Ramsey then points out that Stalag life could be worse: “No matter how unsatisfactory this camp may be, the High Command have still left us in the hands of the Luftwaffe. Not the Gestapo and the SS.” Bartlett responds, “You talk about the High Command and the Luftwaffe, and then you talk about the Gestapo and the SS. To me, they’re the same!…the common enemies of everyone who believes in freedom.”
Ramsey lets the escape go on, and later tells a survivor reeling from news of the murder of 50, “Roger’s idea was to get back at the enemy the hardest way he could, mess up the works.…He did exactly that.” Asked the hard question—“Do you think it was worth the price?”—Ramsey responds, “Depends on your point of view.”
The metaphor: C.S. Lewis in “Mere Christianity,” which he developed as BBC radio talks during World War II, wrote, “Enemy-occupied territory—that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us to take part in a great campaign of sabotage.”
Up until World War I, many in England and America were postmillennialists. Viewing Europe’s material progress and general peace, they thought a great society was coming—and Christ would then return and reign. World War I killed most of that sanguinity and a repeat 21 years later wiped clean the rest. Those who read Lewis could readily believe that Satan, by God’s leave, dominates this world like the Nazis for four years ran Europe. The Christian task is to mess up satanic works.
I have no indication that the screenwriter and director of “The Great Escape” were applying Lewis, but I cannot avoid doing so: We are called to spiritual guerrilla warfare. We may die in the process, but we’ll say to Christ what another captured escapee says to Bartlett a moment before they die: “Tunneling kept me alive. I’ve never been happier.”
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