Weight of Glory

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Overview

The Weight of Glory features nine memorable addresses C. S. Lewis delivered during World War II. Considered by many to be his most moving address, the title essay, "The Weight of Glory," extols a compassionate vision of Christianity and includes lucid and compelling discussions on forgiveness and faith. "On Forgiveness," "The Inner Ring," and the other much-quoted pieces display Lewis's breadth of learning and spiritual insight that have made him the most influential Christian ...

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Weight of Glory

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Overview

The Weight of Glory features nine memorable addresses C. S. Lewis delivered during World War II. Considered by many to be his most moving address, the title essay, "The Weight of Glory," extols a compassionate vision of Christianity and includes lucid and compelling discussions on forgiveness and faith. "On Forgiveness," "The Inner Ring," and the other much-quoted pieces display Lewis's breadth of learning and spiritual insight that have made him the most influential Christian of the twentieth century.

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Editorial Reviews

New York Times Book Review
Lewis combines a novelist's insights into motives with a profound religious understanding.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060653200
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/1/2001
  • Series: C. S. Lewis Signature Classics
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 75,933
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.46 (d)

Meet the Author

Clive Staples Lewis (1898-1963) was one of the intellectual giants of the twentieth century and arguably one of the most influential writers of his day. He was a Fellow and Tutor in English Literature at Oxford University until 1954, when he was unanimously elected to the Chair of Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Cambridge University, a position he held until his retirement. He wrote more than thirty books, allowing him to reach a vast audience, and his works continue to attract thousands of new readers every year. His most distinguished and popular accomplishments include Mere Christianity, Out of the Silent Planet, The Great Divorce, The Screwtape Letters, and the universally acknowledged classics The Chronicles of Narnia. To date, the Narnia books have sold over one hundred million copies and have been transformed into three major motion pictures.

Clive Staples Lewis (1898-1963) fue uno de los intelectuales más importantes del siglo veinte y podría decirse que fue el escritor cristiano más influyente de su tiempo. Fue profesor particular de literatura inglesa y miembro de la junta de gobierno en la Universidad Oxford hasta 1954, cuando fue nombrado profesor de literatura medieval y renacentista en la Universidad Cambridge, cargo que desempeñó hasta que se jubiló. Sus contribuciones a la crítica literaria, literatura infantil, literatura fantástica y teología popular le trajeron fama y aclamación a nivel internacional. C. S. Lewis escribió más de treinta libros, lo cual le permitió alcanzar una enorme audiencia, y sus obras aún atraen a miles de nuevos lectores cada año. Sus más distinguidas y populares obras incluyen Las Crónicas de Narnia, Los Cuatro Amores, Cartas del Diablo a Su Sobrino y Mero Cristianismo.

Biography

C. S. Lewis was famous both as a fiction writer and as a Christian thinker, and his biographers and critics sometimes divide his personality in two: the storyteller and the moral educator, the "dreamer" and the "mentor." Yet a large part of Lewis's appeal, for both his audiences, lay in his ability to fuse imagination with instruction. "Let the pictures tell you their own moral," he once advised writers of children's stories. "But if they don't show you any moral, don't put one in. ... The only moral that is of any value is that which arises inevitably from the whole cast of the author's mind."

Storytelling came naturally to Lewis, who spent the rainy days of his childhood in Ireland writing about an imaginary world he called Boxen. His first published novel, Out of the Silent Planet, tells the story of a journey to Mars; its hero was loosely modeled on his friend and fellow Cambridge scholar J.R.R. Tolkien. Lewis enjoyed some popularity for his Space Trilogy (which continues in Perelandra and That Hideous Strength), but nothing compared to that which greeted his next imaginative journey, to an invented world of fauns, dwarfs, and talking animals -- a world now familiar to millions of readers as Narnia.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the first book of the seven-volume Chronicles of Narnia, began as "a picture of a Faun carrying an umbrella and parcels in a snowy wood," according to Lewis. Years after that image first formed in his mind, others bubbled up to join it, producing what Kate Jackson, writing in Salon, called "a fascinating attempt to compress an almost druidic reverence for wild nature, Arthurian romance, Germanic folklore, the courtly poetry of Renaissance England and the fantastic beasts of Greek and Norse mythology into an entirely reimagined version of what's tritely called 'the greatest story ever told.'"

