The beginning of an article that Joe Rigney and I wrote for the Religion News Service:

CSL(RNS) In November of 1963, C. S. “Jack” Lewis knew he was dying. The Irish-born literary scholar, children’s author, and Christian apologist had come out of a coma in July, only to be diagnosed with end-stage renal failure. He retired from his post at Cambridge University, choosing to die at home in the Kilns, where he lived with his brother, Major Warren (“Warnie”) Lewis.

On Friday, Nov. 22, he retired to his bedroom after lunch. At 4:30 p.m. GMT he took some tea. An hour and a half later, Warnie heard a crash and discovered Jack unconscious. Within three or four minutes, he was dead, exactly one week shy of his 65th birthday.

JFKLoveField

A few minutes later (11:39 a.m. CST), Air Force One touched down at Love Field in Dallas, Texas, as a motorcade prepared to take President John F. Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline, along with their entourage, to the Dallas Business and Trade Mart. But the motorcade never arrived at its destination.

After the president suffered mortal gunshot wounds to the head at 12:30 p.m., his limousine rerouted to Parkland Memorial Hospital where the 46-year-old president was dead upon arrival.

It is no surprise that the death of the Irish-American Jack — the leader of the free world in his prime, tragically murdered in public view — overshadowed the quiet death of the Anglo-Irish Jack, a man who never held public office and who only had a few people at his funeral, but whose fame and fans continue to increase 50 years hence.

Given that both men had to navigate the tension between private faith and the public square, it is fitting on the 50th anniversary of their deaths, which falls Friday (Nov. 22), to compare and contrast their approaches.

You can read the whole thing here.

See also Stella Morabito’s piece for the Federalist, JFK And C.S. Lewis Died On The Same Day: Whose Legacy Is Bigger?

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One thought on “The Two Jacks: Contrasting C.S. Lewis and JFK on Public and Private Faiths”

  1. I owe a deep debt of gratitude to Professor Lewis, who “pre-baptized” my imagination through Narnia while I lived in Idaho woods not unlike Lantern Waste; although we were not cursed by endless winter, never Christmas; rather, it was always Christmas, never Christ. From my pagan and humanistic childhood I was midwifed into the new birth by Lewis’s Mere Christianity. Thank you, Lord, for using him. May you use us all in impactful ways for your kingdom.

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Justin Taylor


Justin Taylor is senior vice president and publisher for books at Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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