Addison’s Walk, Magdelen College, Oxford
“I will not walk with your progressive apes, / erect and sapient. Before them gapes / the dark abyss to which their progress tends / if by God’s mercy progress ever ends, / and does not ceaselessly revolve the same / unfruitful course with changing of a name.” – by J.R.R. Tolkien from the poem “Mythopoeia”, written in response to that night on Addison’s Walk where he challenged C.S. Lewis.
One of my favorite spots in Oxford was Addison’s Walk. It was a welcome escape from the chaotic streets of Oxford. I love people, but I need my breaks from them, too. I found the grounds to be just wild enough to make me feel miles away from city, yet they were comfortable, welcoming, and filled with a benign beauty that soothed. Did I mention the trees? Truth be told, I preferred the simple beauty of the trees to the intricately adorned architecture of the city. We actually got lost on the walk and I am not entirely sure that I would have been disappointed if we remained lost.
Houston Baptist University’s MA in Apologetics students at C.S. Lewis’s home in Oxford with Dr. Holly Ordway (HBU) and Dr. Jonathan Kirkpatrick (resident scholar and host).
“So then, I, the prisoner in the Lord, urge you to behave yourselves in a way that is worthy of the calling with which you are called. I urge you to behave with all humility, and gentleness, and patience. I urge you to bear with one another in love. I urge you eagerly to preserve that unity which the Holy Spirit can bring by binding things together in peace.” Ephesians 4:1-3
We spoke of love for our Lord Jesus Christ, though our words were different. It was that love and a desire to reach our broken culture that inspired our group of Master’s level apologetics students from diverse Christian traditions to trek across the Atlantic to Oxford, England for lectures and fellowship. Amid the awe-inspiring architecture and sumptuous gardens of the city of “dreaming spires”, we met to learn about a small band of believers from similarly diverse backgrounds that had gone before us in the endeavor to draw others to Christ – the Inklings. Unity in Christ formed a bond for both the Inklings and our small band of merry travelers. Would we be able to overcome our differences and work towards a common goal, as the Inklings had done? Given its history of religious conflict, England was quite an interesting place to explore an answer to that question.
Addison’s Walk with Magdalen College in the background.
“Philomythus to Misomythus” by J.R.R. Tolkien (after a long night’s talk with C.S. Lewis and Hugo Dyson on Addison’s Walk – read more here)
To one [C.S. Lewis] who said that myths were lies and therefore worthless, even though ‘breathed through silver’.
You look at trees and label them just so,
(for trees are ‘trees’, and growing is ‘to grow’);
you walk the earth and tread with solemn pace
one of the many minor globes of Space:
a star’s a star, some matter in a ball
compelled to courses mathematical
amid the regimented, cold, inane,
where destined atoms are each moment slain.
The Chapel at Wadham College, University of Oxford
“Broaden your mind, Malcolm, broaden your mind! It takes all sorts to make a world; or a church. This may be even truer of a church. If grace perfects nature it must expand all our natures into the full richness of the diversity which God intended when He made them, and heaven will display far more variety than hell. ” – C.S. Lewis, “Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer”, 1964
This is one of my favorite college chapels in Oxford (if one can have a favorite). What is its connection to this quote from Lewis’s “Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer”? Let me explain.