C. S. Lewis died on this day in 1963, the same day President John F. Kennedy was shot. Aldous Huxley also died on that day.
Lewis was a mainstay of our house. We read The Chronicles of Narnia to our children, enjoyed The Space Trilogy, and were edified by Lewis’s everyman Mere Christianity which was always engaging, even when his amateur theologian status was showing.
It is ironic that this curmudgeonly linguist who loved his whisky has become such an icon to contemporary Evangelicalism in America. It is true that Lewis was a critic of “Big Science,” but he was not a “no-nothing” and would be horrified by some of the positions on science some of his admirers advocate.
Still, his admirers get it right that he was a thoughtful and clever Christian apologist. I read a recent interview with Margaret Atwood who defended the Narnia books against their critics. She said that if you overlook the misogyny and preachiness they are rather good. And it would be unfair to use 21st Century sensibilities to discredit his work as if he were not a man of his time.
Much of his writing seems dated, but he is still eminently quotable. Here’s one of my favorites:
”A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell.”