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Author Topic: Lewis, Tolkien, and the Great War
Posts: 1574
Post Lewis, Tolkien, and the Great War
on: November 20, 2018, 16:20

An article from the Daily Standard (one of the daily updates I get) discusses the psychological effects of the Great War, especially two veterans of the trenches who challenged the Zeitgeist. The war was so devastating that it basically destroyed the traditional European culture even as it wrecked 4 major empires (German, Austro-Hungarian, Russian, and Ottoman). God lost a lot of support after what happened, and many survivors replaced Judaism and Christianity with various forms of materialism -- including not only Fascism, Nazism, and Communist, but also scientism. An element of this was the popularity of eugenics in various forms.

Even those who still favored traditional culture, such as Aldous Huxley, were pessimistic about its future. Huxley was not the inventor of the concept of dystopia (Zamyatin's We predated Brave New Worlds by several years), but he made it a significant concept. This wasn't the future he wanted; in an introduction to the edition of the book that we read in 10th grade he made it clear that he saw the choice between Our Ford and the savages was a choice between different forms of insanity.

But, with all that going on, a pair of English professors at Oxford University fought back, and not only championed traditional values but offered hope that they could succeed. C. S. Lewis in That Hideous Strength, had tradition in the form of Merlin and Ransom defeat scientism in the form of the christophobic N.I.C.E. (As Perry Bramlett pointed out in one his lectures on Lewis that we attended at Elizabeth's church, at one point Mark Studdock is ordered to stomp on an image of Jesus Christ. He doesn't, perhaps partly because it occurred to him that if Jesus were as insignificant as they said, they wouldn't have bothered to do so. This began his path not only to survival but to redemption.)

Lord of the Rings and the Chronicles of Narnia also showed this support for traditional values and the possibility of their success even when the odds are against them. There is no guarantee of success, but neither is there a certainty of failure. The link is:

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