Every time I got in the car today, I heard NPR's coverage of the anniversary of JFK's assassination. Discussing whether he was conservative or liberal; discussing whether the romaticism of politics he created was actually a good or bad thing for the country; discussing where they were when they heard the news.
I'm 37, so I wasn't born. And for whatever reason, the JFK story has not particularly captured my attention.
I probably would have turned the radio off if I hadn't been hoping for a passing comment on one other death that happened on this day in history, happened, in fact, on the very same day as JFK's assassination.
I wasn't really expecting anyone to say something, but I thought maybe.
Just maybe someone would mention that on this day fifty years ago CS Lewis died.
Years ago I remember thinking how unfair it was that Lewis's death became nothing more than a footnote in a newspaper, probably not even mentioned in most print publications until the end of the year "in memorium" essays. Here was one of the greatest thinkers of our time, but obviously his passing could not possibly compete with Presidential tragedy. I didn't think it was unfair that he didn't receive news in light of what had happened; more that it was unfair that his death couldn't have happened on a slow news day.
I know. I'm kind of a crazy thinker sometimes.
Of course, Lewis would not have troubled himself with such ridiculous thoughts. He wrote, "Has this world been so kind to you that you should leave with regret? There are better things ahead than any we leave behind."
Most of the world knows Lewis because of his Narnia books, but it was his books on theology that have challenged and inspired a generation of Christians.
Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.
He was an athiest who found God, and not only found Him, but spent the rest of his life showing God to others.
I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.
Though I spent a good portion of my 20s reading Lewis, I hadn't picked up one of his books for a few years until recently. I read his books now not to convince myself that Christianity is true, that God exists, or that the Jesus of the Bible really is God. I have no doubts about any of these things. They are as real to me as the air I breathe, and I believe them as absolute truth.
I read Lewis now in order to become a better thinker and better communicator. I have learned the hard way that when you stop thinking through your faith, it becomes that much harder to live it. I also have three little souls in my household that will certainly grow up believing in something, and if I can't clearly explain and defend and demonstrate my faith to them, they are likely to count it as nonsense.
I know and Lewis knew that everyone seeks to make meaning out of this life that we live, and sometimes we find meaning...sometimes we don't.
And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history—money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery—the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.
Fifty years ago today, two men died. They both had a way with words. They both have attracted attention long after their death. They both have had their words immortalized in stone.
One man was known for his charm, his idealism, his tragic end that shook a nation. His death is still a fascination for many.
The other man was known for his brilliance, his creation of Narnia, his life that spoke of eternity and truth. His life is hardly thought of at all, but his words are more than fascination--they have a thread of heaven running through them.
Today I am thankful for CS Lewis, and I'm thankful that God has used his words to encourage my faith. At the end of the day, CS Lewis was just an ordinary guy but he had an extraordinary message.