Inklings

What to Buy For An Inklings Fan

(Welcome to Inklings Week 2021! You can find all the posts here. Be sure to also follow the International Inklings Instagram account here. Hope you enjoy!)

I have always said readers are the easiest people in the world to buy books for. Specific fandoms? Even more so. And because Tolkien and Lewis have been around for a minute or two, the options are, quite honestly, ENDLESS. 

So here we go: The perfect gift ideas for Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Lord of the Rings and Chronicles of Narnia fans! (Links below)

$25 and under

Reepicheep Sticker ($3.50) // LOTR Epic 1978 Cartoon (Starting at $3.99) // Narnia Cross Stitch Pattern ($5.00) // Turkish Delight ($8.00) // “Courage, Dear Heart” Print ($10.00) // Hobbiton Tea ($10.00) // “I Am Aslan” Print ($11.00) // Narnia Bracelet ($12.00) // LOTR Vintage Posters (Starting at $15.00) // Recipes from the World of Tolkien: Inspired by the Legends ($16.00) // Arwen’s Evenstar Necklace ($18.00) // Map of Narnia ($20.00) // Winter in Narnia Candle ($24.00) // “Aslan is on the move” Sign ($25.00) // The Shire Candle ($24.00)

$26.00 – $75.00 Range

LOTR Deluxe Boxed Set ($30.00) // Sting Letter Opener ($30.00) // “Speak Friend and Enter” Doormat ($40.00) // The Fellowship Bookends ($42.00) // The Two Towers Quote Wall Decor ($53.00) // Tolkien: Maker of Middle-Earth (Companion to the 2018-2019 exhibit) ($65.00)

$75+ (For those REALLY special occasions)

Beautiful Juniper Book Sets: The Hobbit ($50.00), The Chronicles of Narnia ($195.00), Tolkien’s Full Set (which includes The Silmarillion, the Trilogy, and The Hobbit) ($195.00), The Lord of the Rings Trio ($150.00) // Narnia Book Set and Audio Book Collection ($99.00) // Lord of the Rings Chess Set ($495.00)

I hope this list sparked a few ideas! And if your birthday coming up soon, then be sure to pass this post along as a not so subtle hint :). Do you have a favorite in this list or another? Be sure to share your favorite Tolkien/Lewis gift in the comments. We can always use more ideas!

Inklings

Where to Start with J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis: Guest Post by Wesley of Library Educated

(Welcome to Inklings Week 2021! You can find all the posts here. Be sure to also follow the International Inklings Instagram account here. Hope you enjoy!)

If you’re new to Jack and Tollers and aren’t sure which book to start with, Wesley of Library Educated has got you covered!

Happy Inklings Week everybody! If you’re new to the works of the Inklings crew (maybe you’ve seen some movies and now you want to read the source materials!) you might be thinking, “this is a fair amount of books, where do I start?” (I can relate dear reader, I’ve been having these thoughts about Graham Greene and John LeCarre for a long time, so if anyone has any advice on those two…) So I’ve made some suggestions about what books you could start with and a few books that would maybe be best to wait until you have a little more experience with the author.

Let’s start with C.S. Lewis!

Books to Start With:

Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe: Even if you have never read this book or seen the movie, I bet you would recognize some names and scenes just because it’s so engrained in pop culture. Four siblings in an unfamiliar country house stumble into a magical world that is in the grip of an evil queen but hope for the inhabitants is coming in the form of Aslan, a lion that isn’t safe, but he is good. Heroes, villains, a redemption arc that will make you cry, so buckle up. 

Screwtape Letters: Stop me if you’ve heard this one before – one rookie demon tempter and his old pro tempter demon uncle write letters back and forth to each other about the best way to tempt a human into a life that will lead him away from eternal salvation. I know from that description the book sounds a little dark but it’s poignant, funny (someone gets so upset they turn into a centipede, can you imagine being that mad?) and a confirmation that there is endless red tape and bureaucracy in hell, which makes PERFECT SENSE.

Out of the Silent Planet: The first of “The Space Trilogy” we follow a man who is drugged, kidnapped, and thrown into a spaceship as a sacrifice to creatures on a distant planet. (Fun fact, Lewis said he would write a space travel story and Tolkien would write a time travel story, but Tolkien never finished his). Turns out the creatures don’t actually want to eat our hero, and we are faced with the philosophical questions that are so popular in space travel: how do we relate to these previously unknown creatures? What is our obligation to each other? How do we live in peace?

