On November 22, 1963, the whole world was glued to television sets and radios, listening intently for news surrounding the death of the young American president who lost his life in Dallas, Texas. As news of the tragedy of John F. Kennedy’s death spread, not only Americans, but people of many nations, mourned the loss of this energetic, go-getting, controversial young politician. The images of Mrs. Kennedy, grief-stricken, wearing her blood-stained pink dress and pillbox hat, holding the Bible while Lyndon Johnson was sworn in as the President of the United States, were burned into the psyche of an entire generation, as were the iconic images of the funeral–particularly the horse-drawn casket and the sight of the president’s son saluting the casket as it went by.
But JFK was not the only luminary who died on that day. In a twist that would interest historians and trivia buffs for decades, the authors C.S. Lewis and Aldous Huxley also both died on November 22, 1963. Many parallels and lessons have been drawn between these three men over the years. Today, though, I would simply like to highlight the fact that all three men were dreamers.
Kennedy dreamed of a vision of America leading the world into space–to the moon and back and back again.
Lewis dreamed of a world where all people would come to know God, and he encouraged his readers to explore the mysteries of God through the genres of myth and fairytale.
Huxley dreamed of a world where all people could be free to express themselves, unimpeded by government or corporate corruption, and warned us of the dangers of a society controlled by the need to be “normal.”
Each of these men were so much more complex than the descriptions above, but they each embodied for the world the necessity of thinking deeply, dreaming of new realities, and sharing their vision with others.
As I have experienced Kennedy, Lewis, and Huxley, I have been influenced personally by each of their dreams and visions.
When I first encountered the speeches and writings of President Kennedy, I was inspired to see a progressive vision for what America could be–forward-thinking, a leader in technology and research, and open to the possibilities of change.
When I read C.S. Lewis for the first time, I was awe-struck by his ability to weave a story in a way that led the reader into a deeper sense of the mysterious nature of the universe. Later, when I read some of his fiction for adults, and his writings on Christianity, I was drawn deeper into that mystery, and encouraged to think as deeply as I felt my faith.
When I read Brave New World, I admit that I was at first frightened and confused, not sure what vision that Aldous Huxley was trying to convey. As I re-read it later in life, I realized that this work of art was a beautifully prophetic warning about the effects of power, and the resilience of the human spirit in spite of the madness of the age.
Dreamers like Kennedy, Lewis, and Huxley are what keep us moving forward in life. They dare to step just a bit ahead of the rest of us, in order to glimpse what might be, and they invite us to join them on their journey of discovery. These three men are but a few examples of those who have dreamed dreams and seen visions in the history of humanity. I chose to believe that they were given the ability to do what they did through the movement of God in the world. Others have been similarly gifted throughout the ages, and many are so gifted even today. May all of us reach for the impossible, and become dreamers of dreams ourselves, that we might stretch beyond our current visions of reality and create a new world, built on the hope that comes from God alone.