Saturday, November 24, 2012

Far Too Easily Pleased

Now I am thinking about this:

If you asked twenty good men to-day
what they thought 
the highest of the virtues, 
nineteen of them would reply, 

But if you asked almost any 
of the great Christians of old 
he would have replied, 

You see what has happened? 
A negative term 
has been substituted for a positive, 
and this is of more than philological importance. 

The negative ideal of Unselfishness 
carries with it the suggestion 
not primarily of securing good things for others, 
but of going without them ourselves, 
as if our abstinence 
and not their happiness 
was the important point.

I do not think this is the Christian virtue of Love. 

The New Testament has lots to say 
about self-denial,
but not about self-denial as an end in itself.

We are told to deny ourselves 
and to take up our crosses 
in order that we may follow Christ; 
and nearly every description 
of what we shall ultimately find if we do so
contains an appeal to desire. 

If there lurks in most modern minds 
the notion that to desire our own good 
and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it 
is a bad thing, 
I submit that this notion has crept in 
from Kant and the Stoics 
and is no part of the Christian faith. 

Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward 
and the staggering nature of the rewards 
promised in the Gospels, 
it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, 
not too strong, 
but too weak. 

We are half-hearted creatures,
fooling about with drink and sex and ambition 
when infinite joy is offered us,
like an ignorant child 
who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum 
because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer
of a holiday at the sea.

We are far too easily pleased.

C.S. Lewis, Weight of Glory

1 comment:

lindafay said...

Definitely one of my favorite passages apart from the Bible. Thanks for the reminder.