Inklings

The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis | Inklings Series Discussion

I had heard quite a bit about The Problem of Pain before I started reading it for this series. What I heard was quite accurate too – a very logical (for a lack of a better word at the moment) and a theological/philosophical look at pain and suffering. A very removed look. Did y’all feel that way?

I haven’t read A Grief Observed yet (it’s on the list for this series!), but I have a feeling C.S. Lewis is much more personal since it was written after his wife’s death. I don’t mean to say this wasn’t a good read or that I didn’t enjoy it, because there were definitely some gems throughout the pages. Although there were, as always with Lewis, some parts where I had to read it approximately 87 times before understanding (or not) what Lewis meant.

I also really loved his dedication to The Inklings. I admit, I have a random obsession with author dedications.

Moving on.

I like the arguments he brings in – the questions that need to be answered, like this from the Introduction: “If the universe is so bad, or even half so bad, how on earth did human beings ever come to attribute it to the activity of a wise and good Creator? Men are fools, perhaps; but hardly so foolish as that. The direct inference from black to white, from evil flower to virtuous root, from senseless work to a workman infinitely wise, staggers belief. The spectacle of the universe as revealed by experience can never have been the ground for religion: it must have been something in spite of which religion, acquired from a different source, was held.”

I loved the quote like this from Mere Christianity, so I thought it was worth sharing here:

“The claim [that Jesus was the Son of God] is so shocking – a paradox, and even a horror, which we may easily be lulled into taking too lightly – that only two views of this man are possible. Either he was a raving lunatic of an unusually abominable type, or else He was, as is, precisely what He said. There is no middle way.”

I’m promise I’m not trying to point out all the quotes from the introduction :), but he had so many key points, especially against the argument that Christianity is a “crutch.” Early on he writes, “Christianity is not the conclusion of a philosophical debate on the origins of the universe: it is a catastrophic historical event following on the long spiritual preparation of humanity which I have described. It is not a system into which we have to fit the awkward fact of pain: it is itself one of the awkward facts which have to be fitted into any system we make. In a sense, it creates, rather than solves, the problem of pain, for pain would be no problem unless, side by side with our daily experience of this painful world, we had received what we think a good assurance that ultimate reality is righteous and loving.”

In many debates, the idea of free will has come up. Again Lewis contributes to the conversation with this observation:

“The freedom of a creature must mean freedom to choose: the choice implies the existence of things to choose between. A creature with no environment would have no choices to make: so that freedom, like self-consciousness (if they are not, indeed, the same thing), again demands the presence to the self of something other than the self.”

After talking about miracles (and why they are not common), I love what Lewis adds: “Try to exclude the possibility of suffering which the order of nature and the existence of free wills involve, and you find that you have excluded life itself.” (To read more on the miracles, check out pages 24-25)

I’m really trying to only pick a few quotes and points, but as always with Lewis, it’s nearly impossible. Also, definitely read the book.

These next couple of quotes were from the chapter on Divine Goodness.

“When Christianity says that God loves man, it means that God loves man: not that He has some ‘disinterested’, because really indifferent, concern for our welfare, but that, in awful and surprising truth, we are the objects of His love. You asked for a love God: you have one…How this should be, I do not know: it passes reason to explain why any creatures, not to say creatures such as we, should have a value so prodigious in the Creator’s eyes.”

“The problem of reconciling human suffering with the existence of a God who loves, is only insoluble so long as we attach a trivial meaning to the word ‘love’, and look on things as if man were the centre of them. Man is not the centre. God does not exist for the sake of man. Man does not exist for his own sake. ‘Thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.’ We were made not primarily that we may love God (though we were made for that too) but that God may love us, that we may become objects in which the Divine love may rest ‘well pleased.’”

I’ll end with my favorite quote in the book, from the section Human Pain:

“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

Questions for Discussion: Feel free to answer any or all!

1. Did you have a favorite section?
There were several I enjoyed. I was encouraged by many of them and several also had me thinking on the topic for a while. Example: I thought this response to those who opposed the doctrine of hell:
“In the long run the answer to all those who object to the doctrine of hell, is itself a question: ‘What are you asking God to do?’ To wipe out their past sins and, at all costs, to give them a fresh start, smoothing every difficulty and offering every miraculous help? But He has done so, on Calvary. To forgive them? They will not be forgiven. To leave them alone? Alas, I am afraid what is what He does.”

2. What were your overall thoughts on the book?

3. Have you read A Grief Observed? How did this compare if you have?

4. Did you have favorite quotes?
Just one more that I thought about a while after I finished the book :).
“Even a good emotion, pity, if not controlled by charity and justice, leads through anger to cruelty.”

Inklings

That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis | Inklings Series Discussion

Hello Inklings fans! First, I apologize for the delay. For all my goals of not putting too much on my plate and not reaching a point to make me lose my mind (up in here, up here), March majorly failed in all aspects. Mea culpa though and lessons learned. Sometimes, it just takes me years to learn something :).

Anyway, I finally have a few thoughts on The Hideous Strength (and I apologize this isn’t the longest or most thorough of all discussion posts).

This was quite a different read from the first two in the trilogy. It can definitely stand on its own and if you’re expecting it to be like the first two, just know, it’s not.

