2010 - Vol. 39
Are No Ordinary People
by C.S. Lewis
It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses,
to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk
to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly
tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet,
if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping
each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of
these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection
proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another,
all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics.
There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal.
Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations -these are mortal, and their life
is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with,
work with, marry, snub, and exploit –
immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. This does not mean that we are
to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that
kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people
who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously –
flippancy, no superiority, no presumption. And our charity must be a real
and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love
the sinner – no mere tolerance,
or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment. Next
to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented
to your senses. If he is your Christian neighbor, he is holy in almost
the same way, for in him also Christ vere latitat –
glorifier and the glorified, Glory Himself is truly hidden.
[quote from The Weight
of Glory, by C.S. Lewis. Lewis delivered this sermon at Oxford University
Church of St. Mary the Virgin, on June 8, 1941. It was originally published
in January, 1942.]
Clive Staples Lewis
(November 29, 1898 – November 22, 1963), commonly referred to as C. S.
Lewis and known to his friends and family as Jack, was an Irish-born British
novelist, academic, medievalist, literary critic, essayist, lay theologian
and Christian apologist. He is also known for his fiction, especially The
Screwtape Letters, The Chronicles of Narnia and The Space Trilogy.
was a close friend of J. R. R. Tolkien, and both authors were leading figures
in the English faculty at Oxford University and in the informal Oxford
literary group known as the "Inklings". According to his memoir Surprised
by Joy, Lewis had been baptised in the Church of Ireland at birth,
but fell away from his faith during his adolescence. Owing to the influence
of Tolkien and other friends, at the age of 32 Lewis returned to Christianity,
becoming "a very ordinary layman of the Church of England". His conversion
had a profound effect on his work, and his wartime radio broadcasts on
the subject of Christianity brought him wide acclaim.
of C.S. Lewis by Arthur P. Strong, 1947