Fifty years ago on November 22, C.S. Lewis quietly passed away in his home. His death went widely unnoticed, as JFK was assassinated on the same day (Brave New World author Aldous Huxley also died, making November 22, 1963 a truly lamentable day in recent human history), but it left a void that has never been rightly filled.
To whom is there to compare him? He was not a trained theologian (as many trained theologians will hasten to say) nor was he ever ordained. In his lifetime, he was a professor, literary critic and essayist. His dear friend J.R.R. Tolkien said he modeled Treebeard after Lewis. He is best remembered now as a children’s author. But none of those come close to encompassing the unique place Lewis holds in modern Christianity. As an excellent profile in Christianity Today argues, he might be best described as a poet. Someone with a rare gift to channel his mighty intellect and generous spirit through an artful, unparalleled mix of wit, warmth and spectacular clarity.
Like many people, I owe a good deal in my own life to Lewis. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is the first book I remember reading. When I was little, I wanted to change my name to Peter. I have a lamppost tattooed on my arm. As I’ve grown up, my appreciation of his works has matured as well. Till We Have Faces remains, in my mind, one of the English language’s finest novels. Most people reading this could tell their own stories. He has that effect on people.