October 26, 2016

C. S. Lewis Quotes

“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.”

“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 proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you’re looking down, you can’t see something that’s above you.”

“A sensible human once said, If people knew how much ill-feeling unselfishness occasions, it would not be so often recommended from the pulpit; and again, She’s the sort of woman who lives for others—you can always tell the others by their hunted expression.”

“A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is…. A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness. They have lived a sheltered life by always giving in.”

“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.”

“Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.”

“All joy emphasises our pilgrim status; always reminds, beckons, awakens desire. Our best havings are wantings.”

“All mortals tend to turn into the thing they are pretending to be.”

“All that is not eternal is eternally out of date.”

“All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”

“An explanation of cause is not a justification by reason.”

“And I say also this. I do not think the forest would be so bright, nor the water so warm, nor love so sweet, if there were no danger in the lakes.”

“As for wrinkles-Pshaw! Why shouldn’t we have wrinkles? Honorable insignia of long service in this warfare.”

“As long as this deliberate refusal to understand things from above, even where such understanding is possible, continues, it is idle to talk of any final victory over materialism.”

“Autumn is really the best of the seasons; and I’m not sure that old age isn’t the best part of life. But of course, like autumn, it doesn’t last.”

“Badness is only spoiled goodness.”

“Be not deceived, Wormwood, our cause is never more in jeopardy than when a human, no longer desiring but still intending to do our Enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe in which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.”

“But how can the characters in a play guess the plot? We are not the playwright, we are not the producer, we are not even the audience. We are on the stage. To play well the scenes in which we are on concerns us much more than to guess about the scenes that follow it.”

“But perhaps the most mysterious thing he ever said about it was this. I was questioning him on the subject — which he doesn’t often allow — and had incautiously said, ‘Of course I realise it’s all rather too vague for you to put into words,’ when he took me up rather sharply, for such a patient man, by saying, ‘On the contrary, it is words that are vague. The reason why the thing can’t be expressed is that it’s too definite for the language.'”

“But supposing one tries to live by Pantheistic philosophy? Does it lead to a complacent Hegelian optimism?”

“But then again of course I know perfectly well that He can’t be used as a road. If you’re approaching Him not as the goal but as a road, not as the end but as a means, you’re not really approaching Him at all.”

“Can a mortal ask questions which God finds unanswerable? Quite easily, I should think. All nonsense questions are unanswerable. How many hours are there in a mile? Is yellow square or round? Probably half the questions we ask — half our great theological and metaphysical problems — are like that.”

“Christianity tells people to repent and promises them forgiveness. It therefore has nothing (as far as I know) to say to people who do not know they have done anything to repent of and who do not feel that they need forgiveness.”

“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.”

“Courtship is the time for sowing those seeds which will grow up ten years into domestic hatred.”

“Die before you Die. There is no chance after.”

“Do not let us mistake necessary evils for good.”

“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.”

“Enough had been thought, and said, and felt, and imagined. It was about time that something should be done.”

“Eros will have naked bodies; Friendship naked personalities.”

“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.”

“Every poem can be considered in two ways–as what the poet has to say, and as a thing which he makes.”

“Every poet and musician and artist, but for Grace, is drawn away from love of the thing he tells to love of the telling till, down in Deep Hell, they cannot be interested in God at all but only in what they say about Him.”

“Everyone feels benevolent if nothing happens to be annoying him at the moment.”

“Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn.”

“Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.”

“Faith… is the art of holding on to things your reason once accepted, despite your changing moods.”

“For me, reason is the natural organ of truth; but imagination is the organ of meaning. Imagination, producing new metaphors or revivifying old, is not the cause of truth, but its condition.”

“Frantic administration of panaceas to the world is certainly discouraged by the reflection that this present might be the world’s last night; sober work for the future, within the limits of ordinary morality and prudence, is not.”

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art, like the universe itself (for God did not need to create). It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.”

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.”

“God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.”

“God made us: invented us as a man invents an engine. A car is made to run on petrol, and it would not run properly on anything else. Now God designed the human machine to run on Himself.”

“God’ said the Ghost, glancing around the landscape.”

“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

“God will look to every soul like its first love because He is its first love.”

“Gratitude looks to the past and love to the present; fear, avarice, lust, and ambition look ahead.”

“Has this world been so kind to you that you should leave with regret? There are better things ahead than any we leave behind.”

“He begins to think for himself and meets Nineteenth-century Rationalism Which can explain away religion by any number of methods.”

