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Part One (a further attempt to get YOU to read one of my favorite peices of writing)

The Weight of Glory
by C.S. Lewis
Preached originally as a sermon in the
Church of St Mary the Virgin, Oxford,
on June 8, 1942: published in
THEOLOGY, November, 1941,
and by the S.P.C.K,
If you asked twenty good men to-day
what they thought the highest of
the virtues, nineteen of them would
reply, Unselfishness. But if you asked
almost any of the great Christians of old he
would have replied, Love. 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
We must not be troubled by unbelievers
when they say that this promise of reward
makes the Christian life a mercenary affair.
There are different kinds of reward. There
is the reward which has no natural
connexion with the things you do to earn
it, and is quite foreign to the desires that
ought to accompany those things. Money
is not the natural reward of love; that is
why we call a man mercenary if he marries
a woman for the sake of her money. But
marriage is the proper reward for a real
lover, and he is not mercenary for desiring
it. A general who fights well in order to get
a peerage is mercenary; a general who
fights for victory is not, victory being the
– 2 –
proper reward of battle as marriage is the
proper reward of love. The proper rewards
are not simply tacked on to the activity for
which they are given, but are the activity
itself in consummation. There is also a
third case, which is more complicated. An
enjoyment of Greek poetry is certainly a
proper, and not a mercenary, reward for
learning Greek; but only those who have
reached the stage of enjoying Greek poetry
can tell from their own experience that this
is so. The schoolboy beginning Greek
grammar cannot look forward to his adult
enjoyment of Sophocles as a lover looks
forward to marriage or a general to victory.
He has to begin by working for marks, or
to escape punishment, or to please his
parents, or, at best, in the hope of a future
good which he cannot at present imagine
or desire. His position, therefore, bears a
certain resemblance to that of the
mercenary; the reward he is going to get
will, in actual fact, be a natural or proper
reward, but he will not know that till he
has got it. Of course, he gets it gradually;
enjoyment creeps in upon the mere
drudgery, and nobody could point to a day
or an hour when the one ceased and the
other began. But it is just in so far as he
approaches the reward that be becomes
able to desire it for its own sake; indeed,
the power of so desiring it is itself a
preliminary reward.


Dear Readers,

In the past you have been avid readers of my rambling and heard my longings and wonders and questions though I know not if you have been wondering with me or hiding the answers in your own heart. On December sixteenth I wrote a post called “Just what I always wanted” and on December twelfth and thirteenth I wrote part one and two of “Day dreaming and what not” and on Dec fourth I wrote “Waste not want not” and the list goes on and on into the past where I talk of beauty. I had this sort of struggle with beauty and loveliness that I could never put my finger on. Today a read something that was wonderful. I love reading C.S.Lewis but every time I read something else of his, I do not immediately assume I am going to like it or agree with it but remain critical as I am with all writers. But this was great, it is The Weight of Glory-a sermon by Mr. Lewis. I knew that Joey had read it (and the beginning aloud to me) and so I looked it up and read it a moment ago. I understood, agreed and felt a great relief for it explained some of my questions to me. Read the whole sermon here.

Very highly recommended by,

Everly Pleasant

The books or the music in
which we thought the beauty was located
will betray us if we trust to them; it was
not in them, it only came through them,
and what came through them was longing.
These things—the beauty, the memory of
our own past—are good images of what we
really desire; but if they are mistaken for
the thing itself they turn into dumb idols,
breaking the hearts of their worshippers.
For they are not the thing itself; they are
only the scent of a flower we have not
found, the echo of a tune we have not
heard, news from a country we have never
yet visited.

-The Weight of Glory

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