Underlining Lewis

The problem with underlining in a C.S. Lewis book is similar (I said similar) to underlining Scripture. The next sentence is usually as amazing as the one you just underlined. This continues the entire time you read. It’s very hard to pick out the good bits when every bit of it is so good.  One must resort to underlining and then adding stars and soon the pages are lit up like so many night skies. (That being said, I do recognize and affirm the fallibility of Lewis.) But that being true, nevertheless, for the next several Tuesdays, I want to share a few quotations from Lewis’s essay on Membership, which appears in that excellent little collection, The Weight of Glory.

We’ll start with a short one. -Sam

“We live, in fact, in a world starved for solitude, silence, and privacy, and therefore starved for meditation and true friendship.”

C.S. Lewis, from the essay “Membership” in, The Weight of Glory


  1. Oh, like, like, like the post and quote, Sam. I have been experiencing the dilema/delight of abundant underlining as I have been reading Thomas Merton’s “New Seeds for Contemplation.” I will be checking in to see the quotes you mine from Lewis. ~Jaime

  2. I’ve given up underlining Lewis for that very reason. What I do now is index particularly awesome passages in the blank pages at the end of the books. These indexes can get full very quickly, but I’ve noticed that this way of marking keeps the pages cleaner. Which makes rereading easier. And saves my pencil’s graphite.

  3. As to the quote itself, it recalls Bonhoeffer in Life Together: “Let him who cannot be alone beware of community. Let him who is not in community beware of being alone.” I’ve not read Lewis’s essay, but it sounds typically awesome.

  4. I’m curious about including privacy in that list. I think some are so fully private, yet possess neither solitude, nor silence and the result is unhealthy isolation. Think the Bonhoeffer quote is well-stated.

  5. Thanks, Jaime. I have yet to read any Merton. Sounds like a hit. <--Pop terminology. David-- Sounds like a great method. I've done something similar (with Scripture, actually). I may employ this strategy. Janna-- I agree with you. Privacy is at least a two-edged sword. I liked how he related it to community, not to isolation for its own sake. Many have said this, but I suppose we can't be all that much for others if we are not something like our better selves. But in a family that is not made of robots, it's not easy to find energetic, focused times of healthy solitude.

  6. Makes me think of this quote, attributed to Blaise Pascal: “All man’s miseries derive from not being able to sit quiet in a room alone.”

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