Books to Wait On:

The Abolition of Man: It seems pretty obvious from this book that CS Lewis did not always have a good time in school. The book gets deep into the weeds about what things are needed to have a well rounded education and there are references to ancient philosophers (and not like, the big ones that you’ve heard of) and all sorts of other deep cut references. You can feel his passion, but it’s tough to get worked up about the English education system in the early 1900s. 

The Pilgrim’s Regress: Did you ever have to read Pilgrim’s Progress in school? It’s a book heavy with allegory and deeper meaning and you have to use your whole brain the whole time you’re reading it. Pilgrim’s Regress is C.S. Lewis’ version of the Milton classic. It’s a heavy read and it’s not really a representative example of Lewis’ writing.

Alright, on to J.R.R. Tolkien!

Books to Start with:

The Hobbit: Wizards! Adventures! Strong friendships! The threat of getting eaten! DRAGONS! (Well, just one but he’s a good one). The Hobbit is a beloved classic for generations for a reason. It’s a great place to get introduced to the Baggins clan, steadfast Gandalf and the amazing world of Middle Earth. A great place to dip your toe into this expansive universe.

The Children of Hurin: If you want to dip into Middle Earth, but don’t want a trilogy start here. It takes place 6,000 years before some rings gets a bunch of short guys into trouble during a long journey. An unlikely hero and his band rise to greatness in troubled times, but can they handle everything that will come their way?

Books to Wait On:

The Silmarillion: This book is no.joke. One of Tolkein’s last book to be published and one very near and dear to his heart, but it is not designed to be read like a traditional novel. If you put yourself in that mind set it will be an easier read. I know Jamie loves this one, but when we read it for Inklings book club I was on the struggle bus in a very real way!

The Return of the King: What I mean to say with this is – if you’re doing the Lord of the Rings trilogy you need to read them in order. It’s not like other series’ where the stories are loosely connected to each other and the characters are the same so you can read them willy nilly. Order is important with this trilogy!

What would you add to the list?

Inklings

The Tolkien Fandom Oral History Collection with Archivist William Fliss

(Welcome to Inklings Week 2021! You can find all the posts here. Be sure to also follow the International Inklings Instagram account here. Hope you enjoy!)

Back in 2019, I came across the call for fans of Tolkien for Marquette’s Oral History Project – an “effort to document Tolkien Fandom, the Department of Special Collections at Marquette’s Raynor Memorial Library is building a collection of brief testimonials from Tolkien fans.” Naturally I signed up immediately (you can listen to mine here). 

The project continues, with the goal of “6,000 audio interviews, one for each of the Riders of Rohan that Théoden mustered and led to the aid of Gondor.” The curator, William Fliss, was kind enough to join this year’s Inklings Week, sharing more about the project! If you’re a fellow fan, be sure to sign up! 

Thank you William for joining us! 

Archivist William Fliss

The Hobbit saved my life.”

“If Frodo and Sam can get to Mount Doom then I can handle what I’m dealing with.”

“The legendarium has been my star-glass, my light in dark places when all other lights go out.”

These words come from fans of the Inkling J. R. R. Tolkien, captured in a collection I am building in the Department of Special Collections and University Archives at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, called the Tolkien Fandom Oral History Collection. If you are a Tolkien fan, please consider contributing an interview!

Since 2012 I have served as curator for Marquette’s celebrated Tolkien Collection. It surprises many people to learn that Marquette University owns the original manuscripts for The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, acquired directly from Professor Tolkien in 1957. These manuscripts are the heart of Marquette’s collection; however, over the decades Marquette has also sought to document the fandom that has sprung up around Tolkien and his works.  

This new oral history collection is one of my contributions to that effort. The concept is very simple. Tolkien fans of all ages and levels of intensity are invited to contribute a brief interview to Marquette. Each fan has up to 3 minutes in total to respond to 3 questions: (1) when did you first encounter the works of Tolkien? (2) why are you a fan? (3) what, if anything, has he meant to you?

Simple, right? Well, some people struggle mightily with the 3-minute limit, but it does force the fans to concentrate on what has been truly important to them in their relationship with Tolkien’s works.  Each audio recording and its accompanying transcript are uploaded to a digital collection on the library’s website where they can be enjoyed by other fans or studied by scholars of Fan Studies. (Yes, there is an actual academic field call Fan Studies, complete with its own peer-reviewed journals!)

The idea for this project sprang from the fact that Marquette is a pilgrimage site for Tolkien fans. Fans passing through Milwaukee often stop by the archives. We keep an exhibit of reproductions of selected manuscripts on display in our reading room. (Unavailable at present because of the pandemic.) After meeting many such fans and chatting with them about their experiences of Tolkien’s works, it dawned on me that if I wanted to document contemporary fandom, these are the voices I should be capturing.  

