….saw a lovely quote by CS Lewis today on Facebook. Since a) A fictionalized CSL is a character in the current incarnation of my second book, The Emperor of North America, sequel to The Tripods Attack, (shameless plug over), and b) since my friend Larry says he’d like to see a few new blog entries lately, I’ll put this quote by CSL here:
“Now Faith, in the sense in which I am here using the word, is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods.”
“The first step is to recognize the fact that your moods change. The next is to make sure that, if you have once accepted Christianity, then some of its doctrines shall be deliberately held before your mind for some time every day. That is why daily prayers and religios readings and churchgoing are necessary parts of the Christian life. We have to be constantly reminded of what we believe. Neither this belief nor any other will automatically remain alive in the mind. It must be fed. And as a matter of fact, if you examined a hundred people who had lost their faith in Christianity, I wonder how many of them would turn out to have been reasoned out of it by honest argument? Do not most people simply drift away?”
“No man knows how bad he is until he has tried very hard to be good. 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. After all, you find out the strength of the German army by fighting against it, not by giving in. You find out the strength of a wind by trying to talk against it, not by lying down. 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. We never find out the strength of an evil impulse inside us until we try to fight it: and Christ, because He was the only man who never yielded to temptation, is also the only man who knows to the full what temptation means- the only complete realist. Very well, then. The only thing we learn from a serious attempt to practice the Christian virtues is that we fail.”
“To trust Him, means, of course, trying to do all He says. There would be no sense in saying you trusted a person if you would not take his advice. Thus if you have really handed yourself over to Him, it must follow that you are trying to obey Him. But trying in a new way, a less worried way. Not doing these things in order to be saved, but because He has begun to save you already. Not hoping to get to Heaven as a reward for your actions, but inevitably wanting to act in a certain way because a first faint gleam of Heaven is already inside you.”
-Mere Christianity, ‘Faith.’
….I like to bring this up when I her people say that either a] as a Catholic I obviously am either weak-minded or sheltered from the ‘real’ world in some way, or b] I am doing my children a disservice by ‘sheltering’ them from the ‘real’ world by bringing them up with the values of my wife and I.
Well, folks, CSL said it well. Just as Conservatives know the position of their political opponents far better due to the inundation of lefist values in today’s culture, so, too, do Christians understand temptations and trials far better than their opponents think. It’s because we need to swim against the stream that we know the strength of the stream. What some perceive as inflexibility and closed-mindedness is in reality the strength we have developed in fighting the current.
Put another way: A person who isn’t tipped over by a flash flood won’t be swayed by a swirling eddy, and a person who has truly struggled and prevailed against temptation won’t be felled by a latte-drinking, beatnik-wanna-be who tries to tell us the ‘real’ reason the Faith has survived and thrived for the last fifty centuries.