Clive Staples Lewis

"Do not be deceived, Wormwood. Our cause is never more in danger
than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy's
will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to
have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys."
                                                                                              The Screwtape Letters

And, on the other side, He must constantly work as the iconoclast.  Every
idea of Him we form, He must in mercy shatter.  The most blessed result of
prayer would be to rise thinking "But I never knew before, I never
dreamed..."  I suppose it was at such a moment that Thomas Aquinas said of
all his own theology, "It reminds me of straw." 

Of all powers he (God) forgives most, but he condones least:  he is
pleased with little, but demands all.... In awful and surprising truth, we
are the objects of His love.  You asked for a loving God: you have one.
The great spirit you so lightly invoked, the "lord of terrible aspect," is
present.... It is certainly a burden of glory not only beyond our deserts
but also, except in rare moments of grace, beyond our desiring.
Keep clear of psychiatrists unless you know that they are also Christians.
Otherwise they start with the assumption that your religion is an illusion
and try to "cure" it: and this assumption they make not as professional
psychologists but as amateur philosophers. 

As to "caring for" the Sermon on the Mount, if "caring for" here means
"liking" or enjoying, I suppose no one "cares for" it.  Who can like being
knocked flat on his face by a sledge-hammer?  I can hardly imagine a more
deadly spiritual condition than that of the man who can read that passage
with tranquil pleasure.

Like a good chess player he is always trying to maneuver you into  a
position where you can save your castle only by losing your bishop.
The only way in which I can make real to myself... the heinousness of sin
is to remember that every sin is the distortion of an energy breathed into
us --- an energy which, if not thus distorted, would have blossomed into
one of those holy acts whereof "God did it" and "I did it" are both true
descriptions.  We poison the wine as He decants it into us; murder a
melody He would play with us as the instrument.... Hence all sin, whatever
else it is, is sacrilege." 

In one way we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb.  "How are we
to live in an atomic age?"  I am tempted to reply: "Why, as you would have
lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every
year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from
Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you
are already living in an age of cancer, an age of motor accidents."
When I have learnt to love God better than my earthly dearest, I shall
love my earthly dearest better than I do now.  In so far as I learn to
love my earthly dearest at the expense of God and instead of God, I shall
be moving towards the state in which I shall not love my earthly dearest
at all.  When first things are put first, second things are not suppressed
but increased. 

Every event which might claim to be a miracle is, in the last resort,
something presented to our senses.... And our senses are not infallible.
If anything extraordinary seems to have happened, we can always say that
we have been the victims of an illusion.  If we hold a philosophy which
excludes the supernatural, this is what we always shall say.  What we
learn from experience depends on the kind of philosophy we bring to

A sick society must think much about politics, as a sick man must think
much about his digestion. 

God may be more than moral goodness: He is not less.  The road to the
promised land runs past Sinai.  The moral law may exist to be transcended:
but there is not transcending it for those who have not first admitted its
claims upon them, and then tried with all their strength to meet that
claim, and fairly and squarely faced the fact of their failure.

When men say "I ought" they certainly thing they are saying something, and
something true, about the nature of the proposed action, and not merely
about their own feelings.  But if Naturalism is true, "I ought" is the
same sort of statement as "I itch" or "I'm going to be sick."

I think I have got over wishing for the past back again.  I look at it
this way.  The delights of those days were given to lure us into the world
of the Spirit, as sexual rapture is there to lead to offspring and family
life.... To ask that they should return.... is like wishing to prolong the
honeymoon at an age when a man should rather be interested in the careers
of his growing sons.  (Those days) have done their work..... and led on to
better things.

In the highest aesthetic circles one now hears nothing about the artist's
duty to us.  It is all about our duty to him.  He owes us nothing; we owe
him "recognition," even though he has never paid the slightest attention
to our tastes, interests, or habits.  If we don't give it to him, our name
is mud.  In this shop, the customer is always wrong. 

Heaven will solve our problems, but not, I think, by showing us subtle
reconciliations between all our apparently contradictory notions.  The
notions will all be knocked from under our feet.  We shall see that there
never was any problem. 

The efficacy of prayer is, at any rate, no more of a problem than the
efficacy of all human acts. i.e., if you say "It is useless to pray
because Providence already knows what is best and will certainly do it,"
then why is it not equally useless (and for the same reason) to try to
alter the course of events in any way whatever? 

Die before you die.  There is no chance after. 

It is always dangerous to talk too long about style.  It may lead one to
forget that every single sentence depends for its total effect on the
place it has in the whole. 

It would be absurd to say that Lear is lacking in Affection.  In so far as
Affection is Need-love he is half-crazy with it.... The most unlovable
parent (or child)  may be full of such ravenous love.  But it works to
their own misery and everyone else's.  The situation becomes suffocating.
What does war do to death?  It certainly does not make it more frequent:
100 per cent of us die, and the percentage cannot be increased.... Does it
increase our chances of painful death?  I doubt it.... Does it decrease
our chances of dying peace with God?  I cannot believe it.  If active
service does not persuade a man to prepare for death, what conceivable
concatenation of circumstances would?  

