Listening In: Joe Loconte

WARREN SMITH, HOST: I’m Warren Smith, and today you will be listening in on my conversation with professor and author Dr. Joseph Loconte.

Joe Loconte is a professor of history at The King’s College in New York City, and he’s the author of a number of great books, including one that we’ll be talking about today, A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War: How JRR Tolkien and C.S. Lewis Rediscovered Faith, Friendship, and Heroism in the Cataclysm of 1914-1918. But before we talk about that book, we’re gonna talk about another of Joe Loconte’s passions, and that is religious liberty and the importance of the Bible to America’s founding. In fact, Joe Loconte has gone so far as to say that along with the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, the Bible is America’s third founding document. He’s taking that story around the country in a series of lectures hosted by the American Bible Society. He was recently in Charlotte where I sat down with him to discuss both his work with religious liberty and his passion for Lewis and Tolkien.

Joe, it’s great to see you again, after… It’s been a couple of years maybe since we’ve chatted with each other and been together face to face. And now though we’re on my native soil, Charlotte, North Carolina. We’ve always met on your native soil, either Washington or New York.

JOE LOCONTE, GUEST: Feels like the south.

SMITH: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. So let me just begin there and let’s talk about why you’re here in Charlotte, North Carolina. I know it’s for an event with the American Bible Society.

LOCONTE: Yeah. Well thanks for the opportunity to be on the show here, Warren. Great to see you again. Yeah, the American Bible Society, we’ve got an event down here, it’s a lecture dinner event and I’ll be talking about the theme of freedom and why the Scripture, the Bible really can be considered America’s third founding document. The Constitution, the Declaration, and the Bible, central to the American story. We’ll be talking about that tonight.

SMITH: Well, since a lot of our listeners will not be able to hear you tonight, I know you don’t want to spill all of your candy in the lobby, so to speak, for people to pick up. But give us a little taste of that. Why do you say that? What’s the case for that assertion?

LOCONTE: Yeah. And it’s, the problem that we have today is we have a very historically inattentive audience. We don’t remember things very well. And we also have a new generation of what — I would say a new generation of Voltaires. Voltaire was that great French philosopher, skeptic who considered Christianity kind of a scourge, who considered religion and the Bible, the enemy of human dignity, human freedom, natural rights, and all the rest of it. But that was the French Revolution. The American Revolution was very different. And in the American Revolution, faith and freedom went hand in hand. And the Bible had a huge role to play in the whole revolutionary movement, the Declaration of Independence, the foundation of our country in so many ways.

SMITH: Well, you alluded to Voltaire. You say we have many modern Voltaires and I think it’s pretty easy for a lot of our listeners to, from their own memory, from their own recollection, if they’ve been following the news, to know that that’s true, right? I mean, we have in public opinion polls the so called rise of the nones, where people who believe in nothing are having a bigger … they’re showing up more in polls. We have the new atheists, the people like Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens and others, who I guess might be providing leadership for these modern day Voltaires. So I can understand that. But again, make the case a little bit more directly for the other side—the difference between the American revolution and the French Revolution. If these are the descendants of the French revolution who are the descendants of the American Revolution?

LOCONTE: I mean the real descendents, if you think about every important social reform movement in the United States from the revolutionary era to the present, every revolutionary movement, every step forward, every step forward in progress, in human dignity, in human rights, civil rights, every one of those movements, virtually, is either led by or inspired by people of deep Christian conviction. And what we’ll do here tonight at the American Bible Society event is we’ll talk about some of those key historical figures, right from the founding. Even before the founding. William Penn is a terrific example. I mean William Penn makes the great case for freedom of conscience and founds a colony, Pennsylvania, the state of Pennsylvania based on these Biblical principles. And it becomes a model for the rest of the colonies.

SMITH: Well, I’ve been to Philadelphia and I have seen where this Faith and Freedom Center for the American Bible Society is going to go.

