Three deaths are remembered today. All of them affect me, even two and a half decades before I was born.
A Nation’s Shock
JFK’s assassination in downtown Dallas fifty years ago today is somewhat of a mystery to our country; a significant portion of the population is not satisfied with the explanation that Lee Harvey Oswald is the lone culprit. But that’s not what I’m writing about today.
It happened 26 years before I was born, but by way of history and cultural significance, it has become part of who I am today. A few years ago I was able to visit Dealy Plaza in downtown Dallas where the whole thing went down. I even got to stand on the infamous grassy knoll. Eerie, yes, but definitely interesting. I probably won’t be forgetting that experience anytime soon. I’ve gained an appreciation and curiosity for history through these types of experiences; because of JFK, 9/11, more recently the Boston blitz, and other gut-wrenching events, my life has been shaped, my ideas formed, my faith deepened.
An Author’s Influence
A little closer to home, another death is remembered for November 22. American author Jack London died in 1916 on this day. His most famous work, The Call of the Wild, put him on the map of American literature. My dad (who spent many years teaching English), claims London as his favorite author. He too, by way of paternal influence—and more than a few dinner-table conversations—has shaped me into who I am today.
An Eternal Impact
Now coming right down to personal heart contemplation, we move to Clive Staples Lewis. While his death went unnoticed, his life certainly did not. He died a few hours before JFK, in Oxford, England, from kidney failure. C.S. Lewis’ death may not have been as “exciting” as Kennedy’s, but his global impact was indeed more eternal. After spending much of his young life a professing atheist, a motorcycle ride in his brother’s sidecar to the zoo was all it took, for Lewis was a thinker. He put it this way:
When we set out I did not believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and when we reached the zoo I did.
A prolific writer, Lewis wove beautiful imagery and allusion to Jesus Christ throughout his fiction works, his most well-known being The Chronicles of Narnia. He also published many nonfiction works, including Mere Christianity, The Problem of Pain, and Reflections on the Psalms. This is where Lewis’ life intersects with mine.
I’ve not read all of Lewis’ books. Maybe a handful. But each one is an experience. They’re thinking books, not just reading books. They’re deep, but still fun. They’re challenging, convicting, humbling.
- Read some particularly stunning quotes here.
- Find his life events and books here.
- Understand why the legacy of Lewis is not about Lewis here.
- Meet Lewis’ pen pal, whom he influenced across an ocean here.
If I live another fifty years on this earth, I’ll bet Lewis will still be impacting me, and many others. JFK, Jack London may have more to say to me, but Lewis’ impact will be much longer. Why? Because his words are born from God’s Word, and that means much more than a speech, a novel, or even a motorcycle ride.
The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.