This book is a gem, or rather a necklace of nine gems. The book consists of nine messages given by C.S. Lewis during the World War Two period. In addition to the title essay, it includes one of my all-time favorites, “Learning in War-Time”, which argues the intrinsic value of academic work for those called to this task, even when other things (like war) seem far more pressing.
The other essays included are:
“Why I’m Not a Pacifist” giving Lewis’s arguments for engagement in armed conflict.
“Transposition” dealing with reductionistic explanations of spiritual phenomena.
“Is Theology Poetry?” in which he upbraids his hosts for the vagueness of this question, which might be understood as theology being equated with the kind of “truth” gleaned from poetry.
“The Inner Ring” which explores the temptation of wanting to be on the inside of groups only to find there is nothing particularly compelling in such a place–that the most interesting groups are comprised simply of friends who share a genuine interest.
“Membership”, exploring the degeneration of this term from a Christian understanding of being “members” of each other to simply being part of some collective enterprise.
“On Forgiveness” is a pithy address with the challenge to forgive as we are forgiven and some piercing insights into how often our efforts to seek forgiveness are really efforts to excuse our bad behavior.
“A Slip of the Tongue” rounds out this collection and explores the ways we try to hedge our bets with God, to reserve some part of our life and ourselves from his direction.
What a gift to have these sparkling gems strung together into this collection. Anyone who loves C. S. Lewis or wants to get a taste of his writing and thought might find this lesser known collection a great place to begin!