LOCONTE: It’s tremendous.

SMITH: It is tremendous, and of course that’s, you know, when you mentioned William Penn, he’s unavoidable when you are there in that space. The other thing that was interesting to me, whenever I toured the American Bible Society headquarters, was to see the photograph of John Jay, who was not only a chief justice of the United States Supreme Court, but also one of the founders of the American Bible Society.

LOCONTE: That’s exactly right. The forgotten history. We’ll look at another figure, John Quincy Adams, you know, one of our presidents. Lifelong student of the Bible and also a vice president of the American Bible Society for decades. And John Quincy Adams, not coincidentally in my mind, was one of the first major political leaders to take a stand for abolition. This is in the 1830s. This is after he’d stepped down from office of the presidency. And now he’s a congressman and he’s fighting for equal rights and the equal dignity of African-American slaves. And that goes back, I believe it’s clear, from his own nurturing in the scriptures.

SMITH: Well Joe, I don’t have to tell you that we’re fighting religious liberty battles today, right? I mean, a lot of them are sort of around human sexuality. That’s sort of one species. Another species are just folks like these modern day Voltaires who view religions, Christianity specifically, as a scourge and want to abolish it from the public square. So what could we learn from what you studied about our founding to help us with some of these issues today?

LOCONTE: Yes. Excellent question, Warren. And I think if there’s one principle that seems to me, that helps to explain the success of the American experiment, meaning our ability to have such a religiously diverse country with an amazing degree of stability, political and social stability. What explains that? Equal justice under the law for people of all religious beliefs or of no religious belief. So we treat people equally in the eyes of the law and we respect their deepest held religious convictions in the public space.

SMITH: Well, and we do that, I think you would argue, and I’m going to argue it right now and you can refute me if I’m wrong, we do that because we believe that each human is made in the image and likeness of God and for that reason alone is worthy of dignity.

LOCONTE: Yes. I mean, that has always been the strongest foundation that seems to me for religious freedom, for equal rights, for making any claim for human dignity is to ground it in something transcendent and belief in God. It can be done outside of that. It has been done. There are many agnostics and secular people who will make an argument for human dignity. But boy, oh boy, you really can’t build this democratic republic on the backs of our atheist friends. It’s not going to work. You’ve got to go back to something transcendent, something deeply rooted, I think, in a religious tradition.

SMITH: Well, one of the ways that the Founding Fathers ensconced that idea into the other two founding documents, not the Bible, but the other two founding documents, was in the First Amendment to the Constitution, where we have freedom of the press, we have freedom of assembly, we have freedom of speech side by side in the same amendment with religious liberty. So therefore, would it be fair to say that they’re inseparable?

LOCONTE: Yes. I would even augment what you said in this way. When Madison, who was the great architect of the Constitution and the First Amendment in particular, when Madison puts religious liberty as the first of those freedoms in the First Amendment, he does that, I think, for a philosophical and theological reason. Meaning freedom of conscience is the foundational freedom because think about the other freedoms, speech, assembly, petitioning the government, they grow out of our conscience, our sense of what’s right and wrong, informed by our religious beliefs. So freedom of conscience is the prior freedom. It helps to make possible all the other freedoms, and the founders understood that. The current crop of Voltaires do not.

SMITH: So in other words, is it also fair to say then that if we compromise or undermine any one of those freedoms than we will undermine them all?

LOCONTE: I like the way you’re connecting the dots. That is the logic of ignoring the ordering in the First Amendment and the importance of religious liberty. That will be the natural consequences. How are you going to protect freedom of speech and freedom of assembly at the end of the day, if you don’t respect freedom of conscience, religious conscience? They are exactly intimately connected as you suggest.

