Yes, it is true that the United States will spend today remembering the assassination of JFK, and I suppose that this is appropriate. He was not a just a president but an iconic figure, and his death is a landmark moment in time. And yet, for me, today is the 50th anniversary of something much more important and in many ways, much sadder – the death of C.S. Lewis.
C.S. Lewis is one of the my heroes, in fact, maybe my hero. Like many children, I was entranced by his Chronicles of Narnia books, but as I grew older, it was really his non-fiction that I fell in love with. His way with words when talking about God and the deeper things of life are – in my opinion – almost without equal. He is insightful and profound, and even when I don’t entirely agree with him, always a joy to read.
As a teacher, as a believer, as a writer, I am indebted to him in countless ways. He has shaped my imagination and my thinking about God and the Christian life, and I honestly believe his contribution – at least in the English speaking world – to the Christian faith was unparalleled in the twentieth century. No other individual has reached so many people, so well, quite often explaining complex truths in beautiful and memorable ways.
I know that he was older than JFK when he died, so perhaps there’s a sense that his death wasn’t quite as untimely, but to me, his loss at any age would have been untimely. Had he but had another five or ten years, what other masterpieces might he have written? We’ll never know, but I am glad we had him as long as we did, and fifty years later, I miss him as much as ever.
Until we meet at last, Jack, and dine together at the wedding feast of the Lamb.