Links In A Golden Chain:
C. S. Lewis, George MacDonald, and Sadhu Sundar Singh

When Lewis wrote That Hideous Strength, Sundar Singh had been missing only fifteen years and would have been fifty-four years old if still alive. He was the Mother Teresa figure of his day. On October 24, 1949, Queen Wilhelmina of Holland wrote, "I never met him. I know him only from his books and books about him. I belong to those who are deeply impressed by his life and teaching and I am sure the way he manifested his radiant love for Christ and His peace, and in general his teaching, was a real help to me in the worst episodes of the terrible catastrophe that was the last war." 15
To check my conviction that C. S. Lewis's Sura was really meant to represent Sadhu Sundar Singh, in 1987 I contacted Lewis's Oxford pupil and lifetime friend Dom Bede Griffiths, since 1955 a Benedictine monk in India. I explained my theory and asked him what he thought. (Griffiths, like Sundar Singh, wore the traditional robe of an Indian holy man.)

"As regards Sadhu Sundar Singh," Griffiths wrote on June 12, 1987, "I know his life well and have always admired him. Lewis would have admired him especially for his nondenominational or 'mere' Christianity. I don't recall C. S. Lewis ever mentioning him, but I think it is almost certain that the reference in That Hideous Strength is to him." 16
/...Sundar Singh may have influenced C. S. Lewis in several ways. For example, the name Singh comes from the Sanskrit word for lion. Because Sundar Singh was popularly perceived as the most Christ-like man in Lewis's day, it is possible that Sundar Singh was in the back of Lewis's mind when Aslan the lion came bounding into Lewis's first story of Narnia. (Aslan is the Turkish word for lion.)

The Great Divorce is the story of a busload of disgruntled residents of hell who travel to the outskirts of heaven, where they are welcomed in vain. Most of them prefer to get back on the bus and return to hell. In Chapter 9, C. S. Lewis (like Dante encountering Virgil in The Divine Comedy) encounters the wise, holy figure of George MacDonald on the outskirts of heaven. MacDonald explains to Lewis that "the damned have holidays-excursions, ye understand." 20 Most of them take trips to earth, but some take trips to heaven and refuse to stay. "Milton was right. The choice of every lost soul can be expressed in the words 'Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven.' . . . Ye see it easily enough in a spoiled child that would sooner miss its play and its supper than say it was sorry and be friends." 21 "All that are in Hell, choose it." 22