Three Died That Day

Chuck Colson
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Posted: Nov 21, 2003 12:00 AM

Forty years ago, November 22, 1963 , a paralyzed world watched the horror of John F. Kennedy’s assassination, a dark day in American history many of us remember. That same day two other notable personalities quietly breathed their last and exited the world almost without notice.

British writer Aldous Huxley, author of the grim, futuristic novel Brave New World, died in Los Angeles . C. S. Lewis, now regarded as the most influential Christian writer of the twentieth century, also died that day at his home in Oxford.

Historians continue to debate the significance of Kennedy’s brief, meteoric career. In life, he achieved immense global popularity. In death, he seemed a modern symbol of mythical Camelot.

Huxley was a perceptive prophet who discerned the ominous trajectory of biotechnology long before anyone else. While George Orwell in 1984 imagined a world sunk in brutal, totalitarian slavery, Huxley saw in his novel Brave New World that humanity could be designed and conditioned to mindlessly embrace slavery. Brave New World grows more plausible each year.

Meanwhile, C. S. Lewis has ascended to the highest ranks of cultural influence. His books have sold more than 200 million—with no sign of slowing down. Science-fiction buffs endlessly read and discuss his famed space trilogy. And his seven-volume Chronicles of Narnia (most of which have been made into films) continue to enchant millions of children—along with their parents and grandparents.

Through his specifically Christian writings, Lewis used logic to explore the meaning of Christianity. In Mere Christianity—which played a decisive role in my conversion to Christ—Lewis cogently explains in simple language original sin, the transcendent Creator God, and the transforming work of Jesus Christ.

In 1973, in the midst of the Watergate crisis, I visited the home of a friend who read to me from Mere Christianity. In that book, I encountered a formidable intellect and a logical argument that I found utterly persuasive. That night in the driveway of my friend’s home I called out to God in a flood of tears and surrendered my life to Christ.

Since November 1963, the years have diminished both John Kennedy and Aldous Huxley. Later disclosures about Kennedy’s habitual immorality have diminished his place in history. Toward the end of his life, Huxley retreated into drugs. He urged his followers, “Ignore death up to the last moment; then, when it can’t be ignored any longer, have yourself squirted full of morphia and shuffle off in a coma.”

By contrast, Lewis offered a muscular faith. “In Christ,” he said, “a new kind of man appeared; and the new kind of life which began in Him is to be put into us.”

“God,” he contended, “cannot give us peace and happiness apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.”

Today, because of Lewis, there are millions of readers like me who can attest that they too have found God. And Lewis’s influence in the marketplace of ideas spreads daily. Of him it can be truly said: “Now he belongs to the ages.”


For further reading and information:

Peter Kreeft, Between Heaven and Hell: A Dialog Somewhere beyond Death with John F. Kennedy, C. S. Lewis, and Aldous Huxley (InterVarsity, 1982).

C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity  (Touchstone, 1996).

C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain (HarperSanFrancisco, 2001).

C. S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy (Harvest, 1975).

C. S. Lewis’s space trilogy includes Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength.

C. S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia  (HarperCollins, 1994).

Read this past speech by Chuck Colson on C. S. Lewis .

BreakPoint Commentary No. 030812, “ One Night in a Driveway .”

Armand Nicholi, The Question of God: C. S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud Debate God, Love, Sex, and the Meaning of Life (Free Press, 2002).

Richard John Neuhaus, As I Lay Dying: Meditations upon Returning (Basic Books, 2002).