A slightly comedic piece written to a secular audience at the height of the Cold War. This was published shortly after Soviet Russia had enslaved the populations of Eastern Europe, and three years after atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The secular world, without faith in God, was in a state of near panic – fearing all out nuclear war. Send to your enquiring atheistic mates.
Once again in the artistic style of my desk lamp. Best viewed in HD and in a larger size (click the cog-wheel ‘settings’ button at bottom right of the screen for HD and the rectangle for the large player).
(0:31) The Syphilis plague, a bacterial sexual disease which caused disfigurement, insanity, infant mortality and child blindness, had only been cured some months before this essay was written with the discovery and public availability of Penicillin. I made a mistake in depicting “paralysis” as a man crippled by a diving accident. Lewis was in fact referring to ‘Infantile Paralysis’ or Polio – the then incurable and terrifying virus of the 1940’s & 50’s that left children dead, crippled for life or attached to iron lung machines as the virus paralyzed the breathing muscles of the chest. It was a genuine terror for parents and the virus struck every summer until a cure (vaccination) was found in 1954, six years after this essay was written.
(2:23) “Almost our whole education has been directed to silencing this shy, persistent, inner voice [for heaven]; almost all our modern. philosophies have been devised to convince us that the good of man is to be found on this earth. And yet it is a remarkable thing that such philosophies of Progress or Creative Evolution themselves bear reluctant witness to the truth that our real goal is elsewhere. When they want to convince you that earth is your home, notice how they set about it. They begin by trying to persuade you that earth can be made into heaven, thus giving a sop to your sense of exile in earth as it is. [A sop is a bribe of no value offered to stop dissatisfaction]. Next, they tell you that this fortunate event is still a good way off in the future, thus giving a sop to your knowledge that the fatherland is not here and now. Finally, lest your longing for the transtemporal [that transcending time] should awake and spoil the whole affair, they use any rhetoric that comes to hand to keep out of your mind the recollection that even if all the happiness they promised could come to man on earth, yet still each generation would lose it by death, including the last generation of all, and the whole story would be nothing, not even a story, for ever and ever. Hence all the nonsense that Mr. Shaw puts into the final speech of Lilith [“Of Life only is there no end…”], and Bergson’s remark that the ‘Elan Vital’ (‘The Life Force’) is capable of surmounting all obstacles, perhaps even death – as if we could believe that any social or biological development on this planet will delay the senility of the sun or reverse the second law of thermodynamics [entropy always increases]. Do what they will, then, we remain conscious of a desire which no natural happiness will satisfy…” (“The Weight of Glory”). See Lewis on hope here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BTQj_…
(13:19) “Only consider what we have done to the dog.” A reference, I assume, to the severe defects created in ‘purebred’ (that is ‘inbred’) dogs.
(13:23) “…powers and principalities” – Luke 10.18 – ‘Jesus replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven”.’ Eph 6.12 – ‘For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.’
(14:13) “It is impossible, in this context, not to inquire what our own civilization has been putting first for the last thirty years. And the answer is plain. It has been putting itself first. To preserve civilization has been the great aim; the collapse of civilization, the great bugbear. Peace, a high standard of life, hygiene, transport, science and amusement – all these, which are what we usually mean by civilization, have been our ends. It will be replied that our concern for civilization is very natural and very necessary at a time when civilization is so imperiled. But how if the shoe is on the other foot? – how if civilization has been imperiled precisely by the fact that we have all made civilization our summum bonum (highest good or ultimate goal)? Perhaps it can’t be preserved in that way. Perhaps civilization will never be safe until we care for something else more than we care for it. The hypothesis has certain facts to support it. As far as peace (which is one ingredient in our idea of civilization) is concerned, I think many would now agree that a foreign policy dominated by desire for peace is one of the many roads that lead to war (Neville Chamberlain in 1938)” (‘On First and Second Things’).