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?

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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

The Friendship of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis (Plus It’s International Inklings Day!!)

(If you’re new, welcome to Inklings Week 2016! I don’t want you to miss any of the posts this week, so be sure to check them out here!) 

I miss you Oxford!

“Friendship makes prosperity more shining and lessens adversity by dividing and sharing it.” Cicero

Today is officially International Inklings Day!!!! On this day 90 years ago, J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis were gathered for English tea with Oxford English faculty at Merton College and met for the first time. This would begin a 40 year friendship and this friendship would inspire generations to come and also help to produce some of literature’s greatest masterpieces.

Yet, truth be told, it wasn’t friendship at first sight. After that first meeting, Lewis commented (I believe jokingly!) about Tolkien: “No harm in him: only needs a smack or so.” He thought him rather opinionated, but this was more due to the fact that at the time Lewis was an atheist and Tolkien was a strong Roman Catholic. As Diana Pavlac Glyer explained in Bandersnatch (which really is an excellent book and you should all read it!)

“It got worse. As Lewis and Tolkien got to know each other, it became clear that they had a number of serious disagreements. They had different interests and personalities. They came from different religious traditions. And they had different academic specialties. Lewis was an expert in literature and philosophy; Tolkien was a philologist, an expert in languages. He loved Old Norse and Anglo-Saxon. Lewis said that meeting Tolkien triggered two of his childhood prejudices. He explains, “At my first coming into the world I had been (implicitly) warned never to trust a [Catholic], and at my first coming into the English Faculty (explicitly) never to trust a philologist. Tolkien was both.

Soon after the faculty disagreed on required courses for English students and Lewis and Tolkien found themselves on opposite sides of the debate. So Tolkien decided that in order to win people over to his curriculum, he would gather the faculty together to bring about love for mythology and ancient languages. This turned out to be a genius move. Once again, I’ll quote Bandersnatch:

Lewis and Tolkien discovered they had significant common ground. They gravitated towards each other because they shared an interest in what they called “northernness,” the vast skies, icy landscapes, and heroic tempers of the ancient Vikings. As they talked together, Lewis was slowly won over to Tolkien’s view of the English curriculum. And as they worked side by side, they forged a solid friendship. E. L. Edmonds, a student at Oxford, remembers, “It was very obvious that [Lewis and Tolkien] were great friends—indeed, they were like two young bear cubs sometimes, just happily quipping with one another.”

Tolkien would go on to play a significant role in Lewis’ conversion to Christianity (especially on the night of September 19, 1931, where, along with Hugo Dyson, the three men spent hours discussing life and faith and Lewis later said this was his final push for Christianity) and Lewis would be Tolkien’s biggest supporter and encourager in finishing Lord of the Rings and other works. Their friendship was a staple in each other’s lives and, while, in later years the friendship did change, it never lost it’s meaning.

In Tolkien and C. S. Lewis: The Gift of a Friendship by Colin Duriez, we see that “with C.S. Lewis’ death, it was a “wound [Tolkien] knew he would not lose, as one loses a falling lead.” Even years after Lewis’ death Tolkien wrote about Lewis: “The unpayable debt that I owe to him was not ‘influence’ as it is ordinarily understood, but sheer encouragement. He was for long my only audience. Only from him [did I] ever get the idea that my ‘stuff’ could be more than a private hobby.”

I’ll leave with a few fun facts because I’m all about fun facts.

  • Lewis’ character, Elwin Random, in Out of the Silent Planet, resembles Tolkien quite a bit. Elwin means “elf-friend” and the character is a Cambridge philologist who has a love for languages.
  • The Professor in Narnia was also inspired by Tolkien.
  • Treebeard was inspired by C.S. Lewis.
  • They each have rad names: John Ronald Reuel Tolkien and Clive Staples Lewis
  • They both lost their moms at a young age
  • Tolkien’s dad died when he was a toddler and Lewis’ Dad withdrew and sent Lewis to a boarding school after his mother’s death.
  • They both fought in WWI.
  • In 1961, Lewis nominated Tolkien for the Nobel Peace Prize in literature (which he totally should have won)
  • Both Humphrey Carpenter (Tolkien’s official biographer) and Edith Tolkien (when she told scholar Clyde S. Kilby) stated that C.S. Lewis actually wrote Tolkien’s obituary, which was published the day after his death (9/2/73) in The Times.

“My happiest hours are spent with three or four old friends and old clothes tramping together and putting up in small pubs – or else sitting up till the small hours in someone’s college rooms talking nonsense, poetry, theology, metaphysics over beer tea and pipes.”

I hope y’all enjoyed this brief look at Tolkien and Lewis’ friendship! Who has greatly encouraged and inspired you in your life?

Author Interviews

4 Questions with Ryan Pemberton | Author Interview

(This interview is part of my 4 Questions Project, where I get the chance to chat with authors and tell stories of people, life, and adventure. Be sure to check out previous interviews here!)

Do y’all remember that one time I talked about C.S. Lewis? I think it may have been about seven seconds ago. I heard about Called: My Journey to C. S. Lewis’s House and Back Again not so long ago and after an email from a friend, I knew I needed to connect! Not only can I not wait to read the book (don’t miss the giveaway at the end), but Ryan is such a refreshing voice and is awesome, so I’m super excited to host him today!

I also need you readers to know that at one point he lived in the house C.S. Lewis lived in.

Internet.

Jealousy. So much jealousy.

Ryan J. Pemberton left a successful career in marketing and public relations to write about life and faith and God. He has degrees in theology from Duke Divinity School and Oxford University, where he lived in C. S. Lewis’s former home, served as President of the Oxford University C. S. Lewis Society, and co-founded the Oxford Open Forum, an inter-religious dialogue group.

Ryan has written for Image Journal, Duke University Chapel, Bible Study Magazine, and Relevant magazine.

He serves on the Board of Directors for Jesus’ Economy, an international non-profit organization that creates jobs and churches in the developing world.

Ryan lives in the Pacific Northwest with his wife and daughter. This is his first book.

Let’s dive in shall we?

1. Why did you want to write this book, this story? Was this a story you wanted to publish when you got back to the States or did it come about gradually?
I wrote a magazine article a few years back called, “Lessons From Leaving a Desk Job.” I was blown away by the response I received, from people all over the world who wrote to say how it spoke to them, right where they were at in life. Feeling called to make a dramatic life change, but also being scared out of their mind to take that first step. I was actually working on another manuscript at the time, trying to get it published but struggling with closed door after closed door. And then I began to think, “Maybe there’s a book here…”

I started putting together the pitch when I returned to the States. It took about a year or so to get a deal, and then I wrote it while finishing my Master’s. It was a pretty crazy time.

2. What do you hope readers walk away with after reading this part of your story?
I like how you put that: “this part of your story.” Because the story’s not done, right? It’s still being written. And readers will feel that at the end of Called.

But as for your question, I hope those who read Called will feel a part of their own journey as they read this journey. I hope they’ll be led to think about where God is calling them, not so much to this job or that life change, but to this particular area of life that God is calling them to surrender, and to follow Him, even if following Him means staying right where they are, but staying in a new way—a way they would never have imagined on their own but that’s so beautiful that people stop and take note.

3. Let’s chat C.S. Lewis because he’s a genius :). What are a couple of his works you consider favorites?
The first C. S. Lewis book I ever read was Mere Christianity, which changed my life in tangible ways. I like to say that my heart was baptized years before, but it was only after I read Mere Christianity that my mind was baptized. It was then that I put both feet into the Christian tradition for the first time. Which is important, right? We’re heart and mind, not one or the other. The Christian narrative speaks to both, but I needed Lewis’s help to show me that. To this day, MC is still my favorite.

From there, it gets tricky. I actually really like the collection of essays titled, God in the Dock, because it gives you a chance to read Lewis on so many different topics. Also, I like Abolition of Man a lot; that was a prophetic book. And I always try and encourage folks to have a look at his letters. They’re now published as a three-volume work. You don’t have to read very many of them to see how incredibly thoughtful he was in correspondence, taking great time and care to answer the deep, personal questions people wrote him. They’re often overlooked, but they’re a rich read.

4. What’s one way the legacy and life of C.S. Lewis has impacted your life?
Well I touched on this earlier, but Lewis encouraged me to take my faith seriously intellectually. He has this great line in Mere Christianity where he says, “God is no more fond of intellectual slackers than He is of any other kind of slacker.” Which not only gave me permission to be a thinking Christian, but actually made me realize this is something I have to be. Like anything, my mind is something God has given me, and He expects me to use it to the best of my ability, for His glory and for the work of His in-breaking Kingdom.

1. What is something about your life right now that you would have never imagined 5 years ago?
This, probably. I mean, the interviews and talks and book signings. I recently gave a reading at this bookstore in my old hometown, and it was such a surreal feeling to actually be reading my book aloud to all these folks. The day before, I lectured at my undergrad alma mater on the life and writings of C. S. Lewis. Afterward, I was signing books and I looked over the shoulders of those in line at one point and saw the poster hanging on the wall with my photo and book cover on it. These undergrads were handing me copies of my book to sign, some with shaky hands, and I just thought “Whoa… This is actually happening.” It was pretty surreal.

