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Christian Union: The Magazine
December 21, 2021

Dr. Flanigan, Infectious Disease Specialist, Speaks at CU Libertas Series

By Tom Campisi, Managing Editor

In November, the CU Libertas’ Leadership Lecture Series featured Dr. Timothy Flanigan, a member of the Division of Infectious Diseases at The Miriam and Rhode Island Hospitals and Alpert Medical School of Brown University. His message was entitled “Faith, Suffering, and Practicing Medicine in the Midst of the Pandemic.”

In addition to his lecture and Q and A session with CU Libertas, Flanigan also blessed students with Christian Union by offering free admission at a Providence cinema for a showing of The Most Reluctant Convert: The Untold Story of C.S. Lewis.

1 CSMax McLean in "The Most Reluctant Convert: The Untold Story of C.S. Lewis"

For the last ten years, Flanigan has taught a very popular and somewhat unconventional course at Brown University, Beyond Narnia: The Literature of C.S. Lewis. The upperclassmen course, taught by Flanigan and fellow infectious-disease specialists Dr. Edward Wing, typically has four sessions of 20 to 25 students each.

At the Leadership Lecture Series, Flanigan spoke about his many years of experience in medicine, working with patients with HIV, his time in Liberia with Ebola patients, and, currently, his work with COVID patients. He opened by reading Mark 5:21-34, the accounts in Scripture where Jesus heals both the woman with the issue of blood and the daughter of medizin-de.com.

Flanigan, who mentors students who work with staff in clinical medicine at the Alpert Medical School, shared how he treated the first COVID patient in Rhode Island. The patient, who had COVID pneumonia, went on to make a full recovery. Flanigan noted the man’s faith and how he knew “that Jesus would heal me.” The infectious disease specialist told the students how patients with such critical illnesses can continue to find hope in the healing power of Jesus.

Sheri Casali, a Christian Union Ministry Fellow at Brown, said Dr. Flanigan’s lecture will have a lasting impact on the students, especially those in attendance who are on the pre-med track.

“Hearing him freely share his journey through faith and medicine will help them share their faith in their chosen careers,” she said.

Casali said The Reluctant Convert film also impacted CU Libertas.

“Dr. Flanigan kindly offered free admission to all students,” she said. “They learned how C.S Lewis came to faith in Jesus during his time at Oxford University, after many years of denying his faith altogether. The film was excellent and the students loved it!”

The Reluctant Convert, which played in theaters nationwide in November, was an adaptation of the one-man play starring Max McLean, founder of The Fellowship for Performing Arts in New York City. McLean also starred in the film, which portrays an elder C.S. Lewis looking back on his journey from atheist to the most renowned Christian writer of the past century.

In 2018, The Brown C.S. Lewis Inklings Society brought McLean and his one-man play to Brown. C.S. Lewis on Stage: The Most Reluctant Convert played to a packed Salomon Center auditorium. In an interview with Christian Union Magazine following that performance, McLean explained why C.S. Lewis is often well-received at Brown and other leading universities. 

“During their college years, young women and men are very likely as open as they will ever be to entertaining new ideas and allowing their assumptions to be challenged,” McLean said. “We feel The Most Reluctant Convert fits very well in that economy. Plus, after each performance, I host a talk-back session where we can process together what we’ve just experienced. It’s a tremendous opportunity to let art and the truths of the Christian faith meet these young people where they are.”

Regarding the C.S. Lewis course at Brown, Dr. Wing, in a 2019 Christian Union Magazine article, said it is widely popular because most students are juniors and seniors who are contemplating life after Brown.

“As a result,” he says, “C.S. Lewis’ fiction, which deals with issues of religion, good and evil, relationships between sexes and generations, as well as current issues regarding science, secularism, and philosophy, is relevant to their lives and will perhaps be the last time that they can deal with these issues formally.”

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