“Death opens a door out of a little, dark room (that’s all the life we have known before it) into a great, real place where the true sun shines and we shall meet.”
It will be 50 years ago this month, the 22nd to be precise, that two famous men stepped through that door…into eternity…on the very same day.
One in Dallas, Texas captured every headline worldwide; the other in Oxford, England barely a media blip. The news of the assassination of the former obviously overshadowed every other news event in the world, including Clive Staples Lewis’ demise at 65.
Both Kennedy and C.S. Lewis were of Irish descent who reached their own pinnacle of fame–one in politics, the other with his writing.
Everyone knows about JFK, but Lewis is somewhat less familiar. If you don’t know much about him, check out these two wonderful movies…with Joss Ockland and Anthony Hopkins playing “Jack,” as his friends called him.
Through The Shadowlands: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NaR1GW7oRdA
And here’s the one movie that John Fitzgerald Kennedy saw about himself, only criticizing Cliff Robertson’s hair part as on the wrong side (Cliff changed it):
PT 109: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wCPr0MBaNeQ
As famous as they both were, where are these two men today? Lewis, a genuine believer in the gospel, was transformed from being an atheist to an agnostic to a dramatic reversal after an encounter with the risen Jesus.
Here are his own words about the event, that some will correctly identify with Edmund’s repentance in the second episode of The Chronicles of Narnia:
On the other hand, JFK, with all his revealed adulteries and deceptions, the most famous being with Marilyn Monroe, seems doubtful to have entered into that same Glory. (I hope I’m wrong, and one can never be sure what is in a man’s heart, but the Scriptures are clear that repentance is mandatory for true salvation, evidenced by a changed life.)
The Scriptures also say this in Ecclesiastes chapter 7:
“It is better to go to funerals than parties, for Death is the end of every man, and the living take it to heart.”
Apparently JFK did take it to heart at one point in his life after his PT 109 story resulted in the death of two of his crew:
Still, Kennedy apparently couldn’t shake the deaths of his two men in the Solomons. After the Hersey story came out, a friend congratulated him and called the article a lucky break. Kennedy mused about luck and whether most success results from “fortuitous accidents.” “I would agree with you that it was lucky the whole thing happened if the two fellows had not been killed.” That, he said, “rather spoils the whole thing for me.”
Based on his life, however, it would seem it did not lead JFK to genuine repentance.
All of us must go through that same door, and we all get to choose our final destination (I John 5:11-13). Who we become on the other side is determined by what we do with the claims of Jesus now, as evidenced in one of my favorite Lewis quotes…so striking I even included it in my novel, Xposure:
“It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which,if you say it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree helping each other to one or the other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilites, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all of our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – These are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.” –Clive Staples Lewis, (The Weight of Glory)