We may, indeed, be sure that perfect chastity - like perfect charity -
will not be attained by merely human efforts.  You must ask for God's
help.  Even when you have done so, it may seem to you for a long time that
no help, or less help than you need, is being given.  Never mind.  After
each failure, ask forgiveness, pick yourself up, and try again.  Very
often what God first helps us towards is not the virtue itself but just
this power of always trying again. 

Never, never pin your whole faith on any human being:  not if he is the
best and wisest in the whole world.  There are lots of nice things you can
do with sand; but do not try building a house on it.  

All that is not eternal is eternally out of date. 

He cannot bless us unless he has us.  When we try to keep within us an
area that is our own, we try to keep an area of death.  Therefore, in
love, He claims all.  There's no bargaining with Him.  

Immortality makes this other difference between totalitarianism and
democracy.  If individuals live only seventy years, then a state, or a
nation, or a civilization, which may last for a thousand years, is more
important than an individual.  But if Christianity is true, then the
individual is not only more important but incomparably more important, for
he is everlasting and the life of a state or a civilization, compared with
his, is only a moment. 

St. Augustine says "God gives where He finds empty hands."  A man whose
hands are full of parcels can't receive a gift. 

If all men stood talking of their rights before they went up a mast or
down a sewer or stoked a furnace or joined an army, we should all perish;
nor while they talked of their rights would they learn to do these
things....  The man preoccupied with his own rights is not only a
disastrous, but a very unlovely object; indeed, one of the worst mischiefs
we do by treating a man unjustly is that we force him to be thus

There is a difficulty about disagreeing with God.  He is the source from
which all our reasoning power comes:  you could not be right and He wrong
any more than a stream can rise higher than its own source.  When you are
arguing against  Him you are arguing against the very power that makes you
able to argue at all: it is like cutting off the branch you are sitting on. C. S. Lewis

Islam denies the Incarnation.  It will not allow that God has descended
into flesh or that Manhood has been exalted into Deity.. It stands for all
religions that are afraid of matter and afraid of mystery.... Mere
Monotheism blinds and stifles the mind like noonday sun in the Arabian

Prayer is either a sheer illusion or a personal contact between embryonic,
incomplete persons (ourselves) and the utterly concrete Person.  Prayer in
the sense of petition, asking for things, is a small part of it;
confession and penitence are its threshold, adoration its sanctuary, the
presence and vision and enjoyment of God its bread and wine..  In it God
shows Himself to us.

When grave persons express their fear that England is relapsing into
Paganism, I am tempted to reply, "Would that she were.".... If such a
state of affairs came about, then the Christian apologist would have
something to work on.  For a Pagan, as history shows, is a man eminently
convertible to Christianity.  He is essentially the pre-Christian...
religious man.  The post-Christian man of our day differs from him as much
as a divorce differs from a virgin.

(Lewis was grieving the death of his wife:) Can a mortal ask questions
which God finds unanswerable?  Quite easily, I should think.  All nonsense
questions are unanswerable.  How many hours are there in a mile?  Is
yellow square or round.  Probably half the questions we ask - half our
great theological and metaphysical problems - are like that. 

Humans are very seldom either totally sincere or totally hypocritical.
Their moods change, their motives are mixed, and they are often themselves
quite mistaken as to what their motives are. 

They are found at the great ganglions of history.... How likely is it that
you or I will be present when a peace-treaty is signed, when a great
scientific discovery is made, when a dictator commits suicide?  That we
see a miracle is even less likely. Nor, if we understand, shall we be
anxious to do so.  "Nothing almost sees miracles but misery." Miracles and
martyrdoms tend to bunch about the same areas of history -- areas we have
naturally no wish to frequent."  (A.A. here:  Lewis' observations in this
regard are reminiscent of the periods of remarkable evolutionary
acceleration that characterize "punctuated equilibrium.")

I nominally have (a place of my own) and am nominally master of the house,
but things seldom go as I would have chosen.  The truth is that the only
alternatives are either solitude (with all its miseries and dangers, both
moral and physical) or else all the rubs and frustrations of a joint life.
The second, even at its worst seems to me far the better. 

Because we love something else more than this world we love even this
world better than those who know no other.

To love at all is to be vulnerable.  Love anything, and your heart will
certainly be wrung and possibly broken.  If you want to make sure of
keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an
animal.... The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy,
is damnation.  The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly
safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell. 

The Christian idea of marriage is based on Christ's words that a man and
wife are to be regarded as a single organism.... The male and the female,
were made to be combined together in pairs, not simply on the sexual
level, but totally combined.  The monstrosity of sexual intercourse
outside marriage is that those who indulge in it are trying to isolate one
kind of union from all the other kinds of union which were intended to go
along with it. 

Innocence is not goodness. Even divine Nature, even in her prime, cannot
make virtue a gift.

To enter heaven is to become more human than you ever succeeded in being
in earth; to enter hell, is to be banished from humanity.  What is cast
(or casts itself) into hell is not a man: it is "remains."  To be a
complete man means to have the passions obedient to the will and the will
offered to God: to have been a man would presumably mean to consist of a
will utterly centered in its self and passions utterly uncontrolled by the

The sins of the flesh are bad, but they are least bad of all sins.  All
the worst pleasure are purely spiritual: the pleasure of putting other
people in the wrong, of bossing and patronizing and spoiling sport, and
back-biting; the pleasures of power, of hatred.... A cold, self-righteous
prig who goes regularly to church may be far nearer to hell than a
prostitute.  But, of course, it is better to be neither.

