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The Weight of Glory by C. S. Lewis

The Weight of Glory (1980)

by C. S. Lewis

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    Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist by John Piper (wisewoman)
    wisewoman: "The Weight of Glory" is Lewis's sermon that sparked the whole idea of Christian hedonism in John Piper. Piper quotes it extensively in Desiring God, but it's good to read Lewis's thoughts in their full context.

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Beautifully crafted essays, full of wonderful ideas and arguments. ( )
  tangentrider | Aug 27, 2015 |
'Transposition' and 'On Forgiveness' were the two most powerful addresses to me. In transposition, he shows that scientists are always trying to show the way spiritual truths can be explained by physical scientific evidence. These proofs should not bother us because they are seen through a worldly lens. This is God's world and he designed it that way. God not only sees things through spiritually, but also physically. His works are intricate and loving. Just because there are physical explanations to spiritual truths does not negate the truth of their spirituality. It is just one level of their existence. 'On Forgiveness' emphasizes that we should be slow to excuse our own shortcomings and quick to forgive others as is often not the case. These addresses remind me that I have not read enough of C.S. Lewis. ( )
  erinjamieson | Jan 3, 2013 |
I loved this book, and I loved taking my time reading it. It is a collection of essays on life and faith. I think that even someone who does not consider themselves to be Christian would find something of value here. My favorite essays were "The Weight of Glory", "Is Theology Poetry?", "The Inner Ring", and "Membership".

The Weight of Glory
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 say it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship... It is in 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, 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 splendours.

Is Theology Poetry?
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 Inner Ring
And if in your spare time you consort simply with the people you like, you will again find that you have come unawares to a real inside, that you are indeed snug and safe at the centre of something which, seen from without, would look exactly like an Inner Ring. But the difference is that its secrecy is accidental, and its exclusiveness a by-product, and no one was led thither by the lure of the esoteric, for it is only four or five people who like one another meeting to do things that they like. This is friendship. Aristotle placed it among the virtues. It causes perhaps half of all the happiness in the world, and no Inner Ring can ever have it.

How true membership in a body differs from inclusion in a collective may be seen in the structure of a family. The grandfather, the parents, the grown-up son, the child, the dog, and the cat are true members (in the organic sense), precisely because they are not members or units of a homogenous class. They are not interchangeable...If you subtract any one member, you have not simply reduced the family in number; you have inflicted an injury on its structure. ( )
  nittnut | Aug 23, 2012 |
The nine essays in this book were originally speeches or sermons given by C. S. Lewis on different aspects of the Christian life. Topics include friendship, forgiveness, and looking at life with eternity in mind. Lewis is so darn intelligent but doesn't talk down to his listeners or readers. He uses reason and wisdom to help us better understand our human nature and that indefinable longing for something missing in our lives.

Lewis gives much to ponder in these loosely related discourses. This would be a good introduction to C. S. Lewis and his view of Christianity or, for his fans, a way of getting even further into his brilliant mind and quiet charisma. I know this is a book I will read many times to gain new insights. I'm giving it a solid four stars on my first reading, and I highly suspect that subsequent readings will raise the level of my appreciation. ( )
  Donna828 | Jul 20, 2012 |
I have always loved the title of this collection of addresses, pulled from the passage in 2 Corinthians 4 that says, "For this momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory, far beyond all comparison." In the title sermon, arguably one of Lewis's finest, he identifies our problem not as too much desire for personal happiness, but desires for happiness that are too weak and too easily satisfied with sin's empty pleasures. In an oft-quoted passage, Lewis writes:

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 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. (26)

Later writers — notably John Piper, in his Desiring God which I just finished and which served, in one of those delightful spiritual "coincidences" of God's, to hammer home the point to me — have caught on to the incredible truth represented here. It is wonderful to feel the freedom to eagerly pursue one's own happiness, and to know that happiness can only be found in God.

Other small nuggets of truth from the other eight addresses are still with me. In one address, Lewis is speaking to a graduating class, and instead of preaching the usual about working hard and being ambitious, he describes the endless struggle to be in what he calls "the inner ring" — and what we sacrifice along the way for that insipid status. It's very thought provoking. Another idea that has stuck with me is from his sermon "Transposition," in which he discusses the tongues-speaking of Acts 2 and some possible reasons that the Holy Spirit manifested in this way; it is the translation of a higher language to a lower.

In "Membership," Lewis talks about the refreshing acknowledgment of our inequalities in the Church. Again, Lewis is the forerunner of truths I have been learning from other sources of late:

But the function of equality is purely protective. It is medicine, not food. By treating human persons (in judicious defiance of the observed facts) as if they were all the same kind of things, we avoid innumerable evils. But it is not on this that we were made to live. It is idle to say that men are of equal value. If value is taken in a worldly sense—if we mean that all men are equally useful or beautiful or good or entertaining—then it is nonsense. If it means that all are of equal value as immortal souls, then I think it conceals a dangerous error. The infinite value of each human soul is not a Christian doctrine. God did not die for man because of some value He perceived in him. The value of each human soul, considered simply in itself, out of relation to God, is zero. (170)

Not a popular view nowadays, to be sure, in our culture of precious self-esteem and positive thinking, but very refreshing. There is a lot of freedom for the creature when it stops viewing itself as the reason for its own (and God's) existence.

I enjoyed the introduction by Walter Hooper and the little anecdotes he relates about Lewis. Sometimes it seems almost a little like hero-worship. But the more I know of Lewis's work and the profundity of his thought, the more understandable this level of admiration appears. ( )
4 vote wisewoman | May 30, 2011 |
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The weight of glory: If you asked twenty good men today what they thought the highest of virtues, nineteen of them would reply, Unselfishness.
Learning in War-Time: A university is a society for the pursuit of learning.
Why I am not a pacifist: The question is whether to serve in the wars at the command of the civil society to which we belong is a wicked action, or an action morally indifferent, or an action morally obligatory.
Transposition: In the church to which I belong this day is set apart for commemorating the descent of the Holy Ghost upon the first Christians shortly after the Ascension.
Is theology poetry: The question I have been asked to discuss tonight - "Is theology poetry?" - is not of my own choosing.
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Disambiguation notice
This work contains nine essays. Do not combine with editions containing only five. "The Weight of Glory" has been published in two major editions. The first, identical with "Transposition and other Addresses", was published with five essays in 1949 and intermittently until 1980, when an expanded edition was published, with four additional essays.

Those with pre-1980 five-essay works are invited to separate out and combine their editions with "Transposition and other Addresses".
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060653205, Paperback)

Selected from sermons delivered by C. S. Lewis during World War II, these nine addresses offer guidance and inspiration in a time of great doubt.These are ardent and lucid sermons that provide a compassionate vision of Christianity.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:14 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Publisher's description: Selected from sermons delivered by C. S. Lewis during World War II, these nine addresses offer guidance and inspiration in a time of great doubt. These are ardent and lucid sermons that provide a compassionate vision of Christianity.… (more)

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