I remember it like it was yesterday. It was late Friday afternoon in Mrs. Farrell’s sixth-grade class at the old Sealey Elementary School on 7th Avenue in Tallahassee. A guy named Joe and I were having fun slicing construction paper with a paper-cutter and looking forward to the weekend ahead. Suddenly we were interrupted when the teacher from the class next door walked in. “I think you better turn on your TV set,” she said with tears in her eyes. “The President has been shot.” Our room did not have a TV so we all quickly moved to her room. In just a few minutes we heard those shocking words from CBS’ Walter Cronkite, “The flash from Dallas, Texas, apparently official. President John F. Kennedy was pronounced dead at 1pm Central Standard Time. 2pm Eastern, some 38 minutes ago.”
The day of course was November 22, 1963, and just about everyone my age or older can remember exactly where they were and what they were doing when they got the news. To this day, 50 years later, it is still regarded by many Americans as the crime of the century. But, as Christian Journalist Cal Thomas reminded us in his column this week, JFK was not the only important 20th Century person to die that day.
Two other men, both Englishmen whose lives were crucial to the topic of worldview, passed away virtually unnoticed on that tragic day. One of the men was perhaps the greatest defender of Christian Theism and the other was one of the most notorious advocates of Far Eastern Thought of the 20th Century. C. S. Lewis’ (1898 – 1963) books still motivate believers and challenge the anti-Christian dogmas of modern philosophers. Aldous Huxley (1894 – 1963), who called himself an agnostic, was a devoted follower of Vedanta Hinduism and was known for his experimentation with hallucinogenic drugs (particularly LSD) as a way to find spiritual enlightenment.
The legacies of Kennedy, Lewis and Huxley still linger now in the 21st Century. I believe that Kennedy’s impact will fade as our generation passes on. Most people today under age 50 have no idea who Huxley was. However, sadly, drugs and pagan mysticism have found their way into the mainstream of Western culture. C. S. Lewis, however, still provides inspiration to children and Christians through his beautifully written fantasy novels and brilliant apologetic books. Let’s pray that new generations of people will read his words, take them to heart, and his legacy will continue even after JFK is long forgotten.