C.S. Lewis was, for at least a portion of World War Two, in the employ of MI6. That’s right! The creator of Narnia, friend of the creator of Middle Earth, and massively read Christian apologist was in fact on Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
Sadly, there was no globe-trotting, woman chasing or bomb defusing involved. C.S. Lewis was, put plainly, a propagandist. His job was straightforward; he was to deliver a lecture that would help Britain maintain its occupation of Iceland (against the German advance) while using only military reservists. He did so in the form of a record, the distribution of which could be controlled and part of which has only recently been unearthed. His lecture emphasized the bonds between the Nordic and English people as reflected in the literary influences of Norse legend on English literature.
It is a story with a massive “cool” factor. The details in the end are actually kind of dull, but it is one heck of a headline. Not to mention it is far more important than you might think. Simply looking at a map will tell you how strategically valuable it was for Iceland not to fall into German hands. And that has given me pause to reflect on how terribly important even the most mundane of acts can be.
Peggy Noonan balances the good and the bad of our current national debate on maintaining national security. Everyone has an opinion and everyone is increasingly willing to express it, sometimes rashly, sometimes ignorantly, usually loudly and for the most part all of us are ineffective because we are not decision makers. Sure, I have an opinion, but I am less worried about expressing it than discovering what I can do to help with the issue myself. In WWII Lewis was well past the age of military service (he did serve in WWI) but he served as he could, in a way that suited his particular talents.
My email devotion this morning made me think about this deeply. This week those devotions have focused on racial reconciliation – something that is all balled up with the current national security debate. The writer says this:
We might imagine God enlisting us in some great work of reconciliation, calling us to shine his light into the darkness of our culture….But the starting point of living our calling is not macro but micro. It has to do with how we treat the people right around us: our family and friends, our colleagues and neighbors.
How are we to lead a life worthy of our calling? We are to live “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (4:2-3). The reconciliation to which we have been called by God begins with how we live each day, in the nitty-gritty of ordinary life.
You know, the best way to find out if that Muslim moving in next door is a radical jihadi might just be to befriend him, or at least try to. This is something we can all do. It is kind of cool and sort of James Bondish, in that C.S. Lewis kind of way.