Remembering C. S. Lewis

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1889 – 1963

C. S. Lewis died the same day as did President John F. Kennedy. Perhaps the greatest Christian writer and thinker of the 20th Century, he left a remarkable legacy of books, science, fiction, and fantasy.

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FIVE TIPS OR GOOD WRITING

  • Always try to use the language so as to make quite clear what you mean and make sure your sentence couldn’t mean anything else.
  • Always prefer the clean direct word to the long, vague one. Don’t implement promises, but keep them.
  • Never use abstract nouns when concrete ones will do. If you mean “More people died” don’t say “Mortality rose.”
  • In writing, don’t use adjectives which merely tell us how you want us to feel about the things you are describing. I mean, instead of telling us the thing is “terrible,” describe it so that we’ll be terrified. Don’t say it was “delightful”; make us say “delightful” when we’ve read the description. You see, all those words (horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only like saying to your readers “Please, will you do my job for me.”
  • Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say “infinitely” when you mean “very”; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite. [bold emphasis mine]

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Lewis was part of a remarkable group of scholars known simply as The Inklings.

“…Its most regular members (many of them academics at the University) included J. R. R. “Tollers” Tolkien, C. S. “Jack” Lewis, Owen Barfield, Charles Williams, Christopher Tolkien (J. R. R. Tolkien’s son), Warren “Warnie” Lewis (C. S. Lewis’s elder brother), Roger Lancelyn Green, Adam Fox, Hugo Dyson, R. A. “Humphrey” Havard, J. A. W. Bennett, Lord David Cecil, and Nevill Coghill. Other less frequent attenders at their meetings included Percy Bates, Charles Leslie Wrenn, Colin Hardie, James Dundas-Grant, John Wain, R. B. McCallum, Gervase Mathew, and C. E. Stevens. The author E. R. Eddison also met the group at the invitation of C. S. Lewis.

C. S. LEWIS QUOTES:

  • A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell.
  • .
  • A young man who wishes to remain a sound atheist cannot be too careful of his reading.
  • Affection is responsible for nine-tenths of whatever solid and durable happiness there is in our lives.
  • Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.
  • Can a mortal ask questions which God finds unanswerable? Quite easily, I should think. All nonsense questions are unanswerable.
  • Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.
  • Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.
  • Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say “infinitely” when you mean “very”; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.
  • Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn.
  • Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.
  • God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.
  • Humans are amphibians – half spirit and half animal. As spirits they belong to the eternal world, but as animals they inhabit time.
  • I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.
  • I gave in, and admitted that God was God.
  • I sometimes wander whether all pleasures are not substitutes for joy.
  • If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be without meaning.
  • If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair.
  • If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.
  • It’s so much easier to pray for a bore than to go and see one.
  • Let’s pray that the human race never escapes from Earth to spread its iniquity elsewhere.
  • Miracles do not, in fact, break the laws of nature.
  • Nothing that you have not given away will ever be really yours.
  • Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive.
  • Part of every misery is, so to speak, the misery’s shadow or reflection: the fact that you don’t merely suffer but have to keep on thinking about the fact that you suffer. I not only live each endless day in grief, but live each day thinking about living each day in grief.
  • Reason is the natural order of truth; but imagination is the organ of meaning.
  • Some people feel guilty about their anxieties and regard them as a defect of faith but they are afflictions, not sins. Like all afflictions, they are, if we can so take them, our share in the passion of Christ.
  • The real problem is not why some pious, humble, believing people suffer, but why some do not.
  • There are two kinds of people: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, “All right, then, have it your way.”
  • This is one of the miracles of love: It gives a power of seeing through its own enchantments and yet not being disenchanted.
  • We are what we believe we are.
  • What saves a man is to take a step. Then another step.
  • You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.
  • You don’t have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.

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