52 in 52 Week 30: The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses
"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" (The Weight of Glory by C.S. Lewis, p. 1-2).When I read this quote John Piper's excellent book Desiring God (one every follower of Jesus should read IMHO) about 20 years ago, it mesmerized me. Yet, I had never read the quote in context, and now I have! The introduction by Walter Hooper is very interesting because it gives insight in how the man "walked his talk" since Hooper was an associate of Lewis. I think we all would have liked Lewis. He rates up there in "people of awesomeness" for me.
The Weight of Glory is a collection of nine sermons and essays originally composed by Lewis between 1939 and 1956. An original collection was published in 1949, and reworked into its current form in 1980 by trustee and literary advisor of Lewis’ estate, Walter Hooper, whose introduction to this volume sheds light on the many ways in which Lewis lived out the truths he wrote about.
The title sermon, which appears first in the book, represents Lewis’ most direct work on the value of individuals to God; he affirms that men are immortal souls who have more intrinsic worth than all the cultures and achievements of history. He builds an eloquent case for our responsibility to evangelize and care for our fellow man, reminding us that through every action we are helping our fellow eternal beings toward becoming either “immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.”
The second major statement in the book is the essay ‘‘Transposition’’ in which Lewis undercuts the Roman Catholic teaching that the elements of communion are actually transformed into the body and blood of Jesus upon receipt. Instead, he posits that the Lord chose those elements to evoke the imagery of His sacrifice through the bread and the cup as a powerful sensory reminder for us.
Lewis’ lecture “Is Theology Poetry?” explores the artistry of God’s story of creation and redemption and leaves us to marvel at the precision which it describes reality. This piece is one of the fundamental texts on worldview thinking, that is, understanding that one’s beliefs and presuppositions form the basis for his values, ideas and behaviors. It is probably best remembered for his oft-quoted statement, “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.”
The remaining portions of the book, “Learning in War-Time”, “Why I Am Not a Pacifist”, “The Inner Ring”, “Membership”, “On Forgiveness”, and “A Slip of the Tongue” cover issues from relationships and exclusivism to education and courage to participation in the life of the Body.
Lewis wrote from standpoint of wonderment at the mystery of God informed by his conversion from atheism relatively late in life. Each essay, lecture, or sermon in this volume contains pearls of wisdom that inspire and challenge the reader to love the Lord with his mind. Taken as a whole, it is an invaluable resource to give form to the ideas that make the Christian life what it is. This book belongs on the shelf of every believer.
Justin LonasI agree Justin!