The coincidence of JFK and C.S. Lewis dying on the same day gives us a lot to ponder. Many people mourned and adored Kennedy for his worldly glory, his seemingly superhuman qualities – brilliance, style, good looks, and being “Mr. Camelot” himself. By contrast, Lewis, the stodgy looking medievalist at Oxford, would have been the actual specialist on the legends of Camelot, and the enchantment it holds for us.
Until I read this article, I had no idea C.S. Lewis died the same day as JFK. I have read others express their disappointment about excess celebration of politicians when they die, and too little focus on non-politicians. (John Stossel has some in one of his recent books.)
It seems clear to me that we should celebrate the life of C.S. Lewis far more than JFK. JFK was a politician. He sought powerful positions, but also never created anything. I do generally respect JFK (other than his adultery - I can't really respect somebody who is so terrible to his family), as I think he seemed like a reasonable president and his actions in war were heroic. But what tangible contributions did he make to society, other than law changes?
C.S. Lewis, on the other hand, contributed greatly to society. To those who don't like his books, his work caused absolutely no pain or suffering. The same cannot be said of JFK. But to those who liked his work, he has provided hours of enjoyment. Further, he has helped millions of children learn to read by giving them books they loved. The Narnia books are wonderful for kids. One of my children, when still learning to read, devoured these books. Thousands of other children have as well. I think it is fair to claim that CS Lewis did far more to educate the youth of society than JFK.
I respect politicians who work hard and always try to make the right decisions. (Even if I disagree with them.) That being said, I think we overestimate their greatness and underestimate the greatness of those who contribute to society in other ways.