Tuesday, February 26, 2008

still giving me food for thought: my favorite C.S. Lewis quote

"If you asked twenty good men today what they thought the highest of the virtues, nineteen of them would reply, Unselfishness. But if you asked almost any of the great Christians of old he would have replied, Love. You see what has happend? A negative term has been substituted for a positive, and this is of more than philological importance. The negative ideal of Unselfishness carries with it the suggestion not primarilly of securing for good things for others, but of going without them ourselves, as if our abstinence and not their happiness was the important point. I do not think this is the Christian virtue of Love. The New Testament has lots to say about self-denial, but not about self-denial as an end in itself. We are told to deny ourselves and to take up our crosses in order that we might follow Christ; and nearly every description of what we shall ultimately find if we do so contains an appeal to desire.

"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."

[from The Weight of Glory, p. 113]

1 comment:

Mattgrove said...

That is a great quote! And The Weight of Glory is a great little book. But according to me, you should divide your list of favorite Lewis quotes into "Narnia" quotes and everything else. But that's just my opinion.

My favorite Narnia book? The Dawn Treader. That one will be great as a movie!

Matt H.
P.S. I just updated my own blog. First time since Aug. '06!