Bookish Radness

Instagram is My Jam

Even though my blogging has slowed down quite a bit, I’m still reading all the things and wanted to let y’all know where you can find more consistent book reviews and features!

Instagram Account Numero Uno (@jamielynne82)
I post at least once a week about books, but am trying out Instastories more. All that to say: BOOKS! (And occasionally my cat, my favorite humans and adventures.)

Instagram Account Numero Dos (@theinklings1926)
I haven’t told many folks about this yet, but I started an account dedicated to the Inklings. It’s a mix of quotes, mini reviews, fun facts about Tolkien and Jack, and sometimes pretty pictures of books.

And didn’t want to forget Goodreads! If we haven’t connected already, let’s!

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Inklings

A Toast to the Professor | Celebrating with Favorite LOTR Moments

Today is Tolkien’s 126th Birthday! Every year on January 3rd, we fans raise a toast! (According to The Tolkien Society, it’s at 9:00 p.m. your local time.) Here’s the official way from their website :):

All you need to do is stand, raise a glass of your choice of drink (not necessarily alcoholic), and say the words “The Professor” before taking a sip (or swig, if that’s more appropriate for your drink). Sit and enjoy the rest of your drink.

Current office decor

So tonight I’ll raise a glass, but thought it would be fun to share a few favorite quotes from the book and scenes from the LOTR movies!

1. “I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.” The Fellowship of the Ring

2. “Courage is found in unlikely places…be of good hope!” (Gildor to Frodo in The Fellowship of The Ring)

3. “All that is gold does not glitter, Not all those who wander are lost; The old that is strong does not wither, Deep roots are not reached by the frost. From the ashes a fire shall be woken, A light from the shadows shall spring; Renewed shall be blade that was broken, The crownless again shall be king.”

4. Samwise being Samwise

5. “Where there’s life there’s hope.” Sam’s Gaffer (The Two Towers)

6. “But that’s not the way of it with tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in mind. Folks seem to have been just landed in them, usually – their paths were laid that way, as you put it. But I expect they had lots of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn’t.” Samwise Gamgee

7. Éowyn being awesome:

8. “He (Faramir) looked at her, and being a man whom pity deeply stirred, it seemed to him that her (Éowyn) loveliness amid her grief would pierce his heart. And she looked at him and saw the grave tenderness in his eyes, and yet knew, for she was bred among men of war, that here was one whom no Rider of the Mark would outmatch in battle.” I love this because it shows the romantic Tolkien was (Return of the King)

9. “For Frodo.” Gets me every time.

I couldn’t resist, I had to sneak one in from The Hobbit:
“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” (Thorin to Bilbo as he was dying)

What are some of your favorite scenes?

Love and Faith

There Are Better Things Ahead

This year has been a year. In both incredible ways and also really hard and ugly ways. From personal events and happenings, to things in friend’s lives (from exciting engagements and babies to cancer diagnoses), to global events (from racism, to horrific mass shootings, to heart wrenching natural disasters to people coming together in beautiful ways), 2017 has been a year. A heavy year that I’m most definitely ready to say farewell to.

But here’s the thing: I’m thankful that each has taught me that it doesn’t end here. This is not it. It’s because of this truth, I have hope. Psalm 71:14 reads, “As for me, I will always have hope.” I don’t know what I would do without that promise. Without the Words that bring hope and are true.

“There are better things ahead than any we leave behind.”

I have this hanging on a wall in my house – a gift from a friend and the quote is from none other than C.S. Lewis.

The quote comes from a letter Lewis wrote. A few months back it was posted by an author friend, Tamera Alexander, as she and her family worked through her Dad’s failing health. Here’s the full letter:

TO MARY WILLIS SHELBURNE: On how to rehearse for death and how to diminish fear.
17 June 1963
Pain is terrible, but surely you need not have fear as well? Can you not see death as the friend and deliverer? It means stripping off that body which is tormenting you: like taking off a hairshirt or getting out of a dungeon. What is there to be afraid of? You have long attempted (and none of us does more) a Christian life. Your sins are confessed and absolved. Has this world been so kind to you that you should leave it with regret? There are better things ahead than any we leave behind.

Remember, though we struggle against things because we are afraid of them, it is often the other way round—we get afraid because we struggle. Are you struggling, resisting? Don’t you think Our Lord says to you ‘Peace, child, peace. Relax. Let go. Underneath are the everlasting arms. Let go, I will catch you. Do you trust me so little?’

Of course, this may not be the end. Then make it a good rehearsal.
Yours (and like you a tired traveller near the journey’s end) Jack
From The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume III

That’s the hope that keeps me going. That no matter how horrific evil rears its head, there’s hope. This may not be the end for many of us, so I plan on making this a really great rehearsal. Christ isn’t finished yet – with me or the Church.

I will continue to fight and speak out against injustices and work towards making our nation the ideal it has long promised (and the world too). Action is an important piece to our Christian life. Whether that’s helping my neighbor or working towards change in our government. My Christianity isn’t tied to a party or one cause. It’s dedicated to the pursuit of justice (and Christian, pro-life views do not end once a baby is born, but that’s another post for another time), loving my neighbor (even when I don’t agree with them) and trying to leave this world a better place.

