A Lesson in Praise from Eve and C.S. Lewis

Lately, Eve’s in a “You have to see this!” phase. Whether it’s a really great cracker or a cool toy or a bug or a blade of grass or an old waffle she found under the toy box—everything good is worth sharing. She lifts it up to you, beaming: “Look! Isn’t it wonderful?”

Makes me think of a passage in C.S. Lewis’s Reflections on the Psalms. He discusses his initial recoil at God’s commanding us to praise Him (and his later embrace of it), exploring what praise is and why we do it.

He says:

"But the most obvious fact about praise—whether of God or any thing—strangely escaped me. I thought of it in terms of compliment, approval, or the giving of honor. I had never noticed that all enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise unless (sometimes even if) shyness or the fear of boring others is deliberately brought in to check it. The world rings with praise-lovers praising their mistresses, readers their favorite poet, walkers praising the countryside, players praising their favorite game-praise of weather, wines, dishes, actors, motors, horses, colleges, countries, historical personages, children, flowers, mountains, rare stamps, rare beetles, even sometimes politicians or scholars. I had not noticed how the humblest, and at the same time most balanced and capacious, minds, praised most, while the cranks, misfits and malcontents praised least.…


I had not noticed either that just as men spontaneously praise whatever they value, so they spontaneously urge us to join them in praising it: “Isn’t she lovely? Wasn’t it glorious? Don’t you think that magnificent?” The Psalmists in telling everyone to praise God are doing what all men do when they speak of what they care about. My whole, more general, difficulty about the praise of God depended on my absurdly denying to us, as regards the supremely Valuable, what we delight to do, what indeed we can’t help doing, about everything else we value.


I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation.”