You are well aware that 50 years ago today, President Kennedy was assassinated and entered eternity. It is fitting to reflect on the life of a President (aside: I highly commend the book Character Above All, edited by Robert Wilson as an examination of the 10 presidents from FDR to George H. W. Bush; it’s not written from a biblical perspective, but it the implications of each man’s faith — or lack of it — is revealed in the measure of their character).
Yet in all the discussion of the president, it’s been easy to overlook that on that same day C. S. Lewis and Aldous Huxley died. I am most interested in reflecting on the life and influence of Lewis, and am grateful that at least two writers have already done so:
David Mathis writes in “Half a Century Since Lewis:”
What catches the eye about Lewis’s star in the constellation of Christian thinkers and writers is his utter commitment to the life of the mind and the life of the heart. He both thinks and feels with the best. Lewis insisted that rigorous thought and deep affections were not at odds, but mutually supportive. And as impressive as he was in arguing for it, he was even more convincing in his demonstration.
What eventually led Lewis to theism, and finally to Christianity, was Longing — an ache for Joy with a capital J. He had learned all too well that relentless rationality could not adequately explain the depth and complexity of human life, or the textures and hues of the world in which we find ourselves. From early on, an angst gnawed at him which one day he would express so memorably in his most well-known single book, Mere Christianity: “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” [Read the rest of the tribute here; Desiring God also recently hosted a conference on C. S. Lewis: “The Romantic Rationalist: God, Life, and Imagination in the Work of C.S. Lewis.” The audio from that conference is here.]
And Sinclair Ferguson pens “Who Was C. S. Lewis:”
The Lewis corpus has, of course, become a minor industry in its own right. His books have sold over 200 million copies. The Problem of Pain (1940), The Screwtape Letters (1942), Mere Christianity (1952, based on radio talks from 1941–1944), and The Four Loves (1960) have been particularly widely read, as have some of his sermons, notably “The Weight of Glory.” Perhaps more than any other twentieth-century author, C.S. Lewis has played a role in people’s understanding of the Christian faith akin to the one that hymns used to play. His strength lay in his use of the imagination rather than his expertise as either exegete or theologian. Interestingly, he himself found it somewhat tiresome to be paraded as the great popular apologist for the Christian faith.
The most widely-read Christian author of his time, Lewis left behind not only his many academic and popular works but also a substantial collection of correspondence and papers, which have guaranteed the continuation of the Lewis industry to the present day. It is an indication of his impact that while “the holidays” began for him, a vast plethora of articles, research theses, books, institutes, journals, fan clubs, documentaries and screenplays — not to mention movies — have now occupied a term that has lasted more than forty years. [Read the rest of the post here.]