Monday, August 17, 2009

At the beach with Clive Staples

I’m on vacation this week, and it would be impolite not to invite you along. Imagine you’re at the beach: can you hear the gentle Gulf of Mexico waves coming ashore? Can you feel the breeze—which always feels just right? And of course, a beach companion, C.S. Lewis. Rather than try to write anything useful (I left my brain back in Kentucky), I think I’ll let you look over my shoulder and enjoy what I am reading: Reflections on the Psalms

From his essay, “A Word about Praising,” here are a few choice cuts.

The most obvious fact about praise escaped me. I thought of it in terms of compliment, approval, or the giving of honour. I had never noticed that all enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise. The world rings with praise—lovers praising their mistresses, readers their favorite poet, walkers praising the countryside, players praising their favorite game—praise of weather, wines, dishes, actors, motors, horses, colleges, countries, historical personages, children, flowers, mountains, rare stamps, rare beetles, even sometimes politicians or scholars. I had not noticed how the humblest and at the same time the most balanced and capacious, minds, praised most, while the cranks, misfits and malcontents praised least. The good critics found something to praise in many imperfect works; the bad ones continually narrowed the list of books we might be allowed to read.”

And later on:

I had not noticed either that just as men spontaneously praise whatever they value, so they spontaneously urge us to join them in praising it: ‘Isn’t she lovely? Wasn’t it glorious? Don’t you think that magnificent?’ The Psalmists, in telling everyone to praise God, are doing what all men do when they speak of what they care about.”

To complete the thought:

The praise not only expresses, but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete until it is expressed.

So whether you are at the beach or on the job, I invite you to join the glad celebration: “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, enter into His courts with praise.” It will be the sanest thing you do today. Surf's up, gotta go.

1 comment:

  1. i think we often discount what lewis speaks of here in a very bounded-set kind-of-way...i love the naturally supernatural undercurrent in c.s lewis' observations...praise is happening whether or not we count it as "real praise or's happening all the time!!