An extra posting on the subject of War, from JRRT

Extract from a letter by J.R.R. Tolkien to his son Christopher:

10 April 1944

I sometimes feel appalled at the thought of the sum total of human misery all over the world at the present moment: the millions parted, fretting, wasting in unprofitable days - quite apart from torture, pain, death, bereavement, injustice. If anguish were visible, almost the whole of this benighted planet would be enveloped in a dense dark vapour, shrouded from the amazed vision of the heavens! And the products of it all will be mainly evil - historically considered.

But the historic version is, of course, not the only one. All things and all deeds have a value in themselves, apart from their "causes" and "effects." No man can estimate what is really happening sub specie aeternitatis. All we do know, and that to a large extent by direct experience, is that evil labours with vast power and perpetual success - in vain: preparing always the soil for unexpected good to sprout in.

- from "The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien"

1 comment:

Arevanye said...

Hi Roger--

I am reading The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis: Volume II right now and have reached the point in his correspondence at the start of WWII. In a letter to Dom Bede Griffiths he says:

"No, I haven't joined the Territorials. I am too old. It would be hypocrisy to say that I regret this. My memories of the last war haunted my dreams for years. Military service, to be plain, includes the threat of every temporal evil: pain and death which is what we fear from sickness: isolation from those we love which is what we fear from exile: toil under arbitrary masters, injustice and humiliation, which is what we fear from slavery: hunger, thirst, cold and exposure which is what we fear from poverty. I'm not a pacifist. If its got to be, its got to be. But the flesh is weak and selfish and I think death would be much better than to live through another war."
(May 8, 1939)

Have you ever read anything by Ralph Wood, of Baylor University? A person on another message board I frequent went to a lecture of his, titled "Tolkien and Lewis: Friends and Combatants" (his paper on this subject is at the link above), and came away with the impression that "he was saying that being in the war didn't seem to make Lewis think seriously about war."

Can you imagine? Here is a link to her post: Ralph Wood Lecture