Read The World's Last Night: And Other Essays by C.S. Lewis Online


“We are not the playwright, we are not the producer, we are not even the audience. We are on the stage. To play well the scenes in which we are "on" concerns us much more than to guess about the scenes that follow it.” In these seven witty, lucid, and tough-minded essays, the famous, infamous Screwtape makes a special appearance, proposing a toast that brilliantly explores“We are not the playwright, we are not the producer, we are not even the audience. We are on the stage. To play well the scenes in which we are "on" concerns us much more than to guess about the scenes that follow it.” In these seven witty, lucid, and tough-minded essays, the famous, infamous Screwtape makes a special appearance, proposing a toast that brilliantly explores the many opportunities for exploiting evil in the world. Lewis also considers the evidence for whether and how prayer works, plays with the meaning of the words “I believe,” and asks what happens to our concept of God when we send rockets into outer space. And, in a moving final piece, he forces us to wonder how we should live if any day might bring the world’s last night. Anyone who ever appreciated his unique blend of humor, paradox, and searing insight will find these further thoughts from C.S. Lewis richly illuminating and remember that he is, as ever, one of the greatest writers and challengers of living faith. "[Lewis] addresses himself to the task of disputing belief with energy, humor, and intense conviction." —Los Angeles Times "Reveals the expected wit, the Chestertonian ability to make Christian orthodoxy exciting and fit for the brave rebel, and an abundance of offbeat insights into the human scene." —New York Times Book ReviewC. S. (Clive Staples) Lewis (1898-1963), one of the great writers of the twentieth century, also continues to be one of our most influential Christian thinkers. He wrote more than thirty books, both popular and scholarly, including The Chronicles of Narnia series, The Screwtape Letters, The Four Loves, Mere Christianity, and Surprised by Joy....

Title : The World's Last Night: And Other Essays
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ISBN : 9780156027717
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Number of Pages : 132 Pages
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The World's Last Night: And Other Essays Reviews