“He came in sight of a pass guarded by armed men. ‘you cannot pass … Do you not know that all this country belongs to the Spirit of the Age? … Here Enlightenment, take this fugitive to our Master.”

“Heaven offers nothing that the mercenary soul can desire. It is safe to tell the pure in heart that they shall see God, for only the pure in heart want to. There are rewards that do not sully motives. A man’s love for a woman is not mercenary because he wants to marry her, nor his love for poetry mercenary because he wants to read it, nor his love of exercise less disinterested because he wants to run and leap and walk. Love, by definition, seeks to enjoy its object.”

“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.”

“I am sorry that my convictions do not allow me to repeat my friend’s offer, said one of the others. But I have had to abandon the humanitarian and egalitarian fancies. His name was Mr. Neo-Classical.”

“I believe Buddhism to be a simplification of Hinduism and Islam to be a simplification of Xianity.”

“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 do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare.”

“I fancy that most people who think at all have done a great deal of their thinking in the first fourteen years.”

“I gave in, and admitted that God was God.”

“I have always — at least, ever since I can remember — had a kind of longing for death.”

“I have at last come to the end of the Faerie Queene: and though I say at last, I almost wish he had lived to write six books more as he had hoped to do — so much have I enjoyed it.”

“I hope, said the third, that your wanderings in lonely places do not mean that you have any of the romantic virus still in your blood. His name was Mr. Humanist.”

“I need Christ, not something that resembles Him.”

“I sometimes wander whether all pleasures are not substitutes for joy.”

“I want to have her back as an ingredient in the restoration of my past. Could I have wished her anything worse? Having got once through death, to come back and then, at some later date, have all her dying to do all over again? They call Stephen the first martyr. Hadn’t Lazarus the rawer deal?”

“I wish I had never been born, she said. What are we born for? For infinite happiness, said the Spirit. You can step out into it at any moment…”

“If He who in Himself can lack nothing chooses to need us, it is because we need to be needed.”

“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 nothing in this world satisfies me, perhaps it is because I was made for another world.”

“If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be without meaning.”

“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 we discover a desire within us that nothing in this world can satisfy, also we should begin to wonder if perhaps we were created for another world.”

“If we insist on keeping Hell (or even Earth) we shall not see Heaven: if we accept Heaven we shall not be able to retain even the smallest and most intimate souvenirs of Hell.”

“If we really think that home is elsewhere and that this life is a wandering to find home, why should we not look forward to the arrival?”

“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.”

“If you make the same guess often enough it ceases to be a guess and becomes a Scientific Fact. This is the inductive method.”

“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.”

“If, as I can’t help suspecting, the dead also feel the pains of separation (and this may be one of their purgatorial sufferings), then for both lovers, and for all pairs of lovers without exception, bereavement is a universal and integral part of our experience of love.”

“In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. 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.”

“In reading [G.K] Chesterton and [George] McDonald, as in reading MacDonald, I did not know what I was letting myself in for. A young man who wishes to remain a sound Atheist cannot be too careful of his reading. There are traps everywhere — “Bibles laid open, millions of surprises,” as Herbert says, “fine nets and stratagems.” God is, if I may say it, very unscrupulous.”

“It is Christ Himself, not the Bible, who is the true Word of God. The Bible, read in the right spirit and with the guidance of good teachers, will bring us to Him.”

“It is Christ Himself, not the Bible, who is the true word of God. The Bible, read in the right spirit and with the guidance of good teachers, will bring us to Him. We must not use the Bible as a sort of encyclopedia out of which texts can be taken for use as weapons.”

“It is hard to have patience with people who say ‘There is no death’ or ‘Death doesn’t matter.’ There is death. And whatever is matters. And whatever happens has consequences, and it and they are irrevocable and irreversible. You might as well say that birth doesn’t matter.”

“It is only our bad temper that we put down to being tired or worried or hungry; we put our good temper down to ourselves.”

“It is only when you are asked to believe in Reason coming from non-reason that you must cry Halt. Human minds. They do not come from nowhere.”

“It is the stupidest children who are the most childish and the stupidest grown-ups who are the most grown-up.”

“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.”

“It’s so much easier to pray for a bore than to go and see one.”

“John-I’m trying to find the Island in the West. Sensible – You refer, no doubt to some aesthetic experience.”

“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.”

“Long before history began we men have got together apart from the women and done things. We had time.”

“Love is something more stern and splendid than mere kindness.”