Suspicion often creates what it suspects.

Works have no "merit" though of course faith, inevitably, even
unconsciously, flows out into works of love at once.  He is not saved
because he does works of love: he does works of love because he is saved.
It is faith alone that has saved him:  faith bestowed by sheer gift.  From
this buoyant humility, this farewell to the self with all its good
resolutions, anxiety, scruples, and motive-scratchings, all the Protestant
doctrines originally sprang.  ( Yes Clive, but you had better practice
virtue as a "put on", just as we "put on" Christ or as we grow into any
role by way of playful pretense... just as children grow into adults by
playing with dolls or model cars.  Virtue follows mechanical channels when
inspiration is unavailable.  Not always, but often enough that one should
try to jump-start inspiration through uninspired works.)

If War is ever lawful, then peace is sometimes sinful.

One of the reasons why it needs no special education to be a Christian is
that Christianity is an education itself.  That is why an uneducated
believer like Bunyan was able to write a book that has astonished the
whole world.

Health is a great blessing, but the moment you make health one of your
main, direct objects you start becoming a crank and imagining there is
something wrong with you.  You are only likely to get health provided you
want other things more --- food, games, work, fun, open air.

I believe that the men of this age... think too much about the state of
nations and the situation of the world... In the poor man who knocks at my
door, in my ailing mother, in the young man who seeks my advice, the Lord
Himself is present: therefore let us wash His feet

It is part of our spiritual law never to put survival first: not even the
survival of our species.  We must resolutely train ourselves to feel that
the survival of Man on this Earth, much more of our own nation or culture
or class, is not worth having unless it can be had by honorable and
merciful means.  The sacrifice is not so great as it seems.... Those who
want Heaven most have served Earth best.  Those who love Man less than God
do most for Man.

Because God created the Natural - invented it out of His love and artistry
- it demands our reverence.

Every Christian would agree that a man's spiritual health is exactly
proportional to his love for God.

If and when a horror tuns up you will then be given Grace to help you.  I
don't think one is usually given it in advance.   "Give us our daily
bread" (not an annuity for life) applies to spiritual gifts too; the
little daily support for the daily trial...  Life has to be taken day by
day and hour by hour.

The records represent Christ... as withdrawing six weeks later, into some
different mode of existence... It is not... an escape from any and every
kind of Nature into some unconditioned and utterly transcendent life.  It
is the picture of a new human nature and a new Nature in general, being
brought into existence.... The old field of space, time, matter, and the
senses is to be weeded, dug, and sown for a new crop.  We may be tired of
that old field: God is not.

A society in which conjugal infidelity is tolerated must always be in the
long run a society adverse to women.  Women, whatever a few male songs and
satires may say to the contrary, are more naturally monogamous than men;
it is a biological necessity.  Where promiscuity prevails, they will
therefore always be more often the victims than the culprits.
Chastity is the most unpopular of the Christian virtues.  There is no
getting away from it:  the old Christian rule is, "Either marriage, with
complete faithfulness to your partner, or else total abstinence."

(Screwtape to Wormwood:)  Humans who have not he gift of continence can be
deterred from seeking marriage as a solution because they do not find
themselves "in love," and, thanks to us, the idea of marrying with any
other motive  seems to them low and cynical... They regard the intention
of loyalty to a partnership for mutual help, for the preservation of
chastity, and for the transmission of life, as something lower than a storm of emotion.

("Others go to bed with their mistresses; I with my ideas."    Jose Marti
  "Intellectual passion drives out sensuality."  Leonardo da Vinci)

A damned soul is nearly nothing: it is shrunk, shut up in itself.  Good
beats upon the damned incessantly as sound waved beat on the ears of the
deaf, but they cannot receive it.  Their fists are clenched, their eyes
fast shut.  First they will not, in the end they cannot, open their hands
for gifts, or their mouths for food, or their eyes to see.

To walk out of His will is to walk into nowhere.

To enter heaven is to become more human than you ever succeeded in being
in earth; to enter hell, is to be banished from humanity.  What is cast
(or casts itself) into hell is not a man: it is "remains".  To be a
complete man means to have the passions obedient to the will and the will
offered to God:  to have been  a man... would presumable mean to consist
of a will utterly centered in its self and passions utterly uncontrolled
by the will.

Die before you die.  There is no chance after.

Christ's work of making New Men (is like)... turning a horse into a winged
creature... It is not mere improvement but Transformation.  It is a change
that goes off in a totally different direction -- a change from being
creatures of God to being sons of God.  The first instance appeared in
Palestine two thousand years ago... (Christ) is the origin and center and
life of all the new men.

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... And that means
not simply to men who are individually good, but to men who are united
together in a body, loving one another, helping one another, showing Him
to one another.

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.

Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy
needs to be answered.

We were talking about cats and dogs the other day and decided that both
have consciences but the dog, being an honest, humble person, always has a
bad one, but the cat is a Pharisee and always has a good one.  When he
sits and stares you out of countenance he is thanking God that he is not
as these dogs, or these humans, or even as these other cats!

They (human beings) wanted, as we say, to "call their souls their own."
But that means to live a lie, for our souls are not , in fact, our own.
They wanted some corner in the universe of which they could say to God,
"This is our business, not yours."  But there is no such corner.   (Lewis'
mentor, George MacDonald said: "The one principle of Hell is:  "We are our

He cannot bless us unless he has us.  When we try to keep within us an
area that is our own, we try to keep an area of death.  Therefore, in
love, He claims all.  There's no bargaining with Him.

Of course (healthy) patriotism... is not in the least aggressive.  It asks
only to be let alone.  It becomes militant only to protect what it loves.
In any mind which has a pennyworth of imagination it produces a good
attitude towards foreigners.  How can I love my home without coming to
realize that other men, no less rightly, love theirs?... The last thing we
want is to make everywhere else just like our own home.  It would not b e
home unless it were different.

It is easy to think the State has a lot of different objects - military,
political, economic, and what not.  But in a way things are much simpler
than that.  The State exists simply to promote and to protect the ordinary
happiness of human beings in this life.  A husband and wife chatting over
a fire, a couple of friends having a game of darts in a pub, a man reading
a book in his own room or digging in his own garden -- that is what the
State is there for.

(Senior devil Screwtape to junior devil Wormwood:)  The truth is that the
Enemy, having oddly destined these mere animals to life in His own eternal
world, has guarded them pretty effectively from the danger of feeling at
home anywhere else.  That is why we must often wish long life to our
patients; seventy years is not a day too much for the difficult task of
unraveling their souls from Heaven and building up a firm attachment to
the Earth.

The process of living seems to consist in coming to realize truths so
ancient and simple that, if stated, they sound like barren platitudes.
They cannot sound otherwise to those who have not had the relevant
experience:  that is why there is no real teaching of such truths possible
and every generation starts from scratch.

Christ did not teach and suffer that we might become, even in the natural
loves, more careful of our own happiness.  If a man is not uncalculating
towards the earthly beloveds whom he has seen, he is none the more likely
to be so towards God whom he has not.  We shall draw nearer to God, not by
trying to avoid the sufferings inherent in all loves, but by accepting
them and offering them to Him; throwing away all defensive armour.

He creates the universe, already foreseeing... the buzzing cloud of flies
about the cross, the flayed back pressed against the uneven stake, the
nails driven through the mesial nerves, the repeated torture of back and
arms as it is time after time, for breath's sake, hitched up.  If I may
dare the biological image, God is a "host" who deliberately creates His
own parasites; causes us to be that we may exploit and "take advantage of"
Him.  Herein is love.

God is not hurried along tin the Time-stream of this universe any more
than an author is hurried along in the imaginary time of his own novel.
He has infinite attention to spare for each one of us.  He does not have
to deal with us in the mass. You are as much alone with Him as if you were
the only being He had ever created.  When Christ died, He died for you
individually just as much as if you had been the only man in the world.

As organs in the Body of Christ, as stones and pillars in the temple, we
are assured of our eternal self-identity and shall live to remember the
galaxies as an old tale.

The trouble with me is lack of faith.  I have no rational ground for going
back on the arguments that convinced me of God's existence:  but the
irrational deadweight of my old skeptical habits, and the spirit of this
age, and the cares of the day, steal away all my lively feeling of the
truth, and often when I pray I wonder if I am not posting letters to a
non-existent address.  Mind you I don't thin  so -- the whole of my
reasonable mind is convinced: but I often feel so.

People who bore one another should meet seldom;  people who interest one
another, often.

I do most thoroughly agree with what you say about Art and Literature.  To
my mind they can only be healthy when they are either (a) admittedly
aiming at nothing but innocent recreation or (b) definitely the handmaids
of religious or at least moral truth.  Dante is alright and Pickwick is
alright.  But the great serious irreligious art - art for art's sake - is
all balderdash; and incidentally never exists when art is really

Whenever you are fed up with life, start writing: ink is the great cure
for all human ills, as I have found out long ago.

When Catholicism goes bad it becomes the ... religio of amulets and holy
places and priestcraft:  Protestantism, in its corresponding decay,
becomes a vague mist of ethical platitudes.  Catholicism is accused of
being much too like all the other religions;  Protestantism of being
insufficiently like a religion al all.  Hence Plato, with his transcendent
Forms,  is the doctor of Protestants; Aristotle, with his immanent Forms,
the doctor of Catholics.

"Useful" and "necessity" was always "the tyrant's plea."

"Seek ye first the Kingdom of God... and all these other things shall be
added unto you."  Infinite comfort in the second part;  inexorable demand
in the first. 

Anger's the anesthetic of the mind.

"And what is this valley called?"
"We call it now simply Wisdom's Valley: but the oldest maps mark
it as the Valley of Humiliation.

The only people who achieve much are those who want knowledge so badly
that they seek it while the conditions are still unfavorable.  conditions
never come.

I would prefer to combat the "I'm special" feeling not by the thought "I'm
no more special than anyone else," but by the feeling "Everyone is as
special as me."