  • Ted
    2019-05-09 09:55

    The Efficacy of PrayerThis was actually the essay that most caught my interest and made me pick up the book. Prayer has been an issue for me for quite a while now, particularly its effectiveness on things/people prayed for. Lewis, as he has done many times for me in the past, succeeded in focusing on the simplicity of the subject, and discarding problematic theology surrounding it as if it wasn’t worth his time. I think I most appreciated his clarification of prayer as a request, and nothing more. Having been raised in an Evangelical environment, I was abundantly familiar with the stipulation that Christianity is a relationship with a personal, intimate God, as opposed to a collection of rites and rituals, laws and standards. But to read Lewis’ points on prayer being a method of communication to a relational God, fashioned purely on tenants of trust and personal connection, was in a strange way refreshing. While I still have plenty of issues with prayer and my arguments are far from solved, this essay reminded me that Lewis is still an authority within Christendom whom I trust.On Obstinacy in BeliefThe title for me was a bit misleading, which is likely (at least in some part) due to my reading it sixty years after it was published. The battle between science and faith seems just as strong then as it is now, from what Lewis has written, but I feel that the phrase ‘faith in the face of evidence’ carries a different weight today. Evidence has today such a close relationship with scientific thinking, that upon examination it seems silly that the modern American English dialect doesn’t have a different word when used in the context of trusting a friend or family member. Despite this feeling of disconnect, this essay was an enjoyable read, but most of its points were already ones I had arrived at along my life. Faith and Reason, to me, cannot be opposed to each other because they aren’t playing the same game. They occupy different parts of the human condition. If anything, they can enrich each other and learn from each other.Lilies that FesterI’m incredibly curious if I’ve read this essay before. I’ve always remembered its title, and have a vague memory of reading it, most curious to see what the title relates to in the text. But none of the statements or ideas seemed familiar to me. I must admit that reading this was a bit like my experience reading Kierkegaard in the past: I started off thinking ‘this won’t relate to me,’ but as I got deeper into it, could only think ‘my God, I’m terribly guilty of this.’ I freely admit that I take an absurd pride in being ‘cultured,’ and that my ego is certainly a contributing factor to my reading the books for ‘The Great Conversation.’ But I was encouraged to also connect with Lewis on his points of taking delight in art and literature, purely because of their inherent greatness. Perhaps it was more an issue at the time and environment of the writing, but I don’t feel like his ‘Charientocracy’ is any sort of looming danger in 21st century America. I certainly see the the problem of an ‘elite’ within the art world, and more broadly in academia, but those demographics are simply not the same demographics as the ruling class of today. Still, the essay was an enjoyable and educational read.Screwtape Proposes a ToastI read ‘The Screwtape Letters’ in jr. high, and this essay was included in my copy. I’ve read this essay a few times in my life, and as any Evangelical will tell you, ‘Screwtape’ is one of the necessary reads for the often deified CS Lewis (though if Evangelicals read and applied more of what he says in the grander body of his works, that sect of the church would look rather different). Needless to say, I was not terribly excited to work my way through this essay. To me, the two ’Screwtape’ works, along with the Narnia series, and ‘Mere Christianity,’ are basic, rudimentary reads for Christian theology. They are well done and have good lessons, but these works carry a heavy weight for me, having been raised in American Evangelicalism. And it still frustrates me how highly praised they are for their perceived high theology. Objectively, though, the read was easy and littered with good points, but I think I’ll be carrying these weights with me for the rest of my life.Good Work and Good WorksThis essay was a mixed bag for me. On the one hand, I appreciated Lewis’ brief summary of how the working world developed and how that relates to taking pride in work. I smiled at his disparaging words regarding the art world. And I loved his statement ‘…employment is not an end in itself.’ (this earned the highest honor I give a statement in reading: drawing a box around the statement) I even go so far as to say I will be thinking for a while on how some of his statements relate to socialism (which I know he would not like). But on the other hand, I can’t help but notice that Lewis is uncharacteristically silent in terms of presenting solutions to the problems he discusses. It’s a short essay, and aside from a few brief statements commenting on better attitudes versus how people commonly treat employment and labor. But in the grand scheme of Lewis’ work, it’s not terribly difficult to see where he was going with his points. Lastly, this was a bit of a significant read for me. One of the inciting instances that spurred me into working in comics was reading an article in the (now discontinued) 7ball Magazine regarding Christians working in the comic industry. One of the comic creators interviewed (it might have been Dennis O’Neil) said ‘to paraphrase CS Lewis, we don’t need good Christians making comics, but Christians making good comics.’ And so I’m pretty certain that it was this essay to which he was referring.Religion and RocketryPerhaps my favorite essay of the collection, this one fascinated me due to the scientific speculation, for the most part (which was in one sense what Lewis was attempting to avoid). I have more than once wondered about the religious implications of life on other planets. And advancements in astronomical exploration have only furthered this discussion among rationalists. But Lewis’ first point that after the dust has settled in the hot topic conversations, science and religion are still there, most often at square one, still claiming the same ideas they did beforehand. What most intrigued me was the speculation of an alien race that is not fallen. Lewis’ point that Christianity doesn’t elevate humanity but actually lowers its status is perfectly valid, and so it becomes perfectly reasonable to question the possibility that there is a people in the universe that never sinned. This, among other races (i.e. a people that have spiritual souls, but are inferior to us in rational faculties, or that sin or don’t sin in fashions that are basically different from us, to the same degree of physical differences like communicating through scents or asexual reproduction), are all ventures that would inevitably lead to destruction and evil due to humanity’s sinful tendencies: ‘We know what our race does to strangers. Man destroys or enslaves every species it can. Civilized man murders, enslaves, cheats, and corrupts savage man. Even inanimate nature he turns to dust bowls and slag-heaps.’ Some of this clearly alluded to his science-fiction books, where Earth is quarantined due to its fallen nature. Most important, as Lewis said, is that with all this speculation, all that is accomplished is a reemphasis on the necessity for people today to stand against injustice and the strong taking advantage of the weak. If we cannot make moral decisions amongst our own people, then what hope do we have of doing so to strangers from a distant world?The World's Last NightThis was an interesting and unexpected dive into Lewis' pure doctrine, which I feel is quite rare for him. Reading his little bits of scripture interpretation was new even for me. But his assessment of apocalyptic theology concludes to points I have long felt regarding the topic: the only option of a reaction is to be always ready, always working. Anything further than that is pure nonsense. It was equally validating to see him discuss how 'the sky is falling' beliefs function on inciting intense emotions from the believers, and his rebuke of that philosophy. Feelings are certainly a part of the human experience, but to base anything off of their fickle nature only creates further difficulties.The collection was a wonderfully insightful look into Lewis' general theology. Glimpses into various topics, I can now see, is a valuable method of understanding the broader concepts that Lewis leans toward. Reading his brief thoughts on public vs. private education, evolution, the involvement of government in the private sector, etc. all leant themselves to my understanding of his theology a bit better. What fascinated me, though, was that despite my disagreeing with him on several points (most of which were not the focus of the respective essays), I still not only learned from the central ideas he proposed, but also still hold him as an authority I trust, even after all these years of changes to my own beliefs. It's been quite a while since I read something by him, but he still has the same effect on me.

  • Trevor
    2019-05-12 08:15

    Lewis takes a hard intellectual look at the topics of prayer, the Second Coming of Jesus, and other issues of faith in the collection of essays. His academic and philosophical perspective along with his renowned education give no way to arrogance. Instead, Lewis makes a set of logical yet humble arguments about his subjects to varying degrees. His haughtiest opponents could not, in good conscience, deny Lewis as the epitome of profound logic and beautifully executed argumentation. One of his most poignant sections goes as follows:"But we think thus because we keep on assuming that we know the play. We do not know the play. We do not even know whether we are in Act I or Act V. We do not know who are the major and who the minor characters. The Author knows. The audience, if there is an audience (if angels and archangels and all the company of heaven fill the pit and the stalls) may have an inkling. But we, never seeing the play from the outside, never meeting any characters except the tiny minority who are ‘on’ in the same scenes as ourselves, wholly ignorant of the future and very imperfectly informed about the past, cannot tell at what moment the end ought to come. That it will come when it ought, we may be sure; but we waste our time in guessing when that will be. That it has a meaning we may be sure, but we cannot see it. When it is over, we may be told. We are led to expect that the Author will have something to say to each of us on the part that each of us has played. The playing it well is what matters infinitely."

  • Nathan Albright
    2019-04-27 09:11

    One of many posthumous collections of Lewis writings, and part of Lewis’ large body of work as an essayist and thinker [1], this book offers seven essays that fit within the general confines of Lewis’ thinking as a Christian apologist with an interest in the relationship of Christianity to the larger culture. The essay collection is well-written and certainly thoughtful, if not necessarily very surprising. The collection is sufficiently obscure that few people who are not familiar with Lewis’ larger body of work would likely read this book, which is composed of essays written during the latter part of the author’s life. A point to be spoken of highly in Lewis’ favor as a commentator of culture is that the books are just as relevant now as they were when the author was written, even if the metaphor and language of Lewis may be too elevate for many of those who would benefit the most from his insights, not least because at 115 pages they do not present a difficult read.In terms of the contents of this book, one must take the seven essays individually, since there is no overarching theme to the whole aside from their general applicability to the role of Christianity within the larger culture. “The Efficacy Of Prayer” is a thoughtful, moderate piece that reminds the reader that prayers can be answered or not answered and that this does not necessarily bear a close connection with the faith or righteousness of the person praying, but one which admits the reality of miracles and subtly points to an experience of his own wife. In “On Obstinacy In Belief,” Lewis tackles a false dilemma between faith and science concerning the meaning of belief and the worth of stubbornness. “Lilies That Fester” is a thoughtful and pointed take on the problem of culture and refinement and the acculturation process of contemporary education. “Screwtape Proposes A Toast” is an essay that many readers are likely to be familiar with, as it is often appended after Lewis’ well-known and well-loved Screwtape Letters, and the essay is a worthwhile look at life from the point of view of the enemy. In “Good Work And Good Works” Lewis makes a very sound point on the importance of connecting the quality of one’s work with the motives for doing that work, something that is not always done. “Religion And Rocketry” and “The World’s Last Night” offer an examination of Christianity in cultural conflict and on the way that either science or politics tends to think of victory as the most important matter, not taking into account the reality of the last judgment.Taking these essays together, it is easy to understand, if one did not understand it before, why Lewis was a leader for Christianity in engaging with the larger cultural world around him. Reading “The World’s Last Night,” one is reminded of Lewis’ exploration of the same topic from the point of view of imaginative fiction in both This Hideous Strength as well as The Last Battle, where apocalyptic struggles are faced, and where judgment is assessed based on character, and not based on either the victory or defeat of one’s cause. Lewis is surely one of the few Christian writers who are able to clear-headedly argue about the possibility of political defeat or apocalyptic destruction without losing hope and general sociability with the larger culture, even one that was and is inimical to many aspects of Christianity. Lewis’ combination of clear-sighted insight with general sociability makes this a worthwhile collection, even if not nearly as familiar as some of Lewis’ better-known works.[1] See, for example:https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress...https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress...https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress...https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress...https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress...https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress...https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress...

  • Carol
    2019-04-30 08:09

    On the efficacy of prayer -- does prayer work? Prayer is a request that may or may not be granted. Jesus prayed three times for the cup to be removed from Him but His request was refused. What is the purpose of prayer? God does not change His overarching plan, but His purpose will be accomplished in different ways based on the actions "including the prayers, of His creatures." Secondly, "On Obstinacy in Belief" Lewis explores the idea while people stick with a specific view. Thirdly, "Lilies that fester" deals with those who desire to be cultured versus those who really care about the things that comprise culture. Fourth, "Screwtape proposes a Toast" a sequel to his book. Fifth, "Good work and good works" difference between Workmanship and charity. Sixth, "Religion and Rocketry" Biblical truth in an advancing technological world. Seventh, "The Worlds Last Night" Discusses the second coming of Christ.

  • Mary
    2019-05-19 09:03

    Great series of essays and assorted bric-a-brac from Jack:Efficacy of prayer is not about getting what we want, c.f. Christ's plea to remove the cup ("Efficay of Prayer")."Democracy" and the desire to be just average like everybody else inspires insipid mediocrity ("Screwtape proposes a toast").Those who promote "culture" often brainwash goody-goodies into liking what they like ("Lilies that fester").Alien life forms may be, may be fallen, and may be saved ("Religion and Rockets").Christ may have been wrong about his own second coming because he had to be moral, too, because he says that not even the Son knows the hour ("The World's Last Night."

  • Michael Perkins
    2019-05-13 13:13

    "Truly I say to you, There are some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom." (Matthew 16:28)C.S. Lewis writes....“The apocalyptic beliefs of the first Christians have been proved to be false. It is clear from the New Testament that they all expected the Second Coming in their own lifetime. And, worse still, they had a reason, and one which you will find very embarrassing. Their Master had told them so. He shared, and indeed created, their delusion. He said in so many words, ‘this generation shall not pass till all these things be done.’ And he was wrong. He clearly knew no more about the end of the world than anyone else.”“It is certainly the most embarrassing verse in the Bible.”That prophecy did not come true in the time of the Apostles and will not come true in any apocalyptic sense. It also means the Book of Revelation is speaking of Imperial Rome (not the Catholic Church), which held Palestine under its iron foot until its destruction in 135 AD.

  • Jon Beadle
    2019-05-09 05:15

    3.5! Each essay is great in its own way; completely consistent in thought. It left me a little empty, but still very enjoyable.

  • Chris Whisonant
    2019-05-07 06:57

    This is a fantastic compilation of several theological essays by CS Lewis. The essay on the efficacy of prayer was quite good. And, while I hesitate to use the word "prophetic", there were hints of that in the essay "Screwtape Proposes a Toast" dealing with democracy. I also appreciated his thoughts in "Religion & Rocketry" and how the Christian should think about the possibility of advanced life in space. Some of these were thoughts that he also expressed more briefly in sections of his Space Trilogy. I would say that if you can, please get a copy of this short book. But I've already loaned out my copy.

  • Zachary
    2019-05-15 06:09

    C.S. Lewis was at the top of his game here. Every essay is a thought provoking one, and most* are prevelent still to this day, even though he wrote them almost forty years ago.*With the exception of Religion and Rocketry. When he wrote it everyone thought Martians were going to invade the next day, so the essay adresses how Christian should respond to a close encounter with a third kind (even possibly a fourth). So while it is still a fascinating read, it is (for the most part) academic by today's standards.

  • Alex Stroshine
    2019-04-24 08:01

    Typical Lewis, great essays, including on good work/s, what it means for Christianity if extraterrestrials (if Hnau!) exist and on the Second Coming.

