The Whole Business of Life

Obedience appears to me more and more the whole business of life, the only road to love and peace—the cross and the crown in one… What indeed can we imagine Heaven to be but unimpeded obedience.

— C.S. Lewis, Letter to Dom Bede Griffiths (1936)

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The Suitable Moment Never Comes

C. S. Lewis years ago to students and scholars at Oxford before World War 2 (Thanks for sharing, Tom):

“If men had postponed the search for knowledge and beauty until they were secure, the search would never have begun. . . . Life has never been normal. . . . Humanity . . . wanted knowledge and beauty now, and would not wait for the suitable moment that never comes. . . . The insects have chosen a different line: they have sought first the material welfare and security of the hive, and presumably they have their reward. Men are different. They propound mathematical theorems in beleaguered cities, conduct metaphysical arguments in condemned cells, make jokes on scaffolds, discuss the last new poem while advancing to the walls of Quebec, and comb their hair at Thermophylae. This is not a panache; it is our nature.” [“Learning in War-Time,” The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses (New York: Macmillan, 1980), pp. 21–22]

The Instrument

When you come to knowing God, the initiative lies on His side. If He does not show Himself, nothing you can do will enable you to find Him. And, in fact, He shows much more of Himself to some people than to others — not because He has favorites, but because it is impossible for Him to show Himself to a man whose whole mind and character are in the wrong condition. Just as sunlight, though it has no favorites, cannot be reflected in a dusty mirror as clearly as in a clean one.

You can put this another way by saying that while in other sciences the instruments you use are things external to yourself (things like microscopes and telescopes), the instrument through which you see God is your whole self. And if a man’s self is not kept clean and bright, his glimpse of God will be blurred — like the Moon seen through a dirty telescope.

–CS Lewis, Mere Christianity

Forsaken, and Still Obeys

“Be not deceived, Wormwood, our cause is never more in jeopardy than when a human, no longer desiring but still intending to do our Enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe in which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.”

CS Lewis, Screwtape Letters

Experience

What I like about experience is that it is such an honest thing. You may take any number of wrong turnings; but keep your eyes open and you will not be allowed to go very far before the warning signs appear. You may have deceived yourself, but experience is not trying to deceive you. The universe rings true wherever you fairly test it.

— CS Lewis, Surprised By Joy

Reading Great Literature

But in reading great literature I become a thousand men and yet remain myself. Like the night sky in the Greek poem, I see with a myriad eyes, but it is still I who see. Here, as in worship, in love, in moral action, and in knowing, I transcend myself; and am never more myself than when I do.

– C.S Lewis, An Experiment in Criticism