CS Lewis

CS Lewis 50 years on

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On the 50th anniversary of his death,

CS Lewis has been honoured with a memorial stone in Westminster Abbey.

The stone has been placed in Poets' Corner, alongside renowned literary figures including Chaucer and Dickens.

Former Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams - a fan of his work - gave the main address at the ceremony.

Lewis, born in 1898, is best known for the Chronicles of Narnia series, which has sold 100 million copies worldwide and been adapted for screen and stage.

Brian Miller writes, 

Perhaps no Christian thinker since the Reformation has proved so influential. And how gloriously ironic this fact is, as no Christian thinker since that time has been so widely revered by both Catholics and Protestants.

Lewis’ legacy is as diverse as it is great. He was a poet, an apologist, a storyteller, a science fiction author, a philosopher, and a theologian. 

Here is man who enjoyed tobacco and beer, quoted poetry and philosophers, taught at the best Universities in the world, whose joy seemed to flow off the page into the very soul of the reader.

 My favourite CS Lewis quote?

If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

CS Lewis, The Weight of Glory

 My favourite CS Lewis book?

"The Great Divorce" (C. S. Lewis)

CS Lewis remembers

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In this autobiography of his childhood, CS Lewis recounts the process of his own conversion as a young professor at Oxford in the late 1920s.

You must picture me alone in that room in Magdalen, night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me.

In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England. I did not then see what is now the most shining and obvious thing; the Divine humility which will accept a convert even on such terms.

The Prodigal Son at least walked home on his own feet. But who can duly adore that Love which will open the high gates to a prodigal who is brought in kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance of escape?

The words compelle intrare, “compel them to come in”, have been so abused be wicked men that we shudder at them; but, properly understood, they plumb the depth of the Divine mercy. The hardness of God is kinder than the softness of men, and His compulsion is our liberation.

Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life (C.S. Lewis)

For more Lewis quotes: In their own words

First things

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Every preference of a small good to a great, or a partial good to a total good, involves the loss for the small or partial good for which the sacrifice was made. Apparently the world is made that way. If Esau really got the pottage in return for his birthright, then Esau was a lucky exception.

You can't get second things by putting them first; you can get second things only by putting first things first. From which it would follow that the question, What things are first? is of concern not only to philosophers but to everyone.

To preserve civilization has been the great aim; the collapse of civilization, the great bugbear. Peace, a high standard of life, hygiene, transport, science and amusement - all these, which are what we usually mean by civilization, have been our ends. Perhaps it can't be preserved that way. Perhaps civilization will never be safe until we care for something else more than we care for it.

What is the first thing? The only reply I can offer here is that if we do not know, then the first, and only practical thing, is to set about finding out.

CS Lewis, God in the Dock