On This Day in 1963 C. S. Lewis Died


Screen Shot 2013-11-18 at 9.56.57 PMStrange how we have reactions to people.  Have you ever done a Google search for images of people, only to have that person almost give you the creeps?  Sometimes, when we Google people like Dmitri Hvorostovsky, the reaction is a sigh, because he’s so darn good looking.  Then, there are people, when you Google their image, they just plain old make you smile.  That was my reaction when I Googled C. S. Lewis, for an image for today. There is something kind, goodly in his face.

Today, C. S. Lewis is finally being memorialized with a plaque in Westminster Abbey’s Poet’s Corner.  In the ECUSA Calendar, he is honored as a saint, today.

“...O God of searing truth and surpassing beauty, we give you thanks for Clive Staples Lewis whose sanctified imagination lights fires of faith in young and old alike; Surprise us also with your joy and draw us into that new and abundant life which is ours in Christ Jesus, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen…”

The most towering Christian intellect of the 20th Century died 50 years ago today.  Aldous Huxley died that day.  JFK was murdered that day.  It was like something evil reached in and decided to take a fist full of brain power out of the world that day.  It took three days for the NY Times to report the deaths of Lewis and Huxley.  If you go back and look at history, at their influence, fifty years later, it might be heresy for me to say this, but of all three men, I suspect that C. S. Lewis is the one who has had and will have the most influence over time.

Intellect does that.  We have our warriors, our leaders, and the rich and powerful.  They leave a mark for a time, and do have tremendous influence, but no one even, 200 years later remembers the name of Spencer Perceval.  I doubt that Huxley will fare that well.  Today, if his works weren’t required reading in English 101, as an example of political satire, I doubt if anyone would pay much attention to his work.

“...Death had moved remorselessly westward to claim his scalps. Lewis died first, in his brother’s arms, a few minutes after tumbling with a crash from his bed at the foot of the stairs at the Kilns, his house outside Oxford, at 5.30pm. He was just a week shy of 65. One hour later—12.30pm in Texas—the 46-year-old President was shot. At the Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in Los Angeles, Huxley’s second wife Laura, leaving his bedside with his request for an LSD injection, found the doctor and nurses in shock watching the news of the assassination; Huxley died, aged 69, at 5.20pm local time, just under eight hours after Lewis….Lewis himself was buried at Holy Trinity Church near his home on the Tuesday, but the hullabaloo over Kennedy’s death had prevented news of Lewis’s from reaching many friends, and it was a poorly attended funeral . His brother Warnie, apparently unable to face it, was elsewhere, blind drunk.”

The Daily Beast
The Daily Beast

According to Father Robert Barron, aside from being a man of letters, the greatness of C. S. Lewis is that he started out life as an atheist.  Through his writing we get a glimpse of a man, a writer, philosopher, an educated man, who slowly comes to believe in God and accept Christ as his personal Savior.  Brown wrote that the Lewis understood that the Christian evangelist, no matter how flawed was, still, within his prevue the Greatest Story Ever Told.

It’s too bad we can’t pay more attention to the writings of Lewis, instead of the almost heretical dribble that so many so-called theologists produce today.  Then again, they don’t like Lewis, who was a staunch advocate of the exploration of space, of science, and had no problem with evolution.

“…We Christians don’t call it “evolution” because we believe it isn’t something coming up out of blind Nature but something coming down from the world of light and power and knowledge beyond all Nature. But if you like to call it “evolution,” do. The next step is here. You can become one of the new men in Christ if you like. Or, if you prefer, you can refuse the step and sink back.

Now if we take the step, it involves losing what we now call our “selves.” That doesn’t mean that all people who accept Christ are going to be exactly like one another. I know it sounds as if it did. If there’s one Christ, and He’s to be in us all, actually replacing our personalities with His own, what difference will there be between us?

Now here I’ve got a rather difficult thing to say. On the one hand, it isn’t true that we shall lose our personal differences by letting Christ take us over. On the other hand, I don’t think Christ can take us over as long as we’re bothering about what will happen to our personality. Let’s take the first point first.

If a person didn’t know about salt, wouldn’t he think that anything with such a strong taste would kill the taste of all the other things in any dish you put it into? We know, as a matter of fact, it brings out the real taste.

Well, it’s rather like that with Christ. When you’ve completely given up your-self to His personality you will then, for the first time in your life, be developing into a real person. He made the whole world. He invented it as an author invents characters in a book, all different men that you and I were intended to be.

Our real selves are, so to speak, all waiting for us in Him. What I call my “self” now is hardly a person at all. It’s mainly a meeting place for various natural forces, desires, and fears, etcetera, some of which come from my ancestors, and some from my education, some perhaps from devils. The self you were really intended to be is something that lives not from nature but from God….”

The talk, for the BBC, was broadcast on March 21 2944. Entitled Beyond Personality — Mere Men it is considered one of the great speeches of all time.