Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Lesser Feast of C.S. Lewis

On this day in 1963, Clive Staples Lewis died.  Some of us now observe November 22nd as the Lesser Feast of C.S. Lewis.  Here is one of my favorite passages from Lewis: 

“To be frank, I have no pleasure in looking forward to a meeting between humanity and any alien rational species. I observe how the white man has hitherto treated the black, and how, even among civilized men, the stronger have treated the weaker. If we encounter in the depth of space a race, however innocent and amiable, which is technologically weaker than ourselves, I do not doubt that the same revolting story will be repeated. We shall enslave, deceive, exploit or exterminate; at the very least we shall corrupt it with our vices and infect it with our diseases. We are not yet fit to visit other worlds. We have filled our own with massacre, torture, syphilis, famine, dust bowls and all that is hideous to ear or eye. Must we go on to infect new realms? ...It was in part these reflections that first moved me to make my own small contributions to science fiction. In those days writers in the genre almost automatically represented the inhabitants of other worlds as monsters and the terrestrial invaders as good….The same problem, by the way, is beginning to threaten us as regards the dolphins. I don’t think it has yet been proved that they are rational. But if they are, we have no more right to enslave them than to enslave our fellow-men. And some of us will continue to say this, but we shall be mocked.”
--C.S. Lewis, “The Seeing Eye,” in Christian Reflections, Walter Hooper, Ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1968), 173-4.