I will continue to pray because that is the most important piece. You know what else I will continue to do? Be active. Be a voice. Use my freedom to hold accountable politicians. Demand for more. And live everyday as I think Jesus would – serving, loving and sharing the hope I have in Christ.

Inklings

In Celebration of His Birthday: 11 Favorite Quotes of C.S. Lewis

In celebration of Jack’s (aka C.S. Lewis) birthday, I thought I’d share 11 of my favorite quotes of Lewis.

1. “He’s wild, you know. Not like a tame lion.” The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

2. “It was from the Lion that the light came. No one ever saw anything more terrible or beautiful.” The Horse and His Boy

3. “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.” The Problem of Pain

4. “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.” The Problem of Pain

5. “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.” Surprised By Joy

6. “Consequently atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be a word without meaning.” Mere Christianity

7. “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” Mere Christianity

8. “Christian theology can fit in science, art, morality, and the sub-Christian religions. The scientific point of view cannot fit in any of these things, not even science itself. I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” The Weight of Glory

9. “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket – safe, dark, motionless, airless – it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.” The Four Loves

10. “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, in the end, “Thy will be done.” All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. To those who knock it is opened.” The Great Divorce

11. “Dear Wormwood,
Let him begin by treating the Patriotism or the Pacifism as a part of his religion. Then let him, under the influence of partisan spirit, come to regard it as the most important part. Then quietly and gradually nurse him on to the stage which the religion becomes merely a part of the “cause”…Once you have made the World an end, and faith a means, you have almost won you man, and it makes very little difference what kind of worldly end he is pursuing. Provided that meetings, pamphlets, policies, movements, causes, and crusades, matter more to him than prayers and sacraments and charity, he is ours – and more “religious” (on those terms) the more securely ours. I could show you a pretty cageful down here,
Your Affectionate Uncle,
Screwtape”
The Screwtape Letters

There are so many others (I made myself stop adding quotes from Narnia), you really can’t go wrong with words from Jack. What are some of your favorite books and/or quotes of Lewis?

Inklings

From the Library of C.S. Lewis by James Stuart Bell | Inklings Series Discussion

Welcome! I hope y’all had a chance to page through some of this collection of wisdom and from the voices of those who influenced Lewis. I’m not sure quite where this discussion will go (SO MANY OPTIONS), but whether or not you had a chance to snag this book, I think you’ll enjoy reading bits of the men and women represented. A.K.A. All the quotes.

As the introduction mentioned, “To truly understand Lewis and his works we need to get behind his role as Christian apologist to his interest in philosophy and literature, in reason and romanticism. Lewis was not a one-dimensional reader. His eclectic tastes ranged over a wide variety of genres and time periods. He was a fan of science fiction and fantasy writers as well as Aristotle, Shakespeare, and Augustine. In Lewis’s world, myth and allegory mix with precise logic in philosophical debate. Scholars continue to explore how these influences fit together, but there is no magic formula; Lewis was a complex figure who didn’t quite fit the trends of his own generation and is able to speak to the needs of each succeeding one.” I think we could benefit from reading as vastly as Lewis did as well!

“Follow After Agape”
God’s Love

George MacDonald’s Unspoken Sermons: “As it was love that first created humanity, so even human love, in proportion to its divinity, will go on creating the beautiful for its own outpouring. There is nothing eternal but that which loves and can be loved, and love is ever climbing towards the consummation when such shall be the universe, imperishable, divine.”

(Scottish Congregationalist pastor, novelist, myth maker, and poet, MacDonald had a profound influence on C. S. Lewis. Lewis said that MacDonald’s Phantastes “baptized my imagination.”)

“You Have Transfixed My Heart”
Our Love of God

Saint Bernard of Clairvaux’s On Loving God: “At first, man loves himself for his own sake. That is the flesh, which can appreciate nothing beyond itself. Next, he perceives that he cannot exist by himself, and so begins by faith to seek after God, and to love Him as something necessary to his own welfare. That is the second degree, to love God, not for God’s sake, but selfishly. But when he has learned to worship God and to seek Him aright, meditating on God, reading God’s Word, praying and obeying His commandments, he comes gradually to know who God is, and finds Him altogether lovely. So, having tasted and seen how gracious the Lord is (Psalm 34:8), he advances to the third degree, when he loves God, not merely as his benefactor but as God. Surely this is the longest state for the one who is growing in God. As to the fourth degree, I know not whether it would be possible to make further progress in this life to that fourth degree and perfect condition wherein man loves himself solely for God’s sake.”

(Saint Bernard of Clairvaux (1090–1153)—Mystic, monastic reformer, and influential figure in the twelfth-century church, Saint Bernard founded the Cistercian Monastery at Clairvaux.)

“How Dearly You Have Paid for Me”
The Life and Sacrifice of Christ

Andrew Murray’s Abide in Christ: “Let us hear what the Savior says of the joy of abiding in Him. He promises us His own joy: “My joy.”

(Andrew Murray (1828–1917)—Evangelical and leader in the South African Dutch Reformed Church, Andrew Murray was educated in Scotland and Holland. He served several pastorates and was six times the moderator of the Reformed Church.)

“Fatherly and Forgiving Goodness”
Grace and Redemption

Walter Hilton’s The Scale of Perfection: “Happy is the soul that is ever nourished by the experience of love when He is present, and is upheld by desire of HIm when He is absent. He is wise and well instructed in the love of God who keeps himself temperately and reverently in His presence, who contemplates Him lovingly without careless levity, and is patient at ease in His absence without harmful despair and sore bitterness.”

(Walter Hilton (d. 1396) – Hilton was an English mystic and hermit and became the Augustinian Canon of Thurgarton in Nottinghamshire)

“Divine Influence”
Living a Devout Life

Christina Rossetti’s The Poetical Works:

“Sorrow of saints is sorrow of a day,
Gladness of saints is gladness evermore:
Send on your hope, send on your will before,

To chant God’s praise along the narrow way. Stir up His praises if the flesh would sway, Exalt His praises if the world press sore,

Peal out His praises if black Satan roar A hundred thousand lies to say them nay. Devil and Death and Hades, three-fold cord

Not quickly broken, front you to your face; Front thou them with a face of tenfold flint: Shout for the battle, David! never stint. Body or breath or blood, but, proof in grace,

Die for your Lord, as once for you your Lord.”

(Christina Rossetti (1830–1894)—Sister of the Pre-Raphaelite Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Christina Rossetti was a notable Victorian poet.)

“Worthy to Receive More”
Humility

Thomas à Kempis’ The Imitation of Christ: “Always set yourself in the lowest place and you will be given the highest; for the highest cannot exist without the lowest. The Saints who are highest in God’s sight are the least in their own; and the more glorious they are, the more humble they are in heart, full of truth and heavenly joy and not desirous of vainglory.

Being grounded and confirmed in God, they can in no way be proud. They who ascribe to God whatever good they have received do not seek glory from one another, but only that glory which is from God; and the desire of their hearts is that God be praised in Himself and in all His Saints, and to this end they always tend.

Be grateful, therefore, for the least gift and you will be worthy to receive more.”

(Thomas à Kempis (ca. 1380–1471)—Born at Kempin (thus the surname à Kempis) near Cologne, Germany,Thomas Hämmerlien entered the Augustinian monastery at Mount Saint Agnes, where he worked as a copyist and spiritual director. He was a mystic, and his Imitation of Christ is thought by many to be second only to the Bible in its spiritual influence on readers. It was highly valued by C. S. Lewis.)

“The Gleaming of Divine Brightness”
Heaven, Death, and Immortality

Henry Vaughan’s Sacred Poems: Peace

My Soul, there is a country Afar beyond the stars,

Where stands a winged Sentry All skillful in the wars.

There, above noise and danger,
Sweet peace sits, crown’d with smiles,

And One born in a manger Commands the beauteous files.

He is your gracious friend And (O my Soul awake!)

Did in pure love descend,
To die here for your sake.

If you can get but thither,
There grows the flower of peace,

The rose that cannot wither, Your fortress, and your ease.

Leave then your foolish ranges; For none can you secure, But One, who never changes,

Your God, your Life, your Cure.

(Henry Vaughan (1622–1695)—Soldier, physician, poet, and brother of the alchemist Thomas Vaughan, Henry Vaughan is considered one of the metaphysical poets of the seventeenth century.)

I thought it would be fitting to end with Tolkien’s letter (to Anne Barrett, Houghton Mifflin Co. 30 August 1964) from “Mutually Christ’s” section:

C. S. L. [Lewis] of course had some oddities and could sometimes be irritating. He was after all and remained an Irishman of Ulster. But he did nothing for effect; he was not a professional clown, but a natural one, when a clown at all. He was generous-minded, on guard against all prejudices, though a few were too deep-rooted in his native background to be observed by him. That his literary opinions were ever dictated by envy (as in the case of T. S. Eliot) is a grotesque calumny. After all it is possible to dislike Eliot with some intensity even if one has no aspirations to poetic laurels oneself.

Well of course I could say more, but I must draw the line. Still I wish it could be forbidden that after a great man is dead, little men should scribble over him, who have not and must know they have not sufficient knowledge of his life and character to give them any key to the truth. Lewis was not “cut to the quick” by his defeat in the election to the professorship of poetry: he knew quite well the cause. I remember that we had assembled soon after in our accustomed tavern and found C. S. L. sitting there, looking (and since he was no actor at all probably feeling) much at ease. “Fill up!” he said, “and stop looking so glum. The only distressing thing about this affair is that my friends seem to be upset.”

I hope you have been inspired reading from so many voices! While there aren’t many discussion points, I would love to hear some that stood out to you!

Inklings

Aslan and Why I Love This Lion | Inklings Week

(Welcome to Inklings Week 2017! You can find all the posts here. Hope you enjoy and thanks for stopping by!)

