(CCSLQ-21) – Far Better Things

This is part of a series exploring quotations attributed to C.S. Lewis that are questionable for one reason or another. Presently a new article is posted the first Saturday of each month. There is an “at a glance” page HERE to quickly see what has been posted so far in this series. Also, if you haven’t already, be sure to read the INTRODUCTION to this series. 


 

Far Better Things“There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.”

This quotation is one that suffers from two different problems, which I’ll take in reverse order. While Lewis wrote something very close to this, I believe his meaning suffers when even his actual words are shared without their context. The initial problem of not being exactly what Lewis stated is easily resolved because only two extra words are contained in the questionable version.  The correct quotation is this:

“There are better things ahead than any we leave behind.” 

When you read the above words what do you think about? More than likely you think they are meant to be encouraging words for someone facing a unfamiliar situation, like finishing school, or beginning a new job. Or maybe these words are meant to encourage someone who has had a terrible past and is hoping for a better future? While those would be nice sentiments, the context shows a very different meaning. They are found in a letter Lewis wrote to Mary Willis Shelburne on June 17, 1963. It’s available in The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume 3.

Ironically, Lewis would die less than five months later. This is ironic because his words are part of comments expressed to Shelburne to comfort her as she was in the hospital and it was thought that her days were numbered. She actually went on to live twelve more years!

When you read the actual letter Lewis penned to Shelburne you find that early on he is challenging her about being fearful of dying by saying, “Can you not see death as the friend and deliverer?” At the close of the same paragraph he states “Has this world been so kind to you that you should leave it with regret? There are better things ahead than any we leave behind.”

There are some places online that share the above two sentences together. However, while this does provide more context for what Lewis was meaning it brings up other potential misunderstandings. As a Christian one understands that Heaven is a place we should prefer to be in. This, however, does not mean we should actively seek death to be with Christ.

Why be concern about this or other misunderstandings when sharing a quotation by Lewis, or any other author? Truth of the matter is, some expressions just don’t stand well alone. So, be slow to share something you see online, but be quick to read an author’s words from their own works!


The next quote examined is:

“Don’t shine so others can see you. Shine so that through you, others can see Him.”


Related Articles:

What Lewis NEVER Wrote  (Podcast)

Not Quite Lewis – Podcast Version

Not Quite Lewis – Questionable Lewisian Quotations (Conf. Paper)

Updated 3/5/2016

2 comments

  1. Steve Elmore /

    I’m guessing his quote got mixed with the famous quote from Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities: “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known.”

    • William OFlaherty /

      It’s possible…but there are far, far worst authors whose quotes Lewis could have been mixed with! LOL

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