Once again, the C.S. Lewis & Kindred Spirits Society of Iași, Romania hosted a thoughtful and beautiful event. Back in the spring, I was pleased to join poet theologian Malcolm Guite and George MacDonald scholar Kirstin Jeffrey Johnson with an “Inklings of Imagination” conversation–including hundreds of smart readers and thinkers from Eastern Europe and around the world. Continuing the theme of “imagination,” they turned to the idea of “Imaginative Hospitality” with some Inklings scholars and readers who embody that principle in their life and work. “Intellectual and creative hospitality is one of the hallmarks of the Inklings and their kindred writers,” the poster begins. This is precisely correct, and I was so pleased to attend a conversation about “the collegiality and creativity of the Inklings and their world” earlier this week and share the video with you all.
As I had suspected, the poster below reveals much that might be missed just by glancing at the title. The speaker’s list looks simply like a collection of thoughtful and congenial Inklings scholars. Host Kirstin Jeffrey Johnson is a leading George MacDonald scholar with a vision for theological and imaginative integration. Michael Ward‘s Planet Narnia is probably the most impactful study in medieval intertextuality and the work of C.S. Lewis yet written, and his After Humanity is an excellent companion to The Abolition of Man. Fr. Andrew Cuneo’s doctoral thesis was on the literary letters of Lewis, and he worked with Walter Hooper on The Collected Letters. And Diana Pavlac Glyer is the leading thinker on the Inklings and creative collaboration with her The Company They Keep and Bandersnatch. All smart folk who know the work of C.S. Lewis, George MacDonald, and J.R.R. Tolkien well and led into conversation by Denise Vasiliu of the CSL&KS Society.
But when thinking about the Inklings and imaginative hospitality, I want to think not just about creative and literary hospitality–of which the Inklings are famous–but also of theological or ecumenical hospitality. I love the stories of the Inklings sitting together in college rooms or a local pub, sharing their writing and arguing words and history and theology with a commitment to friendship that is as fierce as their commitment to truth, goodness, and beauty. For, with all their “lisekes,” the Inklings were a community of “differents” when it came to their faith perspectives. So it was such a blessing to experience the personal presence, soft and thoughtful voices, and generosity of spirit of these scholars from different faith perspectives–demonstrating in the moment what potential there is for “Imaginative Hospitality.”
This video may not be available in your region, but you can find it on Youtube here. I would encourage you to consider supporting the C.S. Lewis & Kindred Spirits Society (click here), including the upcoming conference on Nov 18-20 (see here for details).