Today marks fifty years since the death of C. S. Lewis, John F. Kennedy, and Aldous Huxley. John F. Kennedy has been in the news a lot lately. Many people remember where they were when Kennedy died. Lewis probably died with very little noticed. Who would have thought that he would have had the kind of impact he has had in the lives of millions of people the last fifty years. See the link below for three articles on Lewis's legacy.
My first exposure to Lewis was during my third year in college. It was during the Christmas break. I had checked out the Chronicles of Narnia to read over the break. It was my first adventure into the world of Narnia. It was like I was physically transported to Narnia. It was breathtaking. I went on the read most of Lewis writings after the Chronicles of Narnia. Then a few years later I went to read many of Lewis's works again. Then I did it a third time.
Lewis has had a great impact on my life. He helped introduce me to the great works of Western Civilization. he helped me to see the importance of tradition. He showed me how faith and reason are friends. He showed me the important riches that can be gained from classic literature. He also helped me develop a Christian world-view. My exposure to Lewis changed my life forever.
I will now share some quotes from two of my favorite pieces by Lewis: "Learning in Wartime," and The Abolition of Man.
"A university is a society for the pursuit of learning."
"If you attempted . . . to suspend your whole intellectual and aesthetic activity (because of a war) you would only succeed in substituting a worse cultural life for a better. . . If you don't read good books, you will read bad ones. If you don't go on thinking rationally, you will think irrationally."
"A man may have to die for our country, but no man must, in any exclusive sense live for his country. He who surrenders himself without reservation to the temporal claims of a nation, or a party, or a class rendering to Caesar that which, of all things, most emphatically belongs to God: himself."
"I mean the pursuit of knowledge and beauty, in a sense, for their own sake, but in a sense which does not exclude their being for God's sake. An appetite for these things exist in the human mind, and God makes no appetite in vain. We can therefore pursue knowledge as such, and beauty as such, in the sure confidence we are either advancing to the vision of God ourselves or indirectly helping others to do so."
"If all the world were Christian, it might not matter if all the world were uneducated. But, as it is, a cultural life will exist outside the Church whether it exists inside or not. To be ignorant and simple now--not to be able to meet the enemies on their own ground--would be to throw down our weapons, and to betray our uneducated brethren who have, under God, no defense against the intellectual attacks of the heathen. Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy must be answered.
And The Abolition of Man:
"The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts."
"Aristotle says that the aim of education is to make the pupil like and dislike what he ought."
"Without the aid of trained emotions the intellect is powerless against the animal organism."
"The operation of the Green Book and its kind is to produce men without chests. ... And all the time--such is the tragi-comedy of our situation--we continue to clamor for those very qualities we are rendering impossible. . . We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful."