In this doodle C.S. Lewis talks about the Christian virtue called ‘Hope’, the continual looking forward to the eternal world (notes below).
During one of the blackest years of WWII, C.S. Lewis wrote a BBC radio talk on ‘Hope & Faith as Virtues’. He originally wrote the radio address for 15 mins, but afterwards the BBC changed the formula & only allowed him 10 mins on “For the [Armed] Forces” radio station. So this talk had the section on ‘Hope’ cut from the broadcast, & it became simply a talk on ‘Faith’. This missing section ended up being printed in the book version of the talks called ‘Christian Behaviour’ (1943) & later became Chapter 10 of Book 3, in the book called ‘Mere Christianity’. This section on ‘Hope’ you are about to hear, was never broadcast by the BBC.
(0:03) This view of the Golden Valley is reputed to be the most beautiful viewpoint in all Britain. It was made famous by the movie ‘Shadowlands’, as Lewis’ childhood picture he thought was a view of heaven (whether or not the picture really existed in his childhood, I do not know). The painting used in the movie is from Symonds Yat Rock & provides a fabulous viewpoint of the River Wye, Herefordshire. Lewis thought our best earthly pleasures are meant to arouse our desire for another world, & our earthly pleasures are only painted copies, or echoes, or mirages of the real joy of Heaven.
(0:47) Alfred the Great, the English King, codified three prior Saxon codes – those of Æthelberht of Kent (c. 602 A.D.), Ine of Wessex (c. 694 A.D.) & Offa of Mercia (c. 786 A.D.) – to which he prefixed the ‘Ten Commandments’ of Moses & also incorporated rules of life from the Mosaic Code & the Christian code of ethics. Alfred the Great is also famous for defeating the Vikings, who had invaded England, & for being magnanimous in his great victory.
(1:53) Lewis on civilisation: “You can’t get second things by putting them first; you can get second things only by putting first things first. From which it would follow that the question, “What things are first?”, is of concern not only to philosophers but to everyone. It is impossible, in this context, not to inquire what our own civilisation has been putting first for the last thirty years. & the answer is plain. It has been putting itself first. To preserve civilisation has been the great aim; the collapse of civilisation, the great bugbear [obsessive fear]. Peace, a high standard of life, hygiene, transport, science & amusement – all these, which are what we usually mean by civilisation, have been our ends. It will be replied that our concern for civilisation is very natural & very necessary at a time when civilisation is so imperilled [by Nazi invasion]. But how if the shoe is on the other foot – how if civilisation has been imperilled precisely by the fact that we have all made civilisation our summum bonum (highest good)? Perhaps it can’t be preserved in that way. Perhaps civilisation will never be safe until we care for something else more than we care for it.”
“The hypothesis has certain facts to support it. As far as peace (which is one ingredient in our idea of civilisation) is concerned, I think many would now agree that a foreign policy dominated by desire for peace is one of the many roads that lead to war [written in 1942 about Chamberlain’s British policy of ‘peace at all costs’). & was civilisation ever seriously endangered until civilisation became the exclusive aim of human activity? There is much rash idealisation of past ages about, & I do not wish to encourage more of it. Our ancestors were cruel, lecherous, greedy & stupid, like ourselves. But while they cared for other things more than for civilisation – & they cared at different times for all sorts of things, for the will of God, for glory, for personal honour, for doctrinal purity, for justice – was civilisation often in serious danger of disappearing?”
“At least the suggestion is worth a thought. To be sure, if it were true that civilisation will never be safe till it is put second, that immediately raises the question, second to what? What is the first thing? The only reply I can offer here is that if we do not know, then the first, & only truly practical thing, is to set about finding out…” (‘First & Second Things’, June 1942).
(7:16) “…I still maintain that what enraptures & transports is always good. In the mirages, this good thing is not where we suppose it to be, namely, in the book or picture. But it may be good in itself – just as an oasis is a good thing though it exists a hundred miles away & not, as the desert traveller sees it, in the next valley…” (Tastes in Literature). The original broadcast had the following words italicised (shown in CAPS). “You want other things MORE”; “There are all sorts of things in this world that OFFER to give it to you”; “But SOMETHING has evaded us”; “probably earthly pleasures were never MEANT to satisfy it.” See ‘The Problem of Pain’ (Chp.10) & ‘The Weight of Glory’ for more.