Unshakable Hope

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)

Remembering the Other “Jack”

Fifty years ago today, two famous men with the nickname “Jack” died. The first and most well-known of these “Jacks” was, of course, President John F. Kennedy. I don’t think it’s still the case today, but in JFK’s day, “Jack” was a common nickname for someone named John. Sadly, this Jack was shot dead in Dallas on November, 22nd, 1963.

time kennedyJFK was a big deal to our family, being that we were an Irish Catholic family living in Boston at the time he was elected. I even campaigned for JFK. Actually, that’s not really true; my mom was a volunteer for JFK’s campaign and she was pregnant with me at the time so I campaigned with her up until my birth four weeks before JFK was elected. But I doubt that my mom and I had to campaign very hard; convincing people in predominantly Irish Catholic Boston to vote for JFK was probably about as difficult as persuading the Klu Klux Klan not to vote for Barack Obama.

The world’s news was so focused on the tragedy unfolding in Dallas that horrible day fifty years ago, that the death of the other “Jack” went virtually unreported. Many of you know that “The Other Jack” I’m referring to is C.S. Lewis. This Jack died at his home in Oxford, England about an hour before JFK was assassinated.

time_cslewis_cover C.S Lewis’ first name was Clive; a name he hated even as a little boy. His dog was named “Jacksie” and when Lewis was four years old, his dog was run over by a car near his home in Belfast, Ireland. After the death of his dog, Lewis told his family that from then on he would only answer to the name “Jacksie.” Thankfully his family and friends shortened his nickname to “Jack.”

While thinking about the deaths of these two “Jacks,” I began wondering which of them had the greatest impact (for good) on the world. Of course, this is a question that only God knows the answer to. In this respect, they’re no different from any of us. We can only testify about people that have had an influence on us personally.

As most of you have seen, there are many television programs commemorating the death of JFK this week and there’s nothing much any of us could add to the coverage. But, like fifty years ago, I haven’t seen anything on TV commemorating the death of C.S Lewis. Through Lewis’ books, and the movies that were made from his books, Christians of all ages feel a personal connection to “the other Jack.”  It’s a rare person that can captivate children with stories like The Chronicles of Narniaand turn around and challenge cynical adults with books like “Mere Christianity.”

In commemoration of “The Other Jack,” I’d like you to read about three well-known men whose lives were transformed after reading the words of The Other Jack.”

The former “arrogant atheist:”

francis 2Dr. Francis Collins: former leader of The Human Genome Project, current Director of the National Institutes of Health

“Somebody pointed me towards C.S. Lewis’s little book called Mere Christianity, which took all of my arguments that I thought were so airtight about the fact that faith is just irrational, and proved them totally full of holes. And in fact, turned them around the other way, and convinced me that the choice to believe is actually the most rational conclusion when you look at the evidence around you. That was a shocking sort of revelation, and one that I fought bitterly for about a year and then finally decided to accept. And that’s a book I go back to regularly, to dig through there for the truths that you find there…”

After finishing his work with the Human Genome Project, Collins wrote a book titled, “The Language of God.” “The God of the Bible is also the God of the genome,” he writes. “He can be worshiped in the cathedral or in laboratory.”

The former corrupt Presidential adviser:
chuck 2Charles “Chuck” Colson: Nixon adviser who was snared by Watergate

Colson described his conversion to Christianity as a post-Watergate moment when a friend read him a passage from C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity about pride.  “I spent an hour on the side of the road right next to my friend’s home, crying, thinking about my wife, wanting to know God, wanting to be clean. ”  

After serving seven months of his prison sentence, Colson founded Prison Fellowship, a Christian outreach to prisoners and ex-prisoners that would eventually become the largest ministry of its kind in the United States.

“As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on thing and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down you cannot see something that is above you.”
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

The former pride-filled businessman:
Monaghan 2Thomas Monaghan: Founder of Domino’s Pizza, Chancellor of Ave Maria University

Monaghan had just finished reading Mere Christianity and could not get the chapter titled “The Great Sin” (pride) out of his head. “[It] hit me right between the eyes.” “I realized that all I was trying to do was have more than other people…I thought, ‘If pride is the greatest sin of all, I’ve got to be the greatest sinner of all.”

