“I’ve been thinking. Tomorrow it will be twenty-eight years to the day that I’ve been in the service. Twenty-eight years in peace and war. I don’t suppose I’ve been at home more than ten months in all that time. Still, it’s been a good life. I loved India. I wouldn’t have had it any other way. But there are times when suddenly you realize you’re nearer the end than the beginning. And you wonder, you ask yourself, what the sum total of your life represents. What difference your being there at any time made to anything. Hardly made any difference at all, really, particularly in comparison with other men’s careers. I don’t know whether that kind of thinking’s very healthy; but I must admit I’ve had some thoughts on those lines from time to time. But tonight…tonight!”
– Colonel Nicholson, in the 1957 film, The Bridge on the River Kwai
There have been many discussions surrounding the 50th anniversary of the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy this week. With the media spotlight on that historic event, a connected event goes unnoticed, as it did that day fifty years ago. On November 22, 1963, another great man passed away. Because of the Kennedy assassination, the death of Clive Staples Lewis went almost completely unnoticed. Even some friends of C.S. Lewis missed his funeral service, not hearing the news because the whole world seemed focused on the U.S. president.
Lewis was best known for his children’s book series, The Chronicles of Narnia. A writer of both fiction and non-fiction, a professor and a close friend of J.R.R. Tolkien, he was a powerful force in culture. Of his many books, my personal favorites are, The Great Divorce and The Space Trilogy. His writings had a great impact on me in my college years. He is one of several authors that I consider mentors. Late in life Lewis married, although his wife Joy died of cancer just four short years later. This story is wonderfully told in the film Shadowlands, starring Anthony Hopkins and Debra Winger. A man to whom I owe much deserves as a minimum this simple tribute and my thanks.
C.S. Lewis – At that time in my life as I began adulthood, continuing to now, you have been a teacher and guide. Thank you for the wisdom and insight, the building of my faith, and the example your life and work has been to me.
“But Lewis was a very impressionable man, and this was abetted by his great generosity and capacity for friendship. The unpayable debt that I owe to him was not influence as it is ordinarily understood, but sheer encouragement. He was for long my only audience. Only from him did I ever get the idea that my ‘stuff’ could be more than a private hobby. But for his interest and unceasing eagerness for more I should never have brought The L. of the R. to a conclusion….”
– J.R.R. Tolkien
“When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty, I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.”
– C.S. Lewis