Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Christ and Churchill

Critics of the Gospels make a big deal about what the Gospels don't say. They deploy the argument from silence to question the historicity of the Gospels. And it's true that the argument from silence can sometimes be telling, if there's an expectation that a writer would mention something in case he knew about it. But even that inference can be precarious. 

I've been dipping into The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis; Volume II : Books, Broadcasts, and the War, 1931-1949. I begin with the index, then read entries that interest me. 

There's only one letter (April 21, 1940), to Warnie, that mentions Churchill in passing: 

On Thursday I dined at the Carlyles. The old man was in great form. He highly praised Churchill's Marlborough...(399).

That's in a volume with a 1000 pages of letters spanning the lead up to the war and the war proper. Jack doesn't even mention Churchill in his pivotal role, at the time of writing, as the wartime prime minister, but Churchill as author and historian. 

The only reason he even mentions Churchill at all is because Carlyle referred to Churchill's biography of Marlborough at dinner, and Jack thought that tidbit would interest his brother since Warnie had a copy of the biography (according to a footnote). So it's just happenstance that there's even a single reference to Churchill in Jack's collected correspondence. 

You'd never know from the letters what a dominant figure Churchill was in English politics during this long ordeal, when England was facing a war for national survival. Indeed, a political giant at the time. 

Ironically, the reason he doesn't crop up more often in the correspondence is because he was too central, too important to mention. That's ubiquitous common background knowledge. 

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