Well y’all, another year and another Inklings Week comes to a close. I’ve had so much fun and I hope y’all have enjoyed the posts, learned something new and maybe even convinced a person or two to join the Inklings Club. I thought I’d finish out this week talking about one of my favorite characters in all of literature. Outside of the Bible, this character has helped me learn more about God’s character than any other work. Through each of the Narnia stories, Lewis shows the world one of the greatest stories ever told, all through a lion.

I started this week with a love letter of sorts and it’s only right I finish with one. Here are bits I loved from each book about Aslan. My hope is that whether or not you’ve read the books, you’ll be encouraged in these and ultimately the Greater Story. Also, is it really too much to ask to have a pet baby lion? Also, I tried to make this post shorter…I tried really hard…

The Magician’s Nephew

As with every Narnia novel, every time I finish this book, I say, “This one is my favorite!” It’s so beautiful. This tells the story of Narnia’s creation. And it really is one of my favorites. The beauty of creation, the temptation of power, the lessons learned, all of it! Here’s one of my favorites from the book:

“Narnia, Narnia, Narnia, awake. Love. Think. Speak. Be walking trees. Be talking beasts. Be divine waters.”

One of the things I love of Lewis, is how he captures the feeling of being in Divine presence. While the creation of Narnia was stunning, breathtaking and beautiful, it paled in comparison to the creator. Take this scene:

“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.”

Also, sidenote: Tolkien and Lewis both used music in the creation of their universes and its one of my favorite things about them both. Music is powerful and only fitting they are used.

Alright, now onto the most popular (and the first one he published and another personal favorite).

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

This story is all about Jesus. From the descriptions, to his actions in the book, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe reminds me most of Jesus as our Savior.

“He’s wild, you know. Not like a tame lion.” <<– Life Goals

Too many times we like to put God in a box (and trust me, many of times I have found myself doing the same thing). But how beautiful is it that He does the unexpected? We often want what we know, what we are comfortable with, but that often isn’t what is best for us. And it’s scary, but this wisdom from the Beaver is always a needed reminder:

“Safe? Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

Also, this: “People who have not been in Narnia sometimes think that a thing cannot be good and terrible at the same time. If the children had ever thought so, they were cured of it now. For when they tried to look at Aslan’s face they just caught a glimpse of the golden mane and the great, royal, solemn, overwhelming eyes; and then they found they couldn’t look at him and went all trembly.”

Finally, this has one of the greatest presentations of the Gospel in fiction. I might even say the best. Aslan’s says this to Lucy and Susan as he explains why what the White Witch did has no power:

“…though the Witch knew the Deep Magic, there is a magic deeper still which she did not know…that when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards.”

Sigh…

The Horse and His Boy

There are many people who say this is their least favorite of Chronicles or they don’t like it at all (or both). To which I say RUDE. And also, you’re wrong. I try and keep an open mind, I do, but not when it comes to this beauty! Maybe it’s because this was the first Narnia book I read (a year after college – I was way late to the Narnia train), but it’s more. Through this story of two children and two horses, Lewis reminds us of the many ways God comforts and leads us.

Throughout the adventure Shasta is on, he encounters lions/felines in different environments. When he finally encounters THE Aslan, he learns things weren’t all they seemed.

“Don’t you think it was bad luck to meet so many lions?” said Shasta.
“There was only one lion,” said the Voice.
“What on earth do you mean? I’ve just told you there were at least two the first night, and -”
“There was only one: but he was swift on foot.”
“How do you know?”
“I was the lion.” And as Shasta gaped with an open mouth and said nothing, the Voice continued. “I was the lion who forced you to join Aravis. I was the cat who comforted you among the houses of the dead. I was the lion who drove the jackals from you while you slept. I was the lion who gave the horses the new strength of fear for the last mile so that you should reach King Lune in time. And I was the lion you do not remember who pushed the boat in which you lay, a child near death, so that it came to shore where a man sat, wakeful at midnight, to receive you.”

“Who are you?” asked Shasta.
“Myself,” said the Voice, very deep and low so that the earth shook: and again “Myself,” loud and clear and gay: and then the third time “Myself,” whispered so softly you could hardly hear it, and yet it seemed to come from all round you as if the leaves rustled with it.

Shasta was no longer afraid that the Voice belonged to something that would eat him, nor that it was the voice of a ghost. But a new and different sort of trembling came over him. Yet he felt glad too.

Also love this:
“It was from the Lion that the light came. No one ever saw anything more terrible or beautiful.”

“But after one glance at the Lion’s face he (Shasta) slipped out of the saddle and fell at its feet. He couldn’t say anything but then he didn’t want to say anything, and he knew he needn’t say anything.”

“[Aslan] seems to be at the back of all the stories.” <<–RIGHT?!