This seemed to be a mix of all the things. There’s the dystopian vibe, the satirical commentary of politics, the search for meaning and truth (with Jane), unhealthy desire in career (Mark), our old favorite (Ransom), planets and, you know, Merlin too. What did y’all think of all the pieces? I haven’t decided what I think. I know, just great for a discussion post – ha! It’s so different, but that doesn’t mean better or worse for me. I think I would need to re-read it to have a stronger opinion (and unfortunately didn’t have time for that).

“There are a dozen views about everything until you know the answer. Then there’s never more than one.”

Jane’s journey reminded me a bit of Ransom’s, in that her journey towards truth wasn’t one defining moment, but bit by bit and over time. I liked that Lewis had them as a realistic couple, with a troubled marriage, priorities not necessarily in the right order and the different paths each one took. So different, but through fantasty-ish/dystopian, we were able to learn from both of them.

I knew early on Mark was going to frustrate me – ha! At one point early on, this quote popped up:
“And Mark said – God forgive him, he was young and shy and vain and timid, all in one…”

But Mark came through in the end and I thought this was a great ending too:

“Still she did not move that latch. Then she noticed that the window, the bedroom window, was open. Clothes were piled on a chair inside the room so carelessly that they lay over the sill: the sleeve of a shirt – Mark’s shirt – even hung down over the outside wall. And in all this damp too. How exactly like Mark! Obviously it was high time she went in.”

There’s plenty more to add and my plan is to come back and do just that. Honestly, with it being already late, I didn’t want to hold off posting something.

Please share your thoughts, favorite quotes and any other fun! I still think my favorite is Out of the Silent Planet – which one is your favorite?

Inklings

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight translated by J.R.R. Tolkien | Inklings Series Discussion

I hope everyone enjoyed the “detour” we took in the Inklings series, looking at some of Tolkien’s translation work. After finishing this one, I realized I don’t have much to say about Tolkien’s translation as I’ve only read one other translation and that was in high school, so I couldn’t tell you the differences for all the Mexican food in the world. But I did enjoy the story when all was said and done. (Also, for time’s sake, I’m only focusing on Sir Gawain and the Green Knight)

I thought these were some interesting quick facts about the story:

  • The copy that The British Museum has was written around 1400
  • It’s believed to be the same author, but nothing is known about him.

I thought this was insightful from the introduction: “In terms of literature, undoubtedly this break in the mathematical perfection of an ideal creature, inhuman in flawlessness, is a great improvement. The credibility of Gawain is enormously enhanced by it. He becomes a real man, and we can thus really admire his actual virtue.”

Once I got into the story telling style (since I don’t read a ton of alliterative poems), I enjoyed it. Before it all came out (I had completely forgotten the ending) though, I was getting really upset that Gawain kept letting Lady Creeper come into his room. How could he not smell that trap? I was also cool without the description of what they did with the deer or the boar. Gross and nasty internet.

But then it all made sense after it turns out Morgan isn’t a fan of Arthur. I need to brush up on my Arthurian legends, because I don’t know much about Morgan le Faye and her desire to take down Arthur and Camelot. What a great sister.

Not only did I appreciate the way in which Gawain came to his senses (“Though a fool I now am made.”), but I liked Arthur’s reaction below (as seen in the quotes)

“Lo! Lord,” he said at last, and the lace handled,
“This is the band! For this a rebuke I bear in my neck!
This is the grief and disgrace I have got for myself
From the covetousness and cowardice that o’ercame me there!

“every Knight of Brotherhood, a baldric should have,
A band of bright green obliquely about him,
And this for love of that knight as a livery should wear.”

I did have one piece I couldn’t figure out: Why did the name spelling exchange between Gawain and Wawain?

That’s what I got for this month! What did y’all think? Have you read this story before?

Inklings

Surprised by Joy by C.S. Lewis | Inklings Series Discussion

Remember that one time I thought I was a pretty intelligent human being? Well, then I read C.S. Lewis’ “autobiography” and have decided I was sorely mistaken and need to hourly start inserting literary analogies and references in my daily discussion. “Well, this reminded of the time Herodotus explained this…” As I’ve said before, Lewis was a genius.

I’ll start with 5 key takeaways:
1. This was not at all what I expected.

2. He’s hilarious and witty.

3. As I mentioned, you need a PhD in English to get half of what he’s saying. All his casual and totally obscure writer references? Didn’t get most of them (I like you Google). I felt like the person who never got the joke.

4. Can we take a moment to appreciate this from the intro? “The story is, I fear, suffocatingly subjective; the kind of tiling I have never written before and shall probably never write again. I have tried so to write the first chapter that those who can’t bear such a story will see at once what they are in for and close the book with the least waste of time.”

5. Wyvern had quite a few issues.

I took this more to be a story of his influences and the path that eventually led him to follow Jesus. Yes, he does say that in the intro, but even so, it took a much different route than I envisioned.

I was fascinated by his description of his father and their relationship. I couldn’t help but wonder if it was a product of personality, the era or a mix of both (which I’m leaning towards). I also enjoyed hearing him share about his brother – “Two frightened urchins huddled for warmth in a bleak world.” – (even with their disagreements about Wyvern). Also, reason #89890 Jack and I would have been friends: “To this day I would rather meet a ghost than a tarantula.”

