Archives For President John F. Kennedy

An Experienced Life

January 30, 2014 — Leave a comment

One of my favorite and most inspirational movies of the past twenty years is Good Will Hunting (1997). It has many memorable and important scenes is between Robin Williams’ character as teacher and Matt Damon’s character Will Hunting. Damon’s character had just insulted William’s character so they sat down to have a talk. Watch the movie clip but you can also read part of it that I provided.

“So if I asked you about art, you’d probably give me the skinny on every art book ever written. Michelangelo, you know a lot about him. Life’s work, political aspirations, him and the pope, sexual orientations, the whole works, right? But I’ll bet you can’t tell me what it smells like in the Sistine Chapel. You’ve never actually stood there and looked up at that beautiful ceiling; seen that. If I ask you about women, you’d probably give me a syllabus about your personal favorites. You may have even been laid a few times. But you can’t tell me what it feels like to wake up next to a woman and feel truly happy. You’re a tough kid. And I’d ask you about war, you’d probably throw Shakespeare at me, right, “once more unto the breach dear friends.” But you’ve never been near one. You’ve never held your best friend’s head in your lap, watch him gasp his last breath looking to you for help. I’d ask you about love, you’d probably quote me a sonnet. But you’ve never looked at a woman and been totally vulnerable. Known someone who could level you with her eyes, feeling like God put an angel on earth just for you.”

This is the conversation that guides the story toward action and resolution for Damon’s character. This scene gives me chills every time I watch it. Damon’s character, although clearly brilliant, had not truly lived life in all of its pain and glory. He had been stuck in his neighborhood thinking he knew all there was to know about life. There was a bigger life to experience if he would open himself up. It is hard to  miss that I am like Damon’s character and fear the risk of going out into the world to really experience life.

Recently I visited one of the most infamous city settings in the world: Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas. On November 22nd, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated here. Dealey Plaza rests on the southwest side of downtown Dallas. I’ve read multiple books and watched countless documentaries and movies about the JFK Assassination. But none of his compared to actually being at the site of this tragic event. As Robin Williams mentioned above, there is nothing like visiting it to smell the air, feel the history, and to stand where history changed us forever. It was eerie and it brought a bit of  sadness to me that I didn’t expect to feel. Reading and watching stories about JFK always brought intrigue but rarely did it ever bring emotion like this. Silently, I walked all around the area with my brother-in-law and my wife and toured the JFK 6th Floor Museum. It is an experience I will not forget.

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View from the 7th Floor of the infamous Texas School Book Depository overlooking Dealey Plaza. One floor directly down from me was assassin Lee Harvey Oswald’s sniper nest.

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Standing next to the street where Kennedy was shot. Two “X’s” mark mark on the street where he was shot. To my left is the infamous grassy knoll where conspiracy theories point toward a second gunman.

Walking and visiting the places of history reminds us that we are part of a big story. It is full of beauty, adventure, victory, loss, and tragedy. It should provoke the feelings to make us want to make a lasting impact on this world because we are called to a great story. This trip reminded me that I can live life comfortably at home but if I don’t take a step out to truly explore what God is nudging me to do, I will miss the real life.

“To know there is a better story for your life and to choose something other is to choose to die.” – Donald Miller

Have you ever visited a place of history that gave you the chills?

Does it make you think about how your lasting impact will be on the world?

 

 

C.S. Lewis 50 Years Later

November 22, 2013 — 4 Comments

C.S. Lewis wrote,

“After I’ve been dead five years, no one will read anything I’ve written.”

Well Jack, you were wrong and we are so thankful because of it.

On this day 50 years ago the beloved Clive Staples “Jack” Lewis passed away from renal failure. It was  onNovember 22nd, 1963 when Lewis passed and his death received little media attention due to the tragic assassination of President John F. Kennedy. His incorrect prophetic words above were likely due to the nature of publishing at that time and how easily books would go out of print. For the next fifty years, Christians young and old discovered his writings from Till We Have Faces to The Screwtape Letters to The Chronicles of Narnia. At the 2012 London Olympics, many other British writers were honored during the opening ceremonies; Lewis was omitted. Lewis has never had the widest appeal compared to other contemporary British writers but his readers have a passion for his work like none other. Perhaps his humility transcends today through subtle ways and readers share his words with others one by one.

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I learned that he will finally receive an honor memorial in Poet’s Corner at Westminster Abbey. This gives me great joy knowing that hundreds of years from now someone will discover him for the first time when walking through the historic Abbey.

There are a handful of writers who have influenced my life and C.S. Lewis is on top of that list. As a new Christian almost twenty years ago, I was exposed to Mere Christianity and it helped me then as it does today to better understand the beautiful mystery of this grand faith. I recently read a couple biographies about his life like Alister McGrath’s C.S. Lewis and I encourage you to do the same to learn more about he and his writings. You can view a complete list of his works here but if you have never read his books, start with the classics like Mere Christianity, The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe, The Four Loves, Surprised by Joy, The Screwtape Letters, and The Pilgrim’s Regress.

I am still discovering his words and hope to until the day I die. My young daughters are close to the age of me sharing the great stories from The Chronicles of Narnia.

Thank you Jack for your faith, your boldness, and for allowing God to work through you in your pain and your joy. We all feel it through your words and will share it with generations to come.