I hope I have convinced the doubters of The Horse and His Boy’s brilliance. 🙂

Prince Caspian

This is one where Aslan is silent a majority of the book, but I would say that makes his arrival even more brilliant. I loved also, how they didn’t all see him at once. It’s a faith thing. Lucy never stopped believing in Aslan and, ““She sat up, trembling with excitement but not with fear.” The siblings (and Trumpkin) took a bit longer (and at different times), but even Aslan’s thoughts to them are telling:

After Peter apologized, Aslan calls him “My dear son.” To Edmund (who was more willing to believe Lucy this time), he says “Well done.” Then to Susan: “You have listened to your fears, child” said Aslan. “Come, let me breathe on you. Forget them. Are you brave again?”

There’s also a scene at the end that shows the freedom that comes with following Aslan (Jesus). Aslan, Lucy and Susan go through the town and bring life to people. It’s beautiful. One of my favorite parts is that Aslan calls them, like the school mistress, Dear heart.

There are times when it feels like God is silent (whether we’re talking the 400 years between the OT and NT, or our individual lives), but he never is and we can hold on to that truth.

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

There are so many amazing quotes and pieces to this story. I had nearly two pages of quotes, but thought that might be considered by some “excessive.” I can’t help it though! This story is full of so much adventure, yet Aslan is still always there. When they least expect it, when their hearts are being tempted to go astray, Aslan loves them enough to remind them of who they really are. The process isn’t always easy, but it is always worth it.

Take the scene where Dragon Eustace became boy Eustace again:

“Well, anyway, I looked up and saw the very last thing I expected: a huge lion coming slowly toward me. And one queer thing was that there was no moon last night, but there was moonlight where the lion was. So it came nearer and nearer. I was terribly afraid of it. You may think that, being a dragon, I could have knocked any lion out easily enough. But it wasn’t that kind of fear. I wasn’t afraid of it eating me, I was just afraid of it—if you can understand. Well, it came close up to me and looked straight into my eyes. And I shut my eyes tight. But that wasn’t any good because it told me to follow it.”

“You mean it spoke?”

“Then the lion said—but I don’t know if it spoke—‘You will have to let me undress you.’ I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it.

“The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off. You know—if you’ve ever picked the scab off a sore place. It hurts like billy-oh but it is fun to see it coming away.”

“I know exactly what you mean,” said Edmund

(Eustace describes the process a bit more…)

“What do you think it was, then?” asked Eustace.

“I think you’ve seen Aslan,” said Edmund.

“Aslan!” said Eustace. “I’ve heard that name mentioned several times since we joined the Dawn Treader. And I felt—I don’t know what—I hated it. But I was hating everything then. And by the way, I’d like to apologize. I’m afraid I’ve been pretty beastly.”

“That’s all right,” said Edmund. “Between ourselves, you haven’t been as bad as I was on my first trip to Narnia. You were only an ass, but I was a traitor.”

I really love Edmund’s character. In all ways he isn’t afraid to mention his mistake and what he learned from it. Our stories have the chance to encourage and impact others.

I loved the same impact when Lucy encountered the beauty spell while in the Magician’s house:

“But when she looked back at the opening words of the spell, there in the middle of the writing, where she felt quite sure there had been no picture before, she found the great face of a lion, of The Lion, Aslan himself, staring into hers. It was painted such a bright gold that it seemed to be coming toward her out of the page; and indeed she never was quite sure afterward that it hadn’t really moved a little. At any rate she knew the expression on his face quite well. He was growling and you could see most of his teeth. She became horribly afraid and turned over the page at once.”

We also have the chance to see Aslan be there is the darkest of times (like the terrifying cloud near the island).

“Lucy looked along the beam and presently saw something in it. At first it looked like a cross, then it looked like an aeroplane, then it looked like a kite, and at last with a whirring of wings it was right overhead and was an albatross. It circled three times round the mast and then perched for an instant on the crest of the gilded dragon at the prow. It called out in a strong sweet voice what seemed to be words though no one understood them. After that it spread its wings, rose, and began to fly slowly ahead, bearing a little to starboard. Drinian steered after it not doubting that it offered good guidance. But no one except Lucy knew that as it circled the mast it had whispered to her, “Courage, dear heart,” and the voice, she felt sure, was Aslan’s, and with the voice a delicious smell breathed in her face.”

This final quote I want to share is also one of my favorites of the series. It says so much about Aslan and who Lewis made him to be. It’s after Edmund and Lucy find out their adventures in Narnia have come to an end and Lucy cries out because she fears she will never see Aslan again. His response is as such:

“I am,” said Aslan. “But there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there.”

The Silver Chair

First let us all give a moment of thanks for Lewis’ creation of Puddleglum. I love him. And if the rumors of The Silver Chair movie are true, they better not mess him up! This story has such reminders about calling, trusting in Aslan. Early on Scrubb isn’t quite sure if they arrived in Narnia by mistake, but Aslan’s response is quite simple: “You would not have called to me unless I had been calling to you,” said the Lion.”

Why do I love Puddleglum? He says it like it is. This scene, everytime I read it, I am reminded that God doesn’t always give us the full picture, but take one step at a time.

