Skip links

A Song of Joy in a Moment of Sadness: A Friend of C.S. Lewis Goes Home

It is a little more than three years since the death of Walter Hooper, the friend and champion of C. S. Lewis. In the tribute to him that I wrote for the Imaginative Conservative at that time, I celebrated “the life and legacy of this remarkable man”. Now, three years later, it is my joyfully solemn honour to pay tribute to the remarkable life and legacy of another great friend and champion of C. S. Lewis who died in the early hours of January 10.

Stan Mattson was not Lewis’s friend in the same way that Walter Hooper was. He never knew Lewis personally and never met him. And yet, as the President and Founder of the C.S. Lewis Foundation, Dr. Mattson did more than anyone other than Walter Hooper himself to champion Lewis’s cause and to guard and guide his legacy.

Dr. Mattson’s journey with Lewis began in 1972, nine years after Lewis’s death. As a 35-year-old assistant professor of history at Gordon College in Massachusetts, he organized a retreat of likeminded Christian scholars at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Simsbury, Connecticut, to address the challenges faced by Christians in an increasingly hostile and secular academic culture. The consensus of those who attended the retreat was that Dr. Mattson should organize an interdisciplinary and interdenominational “mere Christian” community of higher learning. This would become the C. S. Lewis Foundation, which was formally incorporated in 1986. In the following year, at a five-day retreat conference and St. Andrew’s Priory (now Abbey), Dr. Mattson met with others, including the philosopher Dallas Willard and the theologian Paul Ford, to frame the Foundation’s “mere Christian” statement of faith.

From 1988 onwards, the CSL Foundation began running its celebrated triennial Oxbridge Conferences. Varying in length from nine to fourteen days, these are held in Oxford and Cambridge, the two university cities in which Lewis taught. It was at these conferences and at other conferences held by the CSL Foundation in the United States that Stan Mattson and I became friends. I spoke at two or possibly three of the Oxbridge Conferences and at least three conferences held at a woodland retreat in Texas. Our time together at these events afforded us the opportunity to get to know each other. His fortitude in faith and his love for Lewis were inspirational and contagious.

Read more at The Imaginative Conservative 

Share with Friends: