From Lewis’s Pen: Conversion

LewisFrom Mere Christianity:

If conversion to Christianity makes no improvement in a man’s outward actions – if he continues to be just a snobbish or spiteful or envious or ambitious as he was before – then I think we must suspect that his ‘conversion’ was largely imaginary; and after one’s original conversion, every time one thinks one has made an advance, that is the test to apply. Fine feelings, new insights, greater interest in ‘religion’ mean nothing unless they make our actual behavior better; just as in an illness ‘feeling better’ is not much good if the thermometer shows that your temperature is still going up. In that sense the outer world is quite right to judge Christianity by its results. Christ told us to judge by results. A tree is known by its fruit; or, as we say, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. When we Christians behave badly, or fail to behave well, we are making Christianity unbelievable to the outside world. The war-time posters told us that Careless Talk costs Lives. It is equally true that Careless Lives cost Talk. Our careless lives set the outer world taking; and we give them grounds for talking in a way that throws doubt on the truth of Christianity itself

From Lewis’s Pen: Christmas Shopping

Apparently Lewis was a bit of a Scrooge. From his essay “What Christmas Means to Me.”

We are told that the whole dreary business must go on because it is good for trade. It is in fact merely one annual symptom of that lunatic condition of our country, and indeed of the world, in which everyone lives by persuading everyone else to buy things. I don’t know the way out. But can it really be my duty to buy and receive masses of junk every winter just to help the shopkeepers? If the worst comes to the worst I’d sooner give them money for nothing and write if off as a charity.

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From Lewis’s Pen: God Will Invade

From Mere Christianity:

God will invade. But I wonder whether people who ask God to interfere openly and directly in our world quite realise what it will be like when He does. When that happens, it is the end of the world. When the author walks on to the stage the play is over. God is going to invade, all right: but what is the good of saying you are on His side then, when you see the whole natural universe melting away like a dream and something else – something it never entered your head to conceive – comes crashing in; something so beautiful to some of us and so terrible to others that none of us will have any choice left? For this time it will God without disguise; something so overwhelming that it will strike either irresistible love or irresistible horror into every creature. It will be too late then to choose your side. There is no use saying you choose to lie down when it has become impossible to stand up. That will not be the time for choosing; it will be the time when we discover which side we really have chosen, whether we realised it before or not. Now, today, this moment, is our chance to choose the right side. God is holding back to give us that chance. It will not last for ever. We must take it or leave it.

From Lewis’s Pen: Fake News

From the chapter “Forgiveness” in Mere Christianity:

Suppose one reads a story of filthy atrocities in the paper. Then suppose that something turns up suggesting that the story might not be quite true, or not quite so bad as it was made out. Is one’s first feeling, “Thank God, even they aren’t quite so bad as that,” or is it a feeling of disappointment, and even a determination to cling to the first story for the sheer pleasure of thinking your enemies as bad as possible? If it is the second then it is, I am afraid, the first step in a process which, if followed to the end, will make us into devils. You see, one is beginning to wish that black was a little blacker. If we give that wish its head, later on we shall wish to see grey as black, and then to see white itself as black. Finally, we shall insist on seeing everything––God and out friends and ourselves included––as bad, and not be able to stop doing it: we shall be fixed for ever in a universe of pure hatred.

From Lewis’s Pen: The Right to Happiness

LewisFrom his essay “We Have No Right to Happiness”

A “right to happiness”… sounds to me as odd as a right to good luck. For I believe – whatever, one school of moralists may say – that we depend for a very great deal of our happiness or misery on circumstances outside all human control. A right to happiness doesn’t, for me, make much moře sense than a right to be six feet tall, or to have a millionaire for your father, or to get good weather whenever you want to have a picnic.

From Lewis’s Pen: The Power of Man Over Man and Nature

From “The Abolition of Man”:

I am not yet considering whether the total result of such ambivalent victories is a
good thing or a bad. I am only making clear what Man’s conquest of Nature really
means and especially that final stage in the conquest, which, perhaps, is not far off. The final stage is come when Man by eugenics, by pre-natal conditioning, and by
an education and propaganda based on a perfect applied psychology, has obtained full control over himself. Human nature will be the last part of Nature to surrender
to Man. The battle will then be won. We shall have taken the thread of life out of
the hand of Clotho’ and be henceforth free to make our species whatever we wish
it to be. The battle will indeed be won. But who, precisely, will have won it?

For the power of Man to make himself what he pleases means, as we have seen,
the power of some men to make other men what they please. In all ages, no doubt,
nurture and instruction have, in some sense, attempted to exercise this power. But
the situation to which we must look forward will be novel in two respects. In the
first place, the power will be enormously increased. Hitherto the plans of
educationalists have achieved very little of what they attempted and indeed, when
we read them — how Plato would have every infant “a bastard nursed in a bureau”,
and Elyot would have the boy see no men before the age of seven and, after that,
no women,’ and how Locke wants children to have leaky shoes and no turn for
poetry^ — we may well thank the beneficent obstinacy of real mothers, real nurses,
and (above all) real children for preserving the human race in such sanity as it still
possesses. But the man-moulders of the new age will be armed with the powers of
an omnicompetent state and an irresistible scientific technique: we shall get at last
a race of conditioners who really can cut out all posterity in what shape they
please.