Yet another fascinating part was, of course, how he came to theism and Christianity, but also how he “lost” his faith when he was young. From Oldie to significant losses, there was quite a bit that happened to young Jack. He’s thoughts after his mom passing away made me sad.

“With my mother’s death all settled happiness, all that was tranquil and reliable, disappeared from my life. There was to be much fun, many pleasures, many stabs of Joy; but no more of the old security. It was sea and islands now; the great continent had sunk like Atlantis.”

Lewis is honest in all the things and, for me, that adds even more strength to his story (if that makes sense). Through the friendships he finally made, to the professors he was blessed with, to his war experiences and then Oxford, this is a packed book. Yet it never seemed overwhelming to me. After all the time he spent on Wyvern, I didn’t think he’d get to his Tolkien days, but it flowed and we got there right on time.

I’ll post a few quotes I liked (either because his tone made me laugh or they were rather wise).

“For eating and reading are two pleasures that combine admirably. Of course not all books are suitable for mealtime reading. It would be a kind of blasphemy to read poetry at table.”

“The hardness of God is kinder than the softness of men, and His compulsion is our liberation.”

“Dickens I looked upon with a feeling of horror, engendered by long poring over the illustrations before I had learned to read. I still think them depraved.”

“Perhaps a good influence; for poor Tim, though I loved him, was the most undisciplined, unaccomplished, and dissipated-looking creature that ever went on four legs. He never exactly obeyed you; he sometimes agreed with you.”

“It was late in the winter term of 1916 that I went to Oxford to sit for my scholarship examination. Boys who have faced this ordeal in peacetime will not easily imagine the indifference with which I went. This does not mean that I underestimated the importance (in one sense) of succeeding. I knew very well by now that there was hardly any position in the world save that of a don in which I was fitted to earn a living, and that I was staking everything on a game in which few won and hundreds lost.”

“Straight tribulation is easier to bear than tribulation which advertises itself as pleasure.”

“George MacDonald had done more to me than any other writer; of course it was a pity he had that bee in his bonnet about Christianity. He was good in spite of it. Chesterton had more sense than all the other moderns put together; bating, of course, his Christianity. Johnson was one of the few authors whom I felt I could trust utterly; curiously enough, he had the same kink. Spenser and Milton by a strange coincidence had it too. Even among ancient authors the same paradox was to be found. The most religious (Plato, Aeschylus, Virgil) were clearly those on whom I could really feed. On the other hand, those writers who did not suffer from religion and with whom in theory my sympathy ought to have been complete—Shaw and Wells and Mill and Gibbon and Voltaire— all seemed a little thin; what as boys we called “tinny.” It wasn’t that I didn’t like them. They were all (especially Gibbon) entertaining; but hardly more. There seemed to be no depth in them. They were too simple. The roughness and density of life did not appear in their books.”

TOLLERS!!!! “When I began teaching for the English Faculty, I made two other friends, both Christians (these queer people seemed now to pop up on every side) who were later to give me much help in getting over the last stile. They were H. V. V. Dyson (then of Reading) and J. R. R. Tolkien. Friendship with the latter marked the breakdown of two old prejudices. At my first coming into the world I had been (implicitly) warned never to trust a Papist, and at my first coming into the English Faculty (explicitly) never to trust a philologist. Tolkien was both.”

“Really, a young Atheist cannot guard his faith too carefully. Dangers lie in wait for him on every side. You must not do, you must not even try to do, the will of the Father unless you are prepared to “know of the doctrine.” All my acts, desires, and thoughts were to be brought into harmony with universal Spirit. For the first time I examined myself with a seriously practical purpose. And there I found what appalled me; a zoo of lusts, a bedlam of ambitions, a nursery of fears, a harem of fondled hatreds. My name was legion.”

“That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England.”

Wow, sorry y’all, I went from “a few” to “a dissertation” of quotes. But do you blame me?

Discussion Questions (feel free to answer any, all or your own thoughts!)

1. Was anything surprising to you?
I’ll just drop Wyvern and leave it at that. What many of the Bloods felt entitled to do was disgusting and I found it telling that Lewis spent more than a chapter on his experiences there.

2. What was one of the most interesting pieces you took away from this story?
Hmmmm….I found his time as Wyvern and his war time both interesting. The whole book really, but I had to pick something for this question right? 🙂

3. Do you have any favorite quotes?

4. Was there anything new you really enjoyed learning about Lewis?
As I mentioned, learning about his Dad was new (I knew a bit about their relationship), but hearing it from Lewis shed a lot of light on him.

Thanks for joining in!

Inklings

The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis | Inklings Series Read

I’m going to start off with a very serious question.

WHY CAN’T NARNIA BE REAL?

Now that that is out, let’s move forward and chat about the book instead. It helps you know? 🙂 I’ll start by saying, like the ending of Narnia/beginning of the true Narnia, the beginning of this young Narnia is so beautiful. I absolutely adore of Lewis’ use Aslan and music to create. It is such a reminder that God is the Master Artist and it makes me heart beat a few extra beats.