I have built the collection around the image of the Muster of Rohan from The Lord of the Rings. In that story, King Théoden gathers his riders from across the Riddermark and leads 6,000 of them on a desperate ride to lift the siege of Gondor. My goal is to gather interviews from 6,000 fans, one for each of the Rohirrim that rode to Gondor’s aid! I chose this number with my heart and not with my head. I realize now just how long it will take me to get there, so if you are reading this and love Tolkien, please consider contributing an interview.

I am building the collection gradually. Keeping with the spirit of the “Muster”, I group the interviews into éoreds of 120 fans, the éored being the basic unit of the Rohirrim. After an éored fills, I upload its interviews to the site and begin work on the next one. I am also assembling the interview text into a dataset that can be downloaded from Marquette’s institutional repository. My hope is that digital humanists will analyze the interviews and report on interesting patterns or commonalities across them.

I have collected over 600 interviews so far. My own study of them to date has been based on impressions rather than systematic analysis. Having listened to every interview more than once, I am struck by the number of people who came to Tolkien’s works through a parent or older sibling; and I marvel at how many of these fans have introduced their own children to the works or intend to do so in the future. This gives me great confidence that Tolkien will remain a popular author for generations to come.

I am also impressed by how much Tolkien has meant in people’s lives, especially his role in helping people overcome hardship. As the quotations above indicate, fans turn to Tolkien for strength and comfort in hard times. It can be grieving the loss of a loved one, overcoming addictions or disabilities, struggling with depression, enduring bullying, wrestling with despair—you name it—people have found in Tolkien’s works the hope to persevere.

If you are interested in learning more about the collection, I will be giving a presentation called “Forth now, and fear no darkness!”: Reflections on the Tolkien Fandom Oral History Project at Marquette University at the Digital Moot hosted by the wonderful Prancing Pony Podcast.

Please consider contributing an interview. All fans are welcome!

Inklings

Still Chasing the Inklings: Guest Post by Katherine Reay

(Welcome to Inklings Week 2021! You can find all the posts here. Be sure to also follow the International Inklings Instagram account here. Hope you enjoy!)

It’s always a delight to have award winning author Katherine Reay join us for Inklings Week! And be sure to pre-order her fall novel, The London House – it looks amazing!

When sitting down to write this post, I thought about all the academic approaches I might take about this remarkable literary group, citing the importance of camaraderie, creative discussions, intellectual freedom, and friendship.

Yet my enduring love and my “chase” after them is far more personal — and that’s what I want to share. Two particular Inklings — C.S. Lewis and and J.R.R Tolkien — have become, over the years, my creative, intellectual and spiritual anchors. Years ago I read that C.S. Lewis credited George MacDonald with “baptizing his imagination” and G.K. Chesterton for baptizing his intellect. That’s what Tolkien and Lewis did for me, baptizing both imagination and intellect together. Tolkien gave me the stars (that indescribable magic within a story) and Lewis — my favorite Inkling — taught me, and is still teaching me, how to navigate them. 

While C.S. Lewis penned incredibly rich stories, he didn’t create the all-encompassing aura Tolkien offered. Lewis’s stories carry you along like an arrow, leading you somewhere great. He had a very defined purpose for each word within each story, and he often kept that purpose his little secret. He rarely revealed his point, his message, his meaning — the crystalline truth he wanted to impart — but it was always there. Lewis masterfully left finding that “deeper magic” to the reader as he wrapped it into a powerful and imaginative story. 

It is that “deeper magic” that draws me back as a reader and pulls at me when writing. I too want to lay down a theme just below the surface that invites the reader in and hints at something more. I can’t claim to have captured it by any means, but I do chase it. 

Today I’d like to peel back the curtain on my latest C.S. Lewis inspired attempts to bring a bit of “deeper magic” to the page… 

For the Present is the point at which time touches eternity. 

This simple line from Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters grabbed my imagination and formed the foundation for my novel, The Printed Letter Bookshop. In the story, readers follow three women at varying stages in life, each dealing with her own journey and challenges, but all finding themselves thrown together in a struggling bookstore. Surrounded by mistakes, mishaps, and a budding friendships, these women slowly learn that their pasts do not define them and their futures are not immutably fixed. They learn, as Lewis points out in The Screwtape Letters, that life can only be truly lived, experienced, and savored — in the present. 