The Chronicles of Narnia was for decades the world's bestselling fantasy series for children. Although it was eventually superseded by Harry Potter, the series still holds a firm place in children's literature and the culture at large. (Narnia even crops up as a motif in Jonathan Franzen's 2001 novel The Corrections). Its last volume appeared in 1955; in that same year, Lewis published a personal account of his religious conversion in Surprised by Joy. The autobiography joined his other nonfiction books, including Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters, and The Great Divorce, as an exploration of faith, joy and the meaning of human existence.

Lewis's final work of fiction, Till We Have Faces, came out in 1956. Its chilly critical reception and poor early sales disappointed Lewis, but the book's reputation has slowly grown; Lionel Adey called it the "wisest and best" of Lewis's stories for adults. Lewis continued to write about Christianity, as well as literature and literary criticism, for several more years. After his death in 1963, The New Yorker opined, "If wit and wisdom, style and scholarship are requisites to passage through the pearly gates, Mr. Lewis will be among the angels."

Good To Know

The imposing wardrobe Lewis and his brother played in as children is now in Wheaton, Illinois, at the Wade Center of Wheaton College, which also houses the world's largest collection of Lewis-related documents, according to The Christian Science Monitor.

The 1994 movie, Shadowlands, based on the play of the same name, cast Anthony Hopkins as Lewis. It tells the story of his friendship with, and then marriage to, an American divorcee named Joy Davidman (played by Debra Winger), who died of cancer four years after their marriage. Lewis's own book about coping with that loss, A Grief Observed, was initially published under the pseudonym N. W. Clerk.

Several poems, stories, and a novel fragment published after Lewis's death have come under scrutiny as possible forgeries. On one side of the controversy is Walter Hooper, a trustee of Lewis's estate and editor of most of his posthumous works; on the other is Kathryn Lindskoog, a Lewis scholar who began publicizing her suspicions in 1988. Scandal or kooky conspiracy theory? The verdict's still out among readers.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Clive Staples Lewis (real name); Clive Hamilton, N.W. Clerk, Nat Whilk; called "Jack" by his friends
    1. Date of Birth:
      November 29, 1898
    2. Place of Birth:
      Belfast, Nothern Ireland
    1. Date of Death:
      November 22, 1963
    2. Place of Death:
      Headington, England

Read an Excerpt

Weight of Glory

Chapter One

The Weight of Glory

If you asked twenty good men today what they thought the highest of the virtues, nineteen of them would reply, Unselfishness. But if you had 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 idea 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 arefar too easily pleased.

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 rewards. There is the reward which has no natural connection 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 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 insofar as he approaches the reward that he becomes able to desire it for its own sake; indeed, the power of so desiring it is itself a preliminary reward.

The Christian, in relation to heaven, is in much the same position as this schoolboy. Those who have attained everlasting life in the vision of God doubtless know very well that it is no mere bribe, but the very consummation of their earthly discipleship; but we who have not yet attained it cannot know this in the same way, and cannot even begin to know it at all except by continuing to obey and finding the first reward of our obedience in our increasing power to desire the ultimate reward. Just in proportion as the desire grows, our fear lest it should be a mercenary desire will die away and finally be recognised as an absurdity. But probably this will not, for most of us, happen in a day; poetry replaces grammar, gospel replaces law, longing transforms obedience, as gradually as the tide lifts a grounded ship.

