210 – Sacred/Secular – Intention on the Spiritual Journey

I have the feeling that C. S. Lewis won’t let me go.  I find Lewis speaking to me again this week.  What do you think? Does Lewis have something important to tell us?

” . . . substituted religion for God – as if navigation were substituted for arrival, or battle for victory, or wooing for marriage, or in general the means for the end. But even in this present life, there is danger in the very concept of religion. It carries the suggestion that this is one more department of life, an extra department added to the economic, the social, the intellectual, the recreational, and all the rest. But that whose claims are infinite can have no standing as a department. Either it is an illusion or else our whole life falls under it. We have no non-religious activities; only religious and irreligious.

“Religion, nevertheless, appears to exist as a department, and in some ages, to thrive as such. It thrives partly because there exists in many people a ‘love of religious observances,’ which I think Simone Weil is quite right in regarding as a merely natural taste. There exists also – Vidler is rather good on this-the delight in religious (as in any other) organisation. Then all sorts of aesthetic, sentimental, historical, political interests are drawn in. Finally sales of work, the parish magazine, and bell-ringing, and Santa Claus.

“None of them bad things. But none of them is necessarily of more spiritual value than the activities we call secular. And they are infinitely dangerous when this is not understood. This department of life, labelled ‘sacred,’ can become an end in itself; an idol that hides both God and my neighbours. (‘When the means are autonomous they are deadly.’) It may even come about that a man’s most genuinely Christian actions fall entirely outside that part of his life which he calls religious.  It’s easy to compartmentalize our lives and separate our work from our home life, and our social life from the worship service at church on Sunday. God doesn’t work that way, however, as He asks for all of our life to be submitted to His authority and leading. Of course, He does this for our own good, so that we can enjoy all parts of our lives to the fullest. In this way, true joy comes from living a life in which all of life is “religious,” or done in worship of the Creator.”  (From – C.S. Lewis. “Letters to Malcolm on Prayer: Chiefly on Prayer” pp 29-31.)

Yes, that is a long quote and lots of words for today but it seems good advice to not compartmentalize our lives.

Have you ever noticed the problem of substituting religion (or church or spiritual practices) for God?

Or the problem of the means becoming the end?

Look at your “sacred” activities and your “secular” activities and notice how you might want to let Lewis’ words work deeply into your soul today.


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