C.S. Lewis & Why We Need Shame

C.S. Lewis & Why We Need Shame

"Epic Quotes" is a category all by itself. There are some quotes you just need to have down somewhere where you can revisit it over and over again and share with friends. Here we're keeping track of some of our favorite quotes. We might offer commentary below the quote, or give you the commentary of someone else on the quote, like this one. 

Do you have an Epic Quote? Share it with us. If we agree with you, we'll post it! 


Epic Quote

" ... the 'frankness' of people sunk below shame is a very cheap frankness."

-C.S. Lewis


Epic Commentary

To get the real sense of this quote from Lewis, we need some context. Here's more from the passage, which comes from The Problem of Pain. I'll let Lewis give his own epic commentary. But check back later for more on shame, concealment, and the need for humility in our sharing and in our art. 

"We have labored to overcome that sense of shrinking, that desire to conceal, which either Nature herself or the tradition of almost all mankind has attached to cowardice, unchastity, falsehood, and envy. We are told to 'get things out into the open,' not for the sake of self-humiliation, but on the ground that these 'things' are very natural and we need not be ashamed of them.
 
"But unless Christianity is wholly false, the perception of ourselves which we have in moments of shame must be the only true one; and even Pagan society has recognised shamelessness as the nadir of the soul. 
 
"In trying to extirpate shame we have broken down one of the ramparts of the human spirit, madly exulting in the work as the Trojans exulted when they broke their walls and pulled the Horse into Troy. I do not know that there is anything to be done but to set about the rebuilding as soon as we can.
 
It is mad work to remove hypocrisy by removing the temptation to hypocrisy: the 'frankness' of people sunk below shame is a very cheap frankness."

There are certain things that should not be shared. I know that seems blasphemous in our share everything culture. But it seems that even "Pagan society," as Lewis puts it, gets that a little bit of shame, or concealment, is good.

What do you think about our society of "authenticity" and "freedom" and "courage" (or "bravery")? Have we gone too far with our public sharing that we've become a shameless society? How do you think shame can be a benefit in our personal lives and our internet lives (gross, did I just say "internet lives" out loud?)? 

Let us know your thoughts!

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