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Friday, 23 November 2012

C S Lewis, John F Kennedy & Aldous Huxley

Yesterday was the anniversary of the deaths of these three men. Of course, JFK’s death eclipsed those of the other two. Famously, we are supposed to remember where and when we heard the news – and I do. I can picture the corridor I was walking along on my way to supper.

I was at boarding school. We had just emerged from a Film Society event at which we had seen Ashes and Diamonds, a film about political assassination.

We wondered whether WWIII was about to erupt. The ripples caused by this event are still disturbing the water.

I had been a fan of Kennedy and I retain some my youthful admiration.

I thought Brave New World was great. I still do, although the particular dystopia of which it warned has not come to pass.

C S Lewis has been among my heroes since my mother first read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe to me and my sister, within, I think, a year of its publication (1957). I have read it many times since – and all the other Chronicles.

I loved the “science fiction”: Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra and That Hideous Strength, which has proven more prophetic than Huxley’s book. It is illustrative of the gruesome truth that when conservative moralists warn about “slippery slopes”, they almost always prove to be horribly right.

The Screwtape Letters and Screwtape Proposes a Toast are also brilliant and morally instructive. Interestingly, Lewis says that of all his books these were the ones he least enjoyed writing.

Then there are his essays, everyone a gem.

But, of all his writing Mere Christianity is the one which I would most strongly recommend. It is lucid and persuasive and as good an exposition of the Christian faith as I have encountered. He does not duck the difficult teachings of the Church. Read it.

Next year will be the fiftieth anniversary of these deaths.

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