To “show” that on a different level, readers will notice that each woman tells her story from a different point-of-view. One shares in third person, as if she has stepped away from her own life and is a mere observer of the happenings around her. The second woman writes in past-tense as she has formed her present on a faulty foundation and, in many ways, is stuck in those assumptions and mistakes. Although the final woman shares her story in present-tense, she does so for all the wrong reasons — out of fear because her past is too painful and her future holds no hope. 

So, while The Printed Letter Bookshop, is a collective journey of women friendship and the joy of books, it is also a pointer to the idea that living in the past (that long-ago time when all seemed perfect) or imagining a too distant future (one in which you finally realize your goals) can only trip us and keep us from the real life, love, and blessings of our now — our present. 

In my next book, I returned to Lewis again — as I always do — but not for a perspective on time, but simply for perspective. For The London House, which will publish in November, I delved into his famous Mere Christianity. We know it as a book, but my WWII character Caroline Waite experiences it as a series of fifteen-minute BBC radio talks given between 1941 and 1944. 

Lewis was invited on air to talk to the British people and boost their morale during the fearsome days of WWII. Caroline listens to the first talk, originally titled “Common Decency”, which aired on August 6, 1941. It was his profound insight into human nature delivered within that talk that opened for me the well-spring beneath The London House — the conflict between perception and truth, sacrifice and safety, secrets and lies, all during a time when it must have felt the world was ending. 

Today I have shared about Lewis’s influence on my thoughts and writings — my chase for the “deeper magic.” But the chase doesn’t end there — the Inklings themselves possessed a “deeper magic”that would be powerful if found today among a group of readers, writers, and friends. Warren Lewis described it best: “Properly speaking, the Inklings was neither a club nor a literary society, though it partook of the nature of both. There were no rules, officers, agenda, or formal elections.” Again — it was camaraderie, creative discussions, intellectual freedom, and friendship. All things well worth chasing! 

Thank you for spending a moment with me here today and I hope you enjoy all the posts and fun this week offers.

All the best to you, 

Katherine 

Inklings

The Hope We Find in C.S. Lewis’ THE MAGICIAN’S NEPHEW

(Welcome to Inklings Week 2021! You can find all the posts here. Be sure to also follow the International Inklings Instagram account here. Hope you enjoy!)

Like Samwise Gamgee oft reminded Frodo on their journey through Middle Earth and Mordor, hope keeps us going. No matter what our battle is, hope is often a defining factor. Throughout C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia we see how hope encourages many characters in Narnia. As I recently re-read The Magician’s Nephew in preparation for this week, I was pleasantly reminded of so many of my favorite scenes: Aslan singing Narnia into creation, Aslan choosing the Cabby and his wife as the first King and Queen of Narnia (King Frank and Queen Helen), Polly and Digory’s friendship…

Yet, one piece of the story struck a little differently this reading – Digory’s longing for his mother’s healing, his encounters with Aslan, his mission to help plant the Tree that would protect Narnia, and the hope we see through it all. 

After witnessing the birth of Narnia and the power in its lands, Digory felt hope for his Mom (who was back in our world and very sick), probably for the first time in a long time. It wasn’t that Digory wanted riches and fame (like Uncle Andrew’s reaction to Narnia), instead he longed for his Mother to be free of pain and suffering from her illness. There’s a beautiful scene before Digory goes on his journey to the tree: 

“But please, please—won’t you—can’t you give me something that will cure Mother?” Up till then he had been looking at the Lion’s great feet and the huge claws on them; now, in his despair, he looked up at its face. What he saw surprised him as much as anything in his whole life. For the tawny face was bent down near his own and (wonder of wonders) great shining tears stood in the Lion’s eyes. They were such big, bright tears compared with Digory’s own that for a moment he felt as if the Lion must really be sorrier about his Mother than he was himself.

“My son, my son,” said Aslan. “I know. Grief is great. Only you and I in this land know that yet. Let us be good to one another…

The Lion drew a deep breath, stooped its head even lower and gave him a Lion’s kiss. And at once Digory felt that new strength and courage had gone into him.

What a beautiful picture of God giving us strength in our times of grief and pain. Hope is such a powerful thing and hope has often been what has given me such needed strength and courage. It reminds me of Romans 15:13: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (NIV)

With the help of Fledge and support of Polly, Digory travels to where he needs to bring back an apple to help save young Narnia. There Jadis is, having already taken what wasn’t hers, and quickly jumps into trying to turn Digory away from his task. This scene very much reminds of another story ; ). After refusing to eat the apple for himself, the Witch says to Digory: 

You simpleton! Do you know what that fruit is? I will tell you. It is the apple of youth, the apple of life. I know, for I have tasted it; and I feel already such changes in myself that I know I shall never grow old or die. Eat it, Boy, eat it; and you and I will both live forever and be king and queen of this whole world—or of your world, if we decide to go back there.”

