Friday, November 22, 2013


“The sum of a million facts is not the truth.”
-William Raymond Manchester

I guess I shouldn't be as amazed as I am at the overwhelming JFK worship across the political spectrum and all ages today.  Seriously, everywhere you turned it was Kennedy love day.  Conservatives were popping out quotes by him about supply side economics and leftists were making bizarre, lunatic connections between Lee Harvey Oswald and right wingers in Dallas.You know who else died that day 50 years ago?  Two literary giants, one far more giant than the other.
 “One believes things because one has been conditioned to believe them."
-Aldous Huxley
The first was Aldous Huxley, who gave us Brave New World.  Between Huxley and Orwell's 1984, readers had a pretty comprehensive view of how tyranny could come upon free peoples.  And between the two, Huxley's frightening view of a possible future is the more plausible of the two.
In fact, its hard to avoid the feeling that Brave New World isn't a behind-the-scenes view of our lives today.  A people seduced out of liberty by comfort, ease, and order.  The use of chemicals, social engineering, and manipulation through education and entertainment to create a passive, obedient society run by all-powerful statists.  1984 has a single, all-powerful leader, a figure that everyone is commanded to love and obey.  But Brave New World has no face at all to its tyranny, only the population giving up everything to gain comfort, ease, and safety.
I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.
-C. S. Lewis 
The second figure, and by far a titan greater than Huxley, was C.S. Lewis.  Both men died the very same day JFK was shot.  C.S. Lewis was one of the greatest writers of the 20th century, indeed one of its greatest thinkers.  His writings continue to enchant, amaze, and enthrall readers to this day through the Narnia movies.
Lewis started out a non-Christian, and he was converted by J.R.R. Tolkien, his close friend and colleague.  He, Tolkien, and Dorothy Sayers were part of a writer's club called the Inklings, where they talked over writing books such as The Hobbit and That Hideous Strength.  Some of the century's greatest fiction came from that little club in England.
Lewis was one of the best Christian apologists that has ever lived, with a knack of reaching people behind their defenses and making sense out of things they thought were idiotic.  His book Mere Christianity is a compelling piece of argument for Christianity that remains popular and potent today.
Lewis warned the world about what was happening to culture through education in his piece The Abolition of Man and he taught of subjects such as grief, pain, love, joy, and reason with brilliant and easy to access precision.
The loss of C.S. Lewis left the world far, far poorer than that of a politician.  And yet here we are, 50 years later, celebrating a tepid president who couldn't keep his pants on and almost hurled the war in to WW3 trying to show how tough he was on foreign policy.  JFK got us into Vietnam, folks never seem to recall that.  He was likely to lose the 1964 election when he was shot.
But its him people remember and fixate on, not C.S. Lewis, or even Aldous Huxley.  What a world.


Anonymous said...

"For some we loved, the loveliest and the best, that from his vintage rolling time hath pressed ..."

Tina said...

Odd, isn't it, how deaths seem to congregate? The first time I noticed that faddish fame trumps lasting literature in the death notices was when John Belushi's and Ayn Rand's deather were reported in the same newspaper...his on page one, hers on page 3. This was in March, 1982.

By the way, I have shared your Amazon links for Snowberry and Old Habits on my Pinterest "Books Worth Reading" board! :-)

Christopher R Taylor said...

Thanks, I hope plenty of people get interested :)