SMITH: Well, Joe, riddle me this, so to speak. You know, in the 1760s and 70s and 80s, whenever these ideas were being argued and then ultimately codified in the Declaration of Independence and in our Constitution, I think it would be fair to say, but maybe it’s not—you correct me—that there was a consensus around some of these issues that you and I are discussing. That sense of the transcendent, a sense of God ordering the universe was a consensus among most of the American people that the Voltaires of that world were a minority and even a small minority. Today, it’s not so much the case. Today, you know, there are many more skeptics. We live in a much more diverse and pluralistic world. Are the threats to religious liberty and the ideas in the First Amendment of the Constitution, the ideas in the Bible, under greater threat today or not? Were there threats even in that era that were just, that is also a part of our forgotten history?

LOCONTE: That’s a terrific question. It’s a huge question. And I’m a humble historian, not a great political philosophy, but I’ll try to unpack it a little bit for you. You’re absolutely right to suggest that there was a consensus about the idea of a moral God who governs the universe to whom we are accountable. So freedom never existed in the American mindset apart from responsibilities. Freedom and virtue went hand in hand right from the outset. And Thomas Jefferson believed that as deeply as a John Adams or a Reverend Witherspoon, the evangelical minister who signed the Declaration. They all held to that consensus, a moral God who has given us his eternal commandments, which we are accountable to obey or not. So yeah, that consensus has eroded massively, and the huge question before us now is without that kind of shared moral religious consensus, how do we protect what we have in our Constitution? How do we safeguard it? It’s a question I’m not sure how to answer it except an appeal to something like natural rights and natural law and conscience, which, if you have a good biblical anthropology, you’re going to say, wait a minute. Men and women were deeply fallen, but we still bear the image of God. And what can that possibly mean if it doesn’t include a conscience, a moral sense. So I think we’ve got to figure out how to make arguments that maybe they didn’t have to make 200 years ago that are more morally based, less explicitly Biblically based, but can still quicken the conscience and shame people where they need to be shamed, but also inspire them where they need to be inspired.

SMITH: Joe, you suggested just a few moments ago that one of the antidotes, possibly, for this pathology that we are see in our culture today is learning to make new arguments, learning to make natural law arguments or other kinds of arguments that might be more palatable to a culture that doesn’t have an explicitly Christian worldview or even a memory of a Christian worldview. It seems to me that another way is to do what you’re doing, which is to go make lectures around the country to sort of educate the Christians, you know, to be equipped to go do what they’re doing. You’re teaching at The King’s College. That’s another way that you’re doing that. I mean, for folks that are listening to us who probably already are Christians mostly and share many of the ideas, those activities are important, right?

LOCONTE: Yes, they are. I think one of the most important things we can do is simply to remember. Because the discipline of memory is what the historian is engaged in all the time, and it can be a gateway to renewal. A gateway to faith is simply remember properly our own history.

SMITH: Well, of course that’s a biblical idea as well. Remember the book of Hebrews, right in there. It’s a constant remembering, remember, remember what God has done for you. Remember the great men and women who’ve come before us and their example. 

LOCONTE: And of course the Christian practice given to us by our Lord, remember me every Sunday in the symbols, in this cup, with this bread, right? Remembrance. But we also have a civic task to remember. To remember this incredible inheritance that has been given to us that can be lost if it’s not passed onto the next generation. So for example, it’s good for my friends, whether they’re in the Christian camp or outside of that camp, to remember that people like the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr, who we all admire. We have a national holiday based on him. It’s not just that he was a minister, a Christian minister who believed the Bible, that’s all true. But he also understood how the Scriptures were integral to the American story. So we’ll talk tonight here at the American Bible Society lecture, we’ll talk about his Letter from Birmingham Jail, where he explicitly takes you through some of that Western history. The history of civil disobedience, from the Old Testament right up to the American fight for independence and calling us back to our highest ideals, highest Christian ideal. So if we like people like the Reverend Martin Luther King and what they accomplish and what they fought for, what they were able to do, well, we can’t separate them from their deeply held Biblical beliefs. That’s not a bad way to introduce people, it seems to me, to the Scriptures.

