If Kennedy, Lewis and Huxley Walked Into a Bar...

Deaths of Three Important Figures Remind Us of Our Own Eternal Destiny

‘Between Heaven and Hell’ by Peter Kraft
‘Between Heaven and Hell’ by Peter Kraft (photo: Register Files / Book Cover)

On Nov. 22, 1963, three famous individuals died on the same day.

Peter Kreeft, in his 1982 book Between Heaven and Hell, imagined a conversation among the three men when they found themselves together at the gates of heaven. In Kreeft’s book, the newly-dead John F. Kennedy, Aldous Huxley and C.S. Lewis engage in what might be called a modern-day Socratic dialogue.

  • President Kennedy was, in Kreeft’s estimation, a humanistic Christian;
  • Huxley was an Eastern pantheist; and
  • Lewis, a Christian theist.

They ask themselves and one another important questions:  Does human life have meaning?  Who was Jesus?  And what does he mean to us today?

We need to ask ourselves these questions, too.  So many people seem to plod along, asking themselves only whether they should buy the sportscar or the family van, the cheeseburger or the salad plate. The deeper questions about the Four Last Things (Death, Judgment, Hell and Heaven) are obscured by modernity’s quest for fashion and fun.

Reflecting on the three deaths can be a sober reminder of our own destiny. Each year on Ash Wednesday the priest, deacon or layperson marks our foreheads with an ashen cross. “Remember,” he says, “you are dust and to dust you will return.”

Remember that.