I was going to post some more Lewis references to Chesterton, but when I was looking up “Chesterton’” in Goffar’s “C.S. Lewis Index”, my eye fell on “Cheerfulness”, of which there were only two entries:
- Mere Christianity: Section III, part 3, par. 4:
“The New Testament, without going into details, gives us a pretty clear hint of what a fully Christian society would be like…it is to be a cheerful society: full of singing and rejoicing, and regarding worry or anxiety as wrong.”
- The Problem of Pain: part 4, par. 15:
“My own idea, for what it is worth, is that all sadness which is not either arising from the repentance of a concrete sin and hastening towards concrete amendment or restitution, or else arising from pity and hastening to active assistance, is simply bad; and I think we all sin by needlessly disobeying the apostolic injunction to “rejoice” as much as by anything else.”
This seems to me a difficult thing to follow, and Lewis himself did not do so immediately after Joy’s death. And yet, Lewis is right, of course, about the “apostolic injunction” (primarily St. Paul, I guess), to always “rejoice”. And, heaven knows, St. Paul had a great many occasions to feel unhappy due to physical sufferings.
But I think that maybe Lewis is not right in saying that sadness is always a bad thing, except for the instances he lists. For example, I think that Christ’s followers were certainly sad when He was dying on the cross.
I think it’s hard not to be sad when one has physical or emotional pain. The trick, of course, is not to let sadness become despondency (and this can be a matter of the will, and asking God, and others, for help).
“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Love will last forever.” (1 Corinthians 13: 4-8)