‘Mere Christianity’ by C.S. Lewis

Happy Monday everyone! I’m so sorry for not posting frequently this past week, I’ve just been so busy catching up with school and fighting my natural urges to procrastinate (it’s been a real struggle and I really need to get out of it). So I apologize if you’ve sent me emails or other messages and I’ve failed to respond to them. I’ve just been so disconnected lately, but that’s partly because I’m also reading an amazing book right now: Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis.

I’m just about finished with it, maybe a few chapters left, but I have to say: I am 1,000% recommending it to all of you. I really want to share with you some of the gems that have stuck out to me throughout my reading experience: the way Lewis explains Christianity is so genius; his examples, images, and analogies could not have been fashioned better.

This is the cover of the book; I got it for Christmas and I remember being so enamored with the beautiful design.

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It’s definitely more gorgeous in person.

Mere Christianity is a compilation of a number of talks Lewis gave during World War II in Europe over the British Broadcasting Company radio. Recall that Lewis was, as a younger man, a strong atheist (I believe it was because of his mother’s death; don’t quote me as a valid source on that, but I think that may have been the cause behind it), who eventually converted to Christianity. In the preface of the book, Lewis gives a detailed description of those talks and how they brought all sorts of people together during the horrid crisis of war. He talks about how he modified a few things, why he published them as a book, etc. It’s all very interesting, so I definitely appreciated the back story. This edition also has correspondences Lewis had with listeners regarding the content of some of his talks as well, including the dates of the talks he gave, and so on.

The book covers several different topics: Right and Wrong (and the Moral Law), What Christians Believe, Christian Behavior and Morality (this is by far my favorite section; it covers marriage, charity faith and hope, the Great Sin, Forgiveness, the different parts of morality, etc.), Doctrine of the Trinity (also an incredible section), and further challenges we face as Christians.

[Christianity]…is more like a hall out of which doors open into several rooms. If I can bring anyone into that hall I shall have done what I attempted. But it is in the rooms, not in the hall, that there are fires and chairs and meals. The hall is a place to wait in, a place from which to try various doors, not a place to live in…It is true that some people may find they have to wait in the hall for a considerable time, while others feel certain almost at once which door they must knock at. I do not know why there is this difference, but I am sure God keeps no one waiting unless He sees that it is good for him to wait. 

I’m not going to go too much into depth about what is covered in the sections mentioned, but one of my favorites was that of marriage. I don’t know if I’m going to get married: do any of us know at this point? Lewis wasn’t married at the time of these talks, which he humbly acknowledges before giving his two cents about the subject. As we all know divorce is a touchy subject in some denominations of Christianity, but C.S. Lewis really wrote so well about it.

Here Lewis is explaining that the majority of divorces are done because neither partner is in love with the other anymore. I recognize that  divorce is necessary in regards to domestic violence and abuse, an action for the safety of one or both of the partners in marriage, but Lewis focuses on the main reason. They just don’t feel what they initially felt. They may find themselves “in love” with someone else, and therefore they must divorce to chase after that other person. But love isn’t a feeling, it’s not something you just have and then when it’s gone it’s gone: it’s exactly what Lewis is describing it as, and that’s why marriage can be difficult. We don’t have that ‘feeling’ forever, but the unity we can construct if we turn to God.

Also a very intellectual and honest statement by Lewis. It really shocked me back into reality. Lewis explains that we construct our idea of what love actually is from the movies (you can see how timeless this talk is: whether in the 40s or now, it’s true!). It’s always about feeling and acting on those emotions that arise in us. But love isn’t about that: we will find ourselves not always loving the person we’re with, but that’s perfectly normal! What do you think ‘for better or for worse’ means? 😉

I don’t want to spoil the experience for you, because discovering something you didn’t know before or a new perspective on already obtained knowledge is always an exciting occurrence, and one I wish not to hinder by talking about it here. I will, however, post some of my favorite quotes from the book (which I took from various sites: the designs are so beautiful!)

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This one is definitely thought-provoking. We don’t know our faults and bad habits until we try to prevent them, and then once we see we find ourselves struggling to prevent them, we realize how bad we really are.

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This goes along with the marriage passage mentioned earlier.

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One of my favorites. What image comes to mind when you read the word ‘humility?’ A beggar in ragged clothes? Think not this: only just think of yourself less instead of thinking of yourself negatively. We all struggle with humility: we all are, as Lewis explained, “self-conceited” in a way.

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This one is so important!

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So so true.

And finally a tidbit from what I read today:

The Christian way is different: harder, and easier. Christ says “Give me All. I don’t want much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want You. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good. I don’t want to cut off a branch here or a branch there, I want to have the whole tree down…Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked–the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you Myself: my own will shall become yours.’

The terrible thing, the almost impossible thing, is to hand over your whole self–all your wishes and precautions–to Christ. But it is far easier than what we are all trying to do insted. For what we are trying to do is remain ‘ourselves,’ to keep personal happiness as our great aim in life, and yet at the same time be ‘good.’ We are all trying to let our mind and heart go their own way–centred on money or pleasure or ambition–and hoping, in spite of this, to behave honestly and chastely and humbly. …[T]hat is exactly what Christ warned us not to do. As He said, a thistle cannot produce figs. If I am a field that contains nothing but grass-seed, I cannot produce wheat. Cutting the grass  may keep it short: but I shall still produce grass and no wheat. If I want to produce wheat, the change must go deeper than the surface. I must be ploughed up and re-sown.

Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis, “Is Christianity Hard or Easy?” p. 259-261

I was currently reading that chapter earlier today and had to share it will all of you. I don’t think any other section has spoken to me more than that one.

Well, that’s enough about ‘Mere Christianity’ today! I hope you’ve enjoyed the quotes, and if you haven’t read it, are now inspired to.

Have you read ‘Mere Christianity’? What did you think of it? What was your favorite quote from above and why? 

Pax in Christo!

~Grace

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