“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”

I’ll end one more from Puddleglum. His response to the Witch (who is trying to convince the children and Marshwiggle that there was never a sun or Narnia) says this:

“‘One word, Ma’am,’ he said… ‘One word. All you’ve been saying is quite right, I shouldn’t wonder. I’m a chap who always liked to know the worst and then put the best face I can on it. So I won’t deny any of what you said. But there’s one thing more to be said, even so. Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things–trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that’s a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We’re just babies making up a game, if you’re right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That’s why I’m going to stand by the play-world. I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia. So, thanking you kindly for our supper, if these two gentlemen and the young lady are ready, we’re leaving your court at once and setting out in the dark to spend our lives looking for Overland. Not that our lives will be very long, I should think; but that’s small loss if the world’s as dull a place as you say.”

I’ll take Narnia too.

The Last Battle

I LOVE THIS ONE SO MUCH. Every single thing about it. Lewis’ descriptions, the hints of what is to come…all of it is so beautiful. I’ll kick off the quotes when they go into the new Narnia:

“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. Of course it is beyond our wildest dreams, 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.” #CommenceCrying

Further up and Further in!

This final scene? CRY ALL THE TEARS every single time.

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.

Well, I think that’s enough gushing for now :). Do you have a favorite Aslan scene?

Inklings

Fun Finds: Inklings Edition | Inklings Week

(Welcome to Inklings Week 2017! You can find all the posts here. Hope you enjoy and thanks for stopping by!)

INTERNET!! Today is INTERNATIONAL INKLINGS DAY! It’s the day J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis first met (at a faculty meeting in 1926) and because they did, it’s safe to say we have Lord of the Rings and Chronicles of Narnia. If you want to read more about their friendship, here’s a post I wrote last year.

Since I can’t be in Oxford to celebrate, how about a bunch of ideas to buy ourselves instead? Close enough right??? (Or not at all, but #MaybeNextYear). I know, most months can look like Inklings Inspired Fun Finds, but this one was 100% on purpose since it’s Inklings Week. Now people have months notice for my birthday. It’s a big one people. One that should probably be filled with all kinds of Inklings inspired gifts…I kid….I kid….

1. Juniper Books Sets – Both LOTR and Chronicles of Narnia. I call these “Oh hi, I need you right now.” THEY’RE SO PRETTY. (Also, I have so much envy looking at all the books Juniper offers. I need lots of them).

2. To Share an Adventure Sign. Aren’t we all?

3. Aslan Print. Is it possible to have too many Aslan related anything? I think the answer is obviously no.

4. Courage, Dear Heart T-Shirt. Sometimes we need to wear important reminders. Plus this t-shirt looks really comfortable. Double win.

5. Tree of Gondor decal. I just found the perfect decal for my iPad. YES.

What are some of your favorite Inklings related gifts? (Because one can never have enough options to choose from 🙂

Inklings

Inklings Starter Kit | Guest Post by Wesley Hoffman

(Welcome to Inklings Week 2017! You can find all the posts here. Hope you enjoy and thanks for stopping by!)

If you’ve been around the blog for a bit, you might already know Wesley of Library Educated! She has a great blog (and reviews some of the most unique topics, I love it!). She also does a really awesome annual “All Women’s July.” So be sure to connect. You can find here on her blog and Twitter! I look forward to when we get to hang out in person and love this fun post she did for Inklings Week!

Inklings Starter Kit

So, you want to be an Inkling. That’s a good call. You will join the ranks of men and (a few) women who have contributed mightily to the literary world. But what exactly do you need to be an Inkling? Here’s a starter kit:

A good coat

Whenever I think of the original Inklings group I always think of them wearing blazers with elbow patches, or something sensible to keep out the brisk English weather. The right coat will set the mood, and bonus, keep you warm!


Foreign and/or Old Language Dictionaries

Tolkien in particular was an Inkling with some incredible foreign language skills (taught himself Finnish!). If you are not similarly gifted, get some supplies to keep you up to date on your latin, Old English, and other rare languages.

 

Drink of Choice

As an Inkling you are going to be spending a lot of time sitting around talking about books, big life questions and who knows what else. This could be in a pub, this could be in front of a cozy fire or in some meadow on a picnic. But you need to always be ready with a beverage of choice. And even more important than what you are drinking, you have to have a great drinking vessel.

Lots of Stationery and Writing Tools

Whether you’re writing your own stuff, helping out a fellow writer, or dropping a making a list you’ve got to have the write (hahaha) tools. Whether it’s moleskine notebooks or Lisa Frank binders you’ve got to have something to contain all of your genius!

Not Necessary but Helpful

A pipe for when you want to look very studious and serious (I’d encourage the bubble type over the tobacco type. Safety first.)

A fireplace and cozy chair for maximum comfort.

However, the most important thing you need to be an Inkling is not something that you hold in your hand or have in your house. It’s something that you’ve had all along, the love of good books and good company! If you have that you have all you REALLY need to be an Inkling.

Thanks again for joining in Wesley! What would y’all add to a starter kit?

 

Inklings

Favorite Characters From Narnia | Guest Post by Katherine Reay

(Welcome to Inklings Week 2017! You can find all the posts here. Hope you enjoy and thanks for stopping by!)

