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Below are a list of lectures given at one venue, followed by a sampling of descriptions and syllabi.  The lectures varied, but not so widely as scores given both at York College and in other public venues.

THE CENTER FOR CHRISTIAN THOUGHT: New York Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church

A Chronological List of The Lectures:

Lecture series, each lasting five weeks, were numbered 1 through 5 and were spread over the academic year.  Most lectures were ninety minutes; some were two hours.  All included discussion.    An asterisk indicates a non-Lewis series.

3/97 Literature

4/97 Theology

1/97 The Chronicles of Narnia

4/98 *Congruent Christians

5/98 Spirituality

1/98 Providential Voice

4/99 Religious Influences on C. S. Lewis

5/99 Literature

1/99 The Ransom Trilogy

2/99 *American Religious Public Discourse

4/00 *Wonder Tales I

5/00 Voice and Thought

1/00 *Logos, Personhood and Meaning

2/00 Scholar and Dinosaur

4/01 *Congruent Christians

5/01 Later Lewis

1/01 Literature

3/02 *Wonder Tales II

5/02 CSL and Two Friends

1/02 A Potpourri

2/02 *“The Tongue is Also a Fire”

4/03 *Congruent Christian Movies

5/03 *Wonder Tales III

A Sampling of Course Descriptions and Syllabi:

The Later C. S. Lewis

It is widely held that Lewis somehow modulated (perhaps moderated?) his rhetorical tactics and voice during the last decade of his life. This series tests that hypothesis by looking at three of his major books, less read than most of his work near to, or of, the same period. In them we see afresh, not only Lewis’s refined and nuanced religious thinking, but his very sophisticated anthropology, psychology, and sociology that lie behind it.

The Weight of Glory; The Four Loves; Reflections on the Psalms.

1. Do these later works show a Lewis we had not seen earlier (“mature,” “leavened”)? If so, why and how – and to what effect?

2. These works include compelling religious thinking and (for the most part) could not have been written by anyone not a Christian, but are they “apologetic”? What are Lewis’s purposes (strictly expository? motivational?) and how well does he achieve them?

3. Do Lewis’s ideas in these books differ from, and thus add to, the touchstones of “classic” Lewis religious thought?

4. How, if at all, do Lewis’s ideas “inflect” our own theology and faith? Is our conviction influenced most by the ideas themselves or by his expression of them?

5. What station do they hold in Lewis’s oeuvre?

C. S. Lewis, Scholar and Dinosaur

We know C. S. Lewis best as a religious thinker and Christian apologist. Only dimly, if at all, do most readers know him as one of the pre-eminent medievalist writing in English in the twentieth century, as literary theorist, historian, and critic. This series examines the self-styled “dinosaur” in the context of two monumental figures – and re-discovers Lewis’s striking seamlessness.

1.   Nov. 6 A Dinosaur?

2.   Nov. 13 Milton – and CSL as Literary Theorist and Critic

Milton: Bks I&II (entire); III.56-134, 167-265, 498-612; IV.131-286, 358-410, 536-609, 689-775, 877-1015; V.1-94, 308-518.  Lewis’s Preface, ch. VI-XI (pp. 32-80).

3.   Nov. 20 Milton – and CSL as Polemicist, Apologist, and . . . Mt. Olympus

MiltonVI.680-912; VII.243-338, 450-547; VIII.357-397, 452-499; IX.99-178, 342-1189; X.229-331, 610-719, 845-965; XI.334-369, 712-839; XII.372-484, 574-649.  Lewis’s Preface, ch. XII-XIX (pp. 81-133).

4.   Nov. 27 Chaucer and His World – and CSL as Intellectual Historian

The Discarded Image (entire).  Chaucer: The General Prologue; The Knight’s Tale.

5.   Dec. 4 Chaucer and the World – Did CSL Miss the Boat?

C. S. Lewis and Two Friends: Their Stories

Christian confessions, direct and oblique, may be instructive, confirm-ational, radically challenging, or all at once. The authors we examine in this series (Dorothy Sayers and Dom Bede Griffiths, as well as C.S. Lewis) are of the twentieth century, knew (or knew of) each other, and had studied the first – and the greatest – confession ever. They are a Circle.  Are they, in ways that matter most, also our contemp-oraries?

1.   Apr 15       Creed and Confessions

2.   Apr 22      Obedience: Sayers, The Mind of the Maker

3.   Apr 29      Signs: Lewis, Surprised by Joy, ch. I-VIII

4.   May 6        Siege: Lewis, Surprised by Joy, ch. IX-XV

5.   May 13      Surrender: Griffiths, The Golden String

Personhood, and Meaning: The Christian as Communicator

Neither quite a how-to, nor a how-should, but an exploration of person as a fundamentally Christian concept, this series inquires into the role of our unique faculty of speech in defining individual, and especially communities of, persons, always in the context of the opening of St. John’s gospel.

1.   Sept 25      “Gift” and Logos

2.   Oct 2         Madness of Love: Plato’s Phaedrus . . . and St. James

3.   Oct 16       The Achievement of Meaning

4.   Oct 23       Madly speaking: Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning

5.   Oct 30       Covenant:  Meaning’s Search for Man



Congruent Christians II

Among the many writers who influenced C. S. Lewis are three who differ vastly in style and temperament but who attained an immediate, deep, and permanent influence on him: Charles Williams, G.K. Chesterton, and Kenneth Grahame.  Moreover, they continue to be read by millions and to wield that same influence, which this series seeks both to enjoy and to explain.


