C.S. Lewis on Avoiding Cruel, Dishonest Talkers

One way to avoid sinning with our speech is to practice prudence about the company we keep.

Some incisive advice from C.S. Lewis in Reflections on the Psalms:

I am inclined to think a Christian would be wise to avoid, where he decently can, any meeting with people who are bullies, lascivious, cruel, dishonest, spiteful and so forth.

C.s.lewis3Not because we are ‘too good’ for them.  In a sense because we are not good enough….to cope with all the problems which an evening spent in such society produces…to condone, connive at; by our words, look and laughter, to ‘consent’….

“We shall hear vile stories told as funny; not merely licentious stories but…stories which the teller could not be telling unless he was betraying someone’s confidence.

We shall hear the infamous detraction of the absent, often disguised as pity or humour.

“…there is a degree of unprotesting participation in such talk which is very bad…

if [avoiding such situations] can’t be done without seeming priggish, then priggish we must seem. For what really matters is not seeming but being a prig.

Lewis was a devoted man who went to confession regularly, gave a large portion of his income away in secret and even refused to own too many books in order to avoid the sin of pride. Here, too, he avoids the occasion of sin rather than worry about what others will think.  He’d rather seem a prig than be one.

That is supernatural prudence in action.



This post is part of a speech-silenceseries (see A Lenten Invitation from a Babbling Brook: Focus on Speech and Silence). To receive new installments, you’re invited to Follow Sparrowfare by placing your email address sidebar box. Please share the posts that speak to you.  In this contentious time, let’s spread the word about the importance of our words.


4 thoughts on “C.S. Lewis on Avoiding Cruel, Dishonest Talkers

    1. Indeed! A priest once advised me to “just walk away” if a conversation turned disparaging. The first time I did it, it took every ounce of courage I had. One of the people involved came after me moments later and said, “I knew I shouldn’t be talking like that.” The other came the next day. Yet I still struggle in each of these occasions! So I love that last line of Lewis. He gets to the heart of the matter.

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