For those who are younger than fifty, it is a date memorized from history books. For those who are older, it is a moment frozen in time. Each one who experienced it remembers where they were and what they were doing when they heard the announcement that President Kennedy had been killed.
But something else happened on that date that the world little noticed. On the same day, November 22, 1963, C. S. Lewis collapsed at 5:30 PM in the bedroom of his Oxford home and died one week before his sixty-fifth birthday. Fifty years later, C. S. Lewis’ death is little noted. But his writings may be more popular and more widely read than ever. Both events marked by November 22 continue to shape our world: the traumatic assassination of our President and the writings of C.S. Lewis.
An avowed atheist in his youth, C.S. Lewis came to faith in Christ in 1931, partially influenced by his friend and colleague, J.R.R. Tolkien. By some estimates he became the most widely read Christian writer in history. He is perhaps best known today for The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, a Christian allegory written for children in 1950.
I expect both Lewis and Tolkien would be shocked to discover their fantasies, The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings have become blockbuster movies in the twenty-first century. And, I expect C.S. Lewis would be even more surprised to learn that he is one of the most quoted authors on Twitter and Pinterest. Here are a few of his most famous quotes:
“A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word 'darkness' on the walls of his cell.”
"Relying on God has to begin all over again every day as if nothing had yet been done."
"God has infinite attention to spare for each one of us. You are as much alone with him as if you were the only being he had ever created."
"When Christ died, he died for you individually just as much as if you had been the only person in the world."
Millions who have struggled with doubt and disbelief have found a path to faith through his best known book, Mere Christianity. I first read Mere Christianity when I was a college student at Baylor University 45 years ago, along with The Screwtape Letters and The Four Loves. Later I added his science fiction books, Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra and That Hideous Strength. Like many others my faith and my thinking have been shaped by Lewis’ writings.
As the world pauses to reflect on that fateful day in Dallas fifty years ago, we are afforded opportunity to reflect on faith in Christ, as described so beautifully by C. S. Lewis. A faith that can carry us through any crisis, global or personal and conform us into the image of God’s Son.