More On That C. S. Lewis Quote

28 Apr

That C. S. Lewis quote from yesterday wasn’t meant to be a stand alone item. I mean, Lewis is always good for a quote, but yesterday’s wasn’t particularly brilliant. Actually, it stated something that would seem to be fairly obvious if one were to think about it. But not many people do.

It’s true that our age, like any other, is “specially liable to make certain mistakes.” Boy, howdy! What can we do about it? How can we in this age see more clearly? Well, as fate would have it, Lewis had more to say on the matter:

“The only palliative is to keep the the clean sea breeze of the centuries blowing through our minds, and this can be done only by reading old books.”

Imagine that. The solution involves books. Old ones at that.

Lewis’ remarks came from an introduction he wrote in 1944 to St. Anthanasius’ “On the Incarnation, ” which was probably written in 318 AD.This definitely qualifies it as an “old book.”

As one might guess, I happen to agree with him. Today’s world, perhaps more than in the past, is held in thrall to the new and shiny. Technology thrusts obsolescence on us every day. We want the latest news, the latest opinions, the latest books. Last week? Really?

Now Lewis probably had in mind the writings of Plato, Aquinas or even Milton. I don’t believe one needs to go back quite that far (although it certainly couldn’t hurt!) Personally, some of the ideas that have stayed with me the longest came from people who were writing 50 to 100 years ago. There were some damn good writers and thinkers back then.

The point is that we need to read the good stuff from years past, then take that knowledge and see how it plays in today’s world. Some of it will be dated, sure. But a lot of it could help us see today’s world more clearly.

That’s a big part of what I’ll try to do with this blog. I want you to know about some of the good old stuff that influenced me. And I’d love to hear about some of the good old stuff that influenced you, too.

This age could use a good breeze.

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Posted by on April 28, 2012 in Old Books


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