If y’all haven’t met Katherine Reay yet, I have two things to say: WHY NOT? And also, please go remedy that. She’s not only a fabulous author (I love every one of her books), she’s a fabulous person. She joined in the Inklings fun last year and I’m so excited she is part of it again this year! Be sure to connect with her around the internets at her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Hope y’all enjoy this piece as much as I did (plus there’s another giveaway!)!

I’m delighted to celebrate Inklings’ Week here again. This year, rather than chat about Lewis’s influence on my own writing, I’d like to introduce you to my two favorite characters from all the Inkling members. I do love Tolkien’s Samwise Gamgee, but the winners are C. S. Lewis’s Edmund Pevensie and Eustace Scrubb from his Chronicles of Narnia.

Edmund First…

Edmund is the third of the Pevensie children – he is mean and truculent; he lies and teases. He’s generally annoying. And he’s a traitor. With so much stacked against him, one might think Edmund is beyond redemption. But, in many ways, that’s the point. Lewis gives him, I think, the greatest story and development as a character within all Narnia. Edmund starts as traitor and ends as a king – and what a king!

By the end of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Edmund the Just is loyal, logical, and courageous. He’s a serious and mature character who knows the true cost of grace and of his very life. Lewis never lets Edmund falter after this. In subsequent stories such as Prince Caspian, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, and his semi-cameo appearance in The Horse and his Boy, Edmund handles his authority with measured grace. In his final appearance in The Last Battle, we find the same stalwart friend and leader. That’s not to say Lewis made everything easy for Edmund after Aslan saved him. He didn’t. The memory of his betrayal in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe plagued Edmund in later years and in later stories. Yet in those moments, rather than giving into despair or or regret, Edmund discerns the difference between truth and feeling – and he acts on truth. Edmund reminds us all the cost of freedom, redemption and the wisdom in keeping our “eyes wide open.”

Then comes Eustace…

Eustace Clarence Scrub is Edmund’s cousin. We meet him in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and we find him possibly worse than we found Edmund…

There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.

What an opening line! Eustace didn’t almost deserve that name and introduction — He did. Eustace was a weasel-y, arrogant, and annoying boy. He was a whiner, a coward and a friend to only himself. But Lewis doesn’t leave him there either. He takes him on a remarkable journey that begins with my most beloved Narnian scene.

I used this passage in Dear Mr. Knightley and that is what I’ll quote here as it summarizes the moment. Eustace provided guidance for Dear Mr. Knightley‘s heroine, Samantha Moore, as she too was trying to figure out how to change and who to become.

December 24th

Dear Mr. Knightley,
… I feel like Oscar Wilde’s Portrait of Dorian Gray. Mr. Gray sold his soul for external beauty and only his portrait, hidden in an attic, displayed the horror and depravity of his life. His face remained young, unlined and perfect. I’m no better than he. My insides feel so horrid. But that’s not what I want or who I want to be. I want to be so much more.

Isabella Conley gave me a book a few weeks ago with the most haunting and beautiful passage I’ve ever read. I found a character within it that offered me hope, not just understanding. But I don’t know what to do with it, what it means.

In C.S. Lewis’s The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, I found the story of a boy saved internally and externally from the grim life he’d created. Eustace, a perfectly pugnacious little twerp, turns into a dragon while thinking greedy, dragonish thoughts. Can’t you just see it? Eustace’s pettiness and green color; his truculence and self-absorption; his sourness and fear? I can. And he pays a physical price for all that internal mess. But once Eustace recognizes his true state, as a real dragon, he starts to behave more kindly. He strives to change inside. But it’s too late and he’s too far gone. He can’t do it and his anguish made me cry.

Only Aslan, this amazingly huge and glorious lion, holds that power. Eustace is completely incapable and insufficient; but Aslan shows grace and turns him back into a boy. Eustace then finds his friends and describes Aslan’s powerful work: The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off.

Edmund, the traitor in The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe, understands perfectly and so do I. But I’m still under that skin. It suffocates me, chokes me and is killing me. There’s no Aslan in the real world, so there’s no hope. Mrs. Muir would say I’m wrong. She says there is hope in God and hope in Christ. They’ve invited me to dinner weekly since Thanksgiving and, during each meal, she drops hints and hope like breadcrumbs for me to follow. But I can’t see it. I just feel swallowed by darkness…

Sincerely,
Sam

After that scene in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Edmund and Eustace compare notes. I appreciate Edmund’s humor and honesty here. “You were only an ass, but I was a traitor.”

That line right there is one reason I love these characters. No self-deception about who they were or who they want to become. I also appreciate that their stories aren’t too big for me to learn from and even appropriate. Yes, they battle witches and armies, lead countries and fight evil. Yes, they sail to the ends of the world and back again. Yes, Eustace became a dragon. But their greatest battles and transformations take place inside where, I suspect, often the most dangerous battles are fought. They warred against selfishness, arrogance, pain, betrayal, insecurity and countless other vices I encounter and wage war against within my own life and often on a daily basis. Better yet, they show me victory.