If the universe is so bad, or even half so bad, how on earth did human
beings ever come to attribute it to the activity of a wise and good
Creator?  Men are fools, perhaps; but hardly so foolish as that.  The
direct inference from black to white, from evil flower to virtuous root,
from senseless work to a workman infinitely wise, staggers belief.  The
spectacle of the universe as revealed by experience can never have been
the ground of religion.

The petition, then, is not merely that I may patiently suffer
God's will but also that I may vigorously do it...
"Thy will be done - by me - now" brings one back to brass tacks.

Since I have begun to pray, I find my extreme view of personality
changing. My own empirical self is becoming more important, and this
exactly the opposite of self-love.  You don't teach a seed how to die into
treehood by throwing it into the fire:  and it has to become a good seed
before it's worth burying.

The Father can be well pleased in that Son only who adheres to the Father
when apparently forsaken.  The fullest grace can be received by those only
who continue to obey during the dryness in which all grace seems to be

This thing that judges between two instincts, that decides which should be
encouraged, cannot itself be either of them.  You might as well say the
sheet of music which tells you, at a given moment, to play one note on the
piano and not another, is itself one of the notes on the keyboard.  The
Moral Law tells us the tune we have to p;lay: our instincts are merely the

"Love ceases to be a demon only when he ceases to be a god", which  of
course can be re-stated in the form "begins to be a demon the moment he
begins to be a god."  This balance seems to me an indispensable safeguard.
If we ignore it, the truth that God is love may slyly come to mean for us
the converse, that love is God.

The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant
things as interruptions of one's "own" or "real" life.  The truth is of
course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one's real life
-- the life God is sending one day by day:  what one calls one's "real
life" is a phantom of one's own imagination.  This at least is what I see
at moments of insight: but it's hard to remember it all the time.

The point is not that God will refuse you admission to His eternal world
if you have not got certain qualities of character:  the point is that if
people have not got at least the beginnings of those qualities inside
them, than no possible external conditions could make a "Heaven" for them.

Looking for God - or Heaven - by exploring space is like reading or seeing
all Shakespeare's plays in the hope that you will find Shakespeare as one
of the characters.... Shakespeare is in one sense present at every moment
in every play.  But he is never present in the same way as Falstaff or
Lady Macbeth.... If God does exist, He is related to the universe more as
an author is related to a play than as one object in the universe is
related to another.

Friendship is the greatest of worldly goods.  Certainly to me it is the
chief happiness of life.  If I had to give a piece of advice to a young
man about a place to live, I think I should say, "sacrifice almost
everything to live where you can be near your friends."  I know I am very
fortunate in that respect.

The Fall is simply and solely Disobedience - doing what you have been told
not to do: and it results from Pride - from being too big for your boots,
forgetting your place, thinking that you are God.
(What's the difference between God and Rush Limbaugh? 
God doesn't think he's Rush Limbaugh.)

All schools, both here (in England) and in America, ought to teach far
fewer subjects and teach them far better.

It is at her center, where her truest children dwell, that each communion
is really closest to every other in spirit, if not in doctrine.  And this
suggests at the center of each there is something, or a Someone, who
against all divergences of belief, all differences of temperament, all
memories of mutual persecution, speaks with the same voice.

How tonic Beethoven is, and how festal - one has the feeling of having
taken part in the revelry of giants.

There is no escape.... If we are to continue to make moral judgments (and
whatever we say, we shall in fact continue) then we must believe that the
conscience of man is not a product of Nature.  It can be valid only if it
is an offshoot of some absolute moral wisdom, a moral wisdom which exists
absolutely "on its own" and is not a product of non-moral, non-rational

No man in modern times was perhaps more aware of the distinction between
law and Gospel, the inevitable failure of mere morality... I dare not say
that he is never in error; but to speak plainly I know hardly any other
writer who seems to be closer, or more continually close, to the Spirit of
Christ Himself.  Hence his Christ-like union of tenderness and severity.
Nowhere else outside the New Testament have I found terror and comfort so
intertwined.  (Of George MacDonald)

Love, in the Christian sense, does not mean an emotion.  It is a state not
of the feelings but of the will; that state of the will which we have
naturally about ourselves, and must learn to have about other people. 

("Love is not a feeling.  It is a choice."  Ken Kesey)

Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most
people call "humble" nowadays:  he will not be a sort of greasy, smarmy
person, who is always telling you that, of course, he is nobody.  Probably
all you will think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent
chap who took a real interest in what you said to him.....  He will not be
thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all.

I wouldn't put the question in the form 'do I believe in an actual Hell.'
One's own mind is actual enough.  If it doesn't seem fully actual now that
is because you can always escape from it a bit into the physical world --
look out of the window, smoke a cigarette, go to sleep.  But when there is
nothing for you but your own mind (no body to go to sleep, no books or
landscape, nor sounds, no drugs) it will be as a coffin is
actual to a man buried alive.

