Sunday, April 6, 2008

C.S. Lewis quote(s) of the week-- on war

Both from "Learning in War Time" during World War II (hat tip: First Things)...

Of course, this is not to endorse war in general-- or any particular war. Nor is this, of course, meant to endorse our current activity in Iraq. But those caveats aside, Lewis is spot-on about one spiritual side-effect of war...

War simply aggravates the permanent human situation so that we can no longer ignore it. Human life has always been lived on the edge of a precipice. Human culture has always had to exist under the shadow of something infinitely more important than itself...We are mistaken when we compare war with "normal life". Life has never been normal.

War makes death real to us; and that would have been regarded as one of its blessings by most of the great Christians of the past. They thought it good for us to be always aware of our mortality. I am inclined to think they were right. All the animal life in us, all schemes of happiness that centered in this world, were always doomed to a final frustration. In ordinary times only a wise man can realize it. Now the stupidest of us knows. We see unmistakably the sort of universe in which we have all along been living, and must come to terms with it. If we had foolish un-Christian hopes about human culture, they are now shattered. If we thought we were building up a heaven on earth, if we looked for something that would turn the present world from a place of pilgrimage into a permanent city satisfying the soul of man, we are disillusioned, and not a moment too soon.


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