On Nov. 22, much of the world will remember and celebrate President John F. Kennedy on the 50th anniversary of his assassination. Little noticed in 1963 was the death that same day of another extraordinary man, C.S. Lewis.
His writings on Christianity and his Chronicles of Narnia novels have had a profound effect on Christians, especially in the United States. Because of this, it is worth remembering his life, his faith and the remarkably enduring gift of his writings.
Below is a list of 10 memorable quotes from Lewis' writings.
“The more often a man feels without acting, the less he is able to act and in the long run the less he is able to feel.”
— "The Screwtape Letters"
“It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations — these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit — immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. ... Next to the blessed sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses.”
— "The Weight of Glory"
“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what he is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently he starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is he up to? The explanation is that he is building quite a different house from the one you thought of — throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but he is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it himself.”
— "Mere Christianity"
“What would really satisfy us would be a God who said of anything we happened to like doing, ‘What does it matter so long as they are contented?’ We want, in fact, not so much a Father in Heaven as a grandfather in heaven — a senile benevolence who, as they say, ‘liked to see young people enjoying themselves,’ and whose plan for the universe was simply that it might be truly said at the end of each day, ‘a good time was had by all.’”
— "The Problem of Pain"
“How little people know who think holiness is dull. When one meets the real thing, it is irresistible.”
— "Letters to An American Lady"
“From the moment a creature becomes aware of God as God and of itself as self, the terrible alternative of choosing God or self for the center is opened to it.”
— "The Problem of Pain"
“It is easier to pray for a bore than to go and see him.”
— "Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer"
“All that is not eternal is eternally out of date.”
— "The Four Loves"
“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"8 comments on this story
“The hardness of God is kinder than the softness of man, and his compulsion is our liberation.”
— "Surprised By Joy"
James Jardine is a lawyer who has taught classes on C.S. Lewis at the University of Utah honors program.