Carpenter, Tolkien’s biographer, tells the story of Lewis’s movement toward and into Christianity.

Some of the details of Lewis coming to a theistic position and then subsequently to faith in Jesus Christ as a true Christian, are as follows.

Usually his discussions with Tolkien took place on Monday mornings, when they would talk for an hour or two and then conclude with a visit to the Eastgate, a nearby pub. But on Saturday, September 19, 1931, they met in the evening. Lewis had invited Tolkien to dinner at Magdalen College, and another guest joined them, Hugo Dyson, whom Tolkien had first known at Exeter College in 1919. Dyson was now Lecturer in English Literature at Reading University, and paid frequent visits to Oxford. He was a Christian and a man of keen wit.

After dinner, the three of them took a walk outside. Lewis, who had now come to the place of believing there was a God, could not yet understand the meaning of the crucifixion and resurrection. He declared that he had to understand the purpose of these events. As he later expressed to a friend in a letter—“how the life and death of Someone Else two thousand years ago could help us here and now.”

The three men talked in Lewis’s room until 3:00 am, when Tolkien went home. But Lewis and Dyson continued their talk, walking up and down the street until the sky grew light with the new morning.

Twelve days later, Lewis wrote to his friend, Arthur Greeves: “I have just passed from believing in God to definitely believing in Christ—in Christianity. I will try to explain this another time. My long night talk with Dyson and Tolkien had a great deal to do with it.”

Tolkien had a very creative mind, and saw humor in many things that would then become a part of his poetry and books. He told his sons nightly stories at bedtime about the villain he named Bill Stickers, a huge hulk of a man who always got away with everything. What the boys did not know was the villain’s name was taken from a notice on an Oxford gate that read: “BILL STICKERS WILL BE PROSECUTED”, and a similar source provided the name of the righteous person who was always in pursuit of Stickers—Major Road Ahead. Major Road Ahead was always after Bill Stickers in Tolkien’s evening stories at home.

In 1968, the Tolkiens moved to the village of Poole, adjacent to the town of Bournemouth, and three years later, Edith died in November, at age eighty-two.

Tolkien then returned to Oxford, moving into a small apartment in Merton Street. He was then awarded an honorary doctorate by Oxford University. While on a holiday visit to friends back in Bournemouth, he became ill and died in a nursing home in the early hours of Sunday, September 2, 1973, at age eighty-one.

– Mack Tomlinson

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