I’ll start off by sharing a couple of my favorite scenes and quotes:

“Narnia, Narnia, Narnia, awake. Love. Think. Speak. Be walking trees. Be talking beasts. Be divine waters.” I love that after awakening, Aslan commands them to love.

“The earth was of many colors; they were fresh, hot and vivid. They made you feel excited; until you saw the Singer himself, and then you forgot everything else. It was a Lion. Huge, shaggy, and bright, it stood facing the risen sun. Its mouth was wide open in song and it was about three hundred yards away.” ASLANNNNNNNNN!

If there was one book episode I would want to be real and that I would get to be a part of, I think it might be this scene:
“In the darkness something was happening at last. A voice had begun to sing. It was very far away and Digory found it hard to decide from what direction it was coming. Sometimes it seemed to come from all directions at once. Sometimes he almost thought it was coming out of the earth beneath them. Its lower notes were deep enough to be the voice of the earth herself. There were no words. There was hardly even a tune. But it was, beyond comparison, the most beautiful noise he had ever heard. It was so beautiful he could hardly bear it. The horse seemed to like it too; he gave the sort of whinny a horse would give if, after years of being a cab-horse, it found itself back in the old field where it had played as a foal, and saw someone whom it remembered and loved coming across the field to bring it a lump of sugar.”

I thought it would be fun to chat about some of the characters this month too, so here are a few more of my thoughts:

Polly
She has some sass (and loved it!), but also loved her friendship with Digory. Sorry I don’t have a quote for her (except when she called Digory an ass for his antics when he first saw Jadis, I call that a win), but I promise, she’s fabulous.

Digory
Before he went for the apple, I loved this scene with Aslan:
“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.”

Then this scene. In case y’all ever forget: Friends and friends forever….!!
“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.”

Reading this makes me appreciate the Professor all over again in the following books.

Uncle Andrew
Hello Shady McShadyson. But the good news with Uncle A, is his character reminds us that not all is lost and sometimes it requires a bit of humility before we can change.

“The commercial possibilities of this country are unbounded.” Oh Uncle A…

I also loved how Lewis changed Uncle Andrew to not be able to understand Aslan or the animals. How easily we humans convince ourselves of believing in something glorious because of fear (or pride or a many other things).

“And the longer and more beautiful the Lion sang, the harder Uncle Andrew tried to make himself believe that he could hear nothing but roaring. Now the trouble about trying to make yourself stupider than you really are is that you very often succeed.”

Empress Jadis
This reaction is so fitting for Jadis (during the creation of Narnia)

“There was soon light enough for them to see one another’s faces. The Cabby and the two children had open mouths and shining eyes; they were drinking in the sound, and they looked as if it reminded them of something. Uncle Andrew’s mouth was open too, but not open with joy. He looked more as if his chin had simply dropped away from the rest of his face. His shoulders were stooped and his knees shook. He was not liking the Voice. If he could have got away from it by creeping into a rat’s hole, he would have done so. But the Witch looked as if, in a way, she understood the music better than any of them. Her mouth was shut, her lips were pressed together, and her fists were clenched. Ever since the song began she had felt that this whole world was filled with a Magic different from hers and stronger. She hated it.”

Anything good she would obviously hate. And the scene with the apple tree? Umm…we know all about this and I’m glad Digory remembered and trusted in Aslan’s mission over her lies. I also loved when Digory went back to Aslan and how it was true that the apple would heal, would do what it was meant to do, but if done with the wrong intentions or at the wrong time, it would turn out in ways not expected (and not in a positive way).

Finally, this little gem at the end…how The Wardrobe came to be? I’ll keep checking ones I find y’all because PLEASE BE REAL.

“However that might be, it was proved later that there was still magic in its wood. For when Digory was quite middle-aged (and he was a famous learned man, a Professor, and a great traveler by that time) and the Ketterleys’ old house belonged to him, there was a great storm all over the south of England which blew the tree down. He couldn’t bear to have it simply chopped up for firewood, so he had part of the timber made into a wardrobe, which he put in his big house in the country. And though he himself did not discover the magic properties of that wardrobe, someone else did.”

Discussion Questions (if you so wish!)

1. Who are your favorites from this novel?
I’m a fan of the Cabbie, who while his role came later in the novel, was a great character to make King. Humble, yet willing to take on the privilege.

I’m a fan of Digory (and his journey) and Polly too.

2. What are some of your favorite scenes and/or quotes?
3. How does this compare to the other Narnian novels?

Further up and further in friends!

Inklings

All Hallow’s Eve by Charles Williams | Inklings Series Discussion

Death as death was preferable to death mimicking a foolish life.

Well this book gets filed under “stories that turned out to be not at all what I expected.” Early on I wasn’t at all sure what to think. In my mind this story was going to be like Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow style. I have no basis for this assumption except that All Hallows’ Eve reminds me of Fall and that story usually is told around Halloween.

By chapter two I wasn’t sure what I had gotten myself into and terrible memories of Kafka’s Metamorphosis came rushing back (Blame bugs and people morphing). I was at a loss, but as the story unfolded, I was able to look back and appreciate what was going on in the scene and the meaning of the painting and each character. Some fabulous writing.

