Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Your life

Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery it is. In the boredom and pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.
Frederick Buechner
Now and Then

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Mixed marriage

I agree with everything you say (except that I should publish anything on the subject: a bachelor is not the man to do it—there is such an obvious answer to anything he says!).

Our regeneration is a slow process. As Charles Williams says there are three stages: (1.) The Old Self on the Old Way. (2.) The Old Self on the New Way. (3.) The New Self on the New Way.

After conversion the Old Self can of course be just as arrogant, importunate, and imperialistic about the Faith as it previously was about any other interest. I had almost said ‘Any other Fad’—for just as the loveliest complexion turns green in a green light, so the Faith itself may have at first all the characteristics of a Fad and we may be as ill to live with as if we had taken up Nudism or Psychoanalysis or Pure Wool Clothing. You and I, clearly, both know all about that: one makes blunders.

About obedience, the principle is clear. Obedience to man is limited by obedience to God and, when they really conflict, must go. But of course that gives one very little guidance about particulars. The converted party must pray: I suppose it is not often necessary to pray in the presence of the other! Especially if the converted party is the woman, who usually has the house to herself all day.

Of course there must be no concealment, in the sense that if the question comes up one must say frankly that one does pray. But there is a difference between not concealing and flaunting. For the rest (did I quote this before?) MacDonald says ‘the time for speaking seldom arrives, the time forbeing never departs.’ Let you and me pray for each other.

From The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume III

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

We need His help

I have heard some people complain that if Jesus was God as well as man, then His sufferings and death lose all value in their eyes, ‘because it must have been so easy for Him’. Others may (very rightly) rebuke the ingratitude and ungraciousness of this objection; what staggers me is the misunderstanding it betrays.

In one sense, of course, those who make it are right. They have even understated their own case. The perfect submission, the perfect suffering, the perfect death were not only easier to Jesus because He was God, but were possible only because He was God. But surely that is a very odd reason for not accepting them? The teacher is able to form the letters for the child because the teacher is grown-up and knows how to write. That, of course, makes it easier for the teacher; and only because it is easier for him can he help the child. If it rejected him because ‘it’s easy for grown-ups’ and waited to learn writing from another child who could not write itself (and so had no ‘unfair’ advantage), it would not get on very quickly.

If I am drowning in a rapid river, a man who still has one foot on the bank may give me a hand which saves my life. Ought I to shout back (between my gasps) ‘No, it’s not fair! You have an advantage! You’re keeping one foot on the bank’? That advantage—call it ‘unfair’ if you like—is the only reason why he can be of any use to me.

To what will you look for help if you will not look to that which is stronger than yourself?

From Mere Christianity by C S Lewis

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Private religion

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 our- selves 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. . . . . 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. If a really good home, such as the home of Alcinous and Arete in the Odyssey or the Rostovs in War and Peace or any of Charlotte M. Yonge’s families, existed today, 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, and therefore starved for meditation and true friendship.

From The Weight of Glory by C S Lewis

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Radical from the inside

Radicals don’t take responsibility for this society because it is a capitalist society, an enemy society. They never learn what it is to practice politics and be responsible, even for their own neighbourhoods. So the way they behave in neighbourhoods is scandalous. They don’t realize how this really estranges them from people in the community…. [My husband] Jimmy would go out every morning and clean the corner. He would pick up all the litter on the corner. When the gutters backed up because of heavy rain, he would be the first one out there to clean the gutters. He felt that he was a citizen of his block, of his city, of his country. And I had never thought that way because radicals don’t think that way. We’re outsiders. We cherish our “outsiderness.” I’ve come to believe that you cannot change any society unless you take responsibility for it, unless you see yourself as belonging to it and responsible for changing it. I didn’t know that until I met Jimmy.

Grace Lee Boggs
"Revolution as the New Beginning" in Upping the Anti (Number One)

Wednesday, October 07, 2015


As far as you (and I) are concerned I have no doubt that the fear you mention is simply a temptation of the devil, an effort to keep us away from God by despair. It is often the devil working through some defect in our health, and in extreme cases it needs a medical as well as a spiritual cure. So don’t listen to these fears and doubts any more than you would to any obviously impure or uncharitable thoughts. . . . Of course, like other evil temptations, they will not be silenced at once. You will think you have got rid of them and then they will come back again—and again. But, with all our temptations of all sorts, we must just endure this. Keep on, do your duty, say your prayers, make your communions, and take no notice of the tempter. He goes away in the end. Remember I John iii, 20 “If (=though) our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart.”

From The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume III