C.S. Lewis was one of the greatest Christian thinkers and authors of the twentieth century, and he is, by far, my favorite author. His writings, both fiction and non-fiction, have shaped my thinking and helped me become who I am today.
Clive Staples Lewis was born November 29, 1898, in Belfast, Ireland. As a small boy, he took the nickname “Jack” after a family pet, and so he was “Jack” to his friends for the rest of his life. His mother died while he was still young, and her death was a factor in him renouncing his Christian faith. He later wrote that he considered himself an atheist, although he also said that he was angry at God for NOT existing. He served with British troops in World War I and was wounded in a friendly fire accident that killed two friends. Eventually, he returned to faith, in part with the help of his friend and fellow author, J.R.R. Tolkien, and he would go on to hold prestigious academic positions at both Oxford and Cambridge. He passed away on November 22, 1963 – yes, the same day that President Kennedy was assassinated. (British author Aldous Huxley [Brave New World] also died that same day.)
If you haven’t read much of Lewis and are looking for a good place to start, I would recommend A Year with C.S. Lewis. It’s a collection of 366 brief readings of his material, gleaned from some of his best works, and arranged in a convenient, daily schedule. Spend a few minutes every morning for a year with Jack, and you will be amazed at how much better your clarity of thought will become.
Since this month is the anniversary of both his birth and death, I thought I would present five of his quotations that have really resonated with me over the years. Do you have a favorite Lewis quote? Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, in the end, “Thy will be done.” All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. To those who knock it is opened. The Great Divorce
…Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. Mere Christianity
We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world. The Problem of Pain
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. The Weight of Glory
I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God.” That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. Mere Christianity