This is something I dreamed of for years, but the journey to this point was so incredibly difficult, with more closed doors than I’d like to admit. So to actually be here, now, it’s an incredible feeling.

2. What is one thing that you would go back and do differently if you could?
Oh, boy… That’s a tough question. But there was a time on my journey when I became so worried, so focused on getting published, that I really feel like I became lost to myself. I became a pretty lousy husband and friend to my wife—not being there for her as I should have been—and a pretty poor friend to my friends. I let this ambition get in the way of who I was supposed to be and to the needs right in front of me. I think I had to get to a pretty ugly place before I realized, “This will never be worth it if you’re not taking care of what’s right in front of you.” Other authors say that, of course. I think of Anne Lamott, for example. But for me, I had to learn that one on my own. Like anything, getting published makes for a poor god.

3. What is one of the happiest moments of your life?
The birth of our daughter, Emma. Hands down. I told a lot of friends after she was born that I was completely unprepared for how much joy she would bring to my life. You’re prepared for the late nights and lack of sleep, of course—everyone tells you that—but no one told me how genuinely happy she’d make me.

My wife, Jen, and I spent six months of our first pregnancy 6,000 miles apart, during what was one of the most difficult periods of my life. I write about this experience in my book. And I think that darkness only made the joy of this experience that much brighter.

4. What is one thing you want the next generation to know?
That your story is not about you.

I’m not sure when that realization comes—it’s something I have to learn over and over again, it seems—but it sure saves us from a lot of grief. As someone who writes memoir, and who gives talks and interviews on my own journey, it’s particularly tempting for me to think my life is about me. But it’s not, of course. And when I started to realize that, I learned that I can actually use my life to point to something beyond myself. On my good days, God helps me to do just that.

I feel smarter just reading this interview. Thank you so much Ryan for joining me on Books and Beverages!

Where to Connect with Author
Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Called Website

 

Inklings

The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis | Inklings Series Discussion

Whenever reading Lewis’ nonfiction, I can’t help but think of his life experiences up until that point. This book, written a few years before he passed away, had plenty of experience to base his study on. It never fails to captivate me. I admit, I felt like I was googling some reference Lewis made every other page. There were also a few “I’m going to have to re-read that page because I’m not quite sure what I just read” moments.

This is one of those books though, you could read 100 times and still discover something new with each read. Can we are take a moment to appreciate that Lewis referred to himself as an “oldster” and used Jane Austen as examples? Alright, now onto a discussion which I hope won’t just turn into 97,000 quotes…. : )

I thought the “Likings and Loves for the sub-human” was an interesting section on the other things we humans can “love.” From his discussion of the dangers of patriotism (no doubt from his experience and living through two World Wars) to his thoughts of nature, especially this one:

“Nature never taught me that there exists a God of Glory and of infinite majesty. I had to learn that in other ways. But nature gave the word glory a meaning for me. I still do not know where else I could have found one. I do not see how the “fear” of God could have ever meant to me anything but the lowest prudential efforts to be safe, if I had never seen certain ominous ravines and unapproachable crags. And if nature had never awakened certain longings in me, huge areas of what I can now mean by the “love” of God would never, so far as I can see, existed.”

How easy it is for humans to turn something good into an idol? “We may give our human loves the unconditional allegiance which we owe only to God. Then they become gods: then they become demons….Love becomes a demon when it becomes a god.”

He’s been bringing it since 1898.

So this doesn’t once again turn into dissertation status, here’s a couple thoughts and quotes from each of the Four Loves:

Affection

I took this one to be the easiest to come by and basic, but not in a “not as important as the others” way either. Each of the other loves has Affection as a part of them as well.

“Affection is the humblest love.”

“Affection opens our eyes to goodness we could not have seen, or should not have appreciated without it.”

Friendship

This will be hard to keep short. I don’t think it was by mistake the section on Friendship is the longest. This too can also be a part of the other loves and is so vital for life. (Sidenote: Did anyone else need to look up his examples of friendship? Folks like Pylades & Orestes, Roland and Oliver, Amis and Amile? Wiki and I hung out a lot reading this book).

Some of my favorite Lewis quotes come from this section as well:

“Friendship arises out of mere Companionship when two or more of the companions discover that they have in common some insight or interest or even taste