Today (November 22, 2013), the world commemorates the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Irish-American president John F. Kennedy. You may not know that Belfast-born author and theologian, C.S. Lewis, passed on the very same day. Fifty years after his death, Lewis is even more influential than he was during his lifetime. His popular "Chronicles of Narnia" are now considered classics of children's literature, and his apologetic texts inspire Christians across the spectrum of the faith.
While often called "British" or even "English," Lewis was born in Belfast, loved Yeats, and considered himself Irish:
Describing an encounter with a fellow Irishman, he wrote:
"Like all Irish people who meet in England, we ended by criticisms on the invincible flippancy and dullness of the Anglo-Saxon race. After all, there is no doubt ... that the Irish are the only people: with all their faults, I would not gladly live or die among another folk."
In commemoration of his life, here are a few thoughts from the great man himself:
On hating sin, while loving sinners
“For a long time I used to think this a silly, straw-splitting distinction: how could you hate what a man did and not hate the man? But years later it occurred to me that there was one man to whom I had been doing this all my life – namely myself.”
“If anyone would like to acquire humility, I can, I think, tell him the first step. The first step is to realize that one is proud. And a biggish step, too. At least, nothing whatever can be done before it. If you think you are not conceited, it means that you are very conceited indeed.”
On the march of history
“Each generation exercises power over its successors: and each, in so far as it modifies the environment bequeathed to it and rebels against tradition, resists and limits the power of its predecessors.”
On damnation “The safest road to Hell is the gradual one – the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.”