But there is one other important similarity between the schoolboy and ourselves. If he is an imaginative boy, he will, quite probably, be revelling in the English poets and romancers suitable to his age some time before he begins to suspect that Greek grammar is going to lead him to more and more enjoyments of this same sort. He may even be neglecting his Greek to read Shelley and Swinburne in secret. In other words, the desire which Greek is really going to gratify already exists in him and is attached to objects which seem to him quite unconnected with Xenophon and the verbs in [Greek]. Now, if we are made for heaven, the desire for our proper place will be already in us, but not yet attached to the true object, and will even appear as the rival of that object. And this, I think, is just what we find. No doubt there is one point in which my analogy of the schoolboy breaks down.

Weight of Glory. Copyright © by C. Lewis. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 26 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 26 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 28, 2009

    THIS IS A GRAND BOOK FOR THOSE WHO ENJOY C.S. LEWIS

    I read a section at a time, give myself some time to digest what I have read. Some themes give me pause to contemplate and ask questions of myself.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2013

    C. S. Lewis was a very profound writer. He approaches Christiani

    C. S. Lewis was a very profound writer. He approaches Christianity in a very philosophical way which brings to light deep questions. In his book Weight of Glory he has a collection of sermons which touches topics of forgiveness, pacifism, membership, and more. His approaches to all of the topics are logical and flow very well. If there is a person looking for more clear insight into the Christian faith C. S. Lewis’ Weight of Glory is the book for you.
    C.S. Lewis has a lot of clarity in his writings about Christianity. He breaks down questions so that they cannot be passed up without a true understanding of the topic. For example in C. S. Lewis’ sermon “Membership” he breaks down what a family structure looks like and what that means for the church. “The grandfather, the parents, the grownup son … are true members (in the organic sense), precisely because they are not members or units of a homogeneous class. They are not interchangeable.” The depth that C.S. Lewis shows in his writings are sure to give a proper understanding of the topic and give the person longing for a Christian insight clarity and comfort.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 30, 2012

    Prison cells

    Walk across the dungeon to another metal gate & go through it. These are the prision cells. This is where the White Witch puts spies & evil ones who turn good. They are not pleasant lpaces to be.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2011

    One of his best!

    While reading The Weight of Glory, I found that I needed to be fully invested in CS Lewis' writing in order to really absorb what he was saying (or else I would get lost and confused in his extensive explanations and never ending examples). But at the end of each chapter I left with a sense of enlightenment and encouragement. The main point I left with from this text was to make Christ be the center of EVERYTHING I do. I found myself reflecting on my own life and created goals to further my relationship with Christ. As always, Lewis' use of biblical and logical reason, metaphors and analogies, and his constant humble tone makes his ideas easy to understand and incorporate into your own life. As you read, you know that the Lord is using Lewis has his tool to reach thousands of people and to tell them how to better their relationship with Christ. If you are a Christian who is striving for challenges, this book introduces you to a range of topics and gives you the support to explore them further.

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  • Posted March 27, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Nothing New Under the Sun

    C. S. Lewis' lectures in his day were relevant to the times and human nature. He doesn't get bogged down explaining scripture, but transparently, with deep thoughtfulness, considers human ethics. He seems to be thinking out loud as he reasons through some of man's toughest choices. Like a treasure hunter going into the depths of the sea, he prepares, guides and rescues the reader just before the student thinks he knows more than the teacher. He doesn't just tell about the nature of God, he lives out what he believes to be God's will for himself and friends who know him well.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 24, 2004

    Life Changing

    New perspective on our lives as mortals and the eternal impact of our spirit. It made me weep.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2002

    The best of C.S. Lewis

    The title essay is among the best -- if not the very best -- of Lewis' writings. In a sermon-length essay, he concisely captures his thoughts on transcendence, longing and the sacramaental nature of reality, dominant themes in all his writing. Easy to read as always, it nonetheless stands up to many, many rereadings. The book also includes "Why I am not a Pacifist" and "Learning in War-Time."

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