  • Ben
    2019-04-30 11:00

    The World's last night contains seven essays that Lewis penned. My notes on the essays are below:I.On the efficacy of prayer1. Lewis opens with a few anecdotes about prayer. Once, on a day that he intended to go to the barber, in preparation for a trip to London, Lewis opened a letter informing him that he need not go to London. Therefore, CS almost put off the haircut, except he could not because of a constant voice telling him to get his hair cut. Immediately after entering the barber's shop, the barber, a fellow Christian, said that he was "praying that you [Lewis] might come today."Lewis once stood beside a woman whose thigh bone was eaten by a malignant cancer. The nurses predicted the woman had a few weeks of life left, but God intervened when a Christian man prayed for her. A year later, the doct. who took her X-ray marveled, "These bones are solid as rock. It's miraculous."Question 1 Lewis sets out to answer: "Does prayer work?" 2. Prayer is a request that may or may not be granted.A. Prayer for the impediment of gravity would not negate the power of prayer. B. "And if an infinitely wise Being listens to the requests of finite and foolish creatures, of course He will sometimes grant and sometimes refuse them." C. Jesus prayed thrice for the cup to be removed from Him. The request was refused. 3. Prayer studies are difficult and ineffectual A. A comparison of a "prayer team" "praying" for patients in hospital A vs the patients in hospital B not prayed for, would not work. 1. Your prayers are discordant. "You cannot pray for the recovery of the sick unless the end you have in view is their recovery. But you can have no motive for desiring the recovery of all the patients in one hospital and none of those in another." 2. Simply stating words in "prayer" is inadequate: "otherwise a team of properly trained parrots would serve as well as men for our experiment." B. How do you know if your prayer caused a woman to consent to marry you? Perhaps the woman had already decided to marry you before you prayed.1. Answer: Those closest to a person can best determine whether that person acted because he was asked. God is the same way.Question 1's answer: That is a faulty question, for prayer does not "work" like a machine. 4. The purpose of prayer A. "Can we believe that God ever really modifies His action in response to the suggestions of men?" 1. Ans: Pascal said that God "instituted prayer in order to lend to His creatures the dignity of causality."2. God does not change His overarching plan, but His purpose will be accomplished in different ways based on the actions "including the prayers, of His creatures."IV.Screwtape proposes a toast Scene: Hell, at the completion of the Tempter's Training College for demons.A. Screwtape begins his speech to the demons by saying that hell demands success.B. The demons, Screwtape advises, must wisely and slowly bring their worldly and "flabby" victims to the point of great sin, but not so great as to awake them from their moral slumber. C. The moral conscious of some hardly exists aside from the laws that remind them of wrongdoing. To them, a bribe is only a tip or present. "The job of their Tempters was first, of course, to harden these choices of the Hell-ward roads into a habit by steady repetition. But then (and this was all-important) to turn the habit into a principle the creature is prepared to defend."D. At a certain point, Screwtape warns the Tempters that in the future the wicked men that they "catch" will become more numerous, but less valuable. Screwtape notes that such a change is for the better, for God (the enemy) has little use for them.The great saints are crafted from the same material as the great sinners.God did not die for men to simply become candidates for "limbo"(neither good nor bad).E. Meanwhile, great sinners have become very effective in leading the "vermin" to their demise. A great sinner draws "tens of thousands of the human sheep with him. Therefore, there may come a day when individual temptation becomes superfluous. F. Screwtape then says that large factory owners in the latter half of the nineteenth century began to, out of conscience, relegate their own power and give to the poor. The poor responded in a civilized fashion and the prospect of a healthy society arose. Thankfully, Screwtape said, democracy averted such a crisis. Democracy won. A perfect democracy reinstates slavery (the tyranny of the majority), and "the individual is told that he has really willed (though he didn't know it) whatever the Government tells him to do." G. Screwtape argues that the perversion of the definition of democracy had the potential to lead civilization to destruction. Don't define democracy, especially not as a simple political system. Never should anyone ask Aristotle's question either: "whether 'democratic behavior' means the behavior that democracies like or the behavior that will preserve a democracy." H. Democracy is associated with the idea that all men are created equal. The perversion of that idea to the belief that "all men are equal" will create a basis for innumerable "self-approved conduct" that should be "universally derided."I. The feeling produced will be one which says: "I'm as good as you." As it were, men aren't indeed as good in virtue as another, but that is irrelevant. Plus, "no man who says I'm as good as you believes it." It is said out of a resented inferiority. J. The word 'undemocratic' can then be used to condemn anything that stands out-clothes, virtue, food, etc... "Here is someone who speaks English rather more clearly and euphoniously than I-it must be a vile, vile, affectation...They've no business to be different. It's undemocratic."K. Therefore the inferior have a weapon that can bring everyone to their level. Now someone who pursue's humility may withdraw from going too far for fear of being undemocratic. "I am credibly informed that young humans now sometimes suppress an incipient taste for classical music or good literature because it might prevent their Being Like Folks;that people who really wish to be-and are offered the Grace which would enable them to be-honest, chaste, or temperate, refuse it."To do so would make them different from the group, and might (hideous thought) allow them to become an individual. L. Education: The principle of undemocratic applies to education. Individual differences between students should be disguised by making all students receive good grades. A bright child who learns faster than the other children will be held back to prevent classmates from the trauma of "getting left behind.""The Democracies were surprised lately when they found that Russia had got ahead of them in science. What a delicious specimen of human blindness! If the whole tendency of their society is opposed to every sort of excellence, why did they expect their scientists to excel?" M. Answer to Aristotle's question:The French Revolution teaches that "the behavior aristocrats naturally like is not the bahavior that preserves aristocracy. They might then have applied the same principle to all forms of government." N. "The overthrow of free peoples and the multiplication of slave states are for us a means; butthe real end is the destruction of individuals." V.Good Work and Good Works: C.S. Lewis differentiates the act of doing good, good works, from producing high quality work (good work). Lewis laments the declining quality of work that most people produced in his day.A. Good work has not wholly vanished, but unfortunately does not characterize or distinguish Christians from others.B. The reasoning behind some who craft shoddy work: "Unless an article is so made that it will go to pieces in a year or two and thus have to be replaced, you will not get a sufficient turnover."C. When people used to live in villages, everyone was held accountable for the quality of his work by the other villagers. For example, if a blacksmith crafts a weapon that breaks in battle, his fellow villagers may or may not return from battle to "thrash you."D. People used to make things for use or delight or both. Now they are made "not for their own use and delight for the use and delight of others."E. Two types of jobs: Those that are worth doing even if no one paid for it. 2. Those jobs that people do primarily to earn money. Lewis's advice is to seek to do worthwhile work.F. Employment is not the end of everything, though attitudes are tending towards that end. The workers do not fight for the employment of the blacksmith. The blacksmith works to make excellent weapons to defend the city.Conclusion: "Great works (of art) and "good works" (of charity) had better also be Good Work...Otherwise we merely confirm the majority in their conviction that the world of Business, which does with such efficiency so much that never really needed doing, is the real..."VI.Religion and Rocketry C.S. Lewis now undertakes the question: What about life on other planets. One argument set forth against Christian, one Lewis heard as a boy, said that the universe was hostile to life. Therefore, it is absurd to think that a Creator is interested in one planet in such a vast universe. Then, because of the work of Professor FB Hoyle, a cosmologist from Cambridge, nearly everyone says that the universe "is provided with inhabitable globes and with livestock to inhabit them.Which just showed (equally well) the absurdity of Christianity with its parochial idea that Man could be important to God." The attack is on the incarnation of Jesus: Why uniquely for us, and not for others? Lewis answers five other questions first.1. "Are there animals anywhere except on earth?" Perhaps, but we may never know.2. If there were, do any of said animals have "rational souls?" By that, Lewis means are they spiritual animals; animals that can apprehend moral good from evil. 3. If there are rational species, other than man, are any of them fallen? If they are not, Jesus would not need to redeem them. The Incarnation of Jesus implies "not some merit or excellence in humanity. But of course it implies just he reverse: a particular demerit and depravity. No creature that deserved Redemption would need to be redeemed.""Christ died for men precisely because men are not worth dying for; to make them worth it." 4. "If all of such species are fallen, have they been denied Redemption by the Incarnation of Jesus?" Jesus could have become Incarnate to worlds other than earth.5. If we knew answers to 1, 2, and 3, and we knew that Jesus' Redemption had been denied to creatures in need of it, "is it certain that this is the only mode of Redemption that is possible?" Only God can answer the question above (as of the time of this writing), and furthermore, only God can answer this question. Conclusion: There may be other races on other planets. If these races are rational beings that have fallen and are in need of redemption, Jesus may have become Incarnate for them as well. If He did not, God could have provided Redemption through another means.Christians and their opponents again and again expect that some new discovery will either turn matters of faith into knowledge or else reduce them to patent absurdities. But it has never happened."Not until the appearing of the Antichrist will the opposition have very conclusive evidence."We have been warned that all but conclusive evidence against Christianity, evidence that would deceive (if possible) the every elect, will appear with Antichrist.And after that there will be wholly conclusive evidence on the other side.But not, I fancy, till then on either side.

