“If there were such a society in existence and you or I visited it, I think we should come away with a curious impression. We should feel that its economic life was very socialistic and, in that sense, “advanced,” but its family life and its code of manners were rather old-fashioned- perhaps even ceremonious and aristocratic. Each of us would like some bits of it, but I am afraid very few of us would like the whole thing. That is just what one would expect if Christianity is the total plan for the human machine. We have all departed from that total plan in different way, and each of us wants to make out that his own modifications of the original plan is the plan itself. You will find this again and again about anything that is really Christian: every one is attracted by bits of it and wants to pick out those bits and leave the rest. That is why we do not get much further: and that is why people who are fighting for quite opposite things can both say that they are fighting for Christianity.”
The first part of the paragraph reminds me of something my father said when I was growing up. He came to the United States of America during the Hungarian Revolution. I vaguely remember asking him how a system he felt compelled to stand against and eventually leave (which meant leaving family and friends) came into existence. He said to me “Honeygirl, if Christians behaved like Christians, Karl Marx could have taken his manifesto and stuck it up his @$$. ”
Here I think comes into play the idea that people want to take bits and pieces of it. First of all, you can’t remove God from it. Second of all, Christianity is a choice, and Communism as a political and economic system was not.
Am I guilty of “taking bits and pieces of it”. I’m sure I do. I know that when I see the words “Communism” and “Socialism”, my hackles are raised. My daddy had to leave home and family because he stood against those things. Sure, and argument could be made that if he hadn’t I’d never have been born, since he met my mother here in Chicago. But I still feel badly for him, since I know it would have broken my heart to leave my mother and father and never see them again.
I do not, however, think that Lewis was making a case for Communism. He was pointing out that such a society would not resemble our own. I’m sure if he had been communicating with a Communist audience in mind, he would have emphasized other points, such as family life.