SMITH: Yeah. Well, no, it’s a beautiful way, it seems to me. So, again, just kind of, you know, pushing back or pressing into that a little bit more deeply then. Remembering is important. Educating ourselves. Equipping ourselves with the ideas that you’re going to share tonight so that we don’t have to have Dr. Joe with us whenever we’re talking to our neighbors over the barbecue grill or over the back fence. What else? Anything else that you could suggest?

LOCONTE: Well, you know, each of us becoming, I think, sort of better storytellers. Where we see the grace and the kindness, the mercy of God played out in our lives. Or where we see it in a film, on a screen. There are still moments in everyday life where the truths of Scripture, whether it has to do with human dignity, human freedom, freedom of conscience, the idea that life has a meeting that, that love has a transcendent source and purpose. All those deeply Christian ideas, we see them played out in different ways in our culture. Every once in a while, for example, Hollywood will get it right. And we can have that conversation, right?

SMITH: But not often, unfortunately. And that does provide a little bit of a transition, if you will. A nice segue, so thank you for that, Joe, to talk about another of your passions. And that passion is a storyteller, or I should say two storytellers, JRR Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. You wrote a book called A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War: How JRR Tolkien and C.S. Lewis Rediscovered Faith, Friendship, and Heroism Amid the Cataclysm of 1914-1918. Better known as the First World War. So that idea of storytelling permeates this book. It permeates their lives. It permeates what you’re trying to, I guess, celebrate in this book. And in a minute we’ll talk about how you’re also making a movie, which is a segue or to traffic on your Hollywood comment. But before we get there, let’s talk about the book. Why these two guys and what was the importance of World War I in the lives of these two men?

LOCONTE: Thank you for asking the question Warren and give me the opportunity on this. I mean, I never intended to write a book about Tolkien or Lewis because there’s so many good books out there about them already. But as a history professor at The King’s College, when I finally understood how cataclysmic the First World War was, particularly to the Europeans, how it just disrupted all of European society and opened up European society to all kinds of evils, communism, fascism, scientism, eugenics, all of that is coming into its own in the aftermath of the First World War. And that’s when Tolkien and Lewis are coming into their own as academics at Oxford. When I discovered that fact that both these men had fought in the trenches in France, both survived that, the light goes on in your head and you think, wait a minute. That had to be an utterly transformative experience for them just like it was for an entire generation of men. Let’s see how that might have influenced their literary works, their imagination.

SMITH: Well, you said they were coming of age as academics, but you also mentioned that they fought in the trenches. In other words that while they were coming of age intellectually, they were not spared the horrors of war. I mean, these were not guys that were sort of in the back office somewhere sending other people into battle. I think Tolkien in particular was in the trenches. Is that correct?

LOCONTE: Both of them were. There’s a line from Napoleon I just read the other day. Napoleon said, if you went to understand a man, look at the world when he was 20. Well, C.S. Lewis arrived in the trenches when he was 19, on his 19th birthday. Tolkien is 24 when he gets into the Somme, the battle of the Somme on July 1st, 1916. Its the bloodiest single day in British military history. Tolkien will arrive in that battle which goes on for months. He’ll arrive within a couple of weeks after it starts. So he is in the thick of it. Lewis is in the thick of it. And some of their closest friends are perishing in that conflict.

SMITH: Well, and you can see that in their work, right? I mean, you know, in The Lord of the Rings, for example, some of the great, the most powerful scenes, the most memorable scenes, are those scenes of battle, those scenes of war. And the same with The Chronicles of Narnia and maybe to a lesser extent in The Space Trilogy because it’s a kind of a different kind of a book. But, I mean, that war not only shaped their psyche and their development as human beings, but it also shaped their imagination as artists as well.

