C.S. Lewis in Music and Poetry
The Music of The Spheres – Saturday Seminar
Bay View Campus, Bay View, Michigan
Saturday, September 22, 2018 9:00 a.m.
9:15 – 10:45 a.m. Session One: Malcolm Guite
Vicious circles and virtuous spirals: Dante gets back to the garden*
This session will give an overview of the whole shape of The Divine Comedy, the meaning of Dante’s journey and the way the three books of the Commedia link with each other. Then it will present a more specific ‘guided tour’ through the Inferno and the Purgatorio, showing how the Purgatorio, the holy mountain, is the ‘positive shape thrown out by the negative pit of hell’, and how Dante helps us to imagine God’s particular and loving redemption of our sins in detail. Dante’s journey in Purgatorio ends with a return to Eden the earthly paradise, and the talk will consider the implications for us of his picture of that return.
11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Session Two: Michael Ward
Narnia: A waste of space?
This session will introduce Lewis’s best-known works, the seven Chronicles of Narnia. Many
critics (including, most notably, Tolkien) have considered the Chronicles to be a mish-mash or
hodge-podge of unrelated mythological traditions. This talk shows why that view is mistaken,
surveying Lewis’s great interest in complexity and intricacy, his love of ‘intelligent design’, and,
even more significantly, his desire to communicate things about God indirectly, implicitly, subtly.
1:00 – 2:00 p.m. Session Three: Malcolm Guite
Crystal spheres and the mystic rose: Dante gets back to the garden
This talk will be a ‘guided tour’ of Dante’s Paradiso, and especially of the way he imagined and reflected on the seven heavens which Michael will be talking about in his talk. Some reflections will be offered on how Dante was helped by other poets and writers too, including C.S. Lewis and T.S. Eliot to imagine Heaven and live more fruitfully from that imaginative act.
2:15 to 3:15 p.m. Session Four: Michael Ward
Planet Narnia: The heavens are telling the glory of God
This talk reveals that the Narnia books are secretly patterned according to the imagery of the seven heavens. Far from being casually or carelessly thrown together, the Chronicles are actually constructed with immense imaginative sophistication, each story expressing and embodying the meanings associated with one of the seven planets, which Lewis termed “spiritual symbols” of “permanent value” that were “especially worth while in his own generation.” The session examines not only how each book is built on planetary imagery, but why Lewis would have wanted to do such a thing, and what this means for our understanding of the Narniad as a Christian work.