Just A Bit Of Coloured Paper?

I am spending time in a little volume each day entitled, A Year With C.S. Lewis: Daily Readings from his Classic Works. It has already been quite rich and thought-provoking. I’d like to share an extended quote from this volume.

If I may be so bold – it will definitely be worth your time to read and think on this one. In it he tells a gripping story that serves as a metaphor for understanding the importance of living theologically.

Hey, maybe it will even move you to purchase a copy for yourself.

I remember once when I had been giving a talk to the R.A.F., an old, hard-bitten officer got up and said, ‘I’ve no use for all that stuff. But, mind you, I’m a religious man too. I know there’s a God. I’ve felt Him: out alone in the desert at night: the tremendous mystery. And that’s just why I don’t believe all your neat little dogmas and formulas about Him. To anyone who’s met the real thing they all seem so petty and pedantic and unreal!’

Now in a sense I quite agreed with that man. I think he had probably had a real experience of God in the desert. And when he turned from that experience to the Christian creeds, I think he really was turning from something real to something less real. In the same way, if a man has once looked at the Atlantic from the beach, and then goes and looks at a map of the Atlantic, he also will be turning from something real to something less real: turning from real waves to a bit of coloured paper. But here comes the point.

The map is admittedly only coloured paper, but there are two things you have to remember about it. In the first place, it is based on what hundreds and thousands of people have found out by sailing the real Atlantic. In that way it has behind it masses of experience just as real as the one you could have from the beach; only, while yours would be a single glimpse, the map fits all those different experiences together. In the second place, if you want to go anywhere, the map is absolutely necessary. As long as you are content with walks on the beach, your own glimpses are far more fun than looking at a map. But the map is going to be more use than walks on the beach if you want to get to America.  ( ~ from Mere Christianity)

Check back here tomorrow morning for the conclusion…

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One thought on “Just A Bit Of Coloured Paper?

  1. Pingback: Traveling Without a Map « Growing In Grace

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