LOCONTE: That’s exactly right, Warren, and it did at a couple different levels, I think, the war. It influenced them. It gave them a kind of realism about human life, about combat. And you see the realism played out on their pages. So, for example, the approach to the Dead Marshes, through the Dead Marshes to Mordor that Sam and Frodo are taking so they can destroy the ring, the ring of power. And when Sam trips and falls and he looks down into the muck and the mire and he sees the dead faces, the dead faces in the water, well I’ll tell you, we went to the spot where Tolkien fought, 100 years ago. My film team and I working on this whole documentary. A hundred years ago, that spot, it was a crater filled with water in that area. And in those craters filled with water, the craters that were created by the bombshells, you’d have men, soldiers with their packs. They would be injured. They would slip into those craters and they would perish. And they would lie there undisturbed for days or weeks at a time only to be found. And so his description of the Dead Marshes and finding those bodies there, it matches precisely what any man would have experienced at the Somme. So there’s a kind of bitter realism that you see at that level we can talk about.

SMITH: Well, I want to talk more about your book and more about them and the film, but I do want to maybe bring us back to the original conversation. Because one of the points that you make in your book, and I’m not sure what you’re going to do in your movie with this idea, but is not too dissimilar from the idea that we introduced our conversation with, this idea of the difference between the French Revolution and the American Revolution. That in some ways the American Revolution was born out of a Christian worldview and the French Revolution was born out of the European enlightenment worldview in some ways. And now fast forward to the 20th century and you’ve got war thought about by many people as an instrument of progress. That progressivism was an important part. That war was the cost of progress, I believe is the way you put it in your book. Can you say more about that?

LOCONTE: Yeah, there definitely is what C.S. Lewis and others called the myth of progress. The idea right up to the eve of the first world war, that because of industrialization, because of all these amazing inventions that are coming on line at the turn of the century, from the automobile to the vacuum cleaner, they’re all coming on line. That technological progress must equal or imply human progress, moral progress, spiritual progress. And so we are kind of ripening toward perfection, evolving toward a higher state, and that war itself, well, they’ll either be short, tidy wars and things will be better at the end or we’ll actually achieve perpetual peace. Those ideas are in the air right up to 1914, and then we get the trenches and the mortars and the machine guns and the flame throwers and all the rest of it. And the myth of progress is going to take a severe beating. It’s not going to be destroyed, but it’s going to take a severe beating.

SMITH: Well, I guess we could also, as you know, 21st century Christians look back on that and say how important a Christian worldview is. Right? Because we have the American experiment founded on the ideas of a Christian worldview that we were all made in the image of likeness and God and have an inherent dignity, but we also live in a broken world. Thus the separation of powers, thus the checks and balances that are built into the American founding documents. Contrasted with that other view of progress and technology and sort of almost an idolatrous belief in them, and if we’re really learning those lessons of history, if we’re remembering, as you were encouraging us to do, we should return to the Scriptural ideas and not to these enlightenment ideas.

LOCONTE: That’s exactly right, Warren, and I’m glad you raised the point again. The French Enlightenment. You could argue this myth of progress is perfectly consistent with the French secular enlightenment idea. The American Enlightenment was different than the French Enlightenment. It’s still had kind of a strong connection to the scriptures. It was tempered. It was restrained. It wasn’t this sort of unbridled optimism and utopianism like the French Revolution was. There was a kind of a Christian realism, I would argue, to the American revolution, the founding, which I think up until recently we’ve kind of hung onto. We’re struggling with it in a major way in our society right now, there’s no question about it. But that doesn’t mean we can’t recall that history, recall that realism and set a path toward renewal and reform. You’ve got to go back to the founding principles, principles that work from the Scriptures, from our own political constitution, our DNA. I think in our political DNA is a kind of Christian realism. And if we don’t get back to that, we’re going to go the French route [laughter] and that’s going to be, I don’t know about the guillotine, but it’s gonna get ugly. Let’s put it that way.

