C.S. Lewis on the Uncertainty of Life

This is from an essay by C.S. Lewis entitled “Present Concerns.”  His point, a valid one, is that life has always been uncertain.  The coronavirus is nothing new.  There have always been diseases, wars, accidents, riots, murder and more.  Death is one thing that is certain — the real question is not when we will die, but how we will live.

In one way, we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb. “How are we to live in an atomic age?” I am tempted to reply: “Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents.

In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb was invented: and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways. We had, indeed, one very great advantage over our ancestors—anesthetics; but we have that still. It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty.

This is the first point to be made: and the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all 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 may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.”

For more on C.S. Lewis see these posts:

Castastrophe or Eucatastrophe?

Not a Tame Lion–The Spiritual Legacy of C.S. Lewis by Terry Gaspey–Book Review

A Quote by C.S. Lewis


Castastrophe or Eucatastrophe?

My husband and I love words, and I love learning new words.  Somebody once said use a word three times in a sentence, and you’ve made it yours.  So today I’ve learned a new word, and I’ll teach it to you.  I came across it in the biography of C.S. Lewis I recently reviewed, Not a Tame Lion.

Eucastastrophe-a sudden turn of events at the end of a story which ensures that the main character does not meet some terrible, impending, and probable doom.

The word was first coined by the writer, J. R. R. Tolkien (a friend of C.S. Lewis) who affixed the Greek prefix eu, which means good, to catastrophe.  It referred to the “unraveling” of a drama’s plot in an unexpectedly favorable way. (Note to English majors:  this is similar to ‘deus ex machina” but has subtle differences I won’t go into here).

For example, someone might experience the “catastrophe” of losing his or her job, only to find that it forced them to consider a new career which was ultimately more fulfilling.  Thus, their catastrophe became a euchastrophe!

Of course, in case you haven’t already deduced the point of my post, the gospel story, as recounted in the Scriptures is the ultimate euchastastrophe.  Tolkien described it this way:

 “The Birth of Christ is the eucatastrophe of man’s history. The Resurrection is the eucatastrophe of the story of the Incarnation. This story begins and ends with joy … such joy has the very taste of primary truth.”

So consider this:  in the long run, all our catastrophes are eucatastrophes.  Because of our faith, we know that whatever suffering and tribulation happen along the way, our end, our homecoming is secure.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.’” Rev. 12:3-4



Not a Tame Lion–The Spiritual Legacy of C.S. Lewis by Terry Gaspey–Book Review

This biography of C.S. Lewis is the second I’ve read from the Leaders In Action series recommended by Fanning the Flame.  I chose it because Lewis is a writer (and I’m an English major) and I’m familiar with most of his work.  This book is written with the average reader in mind and doesn’t try to give an academic critique of Lewis as an author.

Lewis was a well-known Christian apologist, who believed that intellect is an important element of our faith.  His own conversion was gradual, as he came to accept that Christianity was not “pie in the sky” but was the religion that made the most sense.  Throughout his writing he tried to provide reasonable, logical answers to those questions people faced in becoming or remaining Christian.  He also wrote fictional works that, like the parables of Jesus, put the tenets of the faith into stories that were easily understood and appealed to both children and adults.  He read widely (another reason I like him), wrote clearly and engagingly and had an astonishing grasp of many subjects.

According to the author, the factors behind Lewis’s success in conveying the Christian message are these:

  1. He emphasized the reasonableness of the gospel, showing that it is based on logic and common sense, not wishful thinking
  2. He used his amazingly detailed imagination to represent the truth of the gospel in fresh ways that spoke to contemporary readers
  3. He demonstrated in both his writing and his personal life that following the gospel was indeed possible and that people can live out the gospel daily

I enjoyed the book, and it made me want to check our the work of C.S. Lewis once again, since I read most of his books when I was much younger.  I might have an entirely new perspective now.  Lewis himself believed in reading good books over and over (not a discipline I’ve developed.)  He is certainly a worthy role model for any Christian writer.

Note to Lutherans:  You will find some differences in Lewis’s theology, particularly related to free will and election

Verdict:  5 stars

Growing Down by Michael Kelley–Book Review

One of the many paradoxes of the Christian faith is this:  in order to mature and grow up in Christ, you have to “grow down” in the ways of the world.  According to Michael Kelley, growing down means recovering a childlike ( not childish) faith which includes dependence, simplicity, transparency, trust, wonder, passion, innocence and rest.  Not easy to do in a life and society that is complex and encourages us to be independent, constantly busy and worried about the future.  Kelly quotes C.S. Lewis:

“People need to be reminded more that instructed.”

and goes on to say:

“…we are becoming what we have already become.  Growth in Christ is about aligning our thoughts, feelings and actions to the reality of God’s finished work in our hearts….”

Growing Down: Unlearning the Patterns of Adulthood that Keep Us from JesusWe often forget that Christ’s sacrifice on the cross really did finish sin, death and the   devil. Their power over us has been broken for good.  We don’t have to do more, we simply need to truly believe and rest in our delightful inheritance as God’s beloved children. This requires changing our focus so that we abide in Jesus instead of the worldly attitudes that distract and control us.

Verdict: This book is not very deep, but it is clear, easy to follow and theologically sound.  I would certainly recommend it to others, particularly newer Christians.  I give it four stars.  If you would like more information or want to order it, follow the link below:


C. S. Lewis on Stewardship

  The only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. Our charities should pinch and hamper us. If we live at the same level of affluence as other people who have our level of income, we are probably giving away too little.

C. S. Lewis (1898–1963)

What is your reaction to this quote?  I find it challenging.  I fear few of us could meet C. S. Lewis’s standard–I know I don’t.

Taking the Long View

36 Of The Best Inspirational Quotes Ever: Sometimes it’s hard to see any change in ourselves or our circumstances.  After all, we live in the present.  That’s why it’s a good idea to occasionally  look back to get the correct perspective.  Not one of us is righteous, and few of us have a “Road to Damascus” experience (like the apostle Paul) that turns us around in an instant. However, when we walk with God, we do change.  Think about who you were and what you were doing 1 year ago, 5 years ago, 10 or more years ago…you’ll see God’s hand in your life and how he has molded and changed you.  Then give thanks and place your trust in His ability to make you into the person He wants you to be.

A Quote by C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis

“[E]very time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different than it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing into a heavenly creature or a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow creatures, and with itself. To be the one kind of creature is heaven: that is, it is joy and peace and knowledge and power. To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence, and eternal loneliness. Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state of the other.”

C.S. Lewis


Interactive Study Blog-Hebrews Chapter 11

One of our other authors, Michele, asked me to post the last several Hebrews interactive studies for her.  I hope you’ve been reading through Hebrews with her as much as I have!

In Chapter 11 we are told about faith.

“Faith is what our mind has that our emotions cannot change.”

I may be paraphrasing this quote from C.S. Lewis in “Mere Christianity” but I feel this is one of the best definitions I have ever heard.  As humans, our emotions can cause us to cycle back and forth on the way we feel, but our faith is something that our brain should never question.

Through our faith we come to understand the grace given to us.  But we cannot come to faith without scripture.  All of this works together to provide us with the food we need to mature in our faith.