Oxford, United Kingdom (Part 1)

Our first full day of the 2017 C. S. Lewis Summer Institute opened with inspired singing and worship in one of the lecture halls at St. Catherine’s College. The architecture and beauty in Oxford is amazing. Unfortunately, however, the main conference area this year is in a very modern (among the newer of the 38), might I say ugly, college. The buildings are blocky and uninspired. But, the beauty of our conference compensated for the less than inspiring surroundings.

On the morning of the first day, July 25, we were blessed with the autobiographical lecture of the president of the C.S. Lewis Society, J. Stanley Mattson, followed by a wonderful lecture on the power of art to inspire spiritual growth by the author of 75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know, Terry Glaspey. Between the two presentations, the Summer Institute Choir performed. Wow!

Andrew Lazo interviewing C. S. Lewis Foundation president, Stanley Mattson.

The heavenly choir, one of the most outstanding choral groups I’ve been privileged to hear.

Terry Glaspey, addressing the conference.

In the afternoon of the first day, we all went our separate ways into breakout sessions. I decided to do something totally different (for me) and take the class on sketching. It was fun and interesting. There is one more class to go. After a roast duck dinner at the college dining hall, we walked over to the splendid Oxford Town Hall for a Traditional English Country Dance. I demonstrated my skills (or lack thereof) for a couple of dances before slipping out early to rest for the night.

19th Century Exterior of the Oxford Town Hall

With this sumptuous interior, we probably should have been doing the waltz, not old English country dancing.

The next morning, We were blessed in plenary sessions by Joesph Pearce and Andrew Lazo. After lunch with the All Saints’ crew at The King’s Arm Pub, I visited The Kilns, the home of C. S. Lewis in which he wrote all of his Narnia books, as well as other important works. It was great!

Joseph Pearce, former IRA terrorist, who is now an influential Christian thinker and speaker.

Andrew Lazo, respected speaker and writer on C. S. Lewis and the Inklings

Lunch at the King’s Arm Pub. Mmmm… Fish and Chips.

At the Kilns, so named because it was built on the site of a former brickworks.

C. S. Lewis’ Home

Lewis’ upstairs study where he wrote the Chronicles of Narnia

Lewis’ bedroom, next to his study

The pond back behind the home where Lewis would relax. The Kilns today is in a very blue collar neighborhood. The plant which produces the world’s supply of Mini Coopers is very near.

Lewis built this bomb shelter by the pond during WW II. Looks a little like a hobbit house!

On the evening of the 26th, we made our way back to the University Church of St. Mary the virgin for a special treat, a concert by the C. S. Lewis Chamber Choir and the City of Oxford Orchestra. The beautiful music performed in such a glorious space as this 11th century gothic was a sensory experience unmatched by any other. From Handel to Mozart, from Massenet to Albinoni, the evening was outstanding!

Setting up for the concert at the University Church of St. Mary.

The choir is glorious! Did I say that yet? The constituents are remarkable musicians, many of whom have very successful careers in the secular world.

The excellent City of Oxford Orchestra. It was an unforgettable evening.

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