I also wasn’t expecting Betty to play such a key role. Again, I don’t know where I got any of my assumptions (since I didn’t know about this story until only recently), but it threw me off because I kept expecting the story to be solely about Lester and Richard and how their love transcended even death. I realize in that last part I was right, but once I got over my unfounded expectations of the storyline, I was able to appreciate the other characters.

I really was a fan of the theme of love defeating all. I give William’s props for developing such a unique story that reveals that in such a way. Both in friendship and romantic love. I’m sure I missed like 97% of the symbolism in this book (Most of the time I did not feel smart reading this book #INeededCliffNotes), but I did like that Jonathan was an artist and there was meaning in that.

And who would have thought a dead woman could have such character development? Evelyn on the other hand…what a terrible human being/ghost.

I’m all for clever and clear battles between good and evil, so while I can appreciate Williams’ skill and talent, my boys are still top in my book. 🙂

Since this was a new author to the Inklings series, I’m leaving it open ended for discussion….or maybe just a few prompts. 🙂

  1. What did you think of the characters? Did you have a favorite?
  2. Any thoughts to share on the symbolism throughout the novel?
  3. What’s your impression of Charles after reading this?

Looking forward to hearing from y’all!

Inklings

The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis | Inklings Series Discussion

I have to say, I think out of all the Narnia books, this one brings all the feelings to my Narnia loving heart. Not only on the fiction side, with the end of Narnia, but all that it means for us too. Like, for real ALL THE FEELINGS. I didn’t forget how much I loved this book, but reading some of those sections over? Love. Love. Love.

Now where to start with this one? Let’s start with the characters.

Shift the Ape – Lewis perfected manipulation with this jerk. Seriously, I felt much anger towards a fictional ape and how he treated Puzzle and all he said against Aslan.

The Dwarves – Little Punks. Y’all, I got so angry after this scene! “It was the Dwarfs who were shooting and—for a moment Jill could hardly believe her eyes—they were shooting the Horses. Dwarfs are deadly archers. Horse after Horse rolled over. Not one of those noble Beasts ever reached the King.” But more than making me angry, I thought Lewis was brilliant with them. The scene in the New Narnia? Genius.

Puzzle – Oh Puzzle! I wanted to shake him and say get it together! But he is also a telling example of not being secure in your value. If you don’t understand how treasured you are, you can fall to evil characters like Shift. I also loved that Aslan talked with Puzzle first. And I love that Lewis didn’t tell us what he said to Puzzle, but I bet it was beautiful.

The Tarkaan and Tash – Don’t play with things you don’t understand, son! #SpiritualWarfare

(Also I have a tendency to start talking like this is real life and I ain’t even mad about it.)

I loved Tirian and Jewel. They reminded me of Samwise Gamgee from LOTR. Brave and loyal until the very end.

And of course seeing all our old friends from all the previous books made my heart so happy (and Susan’s story is also one to learn from).

I loved everything about the scenes with the new Narnia. From the descriptions of the death of Narnia, to Lucy’s mourning old Narnia (“Don’t try to stop me, Peter,” said Lucy, “I am sure Aslan would not. I am sure it is not wrong to mourn for Narnia. Think of all that lies dead and frozen behind that door.”), the animals going through the door and facing Aslan before they do, to tasting the fruits, to Further Up and Further In. Here’s a few favorites. (I tried to keep it to a few….I should get points for that!)

“What was the fruit like? Unfortunately no one can describe a taste. All I can say is that, compared with those fruits, the freshest grapefruit you’ve ever eaten was dull, and the juiciest orange was dry, and the most melting pear was hard and woody, and the sweetest wild strawberry was sour. And there were no seeds or stones, and no wasps. If you had once eaten that fruit, all the nicest things in this world would taste like medicines after it. But I can’t describe it. You can’t find out what it is like unless you can get to that country and taste it for yourself.”

“…but as he spoke the earth trembled. The sweet air grew suddenly sweeter. A brightness flashed behind them. All turned. Tirian turned last because he was afraid. There stood his heart’s desire, huge and real, the golden Lion, Aslan himself, and already the others were kneeling in a circle round his forepaws and burying their hands and faces in his mane as he stooped his great head to touch them with his tongue. Then he fixed his eyes upon Tirian, and Tirian came near, trembling, and flung himself at the Lion’s feet, and the Lion kissed him and said, “Well done, last of the Kings of Narnia who stood firm at the darkest hour.”

Raise your hand if you cry when Aslan shows up?

“It was the Unicorn who summed up what everyone was feeling. He stamped his right fore-hoof on the ground and neighed, and then cried: “I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now. The reason why we loved the old Narnia is that it sometimes looked a little like this.”

Lewis was able to so brilliantly capture a teeny bit of our heart’s reaction to Glory. I know it will be even more than even Lewis described, but I love so so much that he was able to stir our hearts with these passages and story.

“Beloved, said the Glorious One, unless thy desire had been for me thou wouldst not have sought so long and so truly.” This reminded me to never stop praying and hoping for people to find truth. They are all searching, they may just not know it yet. Plus, I wonder if that used to be him. Anyway, this scene with Aslan? #Dead

“And this is the marvel of marvels, that he called me Beloved.”

