There are a few things I’d like to note without doing a bunch of big announcements. Consider this a Friday Feature Flash (sorry, I couldn’t think of a better term!).
Save the C.S. Lewis Nature Reserve
You may not even have known there was a C.S. Lewis Nature Reserve, let alone the danger it might be in. Sometime in the 1980s (I think), some people rediscovered the Lewis brother’s shared home, known as the Kilns. A foundation purchased the property and did their best to restore it to the period of the 1950s when the house was filled with the Lewises, Paxford and the other workers, and Joy Davidman with her sons. I was able to bring my family on a tour of the Kilns this summer where I bumped into Will Vaus, David Beckmann, and some old friends. I didn’t know ahead of time, but that day Walter Hooper gave a lecture to some American pilgrims, so we sat in for the treat.
Behind The Kilns is a nature reserve named for famed author C.S. Lewis. It is in some environmental danger–and really the danger of losing its peaceful distance from industrial Oxford–so a local resident has begun a petition. Here is her lovely description of the place:
I spent my childhood playing in the C.S Lewis reserve and now bring my own children there to explore the wonders it holds. It truly is a magical place and C.S. Lewis based his writings about Narnia on it, although back then it was his back garden!
The reserve comprises mature woodland slopes and two ponds. The larger pond is noted for spawning toads and giant horsetail surrounding it. The nature reserve and surrounding area currently supports birds, reptiles, badgers and roosting bats among other wildlife. The area is also suitable for protected species such as Great Crested Newts which have been spotted in the area. The proposed development and access road will create noise, light, dust pollution and many more negative impacts on the environment and wildlife.
I would encourage UK residents to sign the online petition here.
Don Williams’ Mere Humanity: G.K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis, and J. R. R. Tolkien on the Human Condition is only 99c on Amazon
It’s not often that you can snatch up a deal like this–and it is even 99 cents in Canada, too! I have just loaded this to my Kindle reader and look forward to exploring more deeply what I have only heretofore skimmed.
Other Lewisian Amazon.com deals include Louis Markos’ Lewis Agonistes: How C.S. Lewis Can Train Us to Wrestle with the Modern and Postmodern World ($7.99) and Colin Duriez’ Bedeviled: Lewis, Tolkien and the Shadow of Evil ($7.45).
Review of Diana Pavlac Glyer’s Bandersnatch by Sam Edgin in The Englewood Review of Books.
Readers will know I’m a fan of this book, so I’d encourage you to take a look at another view. The folks at ERB are great at gathering resources together for missional Christians, and they are fans of C.S. Lewis. Their “5 Essential Ebook Deals for Christian Readers” that comes out every couple of weeks helps me discover some of my best new finds on Kindle. It is a dream of mine to be one day featured on ERB.
Blogger, minister, and C.S. Lewis researcher Will Vaus is working on a series with Winged Lion Press that discusses the ten books that Lewis said influenced him the most. In a 1962 interview, C.S. Lewis was asked: “What books did most to shape your vocational attitude and your philosophy of life?” In response, Lewis offered the following top ten list:
- Phantastes by George MacDonald
- The Everlasting Man by G. K. Chesterton
- The Aeneid by Virgil
- The Temple by George Herbert
- The Prelude by William Wordsworth
- The Idea of the Holy by Rudolf Otto
- The Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius
- Life of Samuel Johnson by James Boswell
- Descent into Hell by Charles Williams
- Theism and Humanism by A.J. Balfour
Will is working through these books in small chunks. Vols 1 & 2 are out covering the first 6 books and the 3rd volume is to come. You can find out more here, and read up on Will’s blog here.
A Video Teaser on Letters to Malcolm by Rev. David Beckmann
What happens when you are recording a video lesson on C.S. Lewis’ last Christian book and your lighting and sound fails? You blog it, of course! David is doing a series on Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer, essentially structuring it as a video teaching series based on this interesting book. David recorded at live locations in Oxford–in the world of C.S. Lewis–so that the videos would have the greatest possible connection to the text. An Episcopalian minister–though the light falters and the audio is a bit garbled–this video helps us see what the final teaching series to come might look like. Check out his blog for this content and more.
