Saturday, November 22, 2003

On the Anniversary...

Forty years ago today, November 22, 1963, a great man died. No. Not the one you’re probably thinking of. This man was a 64 year old university professor at Cambridge. On November 22, 1963, he was upstairs in his bedroom when his older brother heard him collapse onto the floor. By the time his brother got to his room, he was dead. His name was Clive Staples “Jack” Lewis. C. S. Lewis was the common man’s Christian. He was the answer for the 20th century attack on fundamental Evangelical Christianity that had found its roots in the so-called Enlightenment a century or so earlier. Time magazine referred to him as an “apostle to the skeptics.” From his Chronicles of Narnia series, written for children, yet rich with wisdom and Christian principles that adults can enjoy, to his Space Trilogy, his fiction vividly stirred the imagination. Till We Have Faces is considered his best work of fiction and will surely delight anyone interested in the genre of myth and/or fantasy. Yet Lewis’ greatest works, in my opinion, were in the area of apologetics and reason. His ability to weave ideas into your mind through everyday concepts and actions is a testament to his ability to explain. Yes, to explain. Not necessarily to teach, although he could certainly do that, but to explain – concepts, ideas, processes, doctrines, notions, etc. It is this hallmark of critical thinking that has kept C. S. Lewis at the forefront of Evangelical Christianity a full 40 years after his death. Critical thinking, as used by Lewis, was primarily to persuade – not in the sense as a lawyer might use it – but in the sense as a good friend might, when he sits down in your company, to share a cup of Colombian coffee, a crackling fire, and meaningful conversation (or… as Lewis would have put it – a pipe, a glass of Port, and a good book). This week, and this weekend, you will probably watch a myriad of television specials on JFK, endlessly repeating that grainy film footage of his last moments in Dallas, and tirelessly describing every possible conspiracy scenario for his death except, of course, the most obvious. What you might want to do, though, is ponder what Lewis wrote, regarding death and beyond, in The Last Battle, his final book in the Narnia series - “There was a real railway accident,” said Aslan softly. “Your father and mother and all of you are – as you used to call it in the Shadow-Lands – dead. The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning.” And as He spoke He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story, which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.

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