From the editor: November 22, 2013
& Three Martyrs
Today is the 50th anniversary of the deaths of three men: President John F. Kennedy, C. S. Lewis, and Aldous Huxley, as M. D. Aeschliman notes today at NRO in "C.S. Lewis: Jack the Giant-Killer."
From the point of view of eternity, of course, Lewis had significantly more influence than either Kennedy or Huxley through his writings, even though he was
a late Victorian as the swinging Sixties moved into high gear and the gates of Eden seemed to be opening. Yet 50 years after Lewis's death, his books have been translated into many languages, 200 million of them have been sold, and a wide variety of people affirm the crucial role in their lives of one or another of his works.
Chuck Colson, for example, was spiritually pierced by Lewis's Mere Christianity and thus found faith in Christ, which changed his life forever—and the lives of countless prisoners whom he served through his Prison Fellowship ministry.
Peter Wehner also writes about Lewis in Commentary:
Lewis touched people's minds by engaging their imaginations; and in the end, he won over not just minds but hearts as well. Mine included.
I encountered Lewis perhaps 5 years after his death when his Mere Christianity helped steady me in the headwinds of the Sixties, then blowing in hurricane strength.
Lewis, I think, might not be happy to be regarded as some sort of icon, someone with devotees, like acolytes longing for the lost shining Camelot fancied up about our late President. Lewis knew what all Christians should remember: we are meant for more than meets our eyes, for what meets (and surpasses) our deepest and most true longing, for divine love and beatitude, not earthly paradise.
This divine grace was brought here on earth in the flesh for a brief moment in Jesus, who was cut short in the midst of his days. But unlike America's Camelot, the presence of Christ's Kingdom does not depend on the flickering flame of human memory, desperately kept alive before it inevitably fades to black ink in the history books of a generation born after 1963.
The Merciful Kingdom of Christ made its entrance in full force at Golgotha, coursed through the Empty Tomb, and empowered by the Spirit has set ablaze the hearts and minds of millions ever since. Christ is a living Presence in the world in 2013.
One of the hearts of the millions set ablaze was that of St. Cecilia, a mid-third-century noblewoman of Rome who "witnessed" to her new life in Christ by her death at the order of the Emperor Alexander Severus. Prior to her execution her husband, Valerianus, and his brother, Tibertius, were martyred. All three have been commemorated on November 22 for more than 1,500 years.
Christian death is embraced not as an ending, but a new chapter of a never-ending story, as Lewis so well pointed out. Lewis is not the Story, but one of our good Storytellers, for which many are grateful.
—James M. Kushiner
© The Fellowship of St. James. 2015
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