This is a tale of those old fears, even of those emptied hells,
And none but you shall understand the true thing that it tells--
Of what colossal gods of shame could cow men and yet crash,
Of what huge devils hid the stars, yet fell at a pistol flash.
G.K. Chesterton, The Man Who Was Thurday, proem
G.K. Chesterton is one of the great essayists of the 20th century, writing with humor, insight, and an often startling profundity. He was a great apologist for the faith, and very influential on later Christian thinkers, including C.S. Lewis. He is best known to most for his companion books, Heresy and Orthodoxy.
Yet his novels are much less well known. This is a shame, and a situation that ought to be corrected. I can make no more compelling argument for this claim than to invite you to read The Man Who Was Thursday with me.
The novel opens unassumingly enough, with the appearance in a quiet London suburb of a poet. Conversation quickly turns to the question of law and anarchy, and our poet finds himself drawn into a web of conspiracy. This is entirely to his liking, for he is in fact an undercover policeman seeking to penetrate this very conspiracy. But what ensues is a journey across the literal and metaphysical landscape of Europe into a reality as impossibly bizarre as it is startlingly real. As the plot twists and twists again the reader is drawn up into a rapture that will remind her of a combination of the best of C.S. Lewis and Agatha Christie.
I can't say more: come and see! This course will meet three times for 1 hour each. We will marvel together and dwell on some of the most arresting aspects of the novel, and, I hope, discover the next set of must-read books for our reading lists.
Next offering TBD
"Shall I tell you the secret of the whole world? It is that we have only known the back of the world. We see everything from behind, and it looks brutal. That is not a tree, but the back of a tree. That is not a cloud, but the back of a cloud. Cannot you see that everything is stooping and hiding a face? If we could only get round in front--"
G.K. Chesterton, The Man Who Was Thursday
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.
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. 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.
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.