Unfortunately the morning has to be given to uninteresting work done as
fast as I can manage to get through it - a process which would rob even
voluntary work of its interest.  How thankful you should be that you never
have tasks which are not chosen by yourself.  And yet I don't know.  So
many things have now become interesting to me because at first I had to do
them whether I liked them or not.    (Letter to Arthur Greeves, 1929)

Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at
the testing point, which means, at the point of highest reality.  A
chastity or honesty or mercy which yields to danger will be chaste or
honest or merciful only on conditions.  Pilate was merciful till it became

He (St. Paul) told us to be not only 'as harmless as doves, but also "as
wise as serpents."  He (Christ) wants a child's heart, but a grown-up's

Virtue - even attempted virtue - brings light; indulgence brings fog.

Reasonableness and amiability (both cheerful "habits" of the mind) are
stronger in the end than the... spleen.  To rail is the sad privilege of
the loser.

The Christian religion... does not begin in comfort; it begins in
...dismay....  In religion, as in war and everything else, comfort is the
one thing you cannot get by looking for it.  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
with and, in the end, despair.

There never has been, and never will be, a radically new judgment of value
in the history of the world.... The rebellion of new ideologies against
the Tao (innate morality) is a rebellion of the branches against the tree:
if the rebels could succeed they would find that they had destroyed
themselves.  The human mind has no more power of inventing a new value
than of... creating a new sun and a new sky for it to move in.

No woman ever conceived a child, no mare a foal, without Him.  But once,
and for a special purpose, He dispensed with that long line which is His
instrument: once His life-giving finger touched a woman without passing
through the ages of interlocked events.  Once the great glove of Nature
was taken off His hand.... There was of course a unique reason for it.
That time He was creating not simply a man but the Man who was to be

In self-giving, if anywhere, we touch a rhythm not only of all creation
but of all being.  For the Eternal Word also gives Himself in sacrifice;
and that not only on Calvary.... From the highest to the lowest, self
exists to be abdicated and, by that abdication, becomes the more truly
self... What is outside the system of self-giving is... Hell.

It costs God nothing, so far as we know, to create nice things:  but to
convert rebellious wills cost Him crucifixion.

I care far more how humanity lives than how long.  Progress, for me, means
increasing goodness and happiness of individual lives.  For the species,
as for each man, mere longevity seems to me a contemptible ideal.

I wonder whether, in ages of promiscuity, many a virginity has not been
lost less in obedience to Venus than in obedience to the lure of the
caucus.  For of course, when promiscuity is the fashion, the chaste are
outsiders.  They are ignorant of something that other people know.  They
are uninitiated.  And as for lighter matters, the number who first smoked
or first got drunk for a similar reason is probably very large.

There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about
the devils.  One is to disbelieve in their existence.  The other is to
believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them.  They
themselves are equally pleased by both errors, and hail a materialist or a
magician with the same delight.

Images of the Holy easily become holy images - sacrosanct.  My idea of God
is not a divine idea.  It has to be shattered time after time.   He
shatters it Himself.  He is the great iconoclast.  Could we not almost say
that the shattering is one of the marks of His presence?  The Incarnation
is the supreme example; it leaves all previous ideas of the Messiah in
ruins.... The same thing happens in our private prayers.  All reality is

We must think of the Son always, so to speak, streaming forth from the
Father, like light from a lamp, or heat from a fire, or thoughts from a
mind.  He is the self-expression of the Father -- what the Father has to
say.  And there never was a time when He was not saying it.

My reason for thinking that a mere statement of the highest ethical
principles is not enough is precisely that to know these things is not
necessarily to do them, and if Christianity brought no healing to the
impotent will, Christ's teaching would not help us.

It is low hearts and not low brows that are vulgar.

The Present is the point at which time touches eternity... in it alone
freedom and actuality are offered.

Well, let's go on disagreeing but don't let us judge.  What doesn't suit
us may suit possible converts of a different type.  My model here is the
behavior... at a "Russian Orthodox" service, where some sit, some lie on
their faces, some stand, some kneel, some walk about and no one takes the
slightest notice of what anyone else is doing.  That is good sense, good
manners, and good Christianity.  "Mind one's own business" is a good rule
in religion as in other things.
(A.A.  I suspect Lewis' emphasis on privacy and "minding one's own
business" is a function of the reserve characteristic of the British.)

Looking for God- or Heaven - by exploring space is like reading or seeing
all Shakespeare's plays in the hope that you will find Shakespeare as one
of the characters... Shakespeare is in one sense present at every moment
in every play.  But he is never present in the same way as Falstaff or
Lady Macbeth... If God does exist, He is related to the universe more as
an author is related to a play than as one object in the universe is
related to another.

I could well believe that it is God's intention, since we have refused
milder remedies, to compel us into unity, by persecution even and
hardship.  Satan is without doubt nothing else than a hammer in the hand
of a benevolent and severe God.  For all, either willingly or unwillingly,
do the will of God:  Judas and Satan as tools or instruments, John and
Peter as sons.