Congruent Christian Movies

Because we no longer have an appetite for explicitly devotional, and big, Christian films such as The Ten Commandments, they do not get made. This gap invites the conclusions that such films were alone in their portrayal of faith and that films with Christian motifs remain rare at best. Without either DeMille, or Demetrius and his gladiators, or even Bernadette’s song, this series questions both notions. A tradition of fine, low-key (though now sometimes raw) Christian cinema persists.  Reading: None. Three or four feature films and several clips. (These included The Confession, Strange Cargo, and The Bad Lieutenant.)

Wonder Tales II

Myths, legends, beast fables, fantastic stories, and especially fairy tales have all spoken to us at great depths, in varying ways, and over considerable periods of time; and their functions have been examined psychologically, culturally, and critically.  This series examines them spiritually, asking how they speak imaginatively to the soul and to the formation of our religious faith. The second offering of this series offers contrasts in period, culture, and mode that may or may not influence the moral imagination


The following list includes all series except those for which no prior reading was indicated.  More than seventy-five books, as well as shorter matter  such as speeches, were covered.)


The Literature of C. S. Lewis A Grief Observed, The Problem of Pain, The Voyage of The ‘Dawn Treader’ and The Quotable C. S. Lewis, edd. Martindale and Root. (Previously: The Magician’s Nephew, God in the Dock, Out of the Silent Planet, An Experiment in Criticism, The Screwtape Letters, Mere Christianity, Letters of  C. S. Lewis, and Como, Branches to Heaven: The Geniuses of C. S. Lewis.)


The Spirituality of C. S. Lewis Lewis’sTill We Have Faces, Letters of C. S. Lewis (especially the early and late ones, 2nd ed.), A Grief Observed, Letters to Malcolm, Chiefly on Prayer, Letters: C. S. Lewis/Don Giovanni Calabria, and George MacDonald:  An Anthology (ed. Lewis). Recommended: Lewis’s Reflections on the Psalms and An Experiment in Criticism.


The Theology of C. S. Lewis The Letters of C. S. Lewis; Como, ‘C. S. Lewis at the Breakfast Table’ and Other Reminiscences; and other Lewis titles suggested ad hoc.


The Voice and Thought of C. S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces, Letters to Malcolm, Business of Heaven (ed. Hooper); Como, Branches to Heaven and “Disobedience and Self-Discovery”


The Later C. S. Lewis The Four Loves; Reflections on the Psalms; The weight of Glory. Suggested: Letters to Malcolm and W. H. Lewis, Brothers & Friends: An Intimate Portrait of C. S. Lewis (the diary of W. H. Lewis, edd. Kilby and Mead).


A Providential Voice: C. S. Lewis 100 Years Later The Pilgrim’s Regress, The Letters of C. S. Lewis to Arthur Greeves, The Weight of Glory, An Experiment in Criticism, The Abolition of Man, Reflections on the Psalms.


The Chronicles of Narnia Participants should have read all seven of the Chronicles (preferably in the HarperCollins boxed paperback set) and (as they are able) Kenneth Graham’s The Wind in the Willows, Beatrix Potter’s Squirrel Nutkin, something by E. Nesbit (e.g. The Story of the Treasure-Seekers or other tales of the Bastable family), and any of George Mac- Donald’s fairy tales (“The Light Princess,” “The Golden Key”) or his Curdie books.


C. S. Lewis’s Space (or “Ransom”) Trilogy Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, That Hideous Strength; and Of Other Worlds, ed. Hooper.


C. S. Lewis, Scholar and Dinosaur Milton, Paradise Lost and Chaucer, Canterbury Tales (Coghill trans.) – selections from both; Lewis, Preface to ‘Paradise Lost’ and The Discarded Image.


A C. S. Lewis Potpourri Lewis, Letters to Children; Of Other Worlds; The World’s Last Night; Wm. Griffin, C. S. Lewis: Spirituality for Mere Christians. (Also, any of the several fine Lewis anthologies would be useful.)


C. S. Lewis and Two Friends: Their Stories Lewis, Surprised by Joy; Dorothy L. Sayers, The Mind of the Maker; Dom Bede Griffiths, The Golden String. Recommended: St. Augustine, Confessions.


Religious Influences on C. S. Lewis William Law, A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life, Jacob Boehme, The Way to Christ, St. Francois de Sales, Introduction to the Devout Life, George MacDonald, Unspoken Sermons, Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ.


Logos, Personhood, and Meaning: The Christian as Communicator Plato, Phaedrus; Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning; St. John’s Gospel.


Congruent Christians: A Constellation Atypically Including C. S. Lewis C. S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces, Sigrid Undset, The Bridal Wreath, Robertson Davies, Fifth Business, Thornton Wilder, The Bridge of San Luis Rey, and Walker Percy, The Thanatos Syndrome.


Congruent Christians II Charles Williams, The Place of the Lion; G. K. Chesterton, Everlasting Man; Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows.


Wonder Tales I Iona and Peter Opie, The Classic Fairy Tales; George MacDonald, The Princess and the Goblin; Oscar Wilde, The Happy Prince and Other Stories; Shakespeare, The Tempest.


Wonder Tales II J.R.R. Tolkien, Smith of Wootton Major and Farmer Giles of Ham (one vol.); G.K. Chesterton, The Man Who Was Thursday; The Arabian Nights: Three Tales (Harper; ill. Lattimore); The Book of Daniel.


Wonder Tales III C. S. Lewis, The Horse and His Boy and The Last Battle; Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (Penguin Classics, L92, Stone trans.); Walter Wangerin, The Book of the Dun Cow.