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!
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.
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!
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!