Some will not be redeemed.  There is no doctrine which I would more
willingly remove from Christianity than this, if it lay in my power.  But
it has the full support of Scripture and, specially, of Our Lord's own
words; it has always been held by Christendom; and it has the support of
reason.  If a game is played, it must be possible to lose it.  If the
happiness of a creature lies in self-surrender, no one can make that
surrender but himself... and he may refuse.
(A.A.  The above is not Catholic doctrine.  Although Hell exists, it is
not necessary that any human soul ever be consigned to eternal

Mrs. Fidget, as she so often said, would "work her fingers to the bone"
for her family.  They couldn't stop her.  Nor could they - being decent
people - quite sit still and watch her do it.  They had to help.  Indeed
they were always having to help.  That is, they did things for her to help
her to do things for them which they didn't want done.  The vicar says
that Mrs. Fidget is now at rest.  Let us hope she is.  What's quite
certain is that her family are.

I would not cross the room to meet Hamlet.  It would never be necessary.
He is always where I am.... Its true hero is man - haunted man - man with
his mind on the frontier of two worlds, man unable either quite to reject
or quite to admit the supernatural, man struggling to get something
done... yet incapable of achievement because of his inability to
understand either himself or his fellows or the real quality of the
universe which has produced him.

The Church exists for nothing else but to draw men into Christ, to make
them little Christs.  If they are not doing that, all the cathedrals,
clergy, missions, sermons, event he Bible itself, are simply a waste of
time.  God became Man for no other purpose.  It is even doubtful, you
know, whether the whole universe was created for any other purpose.

Christian doctrines which are "metaphorical"... mean something which is
just as "supernatural" or shocking after we have removed the ancient
imagery as it was before.... These things not only cannot be asserted -
they cannot even be presented for discussion - without metaphor.  We can
make our speech duller; we cannot make it more literal.

The call is not only to prostration and awe; it is to a reflection of the
Divine life, a creaturely participation in the Divine attributes which is
far beyond our present desires.  We are bidden to "put on Christ," to
become like God.  That is, whether we like it or not, God intends to give
us what we need, not what we now think we want. Once more, we are
embarrassed by the intolerable compliment, by too much love, not too

(Salvation) is the change from being confident about our own efforts to
the state in which we despair of doing anything for ourselves and leave it
to God.... The sense in which a Christian leaves it to God is that he puts
all his trust in Christ: trusts that Christ will somehow share with him
the perfect human obedience which He carried out from His birth to His
crucifixion: that Christ will make the man more like Himself and, in a
sense, make good his deficiencies. (See Reynolds Price's autobiographical
reflection:  A Whole New Life.)

Only the courteous can love, but it is love that makes them courteous.

If you think of this world as a place intended simply for our happiness,
you find it quite intolerable: think of it as a place of training and
correction and it's not so bad.

It will not bother me in the hour of death to reflect that I have been
"had for a sucker" by any number of impostors;  but it would be a torment
to know that one had refused even one person in need.

The truth is that if we are to have translation at all we must have
periodical re-translation.  There is no such thing as translating a book
into another language once and for all, for a language is a changing
thing.  If your son is to have clothes it is no good buying him a suit
once and for all: he will grow out of it and have to be re-clothed.

God designed the human machine to run on Himself.  He Himself is the fuel
our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed
to feed on.  There is no other.  That is why it is just no good asking God
to make us happy in our own way without bothering about religion.  God
cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not
there.  There is no such thing.

Christianity does no want us to reduce by one atom the hatred we feel for
cruelty and treachery.  We ought to hate them.  Not one word of what we
have said about them needs to be unsaid.  But it does want us to hate them
in the same way in which we hate things in ourselves:  being sorry the man
should have done such things, and hoping, if it is anyway possible, that
somehow, sometime, somewhere, he can be cured and made human again.

The first demand any work of any art makes upon us is surrender.  Look.
Listen.  Receive.  Get yourself out of the way.  ()There is no good asking
first whether the work before you deserves such a surrender, for until you
have surrendered you cannot possibly find out.)Just a hurried line... to
tell a story which puts the contrast between our feast of the Nativity
and, all this ghastly "Xmas" racket at its lowest.  My brother heard a
woman on a bus say, as the bus passed a church with a Crib outside it, "Oh
Lor'!  They bring religion into everything.  Look -- they're dragging it
even into Christmas.

(God's) Nature is bliss and separation from it horror.  Thus Heaven and
Hell come in.  But it may well be that to think much of either except in
this context of thought, to hypostatize them as if they had a substantial
meaning apart from the presence or absence of God, corrupts the doctrine
of both and corrupts us while we so think of them.

I think that if God forgives us we must forgive ourselves.  Otherwise it
is almost like setting up ourselves as a higher tribunal than Him.

The prayer preceding all prayers is "May it be the real I who speaks.  May
it be the real Thou that I speak to."  Infinitely various are the levels
from which we pray.  Emotional intensity is in itself no proof of
spiritual depth.  If we pray in terror we shall pray earnestly; it only
proves that terror is an earnest emotion.  Only God Himself can let the
bucket down to the depths in us.

Love as distinct from "being in love" is not merely a feeling.  It is a
deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit;
reinforced by (in Christian marriages) the grace which both partners ask,
and receive, from God.  They can have this love for each other even at
those moments when they do not like each other; as you love yourself even
when you do not like yourself.

Hope...means... a continual looking forward to the eternal world.... It
does no mean that we are to leave the present world as it is....
Christians (in history) who did most for the present world were just 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.  Aim at Heaven and you will get earth "thrown in": aim at earth and
you will get neither.

