In Memoriam: JFK, C.S. Lewis, and Aldous Huxley
When I was a kid, my grandmother used to remind us of the superstition that “bad news always comes in threes.” I wonder if she was recalling November 22, 1963.
Exactly 50 years ago today, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. The event was so cataclysmic, so traumatizing to the nation, that we hardly noticed that on the same day, the world also lost not one, but two of the premier literary lights of the 20th century: C.S. Lewis and Aldous Huxley.
If the stunning death of JFK hadn’t dominated the news, I suppose the news of the day would have highlighted not only the contributions of Lewis and Huxley, but their radically differing worldviews. Lewis, of course, was and is one of the most eloquent apologists for mere Christianity of the last century. Huxley, on the other hand, was an outspoken atheist, whose Brave New World ranks among the great dystopian novels.
I first learned of the simultaneous passing of these renowned and influential men through a wonderfully brilliant little book by Peter Kreeft called Between Heaven and Hell. In the book, Kreeft, a professor of Philosophy at Boston College and devout Catholic, imagines the three encountering one another after death and debating their various philosophies. [Spoiler Alert] Lewis comes out the winner. It’s a short work of creative apologetics that I highly recommend.
Two other curiosities related to November 22: Margaret Thatcher announced her resignation on this date in 1990 and the famous (interminably long) speech by John Galt was given on November 22 in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged.
Just added: A “Who Said It” Quiz, included quotes by all three men. Can you identify the man with his words?
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