Show Less
Restricted access

Against Indifference

Four Christian Responses to Jewish Suffering during the Holocaust (C. S. Lewis, Thomas Merton, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, André and Magda Trocmé)

Carole J. Lambert

Against Indifference analyzes four responses to Jewish suffering during the Holocaust, moving on a spectrum from indifference to courageous action. C. S. Lewis did little to speak up for victimized Jews; Thomas Merton chose to enclose himself in a monastery to pray for and expiate the sins of a world gone awry; Dietrich Bonhoeffer acted to help his twin sister, her Jewish husband, and some other Jews escape from Germany; and the Trocmés established protective housing and an ongoing «underground railroad» that saved several thousand Jewish lives. Why such variation in the responses of those who had committed their lives to Jesus Christ and recognized that His prime commandment is to love God and others? This book provides answers to this question that help shed light on current Christians and their commitment to victims who suffer and need their help.
Show Summary Details
Restricted access

Chapter 2. C. S. Lewis


· 2 ·


“But don’t you see,” broke in Camilla, “that you can’t be neutral? If you don’t give yourself to us, the enemy will use you” (C. S. Lewis, That Hideous Strength 115).

It is hard to understand why C. S. Lewis did not do more to defend the Jews during the Holocaust. His lack of intervention must be seen in the context of his location and era. Minimal concern for Jewish victims seems to have prevailed at Oxford among many intellectuals of his circle. In his Letters, Lewis mentions few Jews during the War years between 1940 and 1945. This chapter will explore, in addition to his Letters, some of Lewis’s essays, novels, and non-fiction texts written between 1933 and 1950 which shed light on his seeming indifference to the Jews during their time of greatest need. It will conclude with suppositions about why Lewis seems to be “neutral” about Jewish Holocaust suffering.

George Sayer notes that Lewis “liked [Charles] Williams and was influenced by him more than by anyone else during the war” (Jack 176), which Alister McGrath reiterates in his Eccentric Genius. Reluctant Prophet. C. S. Lewis a Life: “Williams had become his [Lewis’s] literary and spiritual lodestar throughout the period of the war, displacing [J. R. R.] Tolkien in his affections” (242). Williams’s All Hallows’ Eve features a distinctly Jewish magician, ← 17 | 18 → Father Simon the Clerk, who uses his power, gained through a “debased Tetragrammaton...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.

Do you have any questions? Contact us.

Or login to access all content.