  • Ben Adkison
    2019-05-08 05:55

    Book InfoThe World's Last Night and Other Essays is a small, 113 page book, containing seven essays by C. S. Lewis covering a variety of topics. The seven essays are: "The Efficacy of Prayer," "On Obstinacy in Belief," "Lilies that Fester," "Screwtape Proposes a Toast," "Good Work and Good Works," "Religion and Rocketry," and "The World's Last Night." These essays were originally published separately in a variety of publications between 1952 and 1959. I believe the current collected form of the essays was first published in 1959.Efficacy of PrayerIn this essay, Lewis marvels at both the reality and unprovable-ness of prayer. He experientially knows that prayer works, and yet he is quite aware that there is no empirical way to prove that it works. Further, as the title of the essay makes clear, Lewis questions the purpose of prayer. In part his conclusion is that, "In it God shows Himself to us. That He answers prayer is a corollary - not necessarily the most important one - from that revelation" (8). Lewis ends the essay by contemplating the way in which petitionary prayer works. Good essay!On Obstinacy in BeliefLewis begins this essay by pointing out that it is often stated that, science demands evidence for belief, while religion demands belief without evidence. Accordingly, science and religion often conflict with each other in that they value opposite things: science values facts, religion values faith. However, as Lewis makes clear, this is an oversimplification of the situation, for science often leads men to conclusions that have not been implicitly proved, and faith in God is not entirely absent from proof. Throughout the rest of the essay, Lewis explains that the gulf between science and faith is not nearly as wide as many make it seem. Good essay!Lilies That FesterLilies that Fester is probably my favorite essay in this collection. Lewis essentially predicts the movement of political correctness at least 20 years before it became a reality. He laments the day that men would quit thinking for themselves, one where only popular opinion will be regarded as "good thought." Listen as he describes what this would look like, "Every boy or girl that is born is presented with the choice: 'Read the poets, whom we, the cultured, approve, and say the sort of things we say about them, or be a prole'" (46). Lewis' concern is that this sort of "political correctness" would invade the arena of Christianity and wreak havoc. Lewis is squarely on the side of freedom both in the arena of thought and in the arena of life. My other favorite quote from this essay (probably because I lean libertarian politically) is, "All political power is at best a necessary evil: but it is least evil when it claims no more than to be useful or convenient and sets itself strictly limited objectives. Anything transcendental or spiritual, or even anything very strongly ethical, in its pretensions is dangerous and encourages it to meddle with our private lives" (40). Great!Screwtape Proposes a ToastThis is an essay that acts as a sort of prequel to the Screwtape Letters - a fictional book of letters from one demon to another regarding temptation. The whole of this essay is a fictional speech from Screwtape, a demon, to his other demons regarding methods of temptation. I've previously reviewed the Screwtape Letters, and am honestly not that big a fan of the book or the essay. Meh!Good Work and Good WorksProbably my second favorite essay of this collection. Lewis focuses on the necessity for Christians not simply to do good works (religious works), but also to spend their time doing good work (doing work well). As he says, "When our Lord provided a poor wedding party with an extra glass of wine all round, he was doing good works. But also good work; it was wine really worth drinking" (71). Lewis spends some time explaining how modern culture is filled with less than good work. Accordingly, many of us manufacture or create products that we must first convince consumers they need. Conversely good work can be defined as: creating, or doing something, that we would do even if no monetary compensation were involved. He concludes that, "We shall try, if we get the chance, to earn a living by doing well what would be worth doing even if we had not a living to earn" (78). Great!Religion and RocketryIn this essay, Lewis contemplates how the Christian religion would be effected by the discovery of life on other planets. Would the aliens be fallen like mankind? Would they need the death of Christ? Would they be rational creatures like humans? Capable of choice? This is fun essay that shows the vastness of Lewis' creativity, but - I suggest - probably seemed more relevant when it was written in the 1950's. Creative and Fun!The World's Last NightIn The World's Last Night, Lewis argues for the centrality of the teaching of the return of Christ in the bible. He observes that in previous generations an exaggerated view of the return of Jesus, by men like Albert Schweitzer, has led to an under-emphasized and embarrassed response from many of Lewis' contemporaries regarding the teaching. And this, according to Lewis, is a mistake. Jesus teaching on His return is a vital part of His teaching. Christ cannot be understood apart from it. Lewis goes on to suggest how the message of the second coming of Jesus should effect us personally. I love that he comes to unique conclusions about our response to Jesus' teaching about the second coming. His conclusion is that the expectation of God's coming judgment (which is part of the second coming) should not lead to crisis-type actions, but should steady us, and help us to make wise decisions in each situation. Good essay!OverallThis is a really fun and thought-provoking book to read. I'm discovering more and more that I really do like the writings of C. S. Lewis. I, however, prefer a lot of his more offbeat writings, rather than his extremely well-known works.