SMITH: Well, Joe, I want to return to your book A Hobbit, A Wardrobe, and a Great War for a couple of reasons. One is because I found the book really nourishing and fascinating. Number two, you said something earlier when we were talking about, you know, kind of what we could do today. You said we’ve got to remember, and the other thing you said was we’ve got to be better storytellers. Well, probably no better example today for us as Christians on what storytelling in a Christian context would look like than Lewis and Tolkien.

LOCONTE: That’s right. That’s right. They have no peer, do they? In the 21st century. Hardly had peers in the 20th century. And I think in part, Warren, that goes back to what they were grounded in and rooted in themselves. They were rooted in a classical Christian tradition. That was the education they got in their English prep schools. They are reading all those great works. Homer. Virgil. They’re reading Augustan, Aquinas. They are steeped in these amazing stories about heroism but also a kind of, again, a Christian realism that it is embedded in their work.

SMITH: Well, that’s right. I mean even Lewis who became a Christian later in life, shall we say, he was doing what you were suggesting. He was remembering. I mean, his academic interests were 400 years old.

LOCONTE: That’s right. That’s right. He’s a medieval scholar.

SMITH: Well, that’s right. Exactly.

LOCONTE: And I think as Lewis put it himself, I’ll have to paraphrase him, he says, if you have that kind of historian’s instinct it protects you from the great cataract of nonsense, as Lewis put it, that pours forth from the microphone of our age.

SMITH: And he introduced us to the idea, at least many of us, to the idea of chronological arrogance, right? Believing, again, it was believing, cautioned us against believing too much in this myth of progress, of thinking that we’ve got it figured out today. And those ancients were backward or not as knowledgeable. And in some cases they weren’t as knowledgeable in things like science, but that they were—because of that—in some way morally or spiritually inferior to us.

LOCONTE: Think about those two men, again, their lives shaped by the First World War and then they’re going to face a Second World War. So their lives are bracketed by war in a way that none of us has that memory. There’s no one alive who can say that, that their lives were shaped by two world wars. Their lives were. So they got to see all the Utopian promises play out in the aftermath of the First World War: communism and fascism and scientism and all the rest of it. They saw, where does it lead? It leads to the absolute degradation of the human person. And it led ultimately to a second global conflict. So they were sobered by all that. And you can’t miss it when you read their works. It’s not a coincidence that they begin writing their great works in the late 1930s.

SMITH: Well, yeah. And they didn’t come out or start to become really popular until the 40s and 50s. So I think that’s why a lot of people thought that those books were about World War II. And I don’t think that, you know, you can completely dismiss that idea. But the thing that I loved about your book was just the sort of recovering that understanding of those books rooted in the First World War and not the Second World War.

LOCONTE: Yes, yes. And back to the theme also of power and the abuse of power, which is an ancient problem. That Tolkien and Lewis understood from their being grounded in the classical Christian tradition. And then of course what they lived through. Tolkien was once accused of The Lord of the Rings being simply a sort of a metaphor for the atom bomb. The ring, the ring of power being a symbol of atomic power and Tolkien set them straight.

He said, no, of course the ring is not a metaphor for atomic power, but of power exerted for domination. He says that’s what the book is about. Power exerted for domination. Well, those men saw that up close in the trenches in the First World War. And then as they lived through the Second World War. That’s a sober realism about the human condition, which I think is deeply Biblical and it’s not an accident. That Tolkien is a believing Catholic. Lewis, as you suggested, becomes a Christian much later in life through the help of JRR Tolkien in a major way, we should say.

SMITH: Well, can you talk about that conversion and Tolkien’s role in that conversion? Because I think it in some ways relates to their storytelling, right? I mean, it was Lewis’s growing awareness of God as it was playing out in ways that were, I guess, you could say, not wholly rational or not totally wholly intellectual, but were sort of springing out of the truth that he had learned from a lifetime of reading great stories.

