When I was in Oxford in 2010 it was my quaint pleasure to have a few pints (although not all during the same visit) at the Eagle and Child Pub on St Giles – a pub since 1650, and a favourite meeting place at midday on Tuesdays for nearly two decades of the “Inklings”: C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, Tolkien’s son Christopher, Lewis’ brother Warren (“Warnie”), Owen Barfield, Roger Lancelyn Green, Adam Fox, Hugo Dyson, R. A. “Humphrey” Havard, J. A. W. Bennett, Lord David Cecil, Nevill Coghill, and in the time leading up to Lewis’ death, Walter Hooper. The Inklings would usually meet to discuss pieces of writing that its members were working on, and occasionally to engage in a bit of literary frivolity.
Not long ago I met with fellow Wellingtonian Richard Goode, who blogs over at Eternal Vigilance, at Trax Bar and Café at the Wellington Railway Station. We discussed philosophy (ethics and philosophy of religion) and politics (sensibly, nothing like what you see on New Zealand news media), and I realised again how much I miss that in real life. It’s not exactly the Eagle and Child, I know, but Richard put to me the idea of meeting regularly to discuss a reading and inviting like-minded people to the “New Inklings.” The fact that that day also marked the world premiere of Peter Jackson’s movie adaptation of Tolkien’s The Hobbit seemed to make the suggestion all the more apropos. Richard and I are Christians with a PhD each in philosophy, and the readings would have some connection to one or both of those things at various times; philosophy, theology, biblical interpretation, social and justice issues from a Christian perspective, religion in the public square and probably other things.
We welcome those who would like to meet regularly for similar discussion. You don’t need a PhD, but a somewhat academic background wouldn’t hurt, and you’d certainly need academic interests. Do you have to be a Christian to take part? Well, not all of the original Inklings were (although granted, our subject matter will be a little different from theirs), and provided you’re interested in discussing the above issues with respect, good will and an irenic spirit, feel free to come along. Once we get a few people coming along (future gatherings will be advertised via our respective blogs and social media), we’ll also discuss things like how often we’ll meet in future, perhaps the venue, and such sundry matters.
So – our next meeting is…
When: 5 pm, Wednesday 12 December, 2012
Where: Trax Bar and Cafe, Platform 1, Wellington Railway Station
Topic: Theism, Atheism, and Rationality (a fairly well-known paper by Christian philosopher Alvin Plantinga)
See you there!