C.S. Lewis Thinks About COVID-19

A friend sent this to me, and I think it’s timely. In point of fact, C.S. Lewis was writing about the atomic bomb back in 1948, not the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020, so there are some important distinctions. COVID-19 is not a future threat; it is a present reality, and every precaution needs to be taken. We should not be out taking walks in crowded parks or enjoying carefree fellowship with friends and neighbors. However, the point is well taken—which is that the threat of death isn’t novel.* We should prepare for our own death and do all we can to prevent untimely death, but we should not live in a state of fear or panic. We need to keep our minds and hearts “stayed upon Jehovah” and at peace so that we can continue to live lives of love and good will!

This is what C.S. Lewis had to say seventy years ago:

“In one way we think a great deal too much of the COVID-19 Virus [replacing ‘the atomic bomb’ and so on throughout]. ‘How are we to live?’ I am tempted to reply: ‘Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of paralysis, an age of hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, an age of violence, an age of motor accidents.’

“In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the virus began: and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways. We had, indeed, one very great advantage over our ancestors—anesthetics and antibiotics. It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty.

“This is the first point to be made: and the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by a virus, let that virus, when it comes, find us doing sensible and human things—praying, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, taking a walk, caring for our family, friends, and neighbors—not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about things we cannot see. They may break down our bodies, but they need not dominate our minds or destroy our spirits.” (Written by C.S. Lewis “On Living in an Atomic Age” in Present Concerns: Journalistic Essays).

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee:
because he trusteth in thee” (Isaiah 26:3).

*If you are not prepared to die and would like to be, please click on the link at the top of this page that says “Coming To Christ.” It explains what the Bible teaches about how to make peace with God through repentance from our sins, faith in Christ—who died in our place so that we can be reconciled to God—and receiving the free gift of eternal life. Please let me know how/if I can pray for you!!

6 thoughts on “C.S. Lewis Thinks About COVID-19

  1. I found that C.S.Lewis article quite fascinating and posted it with correct attribution on Facebook. They pulled it. Then a couple days later they apologized and said they mistakenly pulled it because it violated their guidelines. But then they said they reconsidered and put the post back. I honestly hadn’t even noticed it was missing. They didn’t explain what it was that violated their guidelines but I guess I don’t really care. I just thought that was rather interesting.

    1. Wild! I wonder what happened, or why they didn’t approve and then did! I got mine as an email from a friend with no attribution, but it was easy for me to find the original online. Bless you!

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