by William O'Flaherty
If you lived in England in August of 1941, you would have had a front-row seat to a historic broadcast on the BBC. Beginning at 7:45 p.m. on August 6th, C.S. Lewis stepped up to the microphone for fifteen minutes and gave his first talk on the radio. “Right and Wrong: A Clue to the Meaning of the Universe” was the name of the series that had only four episodes planned. However, Lewis returned for a fifth program because of listeners responding with questions that he felt needed answering.
If you know your Lewis history then you know it didn't stop there. He delivered three more groups of talks before the end of World War II. The first two sets of broadcasts were released under the "creative" title of Broadcast Talks in the U.K. in 1942. In the U.S. they were published as The Case for Christianity in 1943. Eventually they became available as part of a collection of all four series of radio addresses in the now classic Mere Christianity.
This never would have happened if it weren't for James Welch, the Director of Religious Broadcasting at the BBC. He had read Lewis’s The Problem of Pain and wrote to him expressing how much he enjoyed the book. In the letter he also asked Lewis if he would be willing to come speak on the radio. While Lewis was no fan of the radio, the fact that he could potentially reach a million people with it provided the necessary motivation for him.