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.

About Bill Sweeney

In 1996, Bill was diagnosed with ALS (“Lou Gehrig’s Disease”) and the doctors told him he had 3-5 years to live. He is now completely paralyzed and unable to speak, but by God’s grace, he’s still alive and through his blog shares a message of hope in Christ - Unshakable Hope!

Posted on November 22, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 125 Comments.

  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. 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

  16. And the good news for the day is . . . Hope in God. Amen

    Happy Thanksgiving Day and prayers always, dear brother. 🙂

  17. Wow, great reflection of CS Lewis! Some beautiful testimonies there.

  18. Really good. Thanks for sharing.

  19. Lewis, my hero!! He who described himself as the most reluctant convert in all of England. I was – in all of America.


  20. Thank you, Bill for this information. I have had Mere Christianity on my list ‘to read’ for some time. I am bumping it to the top after reading this. Blessings to you and your family this Thanksgiving. 🙂

  21. Really enjoyed this post….Thanks for sharing the unknown stories about the “other Jack”. I didn’t know Lewis went by Jack, but enjoyed the story of his name evolution, too.

  22. I didn’t know that he was called Jack or the story behind that! A story about his childhood endears him to me even more!

  23. Reblogged this on Focused and Free and commented:
    This is definitely an historical eye-opener!

  24. Thanks so much for this reminder, Bill. We were created by our Maker “for such a time as this”. We all influence others in so many ways. While while God allowed many to become famous Christians, in the end it matters if we made Him famous. Bill, you are doing that with each post! Blessings to you

  25. I will say one word…humbling… 🙂 Wishing you well with many blessings. A really great post and neat about you…and your mom 🙂 . Take care! – Amy 😀

  26. Thank you for sharing this! Lewis is my favorite, and I like to know he is not forgotten! 🙂

  27. Thanks for this interesting post, Bill. It was very informative. I had no idea that these three men were influenced by C.S.Lewis. My 20 year old daughter has read most of his books, and I know they have impacted her life. This post is making me wonder if I shouldn’t get Mere Christianity for a family member who does not know the Lord. Something to think about. Thanks again.

  28. I didn’t know “Jacksie” (CS Lewis) died at his home in England about an hour before JFK was assassinated. Wow. Thank you for dedicating your new post to this amazing author. God had used C.S. Lewis in a mighty way and his many books are still touching numerous people’s lives. My husband read Mere Christianity. After reading your new blog entry, I decided to take the book off our shelf and check it out! 🙂

    • Thank you, Danielle.
      Mere Christianity is a must-read in my opinion, but it’s not what I would call an easy read. It’s a slow read for me because I am constantly stopping to think about his profound words. Just keep that in mind before you pull it off the shelf:-)

  29. This is such a great story of a man of God, and the effect his work had, and is still having on others. Thank you for sharing it; I’m really encouraged.

  30. What a wonderful post my friend! I always learn so much from you, and I pray that the legacy and numerous testimonies of “the other Jack’s” work is never forgotten. Thank you so much for sharing! God bless you!


  31. Wow, I need to read Mere Christianity – those testimonies are incredible. Thank you so much for sharing. I pray you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving. You are truly and inspiration and I’m thankful that Debbie introduced us. God bless you, Mary and the girls.

  32. I am definitely going to buy Mere Christianity. Thank you, for this beautifully written, thought inspiring blog. God bless you my friend.

  33. As always; your blogs never disappoint. I laughed aloud when you said that you were in the womb campaigning with your mum. I have to admit; I’ve never read any of C.S. Lewis’s books yet I’m very aware of his contribution to the growth of CHRISTianity. I guess I better get on the ball and get me if nothing else the book entitled “Mere CHRISTianity”. This is my own personal head space of information that I’m about to share; however, instead of the media sharing the pain of the assassination of our President it would be great to share his accomplishments. I just don’t understand why people have a need to revist pain. Wasn’t once enough? I’ve stayed clear of all communication regarding the assassination; just seeing the headlines on the internet or news paper reminds me of the pain.

    Keep writing!

