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?

Advertisements
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

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

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!