“Love may forgive all infirmities and love still in spite of them: but Love cannot cease to will their removal.”

“Make the choice adventurous stranger, strike the bell and bide the danger or wonder ’till it drives you mad what would have happened if you had.”

“Many things – such as loving, going to sleep, or behaving unaffectedly – are done worst when we try hardest to do them.”

“Milton was right… The choice of every lost soul can be expressed in the words Better to reign in Hell than to serve in Heaven. There is always something they insist on keeping even at the price of misery…”

“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.”

“Miracles do not, in fact, break the laws of nature.”

“Mortal lovers must not try to remain at the first step; for lasting passion is the dream of a harlot and from it we wake in despair.”

“Mr. Sensible learned only catchwords from them. He could talk like Epicurus of spare diet, but he was a glutton. He had from Montaigne the language of friendship, but no friend.”

“Much of the modern resistance to chastity comes from men’s belief that they own their bodies — those vast and perilous estates, pulsating with the energy that made the worlds, in which they find themselves without their consent and from which they are ejected at the pleasure of Another!”

“My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust?”

“No Christian and, indeed, no historian could accept the epigram which defines religion as ‘what a man does with his solitude.”

“No clever arrangement of bad eggs ever made a good omelet.”

“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.”

“Nothing that you have not given away will ever be really yours.”

“Now is our chance to choose the right side. God is holding back to give us that chance. It won’t last forever. We must take it or leave it.”

“Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive.”

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

“Of course God knew what would happen if they used their freedom the wrong way: apparently He thought it worth the risk.”

“Only the skilled can judge the skilfulness, but that is not the same as judging the value of the result.”

“Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending to do our Enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.”

“Our father was married twice,’ continued Humanist. ‘Once to a lady named Epichaerecacia, and afterwards to Euphuia…”

“Our prayers for others flow more easily than those for ourselves. This shows we are made to live by charity.”

“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.”

“Perfect humility dispenses with modesty.”

“Reality is harsh to the feet of shadows.”

“Reason is the natural order of truth; but imagination is the organ of meaning.”

“Savage-There is only one way fit for a man – Heroism, or Master-Morality, or Violence. All the other people in between are ploughing the sand.”

“Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.”

“Some people feel guilty about their anxieties and regard them as a defect of faith but they are afflictions, not sins. Like all afflictions, they are, if we can so take them, our share in the passion of Christ.”

“Some people talk as if meeting the gaze of absolute goodness would be fun. They need to think again. They are still only playing with religion. Goodness is either the great safety or the great danger — according to the way you react to it.”

“Talk to me about the truth of religion and I’ll listen gladly. Talk to me about the duty of religion and I’ll listen submissively. But don’t come talking to me about the consolations of religion or I shall suspect that you don’t understand.”

“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.”

“The doctrine of the Second Coming has failed, so far as we are concerned, if it does not make us realize that at every moment of every year in our lives Donne’s question What if this present were the world’s last night? is equally relevant.”

“The doctrine of the Second Coming teaches us that we do not and cannot know when the world drama will end. The curtain may be rung down at any moment: say, before you have finished reading this paragraph.”

“The fundamental laws are in the long run merely statements that every event is itself and not some different event.”

“The future is something which everyone reaches at the rate of 60 minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is.”

“The Guide sang: The new age, the new art, the new ethic and thought, And fools crying, Because it has begun It will continue as it has begun! The wheel runs fast, therefore the wheel will run Faster for ever, The old age is done, We have new lights and see without the sun.”

“The hardness of God is kinder than the softness of men, and His compulsion is our liberation.”

“The humans live in time but our Enemy (God) destines them for eternity.”

“The long, dull, monotonous years of middle-aged prosperity or middle-aged adversity are excellent campaigning weather for the devil.”

“The Prodigal Son at least walked home on his own feet. But who can duly adore that Love which will open the high gates to a prodigal who is brought in kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance of escape?”

“The proper motto is not Be good, sweet maid, and let who can be clever, but Be good sweet maid, and don’t forget that this involves being as clever as you can. God is no fonder of intellectual slackers than any other slackers.”

“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 salvation of a single soul is more important than the production or preservation of all the epics and tragedies in the world.”

“The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts.”

“The thing is to rely on God. The time will come when you will regard all this misery as a small price to pay for having been brought to that dependence. Meanwhile, the trouble is that relying on God has to begin all over again every day as if nothing has yet been done.”

“The trouble about trying to make yourself stupider than you really are is that you very often succeed.”

