My sabbatical has given me more time than usual to simply sit and read—all for a purpose, of course. One of my projects is a proposed book on C. S. Lewis’s influence on Americans, so I am enjoying reading through his collected letters, sorting out those addressed to Americans.
A couple days ago I came across one letter that was rather amusing. Lewis is well known as someone who felt more linked, academically and emotionally, to earlier ages than his own. He never drove a car in his adulthood and never learned how to use a typewriter. One can only imagine what he would have thought of a personal computer.
In 1944, even before he started receiving a flood of letters from Americans, he got one from an organization in California that called itself The Society for the Prevention of Progress. This “esteemed” society was inviting Lewis to become a member and was asking him to forward his credentials for consideration. This rather tongue-in-cheek invitation elicited a similar response from Lewis that I found delightful:
While feeling that I was born a member of your Society, I am nevertheless honoured to receive the outward seal of membership. I shall hope by continued orthodoxy and the unremitting practice of Reaction, Obstruction, and Stagnation to give you no reason for repenting your favour.
I humbly submit that in my Riddell Lectures entitled The Abolition of Man you will find another work not all unworthy of consideration for admission to the canon.
As I said, I’m enjoying my sabbatical.