How cunning Jadis is, how hard she is trying to manipulate him, not only with this, but to help his Mom. For Digory, the possibilities were never about him and his own power, but the love a son has for his mother and his deepest desire that she might be healed. But, it was another kind of love that helped Digory finally see the evil of the Witch. After multiple attempts (full of twisted lies of the apple’s power) by the Witch, we see that the love from a friendship is just as powerful:

“You needn’t take the little girl back with you, you know.” That was where the Witch made her fatal mistake. Of course Digory knew that Polly could get away by her own ring as easily as he could get away by his. But apparently the Witch didn’t know this. And the meanness of the suggestion that he should leave Polly behind suddenly made all the other things the Witch had been saying to him sound false and hollow. And even in the midst of all his misery, his head suddenly cleared, and he said (in a different and much louder voice): “Look here; where do you come into all this? Why are you so precious fond of my Mother all of a sudden? What’s it got to do with you? What’s your game?” 

“Good for you, Digs,” whispered Polly in his ear. “Quick! Get away now.” She hadn’t dared to say anything all through the argument because, you see, it wasn’t her Mother who was dying.

Even though Digory knew he made the right choice, that didn’t mean there still wasn’t grief or sadness. As they are flying back on Fledge, we read that “Digory never spoke on the way back, and the others were shy of speaking to him. He was very sad and he wasn’t even sure all the time that he had done the right thing; but whenever he remembered the shining tears in Aslan’s eyes he became sure.” It was remembering the hope of Aslan that brought him the peace he needed. 

When Polly, Digory, and Uncle A came back to our world, Digory was able to give his mom the gift of the apple and while he waited, it was the memory of Aslan that kept his hope alive for her healing: “For the rest of that day, whenever he looked at the things about him, and saw how ordinary and unmagical they were, he hardly dared to hope; but when he remembered the face of Aslan he did hope.”

Hope is something all of us need and wherever you are, may you too find hope that will bring you peace in all things. 

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:23 (NIV)

Inklings

Inklings Week 2021 is Coming!

It’s May and that means Inklings Week next week! I’m always excited about this week of all things C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, but this year I have a couple new things planned!

We’re kicking off Inklings Week with a panel and all things C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien! Joining me will be two fabulous friends and Inklings fans, Wesley of Library Educated and bestselling author Katherine Reay.

Join us Monday Night, 5/10, at 6:30 p.m. MST on FB live. You can RSVP here.

I also wanted to introduce you to those kind enough to join in with fabulous guests posts.

Wesley H. of Library Educated: Reader and blogger extraordinaire! I always enjoy our bookish and not so bookish conversations around Twitter and she reads such a variety of books, you can always find a book or two to add to your TBR.

Katherine Reay, national bestselling and award winning author: I still remember being so wowed by Katherine’s debut novel, Dear Mr. Knightley. She’s a go-to author and friend and if you enjoy women’s fiction – be sure to check out her books!

William Fliss, Archivist at Marquette University and curator of the Tolkien Fandom Oral History Collection: I connected with William about this project and absolutely contributed. I’m excited for you all to find out more and the awesome things he’s encountered so far!

Looking forward to next week and hope you’ll join in the fun! Be sure to sign up for the newsletter, so you don’t miss any posts!

book club

Next Book Club Read: The God Who Sees by Karen Gonzalez

Thank you to everyone who has joined any of the book club chats – they have been so encouraging! And I’m really excited about our next book, as it’s been on my list for quite a while.

Next up: The God Who Sees: Immigrants, the Bible, and the Journey to Belong by Karen Gonzalez.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Meet people who have fled their homelands.
Hagar. Joseph. Ruth. Jesus.

Here is a riveting story of seeking safety in another land. Here is a gripping journey of loss, alienation, and belonging. In The God Who Sees, immigration advocate Karen Gonzalez recounts her family’s migration from the instability of Guatemala to making a new life in Los Angeles and the suburbs of south Florida. In the midst of language barriers, cultural misunderstandings, and the tremendous pressure to assimilate, Gonzalez encounters Christ through a campus ministry program and begins to follow him.

