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Posts Tagged ‘CS Lewis’

Of Inklings, books, and friendship

October 12, 2011 1 comment

Late yesterday afternoon, after a full day with books, my good friend Sheridan Voysey and I met over a pint (in this case, of Pepsi) in a back room of The Lamb and Flag pub, Oxford. We entered therein a long tradition, to which we are newcomers and interlopers, of meeting to talk about… books. Specifically, in our case, the ones I am reading, and the one Sheridan is writing.

The Lamb and Flag nestles into a strip of buildings adjacent to St John’s College, across the expansive junction street of St Giles from its more well known counterpart, The Eagle and Child. Like The Eagle and Child, The Lamb and Flag was host for a number of years to the weekly Tuesday gatherings of CS Lewis, Tolkein, Owen Barfield, Lewis’ brother Warnie, Nevill Coghill and the other group of writers which came to be known as the Inklings. The group moved from their preferred venue at The Bird and Baby (as it’s colloquially known) to The Lamb and Flag when their growing renown made it more common for their discussions to be repeatedly interrupted by fans and literary pilgrims who would wait at the Eagle and Child to catch a glimpse of, and perhaps strike up a conversation with, the great Oxbridge authors.

So The Lamb and Flag became venue to their conversations,  in their latter years. In the well worn booths, and age-darkened chairs, they would read, discuss and critique each other’s work in a spirit of deep and enduring friendship. Undoubtedly their writing was the better for these regular fellowships. I suspect their lives were, too.

As Sheridan and I chatted about faith, life, good and evil – some of the challenging but important topics he is tackling in his new book (the follow-up to his ‘Unseen Footprints’, which won Australian Christian Book of the Year, 2006) – I had a sense that we were on sacred ground. Not because the Inklings had met within those same walls, as aware as we were of that hallowed tradition. But the sacred ground of friendship. As our conversation wound its way into the deep things of life, as we shared thoughts, ideas, theological reflections we became pilgrims together. I’m not sure his book will be any better because of my ideas. But I know my life is richer for that hour and a half, in a pub, over a Pepsi, with a good friend.

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The wisdom of elders

October 11, 2011 Leave a comment

Today, I am very grateful for the wisdom of those who have gone before me.

I met yesterday with my research supervisor, Prof (Emer.) Haddon Willmer. His experience and deep theological understanding forged from a life of thinking and living theologically has helped significantly in shaping not only the direction of my research toward a (hopefully) worthwhile project, but also my own way of thinking, and my nascent but developing skills as a theologian. The meeting has also made me reflect on the numerable other mentors, theological, academic and otherwise who have steered my life and thought over the years.

In our society today we are, as often observed, more infatuated with the ideals of youth and beauty than appreciative of age and wisdom. In fact, contrary to other eras and cultures, our still very modernist (and dare I say arrogant) thinking causes us to fall victim to what CS Lewis referred to as ‘chronological snobbery,’ assuming that we know better than our elders and previous generations.

But I wonder which actually provides the greater – or at least, better and more valuable – influence in our lives? Celebrified youth and beauty? Or the wisdom of our elders?

Perhaps it takes wisdom even to heed wisdom?

If so, Lord grant me such.

Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who obtains understanding. For her benefit is more profitable than silver, and her gain is better than gold. (Prov 3:13-14)