  • Brooks Tate
    2019-05-16 12:15

    "There are still two sorts of jobs. Of one sort, a man can truly say, 'I am doing work which is worth doing. It would still be worth doing if nobody paid for it. But as I have no private means, and need to be fed and housed and clothed, I must be paid while I do it.' The other kind of job is that in which people do work whose sole purpose is the earning of money; work which need not be, ought not to be, or would not be, done by anyone in the whole world unless it were paid." - from "Good Works and Good Works" in C.S.L.'s collection of essays, The World's Last NightI'm happy to open nearly anything that C.S.L. has written. And it's getting rarer to find something of his that I haven't already opened, but I had not yet come across this collection of essays, TWLN. This work was no disappointment. Some essays I found more compelling than others ("The Efficacy of Prayer" and "Good Work and Good Works" stood out as most excellent). This little dose of Lewis has me considering re-opening the Narnia collection.

  • Gretchen
    2019-04-28 05:04

    It has been several years since I have read much Lewis, and this short volume of essays reminded me how much I missed him. His ability to calmly sweep aside the cobwebs that so often surround an idea is true genius, and his insights and conclusions are rational, clear, and thoughtful.For instance, in discussing whether prayer "works," he points out that the question itself will lead you down the wrong oath, because it ignores the Person involved in hearing the prayer. Further, his prophetic portrayal of the misuse of the term "democracy" gave me shivers, as the fate he foretold unfolds. Lastly, Lewis' ability to clearly draw a line between the disciplines of science and theology is healthy, helpful, and clarifying. Read this if you are remotely curious about C.S. Lewis, prayer, basic theology, or space. You will not be disappointed.

  • Tommy Grooms
    2019-05-11 11:11

    The World's Last Night is a collection of C.S. Lewis essays. It contains ruminations on the efficacy of prayer; a debunking of "blind faith"; a repudiation of "religion" and "culture" (reminiscent of The Abolition of Man); Screwtape returning to toast democracy; and discussions on consumer society, the theological implications of life on other worlds, and the practical implications of the Second Coming. With his usual insightfulness and rhetorical command, this collection belongs with the rest on any Lewis fan's shelf.

  • Drake
    2019-05-18 06:55

    Yet another fantastic series of essays by my favorite author. "The Efficacy of Prayer," "The Obstinacy of Belief," "Lilies that Fester," and "The World's Last Night" are all new favorites of mine from him. I certainly didn't agree with Lewis on everything he argues for (e.g. the hypothetical necessity of Christ's atonement and his interpretation of one of Jesus's most famous predictions), but nothing kept me from immensely enjoying the essays as a whole.

  • Andrew
    2019-04-27 10:59

    “Screwtape Proposes a Toast” and “Good Work and Good Works” are definitely the highlights. The eponymous essay is actually a non-theological treatise on the reasons behind our belief in the Second Coming. A welcome addition for CSL fans, but skippable for others. Unless you just read those two aforementioned essays.

  • Lawrence
    2019-04-23 08:51

    Time well spent with the thoughts of C S Lewis in essay form. The longer I journey on this road, the more sense his observations make. The Screwtape essay made a deep impression on my thinking this reading. So, again, Lewis is the instrument to correct my thinking, getting me out of my self made muddle and pulling me out of the mental Molly grubs.

  • Wendy
    2019-05-24 06:12

    Seven essays, some good, some just so-so.

  • Germaine Komor
    2019-04-26 05:03

    Thought provoking; very much mid 20th century in regard to women.

  • Christiana
    2019-05-16 11:10

    Great. Reading "Religion and Rocketry" immediately after finishing Out of the Silent Planet is illuminating on many levels.

  • Josh
    2019-05-11 06:56

    Very, very good. "The World's Last Night" especially. What an artist at the essay.

  • Alex Tongue
    2019-05-06 09:56

    I adore the writings of this lovely, lovely man.also, what's up with his HARSH critique of capitalism in Good Work and Good Work? It was so great and pretty unexpected!

  • Margaret R
    2019-05-05 08:03

    He is a great author. Sometimes hard for me to understand. Does that mean he is a mystic? Chapter 4 with an section from The Screwtape Letters seems especially timely.

  • Jim Beekman
    2019-04-25 04:48

    C. S. Lewis is unmatched in theology for non-theologins!

  • Megan
    2019-04-29 06:53

    Wow! A fascinating read that I will be pondering for a while

  • Marni
    2019-05-23 05:46

    Good stuff. Always like Lewis.

