But in real life people are cruel for one of two reasons - either because they are sadists, that is, because they have a sexual perversion which makes cruelty a cause of sensual pleasure to them, or else for the sake of something they are going to get out of it - money, or power, or safety. But pleasure, money, power and safety are all, as far as they go, good things. I do mean that wickedness, when you examine it, turns out to be the pursuit of some good in the wrong way. Dualism is wrong because it is impossible to like badness for its own sake, huh? Because when you do bad things youre really trying to achieve ends which are really good, but youre going about it the wrong way, huh? How in whatever grotesque rhetorical contortion could that be construed as pursuing a GOOD thing in the wrong way?? I get it, CS, he was trying to do a GOOD thing in a BAD way. He would go to friends' barbecues and fry steaks and chuckle to himself "if only they knew about my incest family in the basement!" Or anyway, take the case of any common or garden wife beater what GOOD are they trying to achieve in the wrong way? Oh, wait CS says that power is as far as it goes a good thing. Every time the Christians play me their song they change the chords. So I still can't figure out what they mean when they speak these simple phrases with those little big words - "God", "saved", "life", "sin" - that kind of thing.
Mere Christianity is a book on the fundamentals of Christian belief. Although the Bible is the foundation of our beliefs, I think this book does an exceptional job of condensing, or explaining, if you will what Christians espouse. Nor does he deny that he struggled with some aspects of being a Christian at times. We admit that we strive to know God and to have God work in us to make us more like him. There were parts of this book that spoke so intimately to my spirit, that I lifted my hand to praise God. For Mr. Lewis had indeed through the power of the Holy Spirit, put on paper that feeling that I believe all people who are born again in Christ feel and experience. While many feel that Christians are fools who believe in fairy tales, he shows just how much sense Christianity makes to those who choose to follow it. He takes it a bit further to explain why some point in between atheism and Christianity (including other belief systems) wont work for those who choose to follow Christ. Brutal honesty is as much a part of the Christian faith as the comfort is in knowing that while the walk in following Christ is a tough road, we do it not alone, but through the power of the Lord Jesus Christ, who lives in us and empowers us to follow him. As a lover of Christ, he does not seek to turn his message into another one of manipulation (as many view Christianity and the followers of this faith), for its far too important for that.
If you are looking for a book that will convince you to take the leap of faith and become a Christian (like so many 1-star reviewers who said they were unconvinced) then don't waste your time. However, if you are looking for the facts about real Christianity (not as a religion, but as a relationship) then you can't do much better than Lewis. If you want this same validation, you can either talk to a Christian who knows the facts (as I did), or read something like what Lewis has presented. 2. Other cultures would stop saying ignorant things like "America (or wherever) is a Christian nation." The facts in Lewis' work speak against this. Even if you read only the last chapter (about the next evolution of humanity), you'll have captured a significant (and inspiring) picture of real (er, Mere) Christianity.
Here's a quote from the book that's never left my head: "I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: 'I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God.' That is the one thing we must not say.
Every time Lewis embarked on a thought, it would grow and blossom in intriguing ways until he would simply bunch together the whole bundle, tie it with a bow, label it 'god's handiwork' with a reverent nod, and move on, never reaching an insight. To portray everyone else as faulty but still think yourself infallible is not only insulting, but a black mark on any otherwise reasonable mind. I sense Lewis also wanted to find something he could attach himself to.
I think that a lot of people, Christian and non-Christian, have the idea that when someone becomes a follower of Christ the whole of their behavior and attitude changes overnight; then when they foul up, it seems like everyone enjoys talking about it and seeing it. This book talks about matters of the heart like this business of being happy to find others in the wrong, or becoming proud with one's own "successes" in Christianity. Lewis talks about Christianity being a process of producing a particular kind of new man, instead of a group of people who follow a set of rules. Interestingly enough, it is also these actions created in us by God's Spirit, saying "yes" to His prompting and the way He wants us to live, which miraculously turn us into these new sons and daughters of God. Lewis also talks about how this process is worked through us, so that we have no room to be proud or think that it's of our own doing.
I'm half way through the book, but so far I'm further convinced that Jesus is my savior and that Christianity is right for me. I feel that my future on this path is fulfilling, and I hope that anybody who is confused about their spiritual beliefs, or anyone who wants to take a peak at Christianity and see if it is right for them, should check this book out.
People either love this book or hate it. By the third one sometimes I found myself somewhat confused and had to read them all over again, and again, and again.
Yet in Mere Christianity, I found none of the superficiality I've previously experienced with other books that delve into philosophic explorations of religion. Thank goodness my wife is a huge C.S. Lewis fan or I might not have picked it up at all. I found that in this work C.S. Lewis single-handedly legitimizes religion as a belief, lifestyle, and philosophy. Mere Christianity is not "merely" another book on religion or Sunday School manual; it is a call to arms for every person who picks it up, regardless of their faith.
Lewis wove doctrines and lessons regarding the Christian faith throughout his other works, notably the Chronicles of Narnia. From there he narrows slightly, circling closer and closer until he reaches Christian doctrine (i.e. the holy trinity). He does not preach only one denomination rather he expounds on core truths and beliefs of Christianity as a whole. So, taken with a grain of salt - this book does provide an fascinating look into the core beliefs of the Christian religion.
He was a Fellow and Tutor in English Literature at Oxford University until 1954.