Thou

Thou art my knowledge and my memory,

No less than my real, deeper life, my love.

I will not fool, degrade myself to trust

In less than that which maketh me say Me,

In less than that causing itself to be.

Then art within me, behind, beneath, above—

I will be thine because I may and must.

Thou art the truth, the life. Thou, Lord, wilt see

To every question that perplexes me.

I am thy being; and my dignity

Is written with my name down in thy book;

Thou wilt care for it. Never shall I think

Of anything that thou mightst overlook:—

In faith-born triumph at thy feet I sink.

Thou carest more for that which I call mine,

In same sort—better manner than I could,

Even if I knew creation’s ends divine,

Rousing in me this vague desire of good.

Thou art more to me than my desires’ whole brood;

Thou art the only person, and I cry

Unto the father I of this my I.

Thou who inspirest prayer, then bend’st thine ear;

It, crying with love’s grand respect to hear!

I cannot give myself to thee aright—

With the triumphant uttermost of gift;

That cannot be till I am full of light—

To perfect deed a perfect will must lift:—

Inspire, possess, compel me, first of every might.

– George MacDonald, Diary of an Old Soul

The Spirit of Christianity

Dear Ladies,

Who told you that Christians must not go to the theatre, dance, play cards, drink, or smoke? The “World,” you will remember, is mentioned along with the flesh and the devil. The Flesh means sexual vice (but not marriage), drunkenness (but not drinking) enslavement to indulgent habits (but not [illegible], not smoking just as much) and over-eating (but not enjoying one’s meals). The Devil means occultism and magic in all their various forms (spiritualism, astrology, future-telling, avoiding 13, not walking under ladders). The World means worldly ends and ambition (inordinate interest in one’s career, love of money, snobbery, desire to be in the right set, desire for popularity). Of course any of the innocent pleasures may have to be given up in a particular xtreme: e.g. cards must go if you can’t play without becoming totally absorbed in it and drink must go if you can’t drink without taking too much. But a list of general prohibitions such as you suggest is not in the spirit of Christianity at all: it is more like the old Jewish law, from which, as St. Paul says, we are ‘set free’. The test of an innocent pleasure is whether you can with a clean mind give God thanks for it—as I certainly can for a glass of beer on a hot day but can not for being drunk: can be contended without it. It is not the pleasure but the enslavement to an act is bad. I don’t myself know of a particular actor who has been converted—how shd. I—just as I don’t happen to know of a particular postman who has. But I don’t think that means that I must’ve lost the letter. You write again if I haven’t been clear: meanwhile, all good wishes.

Yours sincerely,

C.S. Lewis

With Him, Everything

Keep back nothing. Nothing that you have not given away will ever be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead. Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him, everything else thrown in.

— C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Over the Rim of the World

“I think all Christians would agree with me if I said that though Christianity seems at first to be all about morality, all about duties and rules and guilt and virtue, yet it leads you on, out of all that, into something beyond. One has a glimpse of a country where they do not talk of those things, except perhaps as a joke. Every one there is filled full with what we should call goodness as a mirror is filled with light. But they do not call it goodness. They do not call it anything. They are not thinking of it. They are too busy looking at the source from which it comes. But this is near the stage where the road passes over the rim of our world. No one’s eyes can see very far beyond that: lots of people’s eyes can see further than mine.”

C.S. Lewis, “Mere Christianity,” book 3, Chapter 12