In late July 2022, Brynn Sowder set off for Oxford to learn more about “Intellectual Hospitality.”. Cultivating Intellectual Hospitality in an Age of Uncertainty was this year’s theme for OxBridge, The C.S. Lewis Foundation's Summer Institute. The theme was inspired by the Inklings and their desire to “engage with one another with the goal of greater understanding.”
In 2018 I had the privilege of visiting C.S. Lewis’ home in Oxford, England. He lived in The Kilns for the last 30 years of his life and wrote his most notable works in his study. The C.S. Lewis Foundation was responsible for the restoration of the home in the 90s and hosts tours and scholars in residence year-round. I learned during that trip about the Foundation’s Summer Institute, OxBridge. The conference is held every three years and I had just missed the 2017 conference. I had all but forgotten about the conference until this past spring when I got an email that registration was open, the 2020 event was postponed twice and finally taking place this summer. Thanks to the school’s Mulder Faculty Scholarship and a grant from the C.S. Lewis Foundation, I was able to attend the conference.
In late July I set off for Oxford to learn more about “Intellectual Hospitality”. Cultivating Intellectual Hospitality in an Age of Uncertainty was this year’s theme for OxBridge. The theme was inspired by the Inklings and their desire to “engage with one another with the goal of greater understanding,” which is intellectual hospitality as defined by Diana Glyer. Intellectual hospitality was on full display throughout the conference. Over 200 of us shared meals together, enjoyed daily tea time, listened to speakers and musicians, attended a hymn sing at Lewis’ parish church, and participated in breakout workshops. I developed friendships with a pastor and his wife from Virginia, a lawyer from Texas, a middle school teacher from California, and an accountant from Arizona. We were united by our Christian faith and love for Lewis.
As I flew home I considered how we could cultivate this in our school, but I realized we’ve been doing it all along. Classical education offers us endless opportunities to cultivate intellectual hospitality. We teach our students to ask good questions, to seek understanding, to listen with humility, and to engage in fruitful discussions. We stand in the art gallery and discover the story the artist was trying to tell. We read good books and immerse ourselves in the characters’ lives and experiences. We walk along the trails and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation. I’m so thankful that I was afforded the opportunity to attend this conference so my eyes could be opened to the ways intellectual hospitality flows through our school.
- Brynn Sowder, Faith Christian School Librarian and Nature Studies Teacher