Dark days demand two seemingly contradictory things. Serious reflection and diversion (often in the form of entertainment).
Things are serious. The ultimate toll of the current pandemic remains unknown. Even if we regard ourselves as safe due to age, health and isolation, the simple fact is thousands are dying. Beyond our compassionate concern for those who are suffering, only a fool would fail to reflect on their own mortality during this plague.
Christians, who recently “celebrated” Good Friday are quite conscious of the fact that “we are dust and to dust we shall return” (Genesis 3:19).
Yet this awareness doesn’t leave us in despair, because Easter has come. Our Lord’s resurrection means that for those who trust in him, death does not have the final word.
I pray for those who are overcome by worry during these days. Because dwelling solely on the negative robs life of its present joys, and worsens the impact of the pandemic on individual lives.
Rather than feed your anxiety with troubling reports and thoughts, I urge you to take the opportunity to read, watch a classic program, or play a game. Distracting activities are healthy, as long as they do not displace serious awareness of our circumstances.
Seriously Assessing Our Predicament
Others have written eloquently about Lewis’ response to situations such as that in which we find ourselves today.
For example, the Gospel Coalition offers an excerpt from C.S. Lewis’ 72 year old essay about atomic weapons. They suggest we “just replace ‘atomic bomb’ with ‘coronavirus.’” Lewis’ advice holds up well in our turbulent era.
Annie Holmquist of Intellectual Takeout elaborates on Lewis’ essay. “How C.S. Lewis Would Tell Us to Handle Coronavirus” is well worth a read.
Several weeks ago, the Wade Center (which hosts the Western Hemisphere’s finest Inkling collection) struck the balance I am suggesting. They acknowledged the danger, and offered advice on spending our time well. Their blog included an excellent suggestion in “Those Who Lived to see Such Times: Suggested Readings from the Wade Authors during Times of Uncertainty.” The Wade Center provides links to a number of fine text and audio resources that will offer encouragement from authors who “witnessed both world wars, and . . . lived to see the unsettling days of nuclear weapons.”
Enjoying Life Despite the Danger
Those who are working during this time remain in need of our prayerful support. For the majority of us, however, the cancellation of most of our normal social activities has provided us with an abundance of leisure time. In addition to attacking postponed chores around the house, we should fill some of this interval by enjoying old pleasures and discovering new interests.
Take advantage of treasures such as those mentioned in the Wade Center post. Hundreds—even thousands—of free, public domain books are available online. For those whose preference is visual, there are plenty of free video options, including many vintage television shows you can view on YouTube.
If you’re craving a humorous treat, check out the great satire at The Babylon Bee and The Salty Cee.
A recent article on the former site reveals the sad tale of a boy whose childhood has been ruined by modern online games. It’s entitled, “Boy Discovers Wondrous Land Of Narnia, Leaves Negative Yelp Review.”
Lutherans (and self-confident Christians of other traditions) will enjoy the Lutheran Satire site. For people who don’t object to listening in on a demonic press conference, a fictional Easter interview on their main page is enlightening.
A bit lighter, is this rendition of Saint Patrick explaining the Trinity to the Irish pagans. It will help you sharpen your Christology.
There is a vast, unexplored world of literature out there. I recently read this illuminating post about one of George MacDonald’s fairy tales. MacDonald exerted a great influence on C.S. Lewis. With a curious twist on light and dark, the post also provides a link to a film based on MacDonald’s The Light Princess. I haven’t viewed it yet—but if you have a high tolerance for 1980s BBC productions combining animation and live action, you could be in for a treat.
Where to Begin?
Before exploring some of these links I’ve included, I encourage you to view “The Age of the Coronavirus.” The videographer has done what was suggested in one of the articles mentioned above. He has substituted the virus for the threat of nuclear war in C.S. Lewis’ abbreviated essay.
The video is good enough that you may well desire to share it with others. It can help to know the threats of our day are not unique to history. I suggest that you also include the amazing C.S. Lewis Doodle which offers an illustrated version of the entire essay.
8 thoughts on “C.S. Lewis and Times of Crisis”
Thank you for the serious thoughts, diversion, and suggested diversions, here. All much appreciated!
Thank you for affirming my role as a holy diverter. Stay well.
Thank you for those tidbits. Hope you are well and making the most of these days. Thanks,
Gary, we’re all doing well out here in the “country.” Took many years of “city life,” but we finally got our little slice of the forest. Love the deer, rabbits and chipmunks we see almost daily. And the birds–so many different species–that visit our feeders each day. From hummingbirds to steller’s jays, from thrushes to mourning doves. Larks, sparrows, starlings, chickadees, juncos, robins, redwing blackbirds, and more. Bald eagles overhead and ducks down in our riparian at Puddleglum Pond.
I’ve wondered how classic authors would’ve written about this time: then, as you point out, realize they had their own great events.
Few generations, I think, live through non-tumultuous times.
It’s looking like it.
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