Today is the 50th anniversary of the assassination and death of President John F. Kennedy. As a child and teen I was fascinated by this man – the hero of PT-109, the young man who died in the prime of life and whose legacy was left forever to question and doubt. (I think, too, because I will be 47 this year and he died at 46 1/2). What my go unremarked by many today is the 50th anniversary of two other significant men – men whose lives impacted my young life in ways I don’t entirely fathom even now.
On this day fifty years ago, two men of letters died – C.S. Lewis and Aldous Huxley. Lewis has become more and more popular in Christian circles through the years. I first met him not through children’s stories as many have (The Chronicles of Narnia) but instead through his enduring apologetic work Mere Christianity and his science fiction trilogy about space. In Lewis I found in my teen years the logic and reason that have always been important to me and then came to bear on my faith. His science fiction works opened a door for fiction to inform and expand my faith. If you want to read a theologically profound work and also good sci-fi, give Peralandra a read!
Huxley crossed my path not at church but school. I was in a classed called “Futurology” and we read a series of dystopian novels. Among them was Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. Huxley was a philosopher and mystic who was also an agnostic. Like Orwell’s 1984, Huxley’s book (ultimately) left me with a profoundly different perception of what leadership and influence mean. It also influenced my faith in leading me to the realization that the only genuine utopia will come with the coming the Kingdom of God (He also wrote a book that influenced me indirectly – The Doors of Perception. My favorite band in junior high, The Doors, drew their name from Huxley’s novel).
Today I ponder men long dead whose lives – and deaths – left my world and my life very different from what they would have been otherwise. One of them because of what followed and what might have been. The other two because their words have become my words, their thoughts have shaped how I think about the world, the future, and my faith.