him our all.
Related Lesson Plan The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses by C. S. Lewis
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