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Showing posts from November, 2008

45th Anniversary of C. S. Lewis's Death

Today is the 45th anniversary of the death of C. S. Lewis. Coincidentally, I was born in the same year that C. S. Lewis died. As you might guess, of all the people, other than Jesus, whom I most look forward to meeting in heaven, C. S. Lewis is certainly in my top 5.

In a letter to a correspondent written shortly before his death, Lewis commented that he thought Autumn to be the best of the seasons, and old age to be the best part of life. But old age, like Autumn, doesn't last.

Some might take that to be a note of despair. However, given Lewis's belief in the resurrection of the body and everlasting life in Christ, I think Lewis ended his life here on earth on a note of hope and keen expectation.

Professor of Narnia @ B & N

I had a signing of The Professor of Narnia at Barnes & Noble in Harrisonburg, Virginia last night. Thanks to Peggy and Melissa from our Harrisonburg C. S. Lewis Society for showing up for the discussion!

It is always interesting to see who the Lord brings along to these events. Once again I signed a load of books. But the most meaningful part of any signing is the people I get to talk with. Last night I spoke for at least a half hour with a young man who is enrolled in a distance education course with a Christian college. He hopes to go on and obtain a Master of Divinity degree. I also got to speak with a mother of two teenagers who bought The Professor of Narnia for her sons. Charlie and Thomas--I hope you enjoy the book!

Right now I am in the cafe of another Barnes & Noble Bookseller, this time in Frederick, Maryland. The signing doesn't start for another 90 minutes so I am catching up on e-mail, and on this blog.

The Professor of Narnia Book Tour has been a bl…

The Professor in Pittsburgh

The Professor of Narnia's reception in Steel City was not steely at all! In fact, it was quite warm. The above picture shows me with some of the members of the Pittsburgh C. S. Lewis Society, a group I got started way back in 1999. It was great to see friends whom I haven't seen in a long while!

The Society organized and hosted two events for The Professor of Narnia. (Thanks again to Lynn and Winifred!) The first one was on Monday night, November 17, at the Murrysville Public Library. The event was covered by two local newspapers. See one of the articles here: http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/tribunereview/news/westmoreland/s_599234.html



The second event took place on Wednesday night, November 19, at St. Martin's Episcopal Church in Monroeville, PA. (Thanks to The Rev. Chris Klukas for hosting us!) Above you can see yours truly in front of a picture of St. Martin. (I hope he enjoyed hearing all about St. Jack!)
Before the meeting I had the pleasure of meeting, in Inkling-…

Inklings Bookshop & White Hart Cafe

It was a delight, as always, to visit Inklings Bookshop on Main Street in downtown Lynchburg, Virginia, today. The owner and operator, Ed Hopkins, has been a friend now for a number of years. Since my last visit to Inklings it has been enhanced by the addition of the White Hart Cafe next door. The White Hart hosts numerous events every month, like my powerpoint presentation today on the life of C. S. Lewis followed by a signing of my new book, The Professor of Narnia.


As you might guess, Inklings Bookshop specializes in books by and about C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, Charles Williams and other members of the Inklings literary group. But the bookshop has so much more! And it is absolutely lovely just to sit in the White Hart Cafe, sipping a cup of hot tea, munching on a Vanauken sandwich, and chatting with the variety of people who gather in this new hot spot in the heart of Lynchburg.


Even better than the opportunity to share the life of C. S. Lewis with those gathered in the cafe …

Professor of Narnia @ New Covenant

The Professor of Narnia visited New Covenant Schools in Lynchburg, Virginia on Friday, November 14. During my powerpoint presentation about "My Journey with C. S. Lewis" I was deeply impressed with the attentiveness of these middle and high school students. I was even more impressed with the questions which followed during the Q&A time. It was a lot of fun interacting with students who were already so well acquainted with C. S. Lewis and his writings, not to mention their familiarity with some of the literature of our western cultural tradition which so profoundly impacted Lewis's life and writing.

It was also a great joy to sit in on a tenth grade theology class following my presentation. (Yes, I said theology class.) It made me wish I could have taken theology in tenth grade! The students were enjoying one of their "Fridays with Jack" led by their chaplain, Bart Martin. The class reads a chapter of Mere Christianity every Friday and discusses it, …

Central Indiana C. S. Lewis Society

On Friday, November 7, I addressed a small but enthusiastic crowd at Tabernacle Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis. This was only the fourth meeting of the Central Indiana C. S. Lewis Society which boasts membership including two authors: Dan Hamilton and Ed Brown. Duwayne and Connie Hintz were my most congenial hosts for a delightful two-day stay in Indianapolis.

On Saturday, November 8, Barnes & Noble in Noblesville, Indiana, just north of Indianapolis, hosted a booksigning of The Professor of Narnia. Ed Brown, mentioned in connection with the C. S. Lewis Collection post below, attended this event along with his wife Pat.



It was truly a blessing and joy to reconnect with Ed and Pat after many years. The Browns were among a wonderful group of people whom my wife Becky and I led on a C. S. Lewis Tour of England in 1997. For those readers of my blog who are interested, we will be conducting a reprise of that tour, this time including Northern Ireland, in the summer of 2009. To le…

Professor of Narnia @ Taylor

On Thursday, November 6, I had the honor of addressing the C. S. Lewis & Friends Society at Taylor University (some members of which are shown in the photo below). It was a great joy to address a group encompassing an eight-year-old son of one of the professors at Taylor who has just begun his journey into Narnia, as well as college students, professors and those who have been reading and studying Lewis for a lifetime.



While at Taylor I also spoke to various classes on campus and was interviewed by the staff of Parnassus, Taylor's official literary magazine. I was duly impressed not only with the intelligence of the students I met but also their deep desire to serve Christ with all their heart, mind, soul and strength.


Of course, while I was visiting Taylor University, I also sold a number of copies of my new book, The Professor of Narnia, as well as copies of my two previous books: My Father Was a Gangster and Mere Theology. It was a profitable visit in more ways than one!

C. S. Lewis Collection @ Taylor University

As I crossed the flat farmland of Indiana in the dark of night I wondered when and where Taylor University was suddenly going to emerge. Not only did the university appear but so did the graciousness of my Midwest hosts: Dr. David Neuhouser (Scholar in Residence at the Center for the Study of C. S. Lewis & Friends), Laura Constantine (Assistant to Dr. Neuhouser), as well as Tom and Helen Beers (who put me up for two nights in their lovely home).

Taylor University boasts one of the best collections of C. S. Lewis first editions, original manuscripts and letters in all of the United States, second only to that of the Wade Center at Wheaton College. This is thanks to Dr. Edwin Brown, former Associate Professor of Medicine at Indiana University, who amassed one of the finest private collections of C. S. Lewis first editions in the world. A number of years ago this collection was sold to Taylor University so that it might be more accessible to C. S. Lewis scholars. The collection is co…

Of the Making of Books . . .

My visit to Chicago would not have been complete without a stop at InterVarsity Press, publishers of my first book, Mere Theology: A Guide to the Thought of C. S. Lewis. It was astonishing to me, several years ago, as a new author, that a book could be published without the publisher and author ever meeting. But such was the case. So last week was my first visit to IVP.

I got to see the warehouse where books are stored and orders fulfilled:



More importantly, I enjoyed lunch with my excellent editor, Gary Deddo:

The Professor of Narnia Visits Wheaton

The Professor of Narnia visited Wheaton College on Monday, November 3. I had the privilege of speaking to many students and faculty about my 35 year journey in reading books by and about C. S. Lewis which laid the foundation for my latest book.


My gracious hosts at Wheaton were: Dr. Wayne Martindale, Professor of English and author of Beyond the Shadowlands: C. S. Lewis on Heaven & Hell, and Dr. Christopher Mitchell, Director of the Wade Center:
While at Wheaton I also had the blessing of visiting the Billy Graham Center archives:
As recounted in my book, My Father Was a Gangster: The Jim Vaus Story, my father was led to Christ by Billy Graham at the 1949 Los Angeles Crusade. To my pleasant surprise, upon entering the archival storage room I spied this poster on the wall:



My father would have been pleased as he always had a warm place in his heart for Wheaton College, having spoken there on many occasions. In addition to that connection Dad was a student at Wheaton for a brief per…

C. S. Lewis Mecca

Monday, November 3-Wednesday, November 5 I visited the Mecca of C. S. Lewis studies: The Marion E. Wade Center at Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois. The Wade Center has many items of interest to C. S. Lewis fans, like the Lewis family wardrobe crafted by Lewis's grandfather:



The Wade Center also houses a number of items of interest to Lewis scholars such as many of the books from Lewis's own library, the majority of Lewis's original letters, and the eleven- volume "Lewis Papers" compiled by C. S. Lewis's brother, Warren.

I felt like a kid in a candy shop, not sure which confection to sample first. However, I did spend a good bit of time doing research for a couple of book projects. As always, I found the people of the Wade Center to be most gracious and helpful. My only regret is that I had so little time there. I'd like to go back some time and spend a month!

The Battle of Manassas

On Saturday, November 1, I faced what every author dreads . . . showing up for a booksigning and realizing the bookstore has done very little advertising. The bookstore had a table for me to sign books inside their front door. But there was no poster announcing my arrival, and obviously little or no advertising had been done.

But then the cavalry showed up in the form of my publisher, Dianne Haskett, and her graphic designer husband, Jack Kotowicz (pictured above). They brought with them a whole group of friends. Dianne introduced me to the group gathered, and we drew a crowd of others who were in the store shopping! We held an impromptu presentation on C. S. Lewis and had a delightful time of Q&A.

Here is a photo of some of the folks who came. . . .One of my sons didn't believe me when I told him I was joined at this booksigning by one of the presidential candidates. But I was! His name is General Jerry Curry and he is second from the right in the photo. To learn more ab…