The Weight of Glory by C.S. Lewis – Summary

Summary:

In The Weight of Glory, C.S. Lewis tries to weave “the strongest spell that can be found to wake [us] up from the evil enchantment of worldliness” (thanks to our educational systems and modern philosophies) because “we walk every day on the razor edge between two incredible possibilities”:

  1. to be known, appreciated and delighted in by God – Christian glory: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant” (Mt 25:21), or
  2. to be forgotten, shamed and dismissed by God: “I never knew you. Depart from Me” (Mt 7:23).

To begin weaving this spell, Lewis appeals to desire. We have a deep desire to be acknowledged in this universe and nothing seems to satisfy this innate desire. Lewis boldly suggests – with the support of the Gospels – that our desires are in fact far too weak because we are content with the vanities of this world while infinite glory in heaven is offered to us!

By exploring the “puzzling and repellent” ideas of Christianity, Lewis concludes that Christian glory – to be delighted in by God – is the only match for our deepest desire and becomes not only a weight of glory that we must bear in our daily lives because of the possibility of incomprehensible happiness, but also a call to carry the weight of our neighbour’s glory every day – in whom Christ, Glory Himself, is truly hidden.

Favourite Quotes:

1. 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 (1).

2. If a transtemporal, transfinite good is our real destiny, then any other good on which our desire fixes must be in some degree fallacious, must bear at best only a symbolical relation to what will truly satisfy (4).

3. Do you think I am trying to weave a spell? Perhaps I am; but remember your fairy tales. Spells are used for breaking enchantments as well as for inducing them. And you and I have need of the strongest spell that can be found to wake us from the evil enchantment of worldliness which has been laid upon us for nearly a hundred years (5).

4. If our religion is something objective, then we must never avert our eyes from those elements in it which seem puzzling or repellent; for it will be precisely the puzzling or the repellent which conceals what we do not yet know and need to know (7).

5. In the end that Face which is the delight or the terror of the universe must be turned upon each of us either with one expression or with the other, either conferring glory inexpressible or inflicting shame that can never be cured or disguised (10).

6. The promise of glory is the promise, almost incredible and only possible by the work of Christ, that some of us, that any of us who really chooses, shall actually survive that examination, shall find approval, shall please God. To please God…to be a real ingredient in the divine happiness…to be loved by God, not merely pitied, but delighted in as an artist delights in his work or a father in a son—it seems impossible, a weight or burden of glory which our thoughts can hardly sustain. But so it is (10).

7. Glory, as Christianity teaches me to hope for it, turns out to satisfy my original desire and indeed to reveal an element in that desire which I had not noticed. By ceasing for a moment to consider my own wants I have begun to learn better what I really wanted.

8.  Nature is mortal; we shall outlive her. When all the suns and nebulae have passed away, each one of you will still be alive. Nature is only the image, the symbol; but it is the symbol Scripture invites me to use. We are summoned to pass in through Nature, beyond her, into that splendour which she fitfully reflects

9. It may be possible for each to think too much of his own potential glory hereafter; it is hardly possible for him to think too often or too deeply about that of his neighbour. The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbour’s glory should be laid daily on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken.

10. “For glory meant good report with God, acceptance by God, response, acknowledgment, and welcome into the heart of things. The door on which we have been knocking all our lives will open at last.”

11. “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal.”

12. “Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbour is the holiest object presented to your senses. If he is your Christian neighbour he is holy in almost the same way, for in him also Christ vere latitat—the glorifier and the glorified, Glory Himself, is truly hidden.”

Other Links:

(Interesting that kâbôd is the Hebrew word for glory; it literally means “weight“).

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  1. […] From C.S. Lewis’ The Weight of Glory (click here for summary of The Weight of Glory):  […]

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