  • Megan
    2019-05-13 04:45

    CS Lewis always presents me with a new way to think about the world. He takes positions I have otherwise scorned and forces me to give them the consideration they deserve. I did not expect to find a philosophy of education in this book. I did not pick it up for that purpose. Still, as I read "Lilies that Fester" and "Good Work and Good Works," I found myself reconsidering everything I've believed and stood for in education. I'm not sure that I am ready to wholly revise my stance, but I am certainly more open to the other side now. I was particularly struck by his predictions in Lilies that Fester of what he coined "charientocracy," an aristocracy of intellectuals, where entry into the ruling class is the reward of "culture" and education. Though the more common historic case, in which only the ruling class has access to education and culture, has obvious disadvantages, Lewis points out the more subtle harm of the charientocratic situation: namely, that when education and culture become means and not ends, the markers of education and culture become more important than learning or the art. In many ways he predicts our current predicament where university tuition costs balloon out of control just as the educational value is diluted. Ultimately, he argues in reference to culture: Culture is a bad qualification for a ruling class because it does not qualify men to rule. The things we really need in our rulers--mercy, financial integrity, practical intelligence, hard work, and the like--are no more likely to be found in cultured persons than in anyone else. Culture is a bad qualification in the same way as sanctity. Both are hard to diagnose and easy to feign.Of course, the totality of his argument is best understood by reading the full essay. He makes one of the strongest cases for rote education I've ever read. Not sure I'm won-over, but I was certainly surprised by how often I agreed. Where Lilies that Fester challenged many of my assumptions about society and education, Good Work affirmed my choices in life. It not only arms me to explain myself to those befuddled by my career decisions, but also gives me the strength to defend against my own insecure doubts. As many here note, Religion and Rocketry is the weakest essay of the bunch. Screwtape Proposes a Toast is by far the most entertaining (which is not to disparage its philosophy). The Efficacy of Prayer, On Obstinacy in Belief, and The World's Last Night were all wonderfully thought-provoking for me. As a reluctant agnostic, I find his perspectives both enlightening and hopeful.

  • MC
    2019-04-26 05:09

    My favorite non-fiction writer, and favorite writer overall, is C. S. Lewis. His works are always interwoven with truth and wit. He could “outwit” anyone today that prides themselves on verbal combat, but without the cruelty that passes for snark from too many people.In The World's Last Night and Other Essays, Lewis tackles several questions throughout the writings included therein. Elitism and humility, pride and jealousy, the dangers of authoritarianism degrading the gains won by democracy, and, of course, the “world's last night”, among other issues.What may surprise some is that Lewis would probably, if his titular essay of the book is any indication, take to task those who are fascinated with “end times prophecy” today. He thought them quite unbiblical, and makes no bones about it. This is not because he thought them entirely wrong. Indeed, on the idea that Christ has promised to, and therefore WILL return, someday, at any moment, Lewis would agree with such folks. He merely took to task those who were obsessively trying to predict the time of the Lord's coming. If the Lord said to watch, because you can't be sure, then He means it Lewis argued.It seems like the same timeless issues that Lewis spoke of half a century or more ago are still of concern and relevance today. The problems with an oligarchy ruling us all, the problems of jealousy and elitism, cruelty, disbelief in, or heresy about, the Lord's sure return. These are all issues we struggle with currently.Granted, some may argue that we have always struggled with such in one form or another, and that is true. What makes these essays by C. S. Lewis so timely, year after year, since they were written, is the difference between the life of man in the mid-twentieth century onward, versus before that. Our systems of government, technology, and so forth, are really so different from before that point, that Lewis' writings (and those of his contemporaries) truly “speak” to us more than previous writings on these issues can.I encourage anyone to read World's Last Night and Lewis' other writing. Agree or disagree with him, you will find yourself thinking. And that is the best reason to read.

  • Miss Clark
    2019-05-14 09:54

    Brilliant book, though what else does one expect from Jack?It contains seven essays: The Efficacy of Prayer, On Obstinacy in Belief, On Lilies That Fester, Screwtape Proposes a Toast, Good Work and Good Works, Religion and Rocketry, and The World's Last Night.They were all very good, but my favorite were On Lilies That Fester and Good Work and Good Works. In Good Work and Good Works, Lewis says that there are two sorts of jobs. Of one sort a man can truly say, "I am doing work which is worth doing. It would still be worth doing if nobody paid for it. But as I have no private means, and need to be fed and housed and clothed, I must be paid to do it." The other kind of job is that in which people do work whose sole purpose is the earning of money; work which need not be, ought not to be, or would not be, done by anyone in the whole world unless it were paid.We may thank God there are still plenty of jobs in the first category. The agricultural labourer, the police-man, the doctor, the artist, etc., are doing what is worth doing in itself. Of course jobs of this kind need not be agreeable. Ministering to a leper settlement is one of them.In a rational world, things would be made because they were wanted; in the actual world, wants have to be created in order that people may receive money for making the things. This is why the distrust or contempt of trade which we find in earlier societies should not be too hastily set down as mere snobbery. The more important trade is, the more people who are condemned to - and, worse still, learn to prefer - what we have called the second kind of job. Work worth doing apart from its pay, enjoyable work, and good work become the privilege of a fortunate minority.There is of course more and the whole book is excellent. Highly recommend it.