Alright, I’ll end my quotes with this passage. It still remains one of my favorite in all of literature, not just the Inklings world. So beautiful.

There was a real railway accident,” said Aslan softly. “Your father and mother and all of you are—as you used to call it in the Shadowlands—dead. The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning.” And as He spoke He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.

Have I mentioned I LOVE this one? I cannot wait to hear what y’all think about it! I thought I’d include a few questions – feel free to answer any, all and add your own thoughts!

1. Do you have a favorite character from this one?
2. What were some of your favorite scenes?
3. I want to read some of your favorite quotes too!

For Aslan!

Inklings

Unfinished Tales by J.R.R. Tolkien | Inklings Series Discussion

We made it friends! Thanks for your patience – I knew moving and a major life change would definitely mix things up, but da-ang….I need a vacation from adulting for a good long while. Haha! Not really, I just sometimes stress out when I get behind on things and I don’t have all the energy I want to have for other things. My poor checklist just stares at me wondering why I’m ignoring him. 🙂 Anyway….let’s dive in!

I thought I would do this discussion like I did with The Silmarillion. There’s so many stories and tales, I picked a handful to discuss so this doesn’t turn into a dissertation that shuts the internet down. I mean, Inklings Week did attract some shenanigans, so you.never.know.

I’d love for you to add any thoughts in the comments on sections I didn’t cover!

“Of Tuor And His Coming to Gondolin”

Sometimes Tolkien’s heroes have it rough! Anyone else feel bad for Tuor? First by himself for ages and then it was a rough go to reach Gondolin. But getting to have a face to face conversation with Ulmo, wasn’t too shabby.

One of my favorite quotes from this section was Gelmir to Tuor: “Through darkness one may come to the light.” (pg 23)

Another favorite was from Ulmo to Tuor on sending him to deliver the message. “If I choose the send thee, Tuor son of Huor, then believe not that thy one sword is not worth sending…but it is not for thy valour only that I send thee, but to bring into the world a hope beyond thy sight, and a light that shall pierce the darkness.” (pg 32)

Tolkien likes to have some nasty creatures too. The Great Worm of Angband? I’m going to pass.

Also, I get these are called Unfinished Tales for a reason, but when this one ended I wanted more than the notes Christopher included! I wanted the finished tale – haha! But I still enjoyed it.

“The History of Galadriel and Celeborn”

I loved a deeper look into the life of Galadriel! I think having this background helps me to appreciate her character even more and how much she grew through the ages. And though while she left without permission, it does seem as though her intentions were always with good intent.

I loved Tolkien’s descriptions:
“She was proud, strong, and selfwilled, as were all the descendants of Finwë, save Finarfin; and like her brother Finrod, of all her kin the nearest to her heart, she had dreams of far lands and dominions that might be her own to order that she would without to tutelage. Yet deeper still there dwelt in her the noble and generous spirit of the Vanyar, and a reverence for the Valar that she could not forget.” (pg 23)

“From her earliest years she had marvellous gift of insight into the minds of others, but judged them with mercy and understanding, and she withheld her goodwill from none save only Fëanor. In him she perceived a darkness that she hated and feared, though she did not perceive that the shadow of the same evil had fallen upon the minds of all the Noldor, and upon her own.”

It’s pretty crazy to think that Tolkien never stopped working on his tales. Christopher mentioned in one of the notes that the section notes he found were from the last month of this life. A true genius. I enjoyed the notes almost as much as the stories! So many interesting and entertaining information.

“The Hunt For the Ring”

I thought I’d close with this bit because it took place during LOTR and felt like a behind-the-scenes extra.

Facts learned: Saruman waylaid or mislead servants of Sauron. So he again deserves “most trustworthy” with “his double dealings.” I didn’t realize how sneaky Saruman was with Sauron! Did I totally miss that in LOTR? (Highly possible with my brain these days).

“Saruman, already filled with wrath and fear by the escape of Gandalf, perceived the peril of standing between enemies, a known traitor to both. His dread was great, for his hope of deceiving Sauron, or at the least of receiving his favour in victory, was utterly lost.”

And this quote on Wormtongue had me chuckling because it speaks of his character so well:
“Thus it was that on the evening of the next day the Black Riders came upon Gríma Wormtongue as he hastened to bring word to Saruman that Gandalf was come to Edoras, and had warned King Théoden of the treacherous designs of Isengard. In that hour the Wormtongue came near to death by terror; but being inured to treachery he would have told all that he knew under less threat.”

And turned out Wormy spilled thoughts and went on. Not shocked.

There’s so much more to these tales (and I didn’t discuss Túrin, since we’ve spent a whole book on him here already), and I really love hearing all these extra details. I’ll read everything about Middle Earth there is. 🙂 After going through these notes and stories, I could have majored in Tolkien and would have been as happy as a clam!

Alright! Since there’s so many ways to go with this discussion, I’m going to leave it open ended! What did y’all think compared to his other tales? Did you have a favorite? Did you like it?

Excited to hear your thoughts!

