Did you notice that yesterday was the 57th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy? He was a flawed individual but an actual leader who in his inaugural addressed said “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country,” as a challenge to American citizens to contribute in some way to the greater public good. This sentiment would be incomprehensible to the lame duck currently in office, clinging to power.
That same day 57 years ago the Christian apologist CS Lewis died of cancer, an event overshadowed JFK's untimely death. Lewis was a remarkable man, an intellectual and atheist who was "surprised by joy", a conversion of both heart and head. He wrote 30 books through the years, including the beloved Narnia series. a sci-fi trilogy, a novel of letters from a senior demon, Screwtape, to his nephew, Wormwood, as well as a number of books of popular theology and philosophy. He married later in life only to have his brilliant wife, Joy Davidman, die in her 40's. His book A Grief Observed is an honest reflection on loss and the challenge to faith it posed for him.
This anniversary of Lewis's death I'm pondering how he became a darling of the evangelical Christian world in the 70's and 80's because of his robust, orthodox, intelligent faith. He probably wouldn't have used the term Evangelical to describe himself, but he was adopted as such, particularly in the United States.I read many of Lewis's books as a young man and was grateful that he appealed to the mind in understanding the Christian life.
In 2020 evangelicals in The US steadfastly support a president who is brazenly self-absorbed, arrogant, and sneers at most Christian values. And evangelicalism has become anti-intellectual and far more committed to tribalism than the gospel.
I have no doubt that both JFK and CS Lewis would have rejected the politics and religion which have infected US discourse and action. It's important to remember who they were and what their legacy should be.