Describe the influence one or more of the seven authors have had on your life and faith. Can you give a specific example?
When as a college student I was disillusioned with Christianity through exposure to a very narrow understanding of it, I was searching for something more spiritually satisfying and happily came upon the writings of C.S. Lewis. He led me to the writings of George MacDonald. A great part of my own teaching career has been publishing editions of and critical comments on–including a biography–MacDonald’s works.
These authors led me into the presence of Reality; they all but took my breath away with the exhilaration of their thought. Dr. Clyde Kilby, who was my chief mentor during those halcyon student days, was then establishing the Wade collection of books and manuscripts. I will be eternally grateful to him for his astute enthusiasm for these authors’ works, and to each of the authors themselves for the blessed reaches of their imaginative achievements.
Emeritus Professor of English
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My life and my faith have been radically changed since I joined the Dorothy L. Sayers Society. The woman was such an amazing mixture of erudition and fun – with everything from bell ringing to detective stories to theology – and I have sampled as much as I can of all of her interests. I became (briefly) a bell ringer, a member of my local church, a student of theology, an avid reader of both detective stories and Dante, interested in travelling to the places associated with Sayers – including twice to the Wade Center and many more.
Secretary and Bulletin Editor
Dorothy L. Sayers Society
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C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, George MacDonald, and G.K. Chesterton have been so important to my spiritual journey. For example, I recently reread George MacDonald’s novel, Mary Marston. When I finished, I felt my heart had been cleansed. His heroes and heroines inspire me to goodness. I open one of his novels when I sense the need to be restored, to be immersed in the Kingdom of God.
Former Wade Center Office Coordinator
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I have been devoted to G.K. Chesterton since the age of 14. It was not until the late 1940s that I found The Screwtape Letters (by C.S. Lewis) and was deeply impressed by its profundity. Then at Teacher Training College around 1950 I read (Lewis's) The Allegory of Love which again moved me.
In the 1970s I left education and, under the name Vintage Books, began to deal in used books, specialising in G.K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis, The Inklings and linked people. This explains why, coming across some reference to The Wade Center, I was pleased. I have always felt that there should be warm links between the societies working for these Christian thinkers. Because G.K. Chesterton was a generation earlier than C.S. Lewis the influence was one-way. Readers of Lewis knew something of Chesterton because Lewis's intellectual and spiritual generosity made him exaggerate his debt to many other thinkers, but there were Chestertonians who knew little of Lewis, and one of my concerns has been to rectify that.
Clyde S. Kilby Lifetime Achievement Award
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The Chronicles of Narnia are “comfort food” when the circumstances of the world and of our personal lives are filled with grief. Reading one of The Chronicles seems to open our minds and hearts to healing and a larger perspective.
First I read The Chronicles as story. Then I became captured by the possibilities inherent in children reading the stories without any adult input. This grew into my PhD dissertation The Lion and the Lamb and the Children: Childhood Education through the Chronicles of Narnia. The resources of the Collection were at my disposal. I was privileged to read Lewis’s letters to children in 1973, long before they were published. They were a priceless resource made available through the Wade Center.
Friend of the Wade
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I have done most of my academic work on George MacDonald, whom I first “met” in C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce and whose books, to my astonishment and delight, I found in my university’s library in 1996. MacDonald’s refreshingly large-hearted view of God and salvation was a great relief to me. Now, as I am working on the writer’s biography in Russian, I am reminded of and strengthened by his powerful passion for God the Father and the Son of Man. His life matches his words, and in that he, yet again, has been a great comfort and challenge to me over the last six months.
The other Wade authors have also been a great source of learning, encouragement, spiritual sustenance, and inspiration to me. I read the first chapter of C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity before I became a Christian and was impressed by his logic. Thanks to his incredible versatility, he has been of help both as a great example of academic excellence and a fellow believer reflecting on his Christian experience and generously sharing his findings with others.
I have assigned Dorothy Sayers’ essays to students to provoke discussion, included some of her passages into my curriculum as prime examples of how language should be used, and read excerpts from her Man Born to be King with students in class for Christmas and Easter.
I feel grateful to J. R.R. Tolkien and G.K. Chesterton, knowing that their work nourished the underground church in the Soviet Union. Tolkien’s books are among the most widely read among young Russians today, and I have regular opportunities to discuss them with my students, touching upon key themes and ideas, as well as reasons why Tolkien’s work rings so true and is so compelling.
I believe that all the Wade authors are unmatched in their rare ability to write the good very convincingly. Since most of us have an anemic notion of the good and its power, we could all use their encouragement in our faith.
2014 Fulbright Scholar
Nizhny Novgorod, Russia
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Working on Lewis has been a great pleasure especially in that he is so edifying on so many subjects. I have learned much from him and hope to continue to do so. I hope the Wade Center will long continue to be such a positive resource in aiding many others in similar work. The writings that emerge from such research help to share the edifying insights of these great Christian writers with wider audiences.
George M. Marsden
Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History Emeritus
University of Notre Dame
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In my journey as a “reluctant convert” to Christianity, I was moved by the writing of Chesterton, Sayers and of course, Lewis. I loved their wit and yet the humility and accessibility of their formidable learnedness. I found them unafraid of mystery yet owning a pragmatism marked by serious joy. I respected how they called out the naked emperors while pointing to the true King. They earned my trust, and so, my growing curiosity.
The Wade authors showed me that our God is not a fragile God, but rather one that can withstand our questions, and that these may even glorify Him, and lead us into deeper relationship with Him.
When I first read Lewis’s own account of his spiritual journey in Surprised by Joy, I was amazed to find his arrival in Oxford uncannily similar to my own, and to see that we shared an appreciation for the allegorical wisdom of retrospect.
I entitled my memoir about becoming a Christian at Oxford Surprised by Oxford: not because my work was in any means comparable to that of Lewis’s, but rather in grateful solidarity for our God of surprises, the One by whom everything turns out infinitely better than we could ever do or imagine on our own.
Dr. Carolyn Weber (M.Phil., D.Phil. Oxon)
Teacher and speaker
Author of Surprised by Oxford and Holy is the Day
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The novels of Charles Williams, while odd, have frequently inspired me, specifically through the character of the submitted saint who appears in each one. Sibyl Conningsby, in particular, inspires me to try to submit my will to God’s moment by moment and to accept crises and horrors with peace.
Lewis and Tolkien are always refreshing. No matter what difficulties entangle me, reading their works also uplifts and encourages me. Here is one rather amusing incident: I was climbing a difficult mountain one day, a very sheer peak of rock and rubble, and I was quite terrified, both of the height itself and of falling. I turned on the soundtrack to Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films, recalled the heroism of Sam and Frodo, and kept going. I made it! —and even wrote some poetry from the event.
Author of The Oddest Inkling blog
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Through his writings, Lewis has led me to a deep and practicable faith and to many of the people I love most. It is no exaggeration to repeat what I wrote in my introduction to Mere Christians, a book born at the Wade Center: when I was a child, Lewis sparked my imaginative life; when I became a man, he saved my intellectual life.
Researcher, Speaker, Writer
Editor "Early Prose Joy"
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I consider C.S. Lewis my spiritual father. After reading two or three of his books I experienced a sort of second conversion. This happened twenty years ago and my enthusiasm for his writings and his wisdom has not left me. I think he has much to say to contemporary culture. By speaking and writing about Lewis, I am trying to mediate and cultivate his influence in central European cultural context. It was Lewis who inspired me also to enjoy the wisdom and depth of other writers such as J.R.R. Tolkien and G.K. Chesterton.
Chair of Religious Studies, Protestant Theological Faculty
Prague, Czech Republic