Here, too, is the sweeping epic of immigrants and refugees in Scripture. Abraham, Hagar, Joseph, Ruth: these intrepid heroes of the faith cross borders and seek refuge. As witnesses to God’s liberating power, they name the God they see at work, and they become grafted onto God’s family tree.

Find resources for welcoming immigrants in your community and speaking out about an outdated immigration system. Find the power of Jesus, a refugee Savior who calls us to become citizens in a country not of this world.

Where to Buy: Amazon | BN.com | Christianbooks.com | Bookshop

Mark you calendars for May 24th at 6:30 p.m. MST. You can join the Facebook group here and if you aren’t on Facebook, I send updates through my newsletter as well. You can sign up for that here.

Changing the World, Lessons From Books, Love and Faith, Nonfiction

The Bold and Brave Rebuke of the Slaveholder’s Christianity – What We Can Still Learn from Frederick Douglass

I recently finished a re-read of THE NARRATIVE OF THE LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS: AN AMERICAN SLAVE for The Musings of Jamie Book Club (you can join here on FB or sign up here for updates via my newsletter) and because it had been so long since I’ve read it, for much it was like reading it for the first time. One quote I’ve always remembered is one you’ll also see below:

“What I have said respecting and against religion, I mean strictly to apply to the slaveholding religion of this land, and with no possible reference to Christianity proper; for, between the Christianity of this land, and the Christianity of Christ, I recognize the widest possible difference — so wide, that to receive the one as good, pure, and holy, is of necessity to reject the other as bad, corrupt, and wicked. To be the friend of the one, is of necessity to be the enemy of the other. I love the pure, peaceable, and impartial Christianity of Christ: I therefore hate the corrupt, slaveholding, women-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial and hypocritical Christianity of this land.”

A powerful quote indeed, but I had forgotten the rest of the Appendix, which is a fearless and fiery rebuke, that makes me want to stand up and applaud. Douglass wrote this nearly 20 years before the Civil War would start. His words, his direct call out of the hypocrisy of “Christian” slave owners must have inspired so many to continue the fight. As it is public domain, I am sharing the rest of it here. May we all live with such boldness.

From THE NARRATIVE OF THE LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS: AN AMERICAN SLAVE:

I FIND, since reading over the foregoing Narrative, that I have, in several instances, spoken in such a tone and manner, respecting religion, as may possibly lead those unacquainted with my religious views to suppose me an opponent of all religion. To remove the liability of such misapprehension, I deem it proper to append the following brief explanation.

What I have said respecting and against religion, I mean strictly to apply to the slaveholding religion of this land, and with no possible reference to Christianity proper; for, between the Christianity of this land, and the Christianity of Christ, I recognize the widest possible difference — so wide, that to receive the one as good, pure, and holy, is of necessity to reject the other as bad, corrupt, and wicked. To be the friend of the one, is of necessity to be the enemy of the other. I love the pure, peaceable, and impartial Christianity of Christ: I therefore hate the corrupt, slaveholding, women-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial and hypocritical Christianity of this land. Indeed, I can see no reason, but the most deceitful one, for calling the religion of this land Christianity.

I look upon it as the climax of all misnomers, the boldest of all frauds, and the grossest of all libels. Never was there a clearer case of “stealing the livery of the court of heaven to serve the devil in.” I am filled with unutterable loathing when I contemplate the religious pomp and show, together with the horrible inconsistencies, which every where surround me. We have men-stealers for ministers, women-whippers for missionaries, and cradle-plunderers for church members. The man who wields the blood-clotted cowskin during the week fills the pulpit on Sunday, and claims to be a minister of the meek and lowly Jesus.

The man who robs me of my earnings at the end of each week meets me as a class-leader on Sunday morning, to show me the way of life, and the path of salvation. He who sells my sister, for purposes of prostitution, stands forth as the pious advocate of purity. He who proclaims it a religious duty to read the Bible denies me the right of learning to read the name of the God who made me.

He who is the religious advocate of marriage robs whole millions of its sacred influence, and leaves them to the ravages of wholesale pollution. The warm defender of the sacredness of the family relation is the same that scatters whole families, — sundering husbands and wives, parents and children, sisters and brothers, — leaving the hut vacant, and the hearth desolate. We see the thief preaching against theft, and the adulterer against adultery.

We have men sold to build churches, women sold to support the gospel, and babes sold to purchase Bibles for the poor heathen! all for the glory of God and the good of souls! The slave auctioneer’s bell and the churchgoing bell chime in with each other, and the bitter cries of the heartbroken slave are drowned in the religious shouts of his pious master. Revivals of religion and revivals in the slave-trade go hand in hand together.

