Mourne Mountains - shutterstock_502498_328x171CS Lewis Memorial Sculptureshutterstock_1509543_328x219shutterstock_39055504_328x219

The mid to late twentieth century was not a time favorable for brilliant, brilliantly-educated Christian apologists.   The prevailing cultural currents—what Lewis called “scientism,” Marxism, and the like—flowed strongly in the opposite direction throughout the period, and the overwhelming majority of Lewis’s Oxford  colleagues—and elite opinion throughout the Western world—dissented sharply and, indeed, harshly, from Lewis’s piety.   He paid a personal price for his views.    Many of his colleagues roundly disliked him for his Christianity and, perhaps even more so, for his fame and popular success, and they made their views effective.    What, then, gave Lewis the strength to enroll his dissent to the prevailing consensus, aware, as he most assuredly was, of the likely cost of such a stance?    What enabled him to stem the tide, in spite of all?   This too we will seek to assess, with all the more acuteness, perhaps, because our era is hardly less friendly to resolute and open Christian conviction in elite academic and cultural circles.

We begin our tour in C. S. Lewis’s native Northern Ireland, where we visit “Little Lea,” the childhood home where “Jack” Lewis and his older brother “Warnie” began their writing career.  We visit the Mountains of Mourne where they chronicled the adventures of the “dressed,” talking animals of the realm of Boxen—precursors of Lewis’ beloved characters of Reepicheep, Puddleglum, and Aslan himself in years to come.  While there, we explore the autobiography of Lewis’ early life, Surprised By Joy, which chronicles his conversion to Christianity.

From Belfast we follow Lewis’ journey, travelling by ferry as Lewis did across the Irish Sea to Liverpool before making our way to Oxford, where Lewis distinguished himself as a student, a teacher, a scholar, an author—and ultimately as perhaps the most influential Christian apologist of his century. A privately guided walking tour in Oxford introduces us to the major sites of Lewis’ life there.  We hold a seminar evening at the Eagle and Child, the pub where for years Lewis met with the “Inklings,” a group of like-minded friends who included, besides Lewis and his brother, Charles Williams, Owen Barfield, and, most notably J. R. R. Tolkien.  It is in this historic setting we explore Lewis’ most famous Chronicles of Narnia. We also visit Lewis’s long-time Oxford home “the Kilns” and explore Magdalen College, where for many years he served as a celebrated—and, to some at least, a controversial—lecturer and tutor.   A day trip takes us to the beautiful Malvern Hills where as a youth Lewis prepared for Oxford at Cherbourg House. A second seminar evening in Oxford takes us to The White Horse, yet another pub where the Inklings gathered, to explore Lewis’ most famous work of Christian Apologetics, Mere Christianity.  A final day trip takes us to East Anglia and Cambridge, where Lewis finished his career at Magdalene College.   We return to Oxford to visit other noted Lewis sites, among them the Ashmolean Museum and the famous Bodleian Library.

Along the way, noted Professor Timothy B. Shutt brings Lewis’s works to life for us with his unique style and flair that has both entertained and educated generations of Kenyon Students and those lucky enough to have seen him speak. Our endeavor throughout is to come to understand more deeply—on site and in depth—the many-faceted achievements of C. S. Lewis as a scholar, as a teacher, as a Christian apologist and controversialist, and as the author of enduring works of fantasy and of fiction.

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