That night, Monaghan was barely able to sleep. He awoke the next morning and proclaimed that he was taking what he calls a “millionaire’s vow of poverty.” He immediately stopped construction on his new mansion and began selling his “toys;” expensive cars, yacht and even the Detroit Tigers baseball team.

Even if a person lives to be a hundred, it’s nothing compared to eternity. For good or bad, the legacy we leave influences people for generations. They might have phrased it differently, but I believe this is what all three of these men came to realize. It’s something we all should keep in mind.


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125 thoughts on “Remembering the Other “Jack”

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  1. Reblogged this on Mitch Teemley and commented:
    For those who enjoyed “Why I Believe: C.S. Lewis and Me,” Parts One, Two, and Three, here’s well written article on C.S. “Jack” Lewis by my brother blogger Bill. Be ye blest!

  2. I didn’t know that the two Jack’s died on the same day!
    I was thinking about a self proclaimed atheist that I prayed for last week and was thinking about when/if I should give her a copy of Mere Christianity … but talked myself out of it … then I find this post … perhaps not such a silly idea … must have been God’s!
    Thank you for this post … it’s a little gem!
    God is Good!

  3. I really enjoyed this post. I liked the way you shared specific examples of how Mere Christianity impacted these men. It reminded me that nobody is out of God’s reach, no matter how far away they may seem at the time….thanks!

  4. Great post. C.S. Lewis was such a great mind.

  5. Wow, thanks for this great post. I had no idea that these two Jacks died so close together. And it reminds me of another wonderful saint – Mother Teresa. She died within days of Princess Diana. And it was exactly the same thing. The death of the one overshadowed the other.

  6. Thank you Bill for following and liking my blogs. You are such an inspiration. Congratulations on being a Grand-daddy.



  7. Ah yes, good memory of Clive Staples. This ‘jack’ truly was a giant, and a great inspiration as well. Tkx for the refresher.

    Also, congrats on your ‘grand pa’ status. God is good, and blesses us above measure.

    By the way, I too am a ‘jack,’ and some say we are honest folks. I like to think so. All the best, and hoping you and yours have the very best Christmas possible.

  8. noordinaryjoy61 on said:

    I have long been a C.S. Lewis fan. I’m sure he had no idea his words would be so read and so quoted long after his death. God granted him the gift of wisdom and expression that has impacted countless people for Christ. As a side note, I have also always liked that his wife and I share the same name.

  9. Such a great article. Thanks for pointing out those testimonies. May God work through us for His glory as He has through the “other Jack”.

  10. A wonderful reminder of why I still have more works of C.S. Lewis to look forward to reading.

  11. I didn’t realized that C.S. Lewis and JFK died on the same day. Thank you for pointing that out. When I became a believer, I think the first book I read (other than the Bible) was “Mere Christianity.” I wonder which man influenced the most people? As always, I appreciate your thought-provoking posts. Blessings!

  12. Reblogged this on We Just Look Up and commented:
    While I’m on a reblogging jag, I thought I’d add this beautiful memorial to C.S. Lewis.

  13. Thank you so much for commemorating C.S. Lewis’s death and for telling the stories of men influenced by him. I’d never heard he was called ‘Jack’, and although I’d heard about two of the men, I didn’t know their lives were so impacted by “Mere Christianity”. Great post!!

    • Thank you, Rene. Over the years, I’ve heard interviews with all three of these men mentioning the impact C.S. Lewis has had on them. I am sure there are many other well-known people that have been influenced by him also.

  14. That was very interesting to read about CS Lewis and how he influenced some others …. many others of course but a look into the lives of a couple… Diane

  15. This is a beautiful post. I have never read ‘Mere Christianity’ but I will make a point of it now. i do know some things about him and what an influence he has had on so many. Reading the testimonies you provided is grist to the mill. Thank you for sharing. We all forget humility in the face of pride. Or relative anonymity in the face of fame.x

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