The slave prison and the church stand near each other. The clanking of fetters and the rattling of chains in the prison, and the pious psalm and solemn prayer in the church, may be heard at the same time. The dealers in the bodies and souls of men erect their stand in the presence of the pulpit, and they mutually help each other. The dealer gives his blood-stained gold to support the pulpit, and the pulpit, in return, covers his infernal business with the garb of Christianity. Here we have religion and robbery the allies of each other — devils dressed in angels’ robes, and hell presenting the semblance of paradise.

“Just God! and these are they,
Who minister at thine altar, God of right!
Men who their hands, with prayer and blessing, lay
On Israel’s ark of light. “What! preach, and kidnap men?
Give thanks, and rob thy own afflicted poor?
Talk of thy glorious liberty, and then
Bolt hard the captive’s door? “What! servants of thy own
Merciful Son, who came to seek and save
The homeless and the outcast, fettering down
The tasked and plundered slave! “Pilate and Herod friends!
Chief priests and rulers, as of old, combine!
Just God and holy! is that church which lends
Strength to the spoiler thine?”

The Christianity of America is a Christianity, of whose votaries it may be as truly said, as it was of the ancient scribes and Pharisees, “They bind heavy burdens, and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. All their works they do for to be seen of men. — They love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, . . . . . and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi. — But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.

Ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayers; therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation. Ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves. — Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint, and anise, and cumin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith; these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. Ye blind guides! which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter; but within, they are full of extortion and excess. — Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.”

Dark and terrible as is this picture, I hold it to be strictly true of the overwhelming mass of professed Christians in America. They strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. Could any thing be more true of our churches? They would be shocked at the proposition of fellowshipping a sheep-stealer; and at the same time they hug to their communion a man-stealer, and brand me with being an infidel, if I find fault with them for it. They attend with Pharisaical strictness to the outward forms of religion, and at the same time neglect the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith. They are always ready to sacrifice, but seldom to show mercy. They are they who are represented as professing to love God whom they have not seen, whilst they hate their brother whom they have seen. They love the heathen on the other side of the globe. They can pray for him, pay money to have the Bible put into his hand, and missionaries to instruct him; while they despise and totally neglect the heathen at their own doors.

Such is, very briefly, my view of the religion of this land; and to avoid any misunderstanding, growing out of the use of general terms, I mean, by the religion of this land, that which is revealed in the words, deeds, and actions, of those bodies, north and south, calling themselves Christian churches, and yet in union with slaveholders. It is against religion, as presented by these bodies, that I have felt it my duty to testify.

I conclude these remarks by copying the following portrait of the religion of the south, (which is, by communion and fellowship, the religion of the north,) which I soberly affirm is “true to the life,” and without caricature or the slightest exaggeration. It is said to have been drawn, several years before the present anti-slavery agitation began, by a northern Methodist preacher, who, while residing at the south, had an opportunity to see slaveholding morals, manners, and piety, with his own eyes. “Shall I not visit for these things? saith the Lord. Shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?”

A PARODY.
“Come, saints and sinners, hear me tell
How pious priests whip Jack and Nell,
And women buy and children sell,
And preach all sinners down to hell,
And sing of heavenly union.

“They’ll bleat and baa, dona like goats,
Gorge down black sheep, and strain at motes,
Array their backs in fine black coats,
Then seize their negroes by their throats,
And choke, for heavenly union.

“They’ll church you if you sip a dram,
And damn you if you steal a lamb;
Yet rob old Tony, Doll, and Sam,
Of human rights, and bread and ham;
Kidnapper’s heavenly union.

“They’ll loudly talk of Christ’s reward,
And bind his image with a cord,
And scold, and swing the lash abhorred,
And sell their brother in the Lord
To handcuffed heavenly union.

“They’ll read and sing a sacred song,
And make a prayer both loud and long,
And teach the right and do the wrong,
Hailing the brother, sister throng,
With words of heavenly union.

“We wonder how such saints can sing,
Or praise the Lord upon the wing,
Who roar, and scold, and whip, and sting,
And to their slaves and mammon cling,
In guilty conscience union.

“They’ll raise tobacco, corn, and rye,
And drive, and thieve, and cheat, and lie,
And lay up treasures in the sky,
By making switch and cowskin fly,
In hope of heavenly union.

“They’ll crack old Tony on the skull,
And preach and roar like Bashan bull,
Or braying ass, of mischief full,
Then seize old Jacob by the wool,
And pull for heavenly union.

