“…Seriousness is not a virtue. It would be a heresy, but a much more sensible heresy, to say that seriousness is a vice. It is really a natural trend or lapse into taking one’s self gravely, because it is the easiest thing to do. It is much easier to write a good Times leading article than a good joke in Punch. For solemnity flows out of men naturally; but laughter is a leap. It is easy to be heavy: hard to be light. Satan fell by the force of gravity…”
“It is no good asking for a simple religion. After all, real things are not simple. They look simple, but they are not. The table I am sitting at looks simple: but ask a scientist to tell you what it is really made of-all about the atoms and how the light waves rebound from them and hit my eye and what they do to the optic nerve and what it does to my brain-and, of course, you find that what we call “seeing a table” lands you in mysteries and complications which you can hardly get to the end of. A child saying a child’s prayer looks simple. And if you are content to stop there, well and good. But if you are not–and the modern world usually is not–if you want to go on and ask what is really happening, then you must be prepared for something difficult. If we ask for something more than simplicity, it is silly then to complain that the something more is not simple.”
– C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
“Real forgiveness means looking steadily at the sin, the sin that is left over without any excuse, after all allowances have been made, and seeing it in all its horror, dirt, meanness, and malice, and nevertheless being wholly reconciled to the man who has done it. That, and only that, is forgiveness, and that we can always have from God if we ask for it.”
— C.S. Lewis, “On Forgiveness”
(TO VERA GEBBERT, who . . . having read Isaiah 66:9 from the Bible she kept open on her dining table: On not wishing to be pregnant. 23 March 1953)
Your first story (about mistaking [your pregnancy] for seasickness) is one of the funniest I ever heard. In our country there are usually alterations of shape which would throw grave doubts on the sea-sick hypothesis!… but no doubt you manage things better in America. Any way, congratulations and encouragements. As to wishing it had not happened, one can’t help momentary wishes: guilt begins only when one embraces them. You can’t help their knocking at the door, but one mustn’t ask them in to lunch. And no doubt you have many feelings on the other side. I am sure you felt as I did when I heard my first bullet, ‘This is War: this is what Homer wrote about.’ For, all said and done, a woman who has never had a baby and a man who has never been either in a battle or a storm at sea, are, in a sense, rather outside—haven’t really ‘seen life’—haven’t served. We will indeed have you in our prayers.
Now as to your other story, about Isaiah 66? It doesn’t really matter whether the Bible was open at that page thru’ a miracle or through some (unobserved) natural cause. We think it matters because we tend to call the second alternative ‘chance.’ But when you come to think of it, there can be no such thing as chance from God’s point of view. Since He is omniscient His acts have no consequences which He has not foreseen and taken into account and intended. Suppose it was the draught from the window that blew your Bible open at Isaiah 66. Well, that current of air was linked up with the whole history of weather from the beginning of the world and you may be quite sure that the result it had for you at that moment (like all its other results) was intended and allowed for in the act of creation. ‘Not one sparrow,’ you know the rest [Matthew 10:29]. So of course the message was addressed to you. To suggest that your eye fell on it without this intention, is to suggest that you could take Him by surprise. Fiddle-de-dee! This is not Predestination: your will is perfectly free: but all physical events are adapted to fit in as God sees best with the free actions He knows we are going to do. There’s something about this in Screwtape.
Meanwhile, courage! Your moments of nervousness are not your real self, only medical phenomena. All blessings.
The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume III
Compiled in Yours, Jack
Food for thought:
“The weakest of my people do not fear death. It is the Bent One, the lord of your world, who wastes your lives and befouls them with flying from what you know will overtake you in the end. If you were subjects of Maleldil you would have peace”
“For the first time I examined myself with a seriously practical purpose. And there I found what appalled me; a zoo of lusts, a bedlam of ambitions, a nursery of fears, a hareem of fondled hatreds. My name was legion.”
– C.S. Lewis, ‘Surprised by Joy’