The day JFK, Aldous Huxley, & C. S. Lewis died

Kreeft Between Heaven & HellOn November 22, 1963, three icons of the 20th century died:  John F. Kennedy, Aldous Huxley, and C. S. Lewis.

People of my generation remember where they were when the news came of Kennedy’s assassination.  (I was in 7th grade study hall.)  Other traumatic public catastrophes would follow.  Now we also remember where we were when we learned about the 9/11 attacks. (I was in the basement of Rincker classroom at Concordia Wisconsin, going to my English Lit. class where we were going to study Grendel’s attack on the Hall Heorot in Beowulf.)  But JFK, for all of his faults that we learned about later, inspired an idealism that I can still remember to this day, an idealism that was shattered at his assassination and that received further shocks as the century wore on.  Stephen King captures the feel of those times perfectly in his novel about time travel to stop Kennedy’s assassination, 11/22/63.

Huxley is associated now with New Age mysticism, what with his advocacy of Eastern religions and the use of LSD (which he wanted to take at the moment of his death).  But he deserves to be honored for his dystopia Brave New World, which predicted the future more profoundly than George Orwell’s 1984.   [Read more…]

Happy Lewis/Huxley/Kennedy day!

Today is the 50th anniversary of the death of C. S. Lewis, John F. Kennedy, and Aldous Huxley.  The curious conjunction of the death of these three individuals (a Christian apologist, an American president, and a speculative novelist), with their different cultural contributions and different worldviews, on November 22, 1963 is worth contemplating, especially at the half-century milestone.  So that’s what we will do today on this blog.

A good way to observe the day, after the jump. [Read more…]

JFK on the Hand of God

The Chaplain of the U. S. House of Representatives, Father Daniel Coughlin, says that President John F. Kennedy taught him how to pray and speak of faith in the public arena.  See President Kennedy’s Gift of Language and the Art of Prayer.  The man, for all his faults, certainly was eloquent, making today’s politicians sound like inarticulate adolescents.

To observe the 50th anniversary of his death, read his Inaugural Address, which contains many rich ideas in addition to the justly famous line, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”  So much for the entitlement mentality that drives so much of today’s politics and government.   What else do you find in this speech that we would never hear today?  Are there ideas in the speech that suggest a way forward out of our current malaise?  I’ll post the speech–it isn’t long–beginning here, with my emphasis, and continuing after the jump:

[1] Vice President Johnson, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Chief Justice, President Eisenhower, Vice President Nixon, President Truman, Reverend Clergy, fellow citizens:

[2] We observe today not a victory of party but a celebration of freedom–symbolizing an end as well as a beginning–signifying renewal as well as change. For I have sworn before you and Almighty God the same solemn oath our forbears prescribed nearly a century and three-quarters ago.

[3] The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life. And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe–the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God. [Read more…]

November 22, 1963

This is the day, 47 years ago, when John F. Kennedy was assassinated and C. S. Lewis died. Also Aldous Huxley, who wrote the prophetic dystopian novel Brave New World.

So the day can be seen as something of a watershed–the end of political idealism, the beginning of the post-Christian age, the entry into a new dystopian age, the day the music died, etc.

People of my generation remember where they were when they learned that Kennedy was shot. I was in study hall in Junior High. I guess I was 12. I was a big Kennedy fan and political idealist at the time. A few of my friends applauded at the news, whereupon I yelled at them. It was scary, since we thought (correctly) that the Communists were involved and the Russians might attack. Then seeing Lee Harvey Oswald get assassinated too blew our minds again. Watching the news was more dramatic than watching fiction.

Are any of you old enough to remember where you were and what you felt?

Was the day really a watershed?