“A roaring, ranting, sleek man-thief,
Who lived on mutton, veal, and beef,
Yet never would afford relief
To needy, sable sons of grief,
Was big with heavenly union.

“ ‘Love not the world,’ the preacher said,
And winked his eye, and shook his head;
He seized on Tom, and Dick, and Ned,
Cut short their meat, and clothes, and bread,
Yet still loved heavenly union.

“Another preacher whining spoke
Of One whose heart for sinners broke:
He tied old Nanny to an oak,
And drew the blood at every stroke,
And prayed for heavenly union.

“Two others oped their iron jaws,
And waved their children-stealing paws;
There sat their children in gewgaws;
By stinting negroes’ backs and maws,
They kept up heavenly union.

“All good from Jack another takes,
And entertains their flirts and rakes,
Who dress as sleek as glossy snakes,
And cram their mouths with sweetened cakes;
And this goes down for union.”

Sincerely and earnestly hoping that this little book may do something toward throwing light on the American slave system, and hastening the glad day of deliverance to the millions of my brethren in bonds — faithfully relying upon the power of truth, love, and justice, for success in my humble efforts — and solemnly pledging myself anew to the sacred cause, —

I subscribe myself, FREDERICK DOUGLASS.
LYNN, Mass., April 28, 1845.

From: Douglass, Frederick. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. Dover Publications. Kindle Edition.

If you haven’t yet, please take some time to read the full Narrative. It’s available online and at any book store!

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New Ink & Willow Release: GET OUTSIDE

Get Outside is now available from Ink & Willow!

This awesome and fantastic release is extra special because @maxieisfamous is in it! A few of us wrote up the photography piece for the GET OUTSIDE Nature Journal and we even got to use some of our own photographs. This was one of the ONLY photos I could find. #totally

But seriously, GET OUTSIDE is the best nature journal out there and you should all get one. That is a complete unbiased opinion. Then get one for a friend. And if he must, Max will sign copies.

ABOUT THE BOOK: For nature lovers seeking a greater appreciation of God’s creation comes a guided journal featuring inspirational quotes, thoughtful journaling prompts, and valuable information to enhance every outdoor adventure.

Designed to be sturdy enough to be taken along on nature hikes or any outdoor excursions, this beautifully designed guided journal will help you become more attentive to the handiwork of God in the great outdoors and in your own heart.

An activity log provides space to record every outdoor adventure, while guides to cloud formations, flora and fauna, navigation by the stars, outdoor photography, and wilderness safety give you the confidence to wander off the beaten path. Additional features include the top ten outdoor survival myths, a state-by-state list of top outdoor destinations, dos and don’ts of day hiking, how U.S. mountains compare in elevation, and hidden or often overlooked locations throughout the country.

Whether you’re an expert adventurer or you simply enjoy a quiet walk in the nearest park, Get Outside will make your time in nature more memorable and spiritually fulfilling.

Where to Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books A Million | Bookshop.org

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New Ink & Willow Release: 40 DAYS OF INTENTIONAL LIVING!

As I’ve mentioned countless times, working on Ink & Willow products is absolutely a favorite part of my job. With a new year comes new releases! First up is a devotional journal that’s perfect for Lent and Easter (or any time of the year!). With so many voices featured (and even a handful by yours truly), my prayer is that this will draw you in deeper and closer to Jesus, no matter which 40 Day season you spend doing this.

ABOUT THE BOOK: Cultivate intentional faith practices with this 40-day guided journal that features thoughtful reflections from well-known Christian authors, inspirational quotes, and beautiful illustrations designed to set your mind and soul at rest.

The practice of developing intentional faith habits is not a natural tendency. It requires focus, discipline, prayer, and persistence to grow in our walk with God. We may have great intentions, but often the busyness and chaos of everyday life force our spiritual growth to take a back seat. Fortunately, 40 Days of Intentional Living offers both a practical guide and an inspiring resource to deepening your faith.

Divided into eight themes central to the Christian faith—such as hope, joy, surrender, and rest—these 40 devotions draw from the writings of a number of bestselling and beloved authors of faith, including C.S. Lewis, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Luther King Jr., Louie Giglio, Jennie Allen, Mark Batterson, Brennan Manning, Randy Alcorn, and more. Partnered with daily Scripture reading, thought-provoking journal prompts, and practical action steps to encourage you toward a more intentional faith lifestyle, this 40-day resource is the ideal companion for walking through the seasons of Lent and Advent, as well as for use in personal or group study.

Where to Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books A Million | Bookshop.org | ChristianBook.com | Lifeway

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