Thursday, December 02, 2010

Praise (by C.S. Lewis)

JB has been reading John Piper's Desiring God. At night, we often read in bed before going to sleep. As someone who has struggled with insomnia periodically throughout my life, I have found that reading before bed truly helps me to fall asleep better. So I've been trying to make it a habit.

Anyways, that's neither here nor there. What is of point is a passage in his book by C.S. Lewis about praise. Sometimes we wonder why we praise. For whom we praise. Why it's hard to praise. This passage spoke to JB. And as he read it out loud before bed last night, it spoke to me too.

"The most obvious fact about praise – whether of God or anything – strangely 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 unless . . . shyness or the fear of boring others is deliberately brought in to check it. The world rings with praise – lovers praising their mistresses [Romeo praising Juliet and vice versa], readers their favourite poet, walkers praising the countryside, players praising their favourite 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 most balanced and capacious, minds praised most, while the cranks, misfits and malcontents praised least.

Except where intolerably adverse circumstances interfere, praise almost seems to be inner health made audible. 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. My whole, more general, difficulty about the praise of God depended on my absurdly denying to us, as regards the supremely Valuable, what we delight to do, what indeed we can't help doing, about everything else we value.

I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely 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."


Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing is one of my favorite and i hadn't thought of it for a long time...having a brotherinlaw who finds a God who says to praise him a reason for not wanting to believe/trust answered my heart questions too.. heart is also spontaneously overflowing with praise today for God's beautiful hand on your family! xo Tante Jan

Joy Z said...

Love this. It reminds me of one of my favorite songs, "Audience of One" and one of the lines say,
"How can I not give all my love, in light of all that He has done?"
It gets me everytime and it makes me want to shout from the rooftops that He has saved me!

Anonymous said...

Which book of CS Lewis' is this in?!
Tante Jan