    • Thank you for your encouragement! I have been avoiding most of the coverage too; it’s so sad! But I’ve always wondered how different the nation would be if that day never occurred; would 50,000+ men have been killed in Vietnam?

  34. Excellent post, Bill! This is only the second time I have heard that C.S.Lewis died the same day as J.F.K. C.S.Lewis is one of my very favorite authors. Hearing about how he loved his dog makes me admire him all the more.

    Blessings ~ Wendy

  35. Absolute best article I’ve read in a long, long time. I’m sharing on Facebook and Twitter. Excellent job.

  36. A brilliant and timely post! Thank you for this. I intend on getting this book Mere Christianity which I have heard so much about and share it with friends. Praise be to God for CS Lewsi

  37. Reblogged this on The Edge of the Wilderness and commented:
    Here’s a very thoughtful comparison. Another excellent post from Unshakable Hope

  38. Wow Bill…. Great post. Very inspiring and thought-provoking.

  39. So interesting! Thank you!

  40. Fantastic post. Thanks for sharing it.

  41. This is one of the most powerful posts I’ve ever read, I’ll have to look for ‘mere Christianity,’ it would be my number one Christmas read! Thanks for sharing such a deep post.
    God bless you!

  42. What a wonderful reminder and tribute to C.S. Lewis. Thank you for this post.

  43. “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.” Love this!

  44. This is wonderful! And I’ve learned a lot here.

  45. Thank you, Sherri. If I was able to travel and had a Bucket List…, making that trip would be near the top. Tolkien (a devout Catholic) was the one God used to transform Lewis. Lewis said that he and Tolkien took a motorcycle trip (I can’t picture that:-) and he left home an unbeliever and returned a believer.

  46. You always help me to develop my thinking and again, I thank you. I’ve read some of C.S. Lewis, but not Mere Christianity…I’ll be reading it now. Thank you for all of your hard work in helping us to be better. ♥

  47. This is the first I realized the two Jacks died the same day. God is still changing lives through the writings of C.S. Lewis, including mine. May it continue to be so for many years to come. Thank you for sharing this information. I think it’s time I re-read “Mere Christianity”. 🙂

  48. Thanks for writing this blog, Bill. I’ve shared it on my FB page and hope it will bless others as it did me. I’ve long been a CS Lewis fan and did not know he died at the same time JFK was murdered.

  49. Listening to the radio on the way to work this morning was bittersweet. It reminded me so much of Dad and Mom and how dedicated they were to JFK along with our grandparents. This is always a memorable day as it was the last time we saw our beloved grandada alive in a den full of adults and kids watching a week of television coverage and realizing that adults actually do cry. This is a day to celebrate our amazing family and two “Jacks” who impacted us

  50. Great post! I actually didn’t know that C.S. Lewis went by “Jack,” and I had no idea how his words influenced these men. Thanks for the info and outlook!

    I also really liked your honeymoon story and correlation. Wow! What an adventure and what a great picture of the great and rough parts of marriage.

  51. Such a carefully-constructed, well-written post, Bill! I did not remember that C.S. Lewis died the same day as JFK. And I greatly appreciated the examples of men Lewis brought to faith in Christ. What a ripple-effect through the likes of Charles Colson and Thomas Monaghan! And how amazing that Lewis’s brilliant writings continue to have a powerful influence, even fifty-plus years later. Our son was deeply impacted by “Mere Christianity.”

    Thank you, Bill, for always presenting quality material that broadens our minds and touches our spirits.

  52. Reblogged this on verawrites and commented:
    A dark day in history but Bill’s post is a joy to read and a wonderful reminder that NOTHING is impossible with God!

  53. This is amazing, I didn’t know these facts. What great testimonies. Thank you for sharing. I have been out of the loop, so to speak, for a while now, but I still read what you write. Thank you, Your posts are always uplifting. Have a great day!

  54. Very well written as well as informative. Thanks. I love the story and it has caused me to think 🙂

  55. Thank you very much for the re-blog, Bruce!

  1. Pingback: Remembering the Other “Jack” 11/24/2013 | God's group

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