Sunday, October 30, 2011

Replay: C.S. Lewis

Way back in August 2009 I posted this excerpt from C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity with regard to health care. I think it is time to post it again, this time while we are considering the Occupy-ers and all the issues surrounding our economy. What is the position of the conscientious Christian? Lewis gives us some food for thought here in this bit from the classic book.

The first thing to get clear about Christian morality between man and man is that in this department, Christ did not come to preach any brand new morality. The Golden Rule of the New Testament (Do as you would be done by) is a summing up of what everyone, at bottom, had always known to be right....

...The second thing to get clear is that Christianity has not, and does not profess to have, a detailed political programme for applying 'Do as you would be done by; to a particular society at a particular moment...

....All the same, the New Testament, without going into details, gives us a pretty clear hint of what a fully Christian society would be like. Perhaps it gives us more than we can take. It tells us that here are to be no passengers or parasites: if a man does not work, he ought not to eat. Everyone is to work with his own hands, and what is more, every one's work is to produce something good: there will be no manufacture of silly luxuries and then of sillier advertisements to persuade us to buy them. And there is to be no 'swank' or 'side', no putting on airs. To that extent a Christian society would be what we call Leftist. On the other hand, it is always insisting on obedience--obedience (and outward marks of respect) from all of us to properly appointed magistrates, form children to parents, and (I'm afraid this is going to be very unpopular) from wives to husbands. Thirdly, it is to be a cheerful society: full of singing and rejoicing, and regarding worry or anxiety as wrong. Courtesy is one of the Christian virtues; and the New Testament hates what it calls 'busybodies.'
If there was such a society in existence and you or I visited it, I think we should come away with a curious impression. We should feel that its economic life was very socialistic and, in that sense 'advanced', but that its family life and its code of manners were rather old fashioned...Each of us would like some bits of it, but I'm afraid very few of us would like the whole thing. That is just what one would expect if Christianity is the total plan for the human machine. We have all departed from that total plan in different ways, and each of us wants to make out that his own modification of the original plan is the plan itself: You will find this again and again about anything that is really Christian: everyone is attracted by bits of it and wants to pick out those bits and leave the rest....

...Charity--giving to the poor--is an essential part of Christian morality: in the frightening parable of the sheep and the goats it seems to be the point on which everything turns. Some people nowadays say that charity ought to be unnecessary and that instead of giving to the poor we ought to be producing a society in which there were no poor to give to. They may be quite right in saying that we ought to produce this kind of society. But if anyone thinks that, as a consequence, you can stop giving in the meantime, then he has parted company with all Christian morality...

And now, before I end, I am going to venture on a guess as to how this section has affected any who have read it. My guess is that there are some Leftist people among them who are very angry that it has not gone further in that direction, and some people of an opposite sort who are angry because they think it has gone much too far...

...A Christian society is not going to arrive until most of us really want it: and we are not going to want it until we become fully Christian. I may repeat 'Do as you would be done by' till I am black in the face, but I cannot really carry it out till I love my neighbour as myself: and I cannot learn to love my neighbour as myself till I learn to love God: and I cannot learn to love God except by learning to obey Him. And so, as I warned you, we are driven on to something more inward--driven on from social matters to religious matters. For the longest way round is the shortest way home.


Bob G. said...

...Sounds like a PLAN to me.

GOOD post.

Stay safe out there.

The Observer said...

Bob G:
I just love this bit. Especially the part where no body would be completely this world.

At bottom, the living out of the Christian faith in community is an inside job.

Thanks for reading and have a great week.

The Observer

Bob G. said...

I think the reason many folks arent't happy in life is because they really never find out what CONTENTMENT is ...first.

After that, the rest becomes a WHOLE lot simpler.

Stay safe out there.