C.S. Lewis in Church: An Episode 54 Followup

In the anthology of C.S. Lewis’s writings published with the title God in the Dock, we find this interesting tidbit, which may be something of an answer to my speculative question toward the end of the episode. During an open forum at the “Head Office of Electric and Musical Industries Ltd.” (wouldn’t you love to work there?), everyone’s favorite Oxford-don-who-isn’t-Tolkien fielded this question: “Is attendance at a place of worship or membership with a Christian community necessary to a Christian way of life?” His answer:

That’s a question which I cannot answer. My own experience is that when I first became a Christian, about fourteen years ago, I thought that I could do it on my own, by retiring to my rooms and reading theology, and I wouldn’t go to the churches and Gospel Halls; and then later I found that it was the only way of flying your flag; and, of course, I found that meant being a target. It is extraordinary how inconvenient to your family it becomes for you to get up early for Church. It doesn’t matter so much if you get up early for anything else, but if you get up early to go to Church it’s very selfish of you and you upset the house. If there is anything in the teaching of the New Testament which is in the nature of a command, it is that you are obliged to take the Sacrament, and you can’t do it without going to Church. I disliked very much their hymns, which I considered to be fifth-rate poems set to sixth-rate music. But as I went on I saw the great merit of it. I came up against different people of quite different outlooks and different education, and then gradually my conceit just began peeling off. I realized that the hymns (which were just sixth-rate music) were, nevertheless, being sung with devotion and benefit by an old saint in elastic-side boots in the opposite pew, and then you realize that you aren’t fit to clean those boots. It gets you out of your solitary conceit. It is not for me to lay down laws, as I am only a layman, and I don’t know much. (“Answers to Questions on Christianity,” 61-2)

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