"They were falling out of heaven, into a world. Nothing in all his adventures bit so deeply into Ransom's mind as this. He wondered how he could ever have thought of planets, even of the Earth, as islands of life and reality floating in a deadly void. Now, with a certainty which never after deserted him, he saw the planets -- the 'earths' he called them in his thought -- as mere holes or gaps in the living heaven -- excluded and rejected wastes of heavy matter and murky air, formed not by addition to, but subtraction from, the surrounding brightness."
C.S. Lewis, Out of the Silent Planet
Most readers are acquainted with Lewis' masterful Chronicles of Narnia; many fewer are familiar with his other major fictional series, The Cosmic Trilogy, comprised of the novels Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength. And, among those who have delighted in the pages of The Cosmic Trilogy, many fewer still have been equipped to deeply mine its riches.
The Cosmic Trilogy is a deeply erudite work, grounded in Lewis' scholarly understanding of the Medieval conception of the heavens. And yet, the story is accessible and compelling: at times delightful, at times dreadful, but always captivating. It is an easy story to enjoy, but it is a story that also benefits from a guide.
In this course, we will read all three novels of The Cosmic Trilogy, with attention given to the philosophical and theological dimensions of this magnificent "modern fairy-tale for grown-ups" (as Lewis says of the last book).
Next Offering TBA
$500 / student
I came to the C.S. Lewis’ Cosmic Trilogy class with an expectation of academic rigor, thoughtful teaching, and imagination-opening conversation. Dr. Johnson delivered this and more! He brought these texts alive in a way that I could not have imagined, and he made me think about implications for my life. [Even though I had read The Cosmic Trilogy before, Dr. Johnson did a masterful job of bringing out the redemptive work of Christ as shown in the Ransom character throughout the trilogy and gave me a greater understanding of Lewis’ philosophy and writing.] This class took me far beyond a simple reading of the text, into a world of wonder and a desire for deeper understanding of the great mysteries of our world and the stories that we tell about them.
"C.S. Lewis’s _Chronicles of Narnia_ has always been for me ground zero of the imagination. Since the first moment the first book was read to me in kindergarten, I have returned to it at regular intervals. Every adult should reread the Chronicles every couple of years to be reminded of the child they were and still must, in some significant sense, be. These books will teach bravery, integrity, and loyalty. But they also teach the cost of betrayal, the terrible price that can fall on others because of one’s actions, and the indescribable clash of joy and horror at seeing one much worthier than you pay the debt you owe. They teach that beauty and goodness are terrifying and unsafe, but nevertheless desirable. They teach that it is not courage but silliness to stand when you should kneel in awe, and that there is no distance you can fall from which you cannot be lifted if you will let yourself be undone first. There are perhaps no books in all of literature I would recommend more highly than these" ("A Dragon in the Hand is Worth Two in the Bush" in Wild Things and Castles in the Sky: A Guide to Choosing the Best Books for Children).
Participating in a course led by Dr. Junius Johnson is a wonderful journey of exploration, seeking hidden gems in unexpected places. It is an opportunity to learn to look deeper than the surface, both in reading and in the mundane of life. A delightful feast for the mind that lasts far beyond the actual banquet.
Junius Johnson's seminars discover wonder and pathos revealed in dragon stories down through the ages.
Every time I hear Junius Johnson speak, I walk away asking: "Did I forget how exciting and joyful the life of the mind can be?”
A deep perspective on the human need for wonder, and the essential desire for things powerful and uncontrollable.