Edmund and Eustace make their final appearance in Narnia in The Last Battle – as do really all Narnians and humans, except Susan. In this final story, Edmund and Eustace, along with Lucy, Peter, Jill, Professor Digory Kirke and Miss Polly, find themselves first in Narnia and then, upon its defeat, in Aslan’s country forever. And as sad as I was to see the Chronicles end, I was pleased my two favorite characters made it to Aslan’s country and we left them traveling “further up and further in” to eternal life and happiness.

Thank you for joining me here today and thank you, Jamie, for inviting me once again!

Inklings

In Which I Share My Love of the LOTR Movies | Inklings Week

(Welcome to Inklings Week 2017! You can find all the posts here. Hope you enjoy and thanks for stopping by!)

Welcome to 3rd Annual Inklings Week! It’s one of my favorite weeks of the blog year. It’s the best getting to chat all things Inklings with y’all! We have another great lineup this year and I hope you’ll stop by every day. There’s some fun giveaways, guests posts and lots of gushing about the Inklings. Plus, one step closer to making International Inklings Day a real thing right?!

Alright, let’s do this! Since I had some “feelings” last year about The Hobbit movies (I stand firmly by my claim), I thought it would be fun to go opposite this year and share some of my favorite scenes from the LOTR movie trilogy.

I want y’all to know that I was COMMITTED to this post and it was rough. I had to watch all three movies again for research, but I didn’t stop there. I wanted the full and complete experience, so I watched the extended versions. This blogging gig isn’t for the faint of heart y’all.

Or it quite possibly looked like any other Sunday afternoon in my house, in which I tell myself to watch a new movie and somehow LOTR ends up playing. #Weird

I should also mention that this is by no means an exhaustive list of favorite scenes or quotes. If I listed every thing I loved, I’d pretty much be typing out the script. Be sure to share some of your favorite scenes!!

Images © 2001 – New Line Productions, Inc.

I love Gandalf’s research style. This is 100% how I feel in a used book store (you know, hoping I’ll be one of those people who finds a rare edition with a Tolkien hand drawn map hidden in the pages)

I’ve said this plenty of times before, but Sam is one of my favorite characters. He’s so brave and I love the scene right before he crosses the line of the furthest place he’s been. He doesn’t yet know all that he’s got himself into, but he goes all in. I also love the humor throughout the movies (and books). It is often found in Pippin and I’m pretty sure his love of food makes him my spirit animal. I’m with Pippin – the world is a much better place when there’s snacks, second breakfasts and afternoon teas.

“Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement.” Gandalf

“All we have to do is decide what to do with the time that is given to us.” Gandalf

I also need to take a moment to stop and talk about Boromir. Yes, he was lead astray by the ring, but he made up for it. Even if he realized things a bit too late, that last scene with Aragorn gets me every time.

“Our people. Our people. I would have followed you. My brother. My captain. My King.” 😭😭😭😭

Then of course it ends with Sam being awesome (and you might recognize the hand scene in The Return of the King). “I made a promise Mr. Frodo. A promise. Don’t you leave him Samwise Gamgee. And I don’t mean to.” 😭😭😭

Images © 2002 – New Line Productions, Inc.

I’d like to start off with The Two Towers by saying I have always had a major crush on Éomer (the character and actor, let’s be real). I love him a lot more in the books (especially his friendship with Aragorn), but the movies weren’t too shabby either.

When it comes to Smeags (aka Gollum), he’s my favorite in this movie. Andy Serkis did such a phenomenal job with his character. From his self chat to “trust Master,” to his disgust with taters (“PO-TA-TOES”) to his dismay at when “Master tricks us” to his final plot to lead them to Shelob, I love how it was all portrayed.

I also loved Sam’s speech at the end:

“They had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t because they were holding on to something….That there’s some good in this world and it’s worth fighting for.”

Images © 2003 – New Line Productions, Inc.

What’s not to love about the conclusion? Everyone is just so brave and the bonds of friendship got me like 😭😭😭. I like that Aragorn takes on his destiny fully in this movie (hey King, heyyy!). He’s awesome in previous movies (but not as much as the books), but the way he leads in this one, he shows himself fully King. Éowyn with her “I am no man, so I can kill the Witch King of Angmar” business is one of my favorite scenes as well.

Some of my favorite parts of the whole series happen after the battle of Minas Tirith. From Aragorn commanding the troops to the Black Gates (in order to give Frodo and Sam a chance #ForFrodo), to Samwise’s final acts of bravery of saving Frodo (“I can’t carry it for you Mr. Frodo, but I can carry you!”), to Aragon’s “You bow to no one” speech to the Hobbits, I cry every single time.

“There may come a day when the strength of men fails, but it is not this day! Not this day!” Aragorn

Gimli: I never thought I’d die fighting side-by-side with an elf.
Legalos: How about side by side with a friend then?
Gimli: Aye. I can do that.

It’s safe to say, yes, I love these movies.

Alright, what are some of your favorite scenes?