3.18.2022 – present perspective

present perspective
creates no absolutely
new situation

In a sermon preached at the invitation of Canon T.R. Milford at Solemn Evensong in the Oxford University Church of St Mary the Virgin on June 8, 1941, C.S. Lewis said this:

I think it important to try to see the present calamity in a true perspective.

The war creates no absolutely new situation: it simply aggravates the permanent human situation so that we can no longer ignore it.

Human life has always been lived on the edge of a precipice.

Human culture has always had to exist under the shadow of something infinitely more important than itself.

Human life has always been lived on the edge of a precipice.

This sermon was after almost two years of war between Great Britain and Germany.

TWO YEARS that we here in America watched and read about the invasion and destruction of Poland.

TWO YEARS that we here in America watched and read about the invasion and destruction of Holland, Belgium and Denmark.

TWO YEARS that we here in America watched and read about the invasion and destruction of France.

TWO YEARS that we here in America watched and read about the invasion and destruction of Norway.

TWO YEARS that we here in America listened to Edward R. Murrow say, This … is London.

TWO Years that we here in America listened to Murrow say, with the sounds of bombs falling and going off, “The lights are swinging over in this general direction now. You’ll hear two explosions. There they are. That was the explosion overhead, not the guns themselves. I should think in a few minutes there may be a bit of shrapnel around here. Coming in–moving a little closer all the while. The plane’s still very high.”

TWO YEARS that we here in America listened to Winston Churchill saying things like “we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”

And then something happened.

You know what?

The Japanese, on December 7, 1941, bombed Pearl Harbor.

And America was at war with Japan.

Then for reasons historians have debated for last 80 years, wonder of wonders, Hitler declared war on the United States of America.

Had Herr Hitler not done that, it is doubtful that the United States would have got into that European war.

The war creates no absolutely new situation: it simply aggravates the permanent human situation so that we can no longer ignore it.

America has always had to exist under the shadow of something infinitely more important than itself.

And sometimes, that has been very hard for American’s to take.

PS: This photo of FDR on Dec 8th is in today’s House of Representatives. The rostrum was completely rebuilt to today’s polished wooden look in the 1950’s. The ceiling was also replaced as when this room was built, in the 1860’s during the Civil War, the ceiling was a vast leaded glass skylight which was being replaced when this photograph was taken.

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