C. S. Lewis

(Clive Staples Lewis)

C. S. Lewis
C. S. Lewis
  • Born: November 29, 1898
  • Died: November 22, 1963
  • Nationality: Irish
  • Profession: Author

98

Quotes

23

Citations

97

Concepts

0

Videos

Quotes
Quote Topics Cited
[The devil] al­ways sends er­rors into the world in pairs—pairs of op­posites. And he al­ways en­cour­ages us to spend a lot of time think­ing about which is the worse. . . . He re­lies on your ex­tra dis­like of the one er­ror to draw you grad­u­ally into the op­po­site one. But do not let us be fooled. We have to keep our eyes on the goal and go straight through be­tween both er­rors. We have no other con­cern than that with ei­ther of them.
All that is not eternal is eternally out of date.
By his intellect, [man] is mere spirit and by his appetite mere animal. Men, Masculinity, Male
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.
Gratitude looks to the past and love to the present. Fear, avarice, lust, and ambition look ahead. Human Nature
How little people know who think holiness is dull. When one meets the real thing, it is irresistible.
I live in the Managerial Age, in a world of "Admin." The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid "dens of crime" that Dickens loved to paint. It is not done even in concentration camps and labour camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed, and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voice. Hence, naturally enough, my symbol for Hell is something like the bureaucracy of a police state or the offices of a thoroughly nasty business concern. Management & Managing Government
If we are going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things -- praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts -- not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They might break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds. Nutrition, Food, Starvation, Farming & Agriculture
If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. History ;Religion & God
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.
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.
It's so much easier to pray for a bore than to go and see one.
Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. Freedom & Liberty
Reality, in fact, is usually something you could not have guessed. That is one of the reasons I believe Christianity. It is a religion that you could not have guessed. If it offered us just the kind of universe we had always expected, I should feel we were making it up. But, in fact, it is not the sort of thing anyone would have made up. It has just that queer twist about it that real things have. So let us leave behind all thee boys’ philosophies – – these over simple answers. The problem is not simple and the answer is not going to be simple either. Religion & God
The hardness of God is kinder than the softness of man, and his compulsion is our liberation. Religion & God
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 most dangerous thing you can do is to take any one impulse of your own nature and set it up as the thing you ought to follow at all costs. There's not one of them which won't make us into devils if we set it up as an absolute guide. You might think love of humanity in general was safe, but it isn't. If you leave out justice you'll find yourself breaking agreements and faking evidence in trials "for the sake of humanity" and become in the end a cruel and treacherous man. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
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.
There have been some who were so preoccupied with spreading Christianity that they never gave a thought to Christ. Religion & God
This year, or this month, or, more likely, this very day, we have failed to practice ourselves the kind of behavior we expect from other people. Policy & Policy Making ;Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs
We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful. Men, Masculinity, Male
What Satan put into the heads of our remote ancestors was the idea that they ... could ... invent some sort of happiness for themselves outside God, apart from God. And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history—–money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery—–the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy. ... That is the key to history. Terrific energy is expended—–civilizations are built up—–excellent institutions devised; but each time something goes wrong. Some fatal flaw always brings the selfish and cruel people to the top and it all slides back into misery and ruin. In fact, the machine conks. It seems to start up all right and runs a few years, and then it breaks down. They are trying to run it on the wrong juice. That is what Satan has done to us humans. Civil Disorder, Riots, Protests & Demonstrations
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.’
A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, 'darkness' on the walls of his cell. Religion & God
A man who is eating or lying with his wife or preparing to go to sleep in humility, thankfulness and temperance, is, by Christian standards, in an infinitely higher state than one who is listening to Bach or reading Plato in a state of pride.
A young man who wishes to remain a sound atheist cannot be too careful of his reading.
Affection is responsible for nine-tenths of whatever solid and durable happiness there is in our lives. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex ;Happiness & Unhappiness
Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither. Religion & God
Always prefer the plain direct word to the long, vague one. Don't implement promises, but keep them.
Always try to use the language so as to make quite clear what you mean and make sure your sentence couldn't mean anything else.
An explanation of cause is not a justification by reason.
Anthropomorphic animals, when taken out of narrative into actual visibility, always turn into buffoonery or nightmare.
Can a mortal ask questions which God finds unanswerable? Quite easily, I should think. All nonsense questions are unanswerable. Religion & God
Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.
Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.
Don't use words too big for the subject. Don't say 'infinitely' when you mean 'very'; otherwise you'll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.
Eros will have naked bodies; Friendship naked personalities. Friendship
Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it. Truth ;Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
Everyone has noticed how hard it is to turn our thoughts to God when everything is going well with us... While what we call 'our own life' remains agreeable, we will not surrender it to Him. What, then, can God do in our interests but make 'our own life' less agreeable to us, and take away the plausible sources of false happiness? Life ;Religion & God ;Happiness & Unhappiness
Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn. Religion & God
Failures, repeated failures, are finger posts on the road to achievement. One fails forward toward success. Failure ;Success
Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art... It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival. Friendship ;Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing. Religion & God ;Happiness & Unhappiness ;War & Peace
'Good English' is whatever educated people talk; so that what is good in one place or time would not be so in another. Time
Has this world been so kind to you that you should leave with regret? There are better things ahead than any we leave behind.
History isn't just the story of bad people doing bad things. It's quite as much a story of people trying to do good things. But somehow, something goes wrong. History
How incessant and great are the ills with which a prolonged old age is replete.
Humans are amphibians - half spirit and half animal. As spirits they belong to the eternal world, but as animals they inhabit time. Time
Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it's thinking of yourself less.
I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.
I gave in, and admitted that God was God. Religion & God
I sometimes wonder whether all pleasures are not substitutes for joy.
I think that all things, in their way, reflect heavenly truth, the imagination not least. Truth
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.
If we cut up beasts simply because they cannot prevent us and because we are backing our own side in the struggle for existence, it is only logical to cut up imbeciles, criminals, enemies, or capitalists for the same reasons.
If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair. Truth
I'm tall, fat, rather bald, red-faced, double-chinned, black-haired, have a deep voice, and wear glasses for reading.
Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.
It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.
Joy is the serious business of Heaven. Business, Commerce & Finance
Let's pray that the human race never escapes from Earth to spread its iniquity elsewhere.
Literature adds to reality, it does not simply describe it. It enriches the necessary competencies that daily life requires and provides; and in this respect, it irrigates the deserts that our lives have already become. Life ;Respect
Long before history began we men have got together apart from the women and done things. We had time. Time ;Women ;History
Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ, and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.
Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see. Inspiration
No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.
Nothing is more dangerous to one's own faith than the work of an apologist. No doctrine of that faith seems to me so spectral, so unreal as one that I have just successfully defended in a public debate. Religion & God ;Work, Workers & The Labor Force
Nothing that you have not given away will ever be really yours.
Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive.
Part of every misery is, so to speak, the misery's shadow or reflection: the fact that you don't merely suffer but have to keep on thinking about the fact that you suffer. I not only live each endless day in grief, but live each day thinking about living each day in grief.
Real joy seems to me almost as unlike security or prosperity as it is unlike agony.
Reason is the natural order of truth; but imagination is the organ of meaning. Truth
Satan, the leader or dictator of devils, is the opposite, not of God, but of Michael. Religion & God
Solemnity is proper in church, but things that are proper in church are not necessarily proper outside, and vice versa. For example, I can say a prayer while washing my teeth, but that does not mean I should wash my teeth in church.
Some people write heavily, some write lightly. I prefer the light approach because I believe there is a great deal of false reverence about. There is too much solemnity and intensity in dealing with sacred matters; too much speaking in holy tones.
Telling us to obey instinct is like telling us to obey 'people.' People say different things: so do instincts. Our instincts are at war... Each instinct, if you listen to it, will claim to be gratified at the expense of the rest. War & Peace
The future is something which everyone reaches at the rate of 60 minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is. Time ;Future
'The Lion' all began with a picture of a faun carrying an umbrella and parcels in a snowy wood. This picture had been in my mind since I was about sixteen. Then one day, when I was about forty, I said to myself, 'Let's try to make a story about it.'
The long, dull, monotonous years of middle-aged prosperity or middle-aged adversity are excellent campaigning weather for the devil.
The real problem is not why some pious, humble, believing people suffer, but why some do not.
The safest road to hell is the gradual one - the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.
The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training
There are two kinds of people: those who say to God, 'Thy will be done,' and those to whom God says, 'All right, then, have it your way.' Religion & God
There is no uncreated being except God. God has no opposite. Religion & God
There is, hidden or flaunted, a sword between the sexes till an entire marriage reconciles them. Families, Children & Parenting
Thirty was so strange for me. I've really had to come to terms with the fact that I am now a walking and talking adult.
This is one of the miracles of love: It gives a power of seeing through its own enchantments and yet not being disenchanted. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex ;Power
We all want progress, but if you're on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.
We are not living in a world where all roads are radii of a circle and where all, if followed long enough, will therefore draw gradually nearer and finally meet at the centre: rather in a world where every road, after a few miles, forks into two, and each of those into two again, and at each fork, you must make a decision.
We are what we believe we are.
We must show our Christian colors if we are to be true to Jesus Christ.
What I call my 'self' now is hardly a person at all. It's mainly a meeting place for various natural forces, desires, and fears, etcetera, some of which come from my ancestors, and some from my education, some perhaps from devils. The self you were really intended to be is something that lives not from nature but from God. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training ;Nature ;Religion & God
What we call Man's power over Nature turns out to be a power exercised by some men over other men with Nature as its instrument. Nature ;Power
When Christ died, He died for you individually just as much as if you'd been the only man in the world.
With the possible exception of the equator, everything begins somewhere.
Writing is like a 'lust,' or like 'scratching when you itch.' Writing comes as a result of a very strong impulse, and when it does come, I, for one, must get it out.
You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream. Motivation
You can't get a cup of tea big enough or a book long enough to suit me. Happiness & Unhappiness