Above Us Only Sky? Malcolm Guite and Michael Ward Discuss the Cosmos with Dante and Lewis

Above Us Only Sky? Malcolm Guite and Michael Ward Discuss the Cosmos with Dante and Lewis September 29, 2018

An unusual type of tourist is seen visiting ESO’s La Silla Observatory in this stunning wide-angle photograph taken in January 2015. Captured by ESO Photo Ambassador Petr Horálek, Comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy) appears to streak across the sky (centre left of the image), sneaking past the two telescopes below: ESO’s 3.6-metre telescope (left) and the Swedish-ESO Submillimetre Telescope (SEST). Like most comets, Comet Lovejoy enjoys a long, elliptical and eccentric orbit around the Sun. It entered the inner Solar System for the first recorded time in 2014, and reached perihelion — its closest approach to the Sun — on 30 January 2015. The distance between the Earth and the Sun is defined as 1 astronomical unit (au), or just under 150 million kilometres; Comet Lovejoy came within 1.29 au of our star, placing it between the orbits of Earth and Mars (1.52 au). This image displays the characteristic soft green glow of the comet, produced as molecules of carbon are heated by the Sun. A tail of material splays out behind the comet’s nucleus, crafted by gas and dust blown from the comet by the wind of charged particles streaming out from the Sun. This comet is actually the fifth to be discovered by its namesake, Terry Lovejoy, an amateur astronomer based in Queensland, Australia. Lovejoy previously discovered comets C/2007 E2, C/2007 K5, C/2011 W3, and C/2013 R1. CC by SA 4.0

Ordinary Time
Michaelmas 2018
The Edge of Elfland
Concord, New Hampshire

Dearest Readers,

Those of you who have been receiving these letters for a while now will know that lately I’ve become rather a fan of Malcolm Guite and Michael Ward. Guite––an Anglican priest, folk musician and rockstar, poet, and more––has become one of my favorite modern poets and is my favorite scholar of the Inklings. Ward’s Planet Narnia has been so formative on my work as a scholar that it has prompted my current book (on which I am still working), Reclaiming the Discarded Image (a shout out, at last, to Matthew Rothaus Moser who suggested that title to me).

Well, for those who don’t already know, Ward and Guite have been traveling around the continental United States lately. One of their talks, “Above Us Only Sky? Reimagining the Cosmos with Dante and C. S. Lewis,” given at Duke as part of the Duke Initiative in Theology and Arts has been recorded and can be listened to on soundcloud. Both speakers give wonderful talks about their authors (Guite on Dante, Ward on Lewis) and how they conceived of the universe. They also discuss how their authors might have responded to the new discoveries concerning the universe.

This talk, just over an hour and a half in length, is most definitely worth your time. And don’t worry, you don’t need to be a Dante expert, nor have read Ward’s excellent book, Planet Narnia, in order to understand their talks. Although, I do recommend reading Ward’s book and Dante.


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