Friday, November 22, 2013

A coincidence of 50th anniversaries: C.S. Lewis, Doctor Who and JFK

This weekend sees a remarkable coinciding of 50th anniversary celebrations. On 22nd November 1963, C.S. Lewis and John F. Kennedy both died. Just one day later, the first episode of Doctor Who aired on BBC TV. I view JFK and Doctor Who as enduring legacies - one fact, the other fiction - iconic heroes of hope for all humanity. JFK is the world leader whose life was tragically cut short by assassination. Doctor Who is the stranger from another world whose life goes on for ever, thanks to the imaginative plot device of regeneration. Both these themes resonate with us - echoes of a fundamental mythos of dying and rising again, of heroic Saviourhood. This storyline transcends all culture and history.

I think C.S. Lewis would have approved. In his essay 'Myth Became Fact' [1] Lewis argues that "The heart of Christianity is a myth which is also fact. The old myth of the Dying God, without ceasing to be myth, comes down from the heaven of legend and imagination to the earth of history." Jesus is literally the desire of all nations - whether or not they realize it. That desire is expressed in our contemporary admiration of shadows - both historical heroes like JFK and fictional heroes like Doctor Who.

To quote Lewis' 'Myth Became Fact' again, "We must not be nervous about parallels and Pagan Christs: they ought to be there - it would be a stumbling block if they weren't."

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