For most people in the world, today is being remembered as the 50th anniversary of the JFK’s assassination. And given that it was one of the once in a generation “Where were you when …” moments, it is fitting that this event is being remembered.
What many people are not aware of however, are the other things that happened on Nov 22, 1963. Across the Atlantic, two of the greatest thinkers of the 20th century died on this day. Aldous Huxley is perhaps best known for his amazingly prescient dystopian vision of the future of society he presented in A Brave New World. Whereas George Orwell in 1984 imagined a world described as “a boot stamping on a human face … forever”, Huxley instead imained a world where people instead of being forced to comply with a dictatorial regime, willingly complied because they were continually plied with pleasure. While Orwell’s vision has been realized to some extent in communist and totalitarian states, Huxley’s vision has more accurately predicted the reality for the “free world”.
The other thinker to die on this day in 1963 was C. S. Lewis, most famous for his Narnia series of children’s books, but also an extremely influential writer in apologetics and Christian thought. The Narnia books were some of my most-loved as a child growing up, and upon becoming a Christian I was pleasantly surprised to find the wealth of spiritual books that he had written.
The philosopher Peter Kreeft has written an imagined conversation of these three people with very different worldviews in his book Between Heaven and Hell
. It is an intriguing read and I thoroughly recommend it. The BBC also has a half-hour radio documentary focussing on Huxley and Lewis, as their deaths and consequently their achievements were overshadowed by Kennedy’s assassination. (BBC iPlayer is not accessible from all locations, but there are ways around this.)
Also, on November 23, 1963, Dr Who first aired, but went largely unnoticed thanks to the blanket TV coverage of Kennedy’s assassination. As the 50th anniversary special episode is about to come out, wouldn’t it be appropriate if somehow Kennedy, Huxley and Lewis appeared together in the Tardis? Kennedy, Huxley, Lewis and the Doctor … now that would be a conversation I wouldn’t mind eavesdropping on.