Four Christian Responses to Jewish Suffering during the Holocaust (C. S. Lewis, Thomas Merton, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, André and Magda Trocmé)
Chapter 2. C. S. Lewis
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C. S. LEWIS
“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...
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