The Institute for Faith & Freedom at Grove City College will host a screening of a new documentary that explores how the crucible of war shaped the friendship of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien and inspired their literary imagination to challenge the dark forces of the 20th century.
“Guns and Good Company” is the first of a five-part series based on Dr. Joseph Loconte’s New York Times 2015 bestseller “A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War.” Loconte is the film’s screenwriter and presenter and will be speaking at the Grove City College premier at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 22 in the Pew Fine Arts Center on campus.
Lewis and Tolkien, giants of 20th century literature, are highly regarded figures on the campus of Grove City College. As well as writing “Mere Christianity” and “The Screwtape Letters” – classics of Christian apologetics – Lewis created the beloved “Chronicles of Narnia,” which along with Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings,” popularized Christian themes and offered permanent truths and values in an age in which both were hard to discern. They also delighted readers the world over.
“So many of our students and even faculty have grown up with Lewis and Tolkien and their wonderful work. This documentary brings the two men—that is, two friends—and their work together in a way that is groundbreaking and fascinating,” IFF Senior Director and Chief Academic Fellow Dr. Paul Kengor, professor of Political Science, said.
Loconte tracks each man’s path to the European battlefields of World War I, where both experienced the futile horror of trench warfare and mourned the loss of their closest friends. As esteemed academics at Oxford they witnessed Europe’s descent again into war and a society turning away from the permanent things – essential moral and religious truths and traditional values.
“The tragedy of these events—the fears and hatreds and horrors they instigated—became a catalyst for one of the most creative and redemptive friendships of modern times. What is more, Lewis and Tolkien composed their epic stories of a battle between good and evil in a society — a ‘waste land’ in the words of T. S. Eliot — that had soured on the ideas of bravery, valor, virtue, and faith,” Loconte said.
As Loconte sees it, the creative friendship between Lewis and Tolkien offers an enduring and inspiring model of cultural leadership in the face of fresh assaults on the political, moral, and religious ideals that shaped Western Civilization and made possible the American experiment in ordered freedom.
“By exploring, with great care and sensitivity, the lives and achievements of Lewis and Tolkien, our film series will reveal how their shared moral vision—lived out in their personal and professional lives—created a new beachhead for ‘the permanent things’ amid a deeply hostile culture,” he said.
The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Visit The Institute for Faith & Freedom at faithandfreedom.com to register. The College requires all visitors to campus to follow Covid-19 mitigation guidelines in place on the date of the event.
To view the trailer for the film series and to learn more about “A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War,” visit: hobbitwardrobe.com.