In the coming months we hope to publish more at CT about the relationship between faith and economics, from a number of perspectives. The question about how Christians should view the nation state, on the one hand, and the powerful forces of multinational capitalism, on the other hand, is too important to leave to economists or political scientists alone. Indeed, some of the most beloved writers of 20th-century Christianity—including G. K. Chesterton, J. R. R. Tolkien, and C. S. Lewis—had powerful critiques to offer of the dominant ideologies of their own day. In this essay, Art Lindsley reminds us that C. S. Lewis had a healthy suspicion of one of his era's favorite words, "progress." —Andy Crouch, CT executive editor
Some words are more slippery than they seem.
In C. S. Lewis's TheVoyage of the Dawn Treader, King Caspian encounters Gumpas, the Governor of the Lone Islands. Gumpas tells Caspian that the slave trade practiced in his domain is an "essential part of the development of the island."
"Tender as my years may be," says Caspian, "I do not see that it brings into the islands meat or bread or beer or wine or timber or cabbages or books or instruments of music or horses or armour or anything else worth having. But whether it does or not, it must be stopped."
"But that would be putting the clock back," gasps the governor. "Have you no idea of progress, of development?"
"I have seen them both in an egg," says Caspian. "We call it going bad in Narnia. This trade must stop."
Who could be against "progress" or "development"? Only someone, like Caspian, who has realized that some things ...1