Monday, January 02, 2006
C.S. Lewis and the ACLU
I had hoped to take her to see the Chronicles of Narnia, but she decided she did not feel like going out. I'll have to watch it some other time. She had never heard of the story, but I know if she went to the movie she would like it. I know I would have.
Perhaps I am a bit jaded, but it saddens me to see how many folks have little to no knowledge of the classics of literature anymore. I asked a young guy I work with if he had been required to study Shakespere in college and he just laughed. " Why would they waste time doing that?", he answered. I shook my head in disgust. You ask around some more, and one finds that the works that I grew up learning as "classics" are not taught or read near as much as they used to be. Major movies have come out, about works by C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, and people only know the story from the movie. They have little to no idea of the authors of the stories, or how they interacted with each other.
Makes me wonder what is being passed around for literature these days. I love C.S. Lewis and think he was a great writer. One of my favorite books by him is the Screwtape Letters. The final chapter, is in myopinion, mandatory reading for anyone who aspires to a career in the public service or the military. The entire speech can be found here. Written in the 50's, communism was the great evil then. However see if his words are still not applicable today:
In a word, we may reasonably hope for the virtual abolition of education when I’m as good as you has fully had its way. All incentives to learn and all penalties for not learning will be prevented; who are they to overtop their fellows? And anyway the teachers – or should I say, nurses? – will be far too busy reassuring the dunces and patting them on the back to waste any time on real teaching. We shall no longer have to plan and toil to spread imperturbable conceit and incurable ignorance among men. The little vermin themselves will do it for us.
Of course, this would not follow unless all education became state education. But it will. That is part of the same movement. Penal taxes, designed for that purpose, are liquidating the Middle Class, the class who were prepared to save and spend and make sacrifices in order to have their children privately educated. The removal of this class, besides linking up with the abolition of education, is, fortunately, an inevitable effect of the spirit that says I’m as good as you. This was, after all, the social group which gave to the humans the overwhelming majority of their scientists, physicians, philosophers, theologians, poets, artists,composers, architects, jurists, and administrators. If ever there were a bunch of stalks that needed their tops knocked off, it was surely they. As an English politician remarked not long ago, “A democracy does not want great men.”
......All said and done, my friends, it will be an ill day for us if what most humans mean by “Religion” ever vanishes from the Earth. It can still send us the truly delicious sins. Nowhere do we tempt so successfully as on the very steps of the altar.
Great work indeed.