Inklings

The Abolition of Man by C.S. Lewis | Inklings Series Discussion

Y’all, I’m going to start this with some realness. While reading, most of the time, my thoughts were “so….what did I just read?” Two pages in I realized this was going to be a “have my dictionary app opened the whole time” kind of read.

Of the books I’ve read from Lewis, this one is by far the most philosophical (thus explaining my hurt brain by the time I was done ; ) and I would say that was his point. This book wasn’t about proving Christianity so much (although he does say he believes that, he also points out in the second chapter that “a supernatural origin for the Tao (traditional morality) is a question I am not here concerned with.”), but instead arguing against moral relativism. Did I mention my need of a dictionary for this book? ;). If you’re looking for apologetic/philosophical material, I definitely recommend Mere Christianity.

But this book isn’t without value. Far from it. I think C.S. Lewis speaks about relevant truths today. First, we are more than science and we aren’t meant to simply exist. He also spends the majority of the book speaking against that moral relativism stuff.

I’m not really sure how to go about this discussion, so that’s when I drop a bunch of quotes and hope for the best. So here we go and please feel free to include your thoughts on these quotes! (Emphasis are my own)

“Gains and Titius, while teaching him nothing about letters, have cut out of his soul, long before he is old enough to choose, the possibility of having certain experiences which thinkers of more authority than they have held to be generous, fruitful, and humane.”

“They see the world around them swayed by emotional propaganda – they have learned from tradition that youth is sentimental – and they conclude that the best thing they can do is to fortify the minds of young people against emotion. My own experience as a teacher tells an opposite take. For every one pupil who needs to be guarded from a weak excess of sensibility there are three who need to be awakened from the slumber of cold vulgarity. The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles but to irrigate deserts. The right defence against false sentiments is to inculcate just sentiments.

“Men without Chests” are “not distinguished from other men by any unusual skill in finding truth nor any virginal ardor to pursue her…it is not excess of thought but defect of fertile and generous emotion that marks them out.”

“In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst.”

“Telling us to obey Instinct is like telling us to obey ‘people.’ People say different things: so do instincts. Our instincts are at war. If it is held that the instinct for preserving the species should always be obeyed at the expense of other instincts, whence do we derive this rule of precedence?”

“The Innovator attacks traditional values (the Tao) in defence of what he at first supposes to be (in some special sense) ‘rational’ or ‘biological’ values. But as we have seen, all the values which he uses in attacking the Tao, and even claims to be substituting for it, are themselves derived from the Tao. If he had really started from scratch, from right outside the human tradition of value, no jugglery could have advanced him an inch towards the conception that a man should die for the community or work for posterity.”

“Whence comes the Innovator’s authority to pick and choose?”

“Since I can see no answer to these questions, I draw the following conclusions. This thing which I have called for convenience the Tao, and which others may call Natural Law or Traditional Morality or the First Principles of Practical Reason or the First Platitudes, is not one among a series of possible systems of value. It is the sole source of all value judgements. If it is rejected, all value is rejected. If any value is retained, it is retained. The effort to refute it and raise a new system of value in its place is self-contradictory. There has never been, and never will be, a radically new judgement of value in the history of the world.”

“As soon as we take the final step of reducing our own species to the level of mere Nature, the whole process is stultified, for this time the being who stood to gain and the being who has been sacrificed are one and the same.”

I’ll close out with this one because THE TRUTH OF IT!

“But once our souls, that is, ourselves, have been given up, the power thus conferred will not belong to us. We shall in fact be the slaves and puppets of that to which we have given our souls.”

Discussion Prompts (Join in any, all or add your own!):

1. What are your overall thoughts of this book?

2. Do you think there was any significance to the names Lewis used to describe the teachers (Gaius, Titius and Orbilius)?
I researched the names, but didn’t come across anything that stuck out, but thought I’d throw the questions out there! I’m sure there was some genius reason behind it, but you know, Jack and I aren’t quite on the same level.

3. What quotes were meaningful to you?

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

Inklings

The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis | Inklings Series Discussion

Another day and another adventure in Narnia! It had been a while since I read The Silver Chair, but as soon as I started reading it, bits and pieces started coming back and I looked forward to the parts I remembered and was pleasantly entertained by the parts I didn’t remember.

I will say, I forgot how much Puddleglum cracked me up. I loved his character – mainly because he was an endearing doomsdayer.

Overall what I loved about this story is the deeper meaning of calling. From not feeling qualified to getting distracted. Through the adventures of two children and a Marsh Wiggle, Lewis once again drops the mic. I know there are better ways of saying that, but sometimes I just don’t know how commentate on his genius.

One example of this is when Eustace was doubting on whether he had called on Aslan correctly. Aslan’s response?

“You would not have called to me unless I had been calling to you,” said the Lion.

Another one of the things I appreciate with Lewis is how he brings up, oh so casually, other Narnia books (especially when it’s one of my favorites):

“Horse and His Boy and tells of an adventure that happened in Narnia and Calormen and the lands between, in the Golden Age when Peter was High King in Cair Paravel. (I haven’t time to tell it now, though it is well worth hearing.)”