Conditions... are not causes.

Thanks for Christ and India.  It confirms what I had, less clearly,
thought already --- that the difficulty in preaching Christ in India is
that there is no difficulty.  One is up against true Paganism -- the best
sort of it as well as the worst -- hospitable to all gods, naturally
religious, ready to take any shape but able to retain none.

Christians have often disputed as to whether what leads the Christian home
is good actions or Faith in Christ.... It does seem to me like asking
which blade in a pair of scissors is most necessary.  A serious moral
effort is the only thing that will bring you to the point where you throw
up the sponge.  Faith in Christ is the only thing to save you from despair
at that point: and out of the Faith in Him good actions must inevitably

1;2cWhat can you ever really know of other people's souls - of their
temptations, their opportunities, their struggles?  One soul in the whole
creation you do know: and it is the only one whose fate is placed in your
hands.  If there is a God, you are, in a sense, alone with Him.  You
cannot put Him off with speculations about your next door neighbors or
memories of what you have read in books.

Though our feelings come and go, His love for us does not.  It is not
wearied by our sins, or our indifference; and, therefore, it is quite
relentless in its determination that we shall be cured of those sins, at
whatever cost to us, at whatever cost to Him.

I sometimes pray not for self-knowledge in general but for just so much
self-knowledge at the moment as I can bear and use at the moment; the
little daily dose.

(God) is so brim-full of existence that He can give existence away, can
cause things to be, and to be really other than Himself, can make it
untrue to say that He is everything.

There can be intemperance in work just as in drink. 
"Thrum - thrum - thrum - went the strings of the Witch's
instrument.  Jill couldn't remember the names of the things in our world.
And this time it didn't come into her head that she was being enchanted,
for now the magic was in its full strength; and of course, the more
enchanted you get, the more certain you feel that you are not enchanted at
all.  She found herself saying (and at the moment it was a relief to say):
"No.  I suppose that other world must be all a dream."
"Yes.  It is  all a dream." said the Witch, always thrumming.
"Yes, all a dream," said Jill.
"There never was such a world," said the Witch.
"No, " said Jill and Scrubb, "never was such a world."
"There never was any world but mine," said the Witch.
"There was never any world but yours," they said...
"(This Narnia you imagined was) a pretty make-believe, though, to
say truth, it would suit you all better if you were younger.  And look how
you can put nothing into your make-believe without copying it from the
real world, this world of mine, which is the only world.  But even you
children are too old for such play.  Are you not ashamed of such toys?
Come, all of you.  Put away these childish tricks.  I have work for you
all in the real world.  There is no Narnia, no, no sky, no sun, no Aslan.
And now,  to bed all.  And let us begin a wiser life tomorrow.  But first,
to bed; to sleep; deep sleep, soft pillows, sleep without foolish dreams.
The Prince and the two children were standing with their heads
hung down, their cheeks flushed, their eyes half closed; the strength all
gone from them; the enchantment almost complete.  But Puddleglum,
desperately gathering all his strength, walked over to the fire.  Then he
did a very brave thing.  He knew it wouldn't hurt him quite as much as it
would hurt a human; for his feet (which were bare) were webbed and hard
and cold-blooded like a duck's.  But he knew it would hurt him badly
enough; and so it did.  With his bare foot he stamped on the fire,
grinding a large part of it into ashes on the flat hearth.  And three
things happened at once. 
First, the sweet heavy smell grew very much less.  For though the
whole fire had not been put out, a good bit of it had, and what remained
smelled very largely of burnt Marsh-wiggle, which is not at all an
enchanting smell.  This instantly made everyone's brain far clearer.  The
Prince and the children held up their heads again and opened their eyes.
Secondly, the Witch, in a loud, terrible voice, utterly different
from all the sweet tones she had been using up till now, called out, "What
are you doing?  Dare to touch my fire again, mud-filth, and I'll turn the
blood to fire inside your veins."
Thirdly, the pain itself made Puddleglum's head for a moment
perfectly clear and he knew exactly what he really thought.  There is
nothing like a good shock of pain for dissolving certain kinds of magic.
"One word, Ma'am." he said, coming back from the fire; limping,
because of the pain. "One word.  All you've been saying is quite right, I
shouldn't wonder.  I'm a chap who always liked to know the worst and then
put the best face on it.  So I won't deny any of what you said.  But
there's one thing more to be said., even so.  Suppose we have only
dreamed, or made up, all those things -- trees and grass and sun and moon
and stares and Aslan himself.  Suppose we have.  Then all I can say is
that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important
than the real ones.  Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the
only world.  Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one.  And that's a funny
thing, when you come to think of it.  We're just babies making up a game
if you're right.  But four babies playing a game can make a play-world
which licks your real world hollow.  That's why I'm going to stand by the
play world.  I'm on Aslan's side even if there isn't any Aslan to lead it.
I'm going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn't any Narnia. 
So, thanking you kindly for our supper, if these two gentlemen
and the young lady are ready, we're leaving your court at once and setting
out in the dark to spend our lives looking for Overland.  Not that our
lives will be very long, I should think; but that's small loss if the
world's as dull a place as you say." The Silver Chair