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Archive for November, 2013

Obviously, the question in the title of this post will not apply to a large number of people. Many either were not born or were too young to remember. Even so, today all of us will experience reminders of November 22, 1963, when President John Kennedy was assassinated. For those of us who do remember, that day was at least equivalent to 911, perhaps even more so, because of everything that happened that weekend, as well as during the years that followed.

I was a senior in high school, living in Atlanta, GA. I first heard that something had happened sometime after lunch. My next class was (of all things) American Government. Our teacher was Rose Bush (yes that was her name). By the time class started, it had been confirmed that President Kennedy had been shot, but that was all we knew. Mrs. Bush turned on the radio, and we simply listened. Sometime during the class the announcement was made that President Kennedy had died.

It was more than simply the assassination of a president. On that day the relative peace and innocence of the 1950s had been shattered, and we would never get it back. On Sunday, Lee Harvey Oswald was shot, and conspiracy theories were born. Just five years later, in 1968, America would be rocked by two additional significant assassinations—Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King. By that time, the country was embroiled in the Vietnam War, and I still had not accepted that in a little over a year I would be part of Vietnam was well.

There are so many memories today—stability gone, innocence lost. I don’t have any great morals to present or lessons to teach, although perhaps there is one lesson we can learn. When I went to school that morning, I had no inkling that our world would be different by the end of the day. So it is with life. The changes are not as clearly seen looking forward, as they are when we look back. One thing is certain as I think about that day fifty years ago. My life changed dramatically even though at the time I did not yet know it. Today I simply remember with so many others where I was that day and all that has come from it.

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While it is natural that the world today is focused on remembering John Kennedy, it is worth noting that someone else died that same day, but because of the death of President Kennedy, his death went virtually unnoticed. Clive Staples Lewis was professor of Medieval and Renaissance literature at both Oxford and Cambridge. But he is more commonly remembered as a Christian apologist, who argued for the reasonableness of the Christian faith. That may seem insignificant to a postmodern world, but I believe Lewis is still worth remembering.

On a personal note, I can state without exaggeration that Lewis influenced both my faith and my beliefs (two somewhat different things) more than any other non-Biblical writer. Quite simply, I would not be the person I am without his writings. I am not certain I would even be a Christian. So, if Lewis does not speak as forcefully to this generation, let us at least acknowledge that he did to my generation. And I choose to believe that the time may yet come when his ideas may once again provide both reason and inspiration to those searching for meaning in this world.

Goodnight, Professor Lewis. I hope to meet you one day, perhaps in Narnia, or at least in that undiscovered country to which Narnia points us.

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