“The value given to the testimony of any feeling must depend on our whole philosophy, not our whole philosophy on a feeling.”

“The Value of myth is that it takes all the things you know and restores to them the rich significance which has been hidden by the veil of familiarity.”

“The wraith of Sigmund said. You know what this is, I suppose. Religious melancholia. Stop while there is time. If you dive, you dive into insanity.”

“Then he tried to recall the lessons of Mr. Wisdom. it is I myself, eternal Spirit, who drives this Me, the slave, along that ledge. I ought not to care whether he falls and breaks his neck or not. It is not he that is real, it is I – I – I.”

“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.””

“There have been men before … who got so interested in proving the existence of God that they came to care nothing for God himself… as if the good Lord had nothing to do but to exist. There have been some who were so preoccupied with spreading Christianity that they never gave a thought to Christ.”

“There is wishful thinking in Hell as well as on Earth.”

“There is, hidden or flaunted, a sword between the sexes till an entire marriage reconciles them.”

“They tell me, Lord, that when I seem To be in speech with you, Since but one voice is heard, it’s all a dream, One talker aping two.”

“They would say, he answered, that you do not fail in obedience through lack of love, but have lost love because you never attempted obedience.”

“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.”

“This is where dreams — dreams, do you understand — come to life, come real. Not daydreams: dreams.”

“This year, or this month, or, more likely, this very day, we have failed to practise ourselves the kind of behaviour we expect from other people.”

“Though the Witch knew the Deep Magic, there is a magic deeper still which she did not know. Her knowledge goes back only to the dawn of Time.”

“Try now to answer my third riddle. By what rule to you tell a copy from an original?”

“Try to exclude the possibility of suffering which the order of nature and the existence of free-wills involve, and you find that you have excluded life itself.”

“Try to say the very thing you really mean, the whole of it, nothing more or less or other than what you really mean. That is the whole are and joy of words.”

“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 can rest contentedly in our sins and in our stupidities, and anyone who has watched gluttons shoveling down the most exquisite foods as if they did not know what they were eating will admit that we can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

“We do not retreat from reality, we rediscover it. As long as the story lingers in our mind, the real things are more themselves… By dipping them in myth we see them more clearly.”

“We live, in fact, in a world starved for solitude, silence, and private: and therefore starved for meditation and true friendship.”

“We may ignore, but we can nowhere evade, the presence of God. The world is crowded with Him. He walks everywhere incognito. And the incognito is not always easy to penetrate. The real labor is to remember to attend. In fact to come awake. Still more to remain awake.”

“We were promised sufferings. They were part of the program. We were even told, Blessed are they that morn.”

“What I like about experience is that it is such an honest thing. You may take any number of wrong turnings; but keep your eyes open and you will not be allowed to go very far before the warning signs appear. You may have deceived yourself, but experience is not trying to deceive you. The universe rings true wherever you fairly test it.”

“What saves a man is to take a step. Then another step.”

“What seem our worst prayers may really be, in God’s eyes, our best. Those, I mean, which are least supported by devotional feeling. For these may come from a deeper level than feeling. God sometimes seems to speak to us most intimately when he catches us, as it were, off our guard.”

“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.”

“When I have learnt to love God better than my earthly dearest, I shall love my earthly dearest better than I do now. In so far as I learn to love my earthly dearest at the expense of God and instead of God, I shall be moving towards the state in which I shall not love my earthly dearest at all. When first things are put first, second things are not suppressed but increased.”

“When I lay these questions before God I get no answer. But a rather special sort of ‘No answer.’ It is not the locked door. It is more like a silent, certainly not uncompassionate, gaze. As though He shook His head not in refusal but waiving the question. Like, ‘Peace, child; you don’t understand.”

“When they have really learned to love their neighbours as themselves, they will be allowed to love themselves as their neighbours.”

“With the possible exception of the equator, everything begins somewhere.”

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”

“You ask whether I have ever been in love: fool as I am, I am not such a fool as that. But if one is only to talk from first-hand experience, conversation would be a very poor business. But though I have no personal experience of the things they call love, I have what is better – the experience of Sappho, of Euripides, of Catallus, of Shakespeare, of Spenser, of Austen, of Bronte, of anyone else I have read.”

“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”

“You can’t get a cup of tea big enough or a book long enough to suit me.”

“You must see that if two things are alike, then it is a further question whether the first is copied from the second, or the second from the first, or both from a third.’ ‘Some that thought that all these loves were copies of our love for the landlord.”