In my view, C.S. Lewis was one of, if not the, greatest and most influential Christian thinkers of the 20th Century. Despite not loving his The Abolition of Man, I saw his obvious intellect and strong Christian worldview in it. Fortunately, he wrote many other essays and books, all of which, I’m sure, are worth reading. One of those is The World’s Last Night, which is a collection of seven of his best essays. I’d highly, highly recommend that you read it.
Summary of The World’s Last Night
In The World’s Last Night, CS Lewis tackles some of the most difficult topics facing Christians. Namely, he discusses the temptations of evil and how to hold fast to a belief in God despite seeming scientific evidence to the contrary. His view on that, which is also mine, is that scientists haven’t discovered anything near what they’d need to in order to disprove God. They might come up with theories about that rest of the universe and about what certain hypotheticals might prove or disprove, but all of that’s theory. they don’t really know.
In any case, that’s only the topic of one essay, the aptly titled “Religion and Rocketry.” The others in The World’s Last Night mainly deal with how Satan exploits evil, how Christians should handle sin, and the deleterious effects of democracy on the Christian and Anglo-Saxon psyche.
As a general conception for what The World’s Last Night is about, here are the seven essays:
- The Efficacy of Prayer
- On Obstinacy in Belief
- Lilies that Fester
- Screwtape Proposes a Toast
- Good Work and Good Works
- Religion and Rocketry
- The World’s Last Night
Each one covers a different aspect of faith and sin and is well worth reading, either on its own or, preferably, while reading the entirety of The World’s Last Night.
If you want to develop your faith as a Christian, or, from the outside looking in, want to see what Christianity is all about, give The World’s Last Night a try. It’s short, easy to read, full of witty humor,
Analysis of The World’s Last Night
After reading The Abolition of Man, I was slightly hesitant to start The World’s Last Night. I know CS Lewis was a genius and is well-regarded for a reason, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read something as dense as The Abolition of Man again.
Luckily, in that regard at least, the two are nothing like each other. Far from it, in fact. The World’s Last Night is about a variety of subjects, not just education, and is full of wit and humor that make it fun to read.
By far my favorite section of it was chapter four, “Screwtape Proposes a Toast.” In that astoundingly brilliant and hilarious chapter, Lewis uses the character of Screwtape, who is essentially a trainer of demons, to attack modern society for its descent into being average and apathetic. Far from days past, where there were true heroes and evil villains, Lewis describes many people today as leading meaningless lives of sin.
Yes, there are fewer evil people. Dictators are castigated rather than praised, the robber barons donate to charities, and most people sin more out of boredom than any real desire to do evil. But, at the same time, there are far more faithless people today. People not only sin like the average person, but also seem to have disdain for excellence. Lewis blames that on democracy in passages not unlike Churchill’s quote on democracy.
Each section of The World’s Last Night is different and approaches the overarching topic of sin from a different angle but they’re all interesting and show Lewis’s genius and faith. And while Screwtape’s toast with its dripping irony and thinly-veiled defense of excellence was by far my favorite chapter, all of them were enjoyable to read.
Overall, The World’s Last Night is an excellent book that is well worth reading. You’ll learn lots about sin, excellence, faith, and all the other important aspects of faith. Today, Easter Sunday, would be a great time to start it. I highly recommend that you do.
By: Gen Z Conservative