Friday, September 30 | 9:00-10:50am
PERSONAL CONNECTIONS | Room 210 (Instrumental Hall)
The Art of Autobiography: C.S. Lewis and Bede Griffiths: Proto-Inklings
We (Griffiths and Lewis) discovered Christianity together,
largely through our common interest in English literature.
Letter by Bede Griffiths to The Canadian C.S. Lewis Journal
April 21, 1990
The art of autobiography creates the possibility of a more intimate relationship between writer and reader. Autobiography, in short, is an art form in which the writer, like a painter, selectively and judiciously brushstrokes the colours of their life on the canvass of the written page but does so in way that implicitly elicits a response by the reader at both the imaginative and rational levels. C.S. Lewis and Bede Griffiths were chief companions on the faith journey and their primary autobiographies, Surprised by Joy and A Golden String,are very much literary works of art at the highest and most confessional of levels. They came to Christianity, as Griffiths noted in his letter toThe Canadian C.S. Lewis Journal “through our common interest in English literature”.
There is, though, the backstory to the faith journey of Lewis and Griffiths. Both men came to faith through the community of others with literary interests. Lewis, Barfield and Griffiths often did moonlight walks in the late 1920s- early 1930s at Oxford (Lewis’ letters to Greeves in 1929-1930 describe these meditative hikes). There is a sense in which the friendship between Greeves, Lewis, Griffiths and Barfield anticipated the Inklings and prepared the way for such an artistic community decades before ecumenism emerged.
This presentation will discuss how and why the autobiographies of Lewis and Griffiths (published about the same time) were shaped and formed by literary communities that prepared the way for the Inklings. We will also discuss why the autobiographies of Lewis and Griffiths draw the curious and attentive reader into their journeys and, by doing so, evoke within the reader a longing and hunger to participate in such a journey. In short, the proto-Inklings and friendship of Lewis-Griffiths-Greeves-Barfield are part of a historic tale not yet fully told and this lecture will highlight why such literary artists via their autobiographies continue to draw readers into their inviting fold.
Ron Dart has taught in the Department of Political Science/Philosophy/Religious Studies at University of the Fraser Valley since 1990---he was on staff with Amnesty International in the 1980s. Ron has published almost 35 books, including articles in The Canadian C.S. Lewis Journal, Pilgrimmage (Toronto C.S. Lewis Society), Crux and The Merton Journal on C.S. Lewis, T.S. Eliot, George Grant and Thomas Merton. Ron has also recently published a book on C.S. Lewis and Bede Griffiths.
Kindred: Finding My Creative Path through C.S. Lewis and Charles Williams
Paul J. Pastor
Frederick Buechner wrote that any one of our stories can become a “universal story,” and a “call to prayer.” In this lively presentation, I trace how I found (and am finding) my own voice and creative direction in company with two long-dead kindred spirits—C.S. Lewis and Charles Williams.
Such “kindred” senses usually take the form of recognition (a concept related to Williams’ “Company of the Co-Inherence”), rather than simple learning. That recognition of self in the work of the Inklings, particularly Lewis, Tolkien, and Williams, is a simple, visceral, and under-recognized element of why the thoughts and writings of these men have gained such literary and cultural influence. Indeed—why they have such influence on my own life and story. We find in them kindred spirits, fellow travelers. As such, they teach us about ourselves by their consideration and interpretation of their own stories.
Indeed, I anticipate that the driving, root love of Inklings-fans is grounded in the recognition of self in their work. I anticipate (though subjectively) that the work of Lewis and Williams offers special space for that recognition, and for clear and creative response within the Christian (particularly Anglo-Catholic) tradition.
Throughout this presentation, I trace my own story as a writer and Christian through echoes of theirs, with the goal of inspiring my listeners to do the same—considering their own lives in light of the lived writings of the Inklings. How are the lives of Lewis and Williams “universal stories”?
How is my own story, lived and written, becoming universal?
How is yours?
Paul J. Pastor is a writer and editor living in Oregon's Columbia River Gorge. His work finds beauty and timeless wisdom in faith, culture, and modern Christian ministry. Paul’s book, The Face of the Deep: exploring the mysterious person of the Holy Spirit (David C. Cook) has been hailed as poetic theology after Annie Dillard and Charles Williams, by many—including Walter Wangerin Jr., National Book Award winner. Previously an editor for Christianity Today, Paul has also co-written and edited many book-length projects. Among other Inkling-related tidbits, for several years Paul lived in, and managed, Aslan’s How, a Lewis-themed mentoring house owned by Dr. Garry Friesen in Portland Oregon. www.pauljpastor.com
Owen Barfield: Friend and Teacher
Both less, but also more than an academic paper, this presentation is a sharing of a personal and most unexpected friendship with Owen Barfield (1898 – 1997) that began in 1973 and lasted until his death in December 1997, 11 months short of his 100th birthday.
George Tennyson called Barfield the ‘first and last Inkling’ as he was born two weeks before C.S. Lewis and died more than three decades after him. He is probably the least known Inking and remains often a mystery to fans of the Inklings or even unknown to them.
Through UBC English Professor, Craig Miller, (S.T. Coleridge scholar), who knew Barfield personally, I was urged to meet Barfield because I valued Coleridge and had read so much of Barfield at that point that I had a sense of appreciation of their convergence, particularly their thinking about the imagination.
I did not come to Barfield as a scholar or an ‘Inklings Scholar’, but as a person who was seeking wisdom in a worrisome world from a sagacious man who could help me with many questions and concerns that were spiritual/religious, social and personal. Barfield was not the kindly pastoral type, but he imparted to me honest care that I shall be eternally grateful for. I shall share that journey of learning and its profound impact on me as a person and as an art historian.
Laurel Gasque, BA (UCLA), MEd (Eastern University) teaches art history at Trinity Western University as well as arts and theology at Regent College, Vancouver, BC, where she pioneered the college’s Art Program. She is Associate Editor of ArtWay (www.artway.eu), an international, in-depth website for congregations and individuals linking the visual arts and faith. She is the author of Art and the Christian Mind: The Life and Work of H.R. Rookmaaker (Crossway, 2005) and numerous essays and articles. She recently retired from the board of Image: A Journal of the Arts and Religionafter serving on it for over a decade.