His death wasn’t front-page news in America; in fact it wasn’t reported until three days later on page 18 in The New York Times.
That’s because the passing of the beloved Christian author Clive Staples (C.S.) Lewis fifty years ago today (Nov. 22, 1963) happened to coincide with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
President Kennedy, of course, was murdered in Dallas while riding in an open car. C.S. Lewis died in Oxford, England, hours later, after struggling with heart trouble. He was 65. Just a month earlier he had resigned from his role as professor of Medieval and Renaissance English at Cambridge University.
I was too young to remember the tragedy of that November day, but the writings of C.S. Lewis have had a significant impact on my faith, as well as on my leadership role here at Focus, as they have on millions of others. He wrote with such clarity and purpose. He had that unique gift that separates the good writers from the great ones – he answered questions that we wrestle with, in some cases those we’re unable to even articulate. His writings are particularly satisfying because they point us back to the ultimate author, Jesus Himself.
Before sharing with you some of my favorites quotes from Lewis’ writings, I want to remind you about the wonderful new Radio Theatre product Focus has just released. It’s titled “C.S. Lewis at War” and tells the behind-the-scenes story of Lewis’ writing Mere Christianity. I think you’ll enjoy it. To learn more and order a copy, click here.
And now, C.S. Lewis in his own words:
1. To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you. – “Essays on Forgiveness”
2. Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. – “Mere Christianity” (1952)
3. The homemaker has the ultimate career. All other careers exist for one purpose only – and that is to support the ultimate career. – “Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis”
4. The truth is, of course, that what one regards as interruptions are precisely one’s life. – “Collected Works of C. S. Lewis”
5. I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen — not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else. – “Is Theology Poetry”
6. Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back, everything is different… – “Prince Caspian”
7. If a man thinks he is not conceited, he is very conceited indeed. – “Mere Christianity”
8. The sun looks down on nothing half so good as a household laughing together over a meal. – “The Weight of Glory”
9. When a man is getting better, he understands more and more clearly the evil that is still left in him. When a man is getting worse, he understands his own badness less and less. A moderately bad man knows he’s not very good: a thoroughly bad man thinks he’s all right. – “Mere Christianity”
10. Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see. “God in the Dock”
11. What draws people to be friends is that they see the same truth. They share it. – “The Four Loves”
12. There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind. – “Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis”