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July 20, 2011

C. S. Lewis on Gambling and Church Attendance

God in the Dock audioI have been rereading C. S. Lewis’s God in the Dock, a collection of his essays. Actually, I’ve been listening to the audio, sent to me by the wonderful folks at christianaudio.com. I love it. I am a big fan of audio. (Check out all of C.S. Lewis’s audio books available from christianaudio.) I find myself hearing things different than when I read it on the page.

God in the Dock has a wide variety of essays, and I just listened to one called "Answers to Questions on Christianity." There was a question about gambling that I had forgotten, and I found myself laughing at it. I share it less for the content than for the wit, vintage C. S. Lewis:

Gambling ought never to be an important part of a man’s life.  If it is a way in which large sums of money are transferred from person to person without doing any good (e.g., producing employment, goodwill, etc.) then it is a bad thing. If it is carried out on a small scale, I am not sure that it is bad. I don’t know much about it, because it is about the only vice to which I have no temptation at all, and I think it is a risk to talk about things which are not in my own make-up, because I don’t understand them. If anyone comes to me asking to play bridge for money, I just say: ‘How much do you hope to win? Take it and go away.’

And here is Lewis’s answer to whether it is necessary to go to church. I find it very powerful.

When I first became a Christian, about fourteen years ago, I thought that I could do it on my own, by retiring to my rooms and reading theology, and wouldn’t go to the churches and Gospel Halls; I disliked very much their hymns which I considered to be fifth-rate poems set to sixth-rate music. But as I went on I saw the merit of it. I came up against different people of quite different outlooks and different education, and then gradually my conceit just began peeling off. I realized that the hymns (which were just sixth-rate music) were, nevertheless, being sung with devotion and benefit by an old saint in elastic-side boots in the opposite pew, and then you realize that you aren’t fit to clean those boots. It gets you out of your solitary conceit.

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