LOCONTE: Yes, that’s exactly right because it’s hard to see who else other than Tolkien could’ve spoken into Lewis’ life the way that he did because they both love the ancient myths, the medieval and ancient myths. The stories. And a lot of those stories had to do with great sacrifice, heroism, a god or gods who die and then come back to life, the idea of this mythic God coming back to life. Lewis was captivated by those stories and he put Christianity in the same camp. It’s just another ancient myth. There’s no truth value to it. It’s a pleasing, exciting story maybe. And what Tolkien helps them to see on a fall night in 1931—they’re talking until three in the morning on Addison’s Walk there at Oxford. I’ve been on that little trail where they walked. It’s a beautiful little trail. They were talking about myth and the power of myth and what Tolkien helps Lewis understand is yes, Lewis, you love all these other myths except when you find them in the Christian story, and he says the Christian story.

It isn’t myth is the myth that became fact, that myth, that became fact. That was the intellectual breakthrough for he says, and he. He goes on to say that that conversation was Tolkien was the immediate human cause of his conversion to Christianity. Wow. That’s a friendship. That is a transformative friendship may be the most influential friendship of the 20th century. If you think about the influence both those men have had on so many lives. Well it is, and it’s. I mean, there’s so much in that, right? I mean, it talks about the power of friendship. The power of storytelling is obviously bound up in there. You know, it’s, it’s interesting to me. I can’t help but think about an earlier book that you did, which I found very nourishing about the story of Jesus on the road to a mess. Right? And, and in that story that which I love so much is that it’s after Jesus has resurrected, he’s walking towards him, his with some men who do not recognize him much the way that Lewis and Tolkien were having that late night.

And then when they got to their home and mas, they broke bread and suddenly their eyes were opened and later they said, did not our hearts burn within us there. There’s just so much. I mean, you can almost see that I’m percolating in Louis for a long time until Tolkien finally connected the dots in the same way that Jesus connected the dots for those mental ill, right Warren, I mean, I love that phrase, and Luke were not our hearts burning within us when he spoke with us on the road and opened the scriptures to us. What Lewis described that his life from his youngest days was the feeling of longing or joy and he couldn’t shake it, and even when he’s a hardened atheist, he can’t shake this sense, the stabs of joy and longing, and he couldn’t come to the conclusion that it meant nothing and token help them to see that it didn’t mean nothing and that was transformative for them.

And that’s what great storytelling does, doesn’t it? It stirs up longing, it stirs up the sense of joy, that desire to be in the fall off country and no one did it better than Tolkien and Lewis. So if, if we can bring that story to a wider audience, I hope to do, but both with the book and what the film, then you know, there’s a God in heaven if we can do that, well, there is a god in heaven. So I so agreed. Agreed. So I’m hopeful that you’ll be able to do that. So let’s talk about that a little bit and I mean the book has been out for a couple of years now and it’s a wonderful book and established much. I found it very nourishing as I find much of what you write to be nourishing Joe, but talk about the movie project five one hour episode.

So let’s say more about it. That’s the plan. It’ll be, it’ll be called the Hobbit, a wardrobe, and a great war. Five episodes about an hour each. We hope to show them money. The Netflix or or whichever a movie vendor there we can get. We are in production now. We’ve made a couple of trips to the UK, to France to do some interviews with some amazing people, some people who knew C.S. Lewis and we hope to get to people who knew token, but also a onsite location shots where these men live, the places that were important to them when they were in combat in the war. And then of course at Oxford and elsewhere. So what the film is going to try to do is unpack this amazing story. If I had to boil it down to three words, I give you these three words. It’s a story about war, friendship, and imagination because it’s the first world war. And then the onset of a second world war really that makes possible this remarkable friendship between these two incredible authors, Christian authors, and it’s their friendship that makes possible the creation of their great imaginative works that have had such an influence on so many people. So it’s war, friendship, and imagination. I think it’s an incredibly encouraging, profoundly moving story to tell. I hope we can do it justice.

(Photo/Joseph Loconte)

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