Also, Eustace needed to remember his cousin’s tale, because when Jill and Eustace listened to the lady (a.k.a. Serpent Witch) after the bridge I couldn’t help but say DIDN’T YOU LEARN ANYTHING FROM YOUR COUSIN EDMUND?!

I also loved the friendship of the three. Both he and Tolkien knew how to write about friendship.

Other random thoughts include the following:

  • I felt bad for the Gnomes, they got played. I also want to try diamond juice.
  • I feel closer to Lewis knowing he also had an aversion to moths (“She got up, pulled the curtain, and at first saw nothing but darkness. Then she jumped and started backward, for something very large had dashed itself against the window, giving a sharp tap on the glass as it did so. A very unpleasant idea came into her head—“Suppose they have giant moths in this country! Ugh.”)
  • When they were on the mountaintop and Caspian was made whole again? Don’t mind me while I cry.
  • Lewis would throw in random thoughts from the children and they cracked me up. Example A) “Jill thought that when, in books, people live on what they shoot, it never tells you what a long, smelly, messy job it is plucking and cleaning dead birds, and how cold it makes your fingers.” #TrueStory

I was encouraged and reminded that even when we mess things up, God still works. He uses those mess ups to refine us and make us better.

Alright, I love hearing from y’all, so feel free to add your thoughts and/or use these questions to start things!
1. Who was your favorite character?
I want to say Aslan and be done with it, but I’ll be different this round! I was a big fan of Puddleglum. Have I mentioned how much he cracks me up? Like this: “Nice bits of color, you two are,” muttered Puddleglum. “Show up very prettily on a winter day. The worst archer in the world couldn’t miss either of you if you were in range. And talking of archers, we’ll be sorry not to have our own bows before long, I shouldn’t wonder. Bit thin, too, those clothes of yours, are they.”

Also, he was so brave! I loved this scene when he broke the trance. “The Prince and the two children were standing with their heads hung down, their cheeks flushed, their eyes half closed; the strength all gone from them; the enchantment almost complete. But Puddleglum, desperately gathering all his strength, walked over to the fire. Then he did a very brave thing. He knew it wouldn’t hurt him quite as much as it would hurt a human; for his feet (which were bare) were webbed and hard and cold-blooded like a duck’s. But he knew it would hurt him badly enough; and so it did. With his bare foot he stamped on the fire, grinding a large part of it into ashes on the flat hearth.”

2. Do you have a favorite scene?
There’s so many, but I loved Puddleglum’s reason for going with Jill and Eustace: “Don’t you lose heart, Pole,” said Puddleglum. “I’m coming, sure and certain. I’m not going to lose an opportunity like this. It will do me good. They all say—I mean, the other wiggles all say—that I’m too flighty; don’t take life seriously enough. If they’ve said it once, they’ve said it a thousand times. ‘Puddleglum,’ they’ve said, ‘you’re altogether too full of bobance and bounce and high spirits. You’ve got to learn that life isn’t all fricasseed frogs and eel pie. You want something to sober you down a bit. We’re only saying it for your own good, Puddleglum.’ That’s what they say. Now a job like this—a journey up north just as winter’s beginning, looking for a Prince that probably isn’t there, by way of a ruined city that no one has ever seen—will be just the thing. If that doesn’t steady a chap, I don’t know what will.” And he rubbed his big frog-like hands together as if he were talking of going to a party or a pantomime. “And now,” he added, “let’s see how those eels are getting on.”

I lied, I want to share another one.
“Then Eustace set his teeth and drove the thorn into the Lion’s pad. And there came out a great drop of blood, redder than all redness that you have ever seen or imagined. And it splashed into the stream over the dead body of the King. At the same moment the doleful music stopped. And the dead King began to be changed. His white beard turned to gray, and from gray to yellow, and got shorter and vanished altogether; and his sunken cheeks grew round and fresh, and the wrinkles were smoothed, and his eyes opened, and his eyes and lips both laughed, and suddenly he leaped up and stood before them—a very young man, or a boy.”

3. What’s one of your favorite lessons from Jill, Eustace and Puddleglum’s adventures?
I also loved this scene where Rilian cries out Aslan’s name and Jill and Eustace weren’t sure if they still should free him. Puddleglum’s response is so wise:

“Oh, if only we knew!” said Jill.

“I think we do know,” said Puddleglum.

“Do you mean you think everything will come right if we do untie him?” said Scrubb.

“I don’t know about that,” said Puddleglum. “You see, Aslan didn’t tell Pole what would happen. He only told her what to do. That fellow will be the death of us once he’s up, I shouldn’t wonder. But that doesn’t let us off following the sign.”

4. Do you have any favorite quotes you want to share?
I loved how once Rilian was free, he found his courage. I loved this quote:
“Courage, friends,” came Prince Rilian’s voice. “Whether we live or die Aslan will be our good lord.”

I’ll end with this one because it made me laugh. I can only imagine what Lewis would have to say about our political situation…
“And in the inquiry all sorts of things about Experiment House came out, and about ten people got expelled. After that, the Head’s friends saw that the Head was no use as a Head, so they got her made an Inspector to interfere with other Heads. And when they found she wasn’t much good even at that, they got her into Parliament where she lived happily ever after.”

As always, can’t wait to dive in!