This is a letter to teenagers, parents of teenagers, and all those in between. For us teens we're being taught that religions and worldviews aren’t walls that need to be argued and dismantled because there’s a hole in each one with a string pulled through to make everyone connected. Everyone's ideas are equal in spite their view of their foundation and consequences. If it seems too good to be true it’s because it is, for teenagers at least.
Our culture is raising us to think that when we’re faced with challenges we’re to ignore them, maybe make the obstacle legal and socially acceptable. For some teens this is a nightmare casted as a dream. We’re faced with wondering how far this thinking is going to go, we don't know how long it’s going to last. Culture is distracting us from all those wise men of past eras who seemed to have a keen take on life?
“Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil.” Those sharp-witted words came from a British academic, C. S. Lewis, with the quote still mentionable to this day. Although there are up-to-date genius movements rising around us, we have overlooked history’s greatest influences as we stand on their shoulders.
While our culture is reinventing solutions to past problems teens yearn to look to past influencers to lead us in an uprising direction. This culture move would build confidence to know that the problems we face today were overcome generations earlier. The success of men like C.S. Lewis to lead a generation to crave courage and bravery in a new world is inspiring. Lewis captured the power of a youthful imagination. We need more of that.
With his Narnia book series, Lewis provided a way for kids to understand an in depth message of Christ through fiction stories. But Narnia does more than point to Christ. Lewis' diligent pursuit in to find virtuous truths, mixed with his storytelling prowess, cultivated a love of the good and beautiful in a war-torn generation. Lives have been shifted and drastically changed in the world. At Hillcrest, with Mr. Undseth’s use of Lewis’ Screwtape Letters in the school’s British Literature class, students have been taken down this road of looking back to forge ahead.
Adventures between wars and wizardry, a pursuit to destroy one ring that rules all has had a number of people quoting grey-haired wizards and pudgy-footed Hobbits. J.R.R. Tolkien, in his Lord of the Rings trilogy, embarked on a similar path in a similar time as Lewis, having almost the same impact.
Outside the shire and beyond Cair Paravel a prolifically gifted writer and honored war hero, Winston Churchill, emerged in the same violent epoch of history as Lewis and Tolkien. Churchill is remembered through his writings and courageous acts he performed throughout his life both in and out of the spotlight. Well known for saving Britain during World War II, Churchill was also notorious for his speeches and wasn't afraid to rain God’s name and good graces.
Lewis, Tolkien, and Churchill all share a heart that urged their generation in an uncommon direction in the face of conflict. Each man stood for what he believed in. There comes a point in time where lines need to be recognized and drawn. But teen culture paints over lines, erases boundaries, and forces paint on white canvases.
Rather than creating new normals and constructing new virtues, teens would do well to realize that others have suffered before us to lead generations to come. God specifically placed Lewis, Tolkien, and Churchill with gifts of words to lead a generation to rise and be the voice of a fortified past era. Rather than dismantling our foundation, namely stripping Christianity out of anything and everything to create new normals, teens feel more supported when we can look back and see the strength of our system.