Sorry I don’t know how to contact you privately, but you appear to have a typo–shouldn’t it be
Don (or Donald) Williams’ Mere Humanity?
Thanks Sarah! I literally had Don King’s book of Lewis poetry on my knee as I wrote and I clearly got muddled. Well spotted.
In her petition, Cara Langford refers to the Oxford City Council planning webpage for this development. Here it is, with a linked map you can click and explore:
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If the Lewises and Moores had had a bit more money, they might have bought the adjoining parcel to the west – they didn’t, and very soon appeared Netherwoods Road, full of houses. Lewis Close with all the houses along it, and the one between The Kilns and the pond, were built after the death of C.S. Lewis, when Warren (if I’m not mistaken) sold that land. Again, if I’m not mistaken (I’m writing from memory without taking the time to try to look up any details, first) in the space where they are wanting to build was a little house on the property which the Lewises let someone (or more?) who had nowhere else to turn, live for the rest of their lives.
If you read Alister McGrath’s bio, Lewis had lots of money, he just didn’t know how money worked. By the 20 acres behind the house would have been a pretty minor deal for him (like, one publisher cheque).
I don’t know if Warren had any land that he parceled off. The purchasing dealing in 1931 had it so that the Lewis Bros. live in the house past Mrs. Moore’s death, but as the last brother died the property turned to Maureen (Mrs. Moore’s daughter).
But you might be right about the space–I am not good with the whole spatial thing.
I’d have to do my homework – but Lewis hadn’t published anything but poetry in 1931, and I think Netherwoods Road followed quickly. What further possible parcels might have been available in the neighbourhood, near or adjoining, after he started to make money, I don’t know. Apparently the Gobles came to Greatstones because it was affordable after the war. Wikipedia tells me (!), ” Free and clear title to the house and estates passed to Dame Maureen when Warren Lewis died in 1973.” But things were sold while Warren was still there – some of my neighbours in 1988 had been his neighbours while he was alone in The Kilns. It would be interesting to know the exact details of who decided what how and when (which degree of detail I don’t recall ever encountering).
I guess I’m thinking behind the reserve, where there is still farmland, Lewis could have probably purchased land in the 50s. But certainly not in the 30s. They were tapped with the Kilns.
Someone knows these things but it isn’t me!
“Someone knows these things but it isn’t me!” Me, neither, alas! Looking at the Google Maps satellite photo, I am impressed by how much farmland – and other ‘country’ – there still is, behind The Kilns and the Lewises’ old woods, in pretty much all directions. I don’t know what-all factors are involved, but seeing Kiln Lane wander out of inhabited parts, I can’t help thinking there would be other places to build that are not right next to a Nature Reserve.
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If you enlarge the map linked to the Council site application enough, you’ll see Greatstones to the east. This was the house bought by the great early-music instrument builders, the Gobles, after the war. Here is a delightful bit of history from their website:
Click to access Robert_Goble_Biog.pdf
Also quite interesting is the “Risinghurst” Wikipedia article.
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If you want to have the ten works to hand while reading Will Vaus’s interesting-sounding series, all the authors and works are out of copyright, and all available online in some form or another. For example, Arthur James Balfour’s Theism and Humanism has been scanned various times for the Internet Archive, as has a 1936 reprint of the 1929 revised version of the English translation of The Idea of the Holy by Rudolf Otto!
It’s funny, I know Otto the best in the list. It has spun my mind ever since, giving me a sense of discomfort, but also a platform to talk about Christian experience. I’ve never read Balfour.
I’ve only browsed around in The Idea of the Holy – and his book, The Kingdom of God and the Son of Man: A Study in the History of Religion. Interesting in both cases, but I don’t think I’m knowledgeable enough to evaluate them, critically, even if I read them carefully in full. I don’t remember if I have browsed Balfour as well – I’ll have to see if it looks familiar! (I have at least browsingly followed up other of Lewis’s recommendations in various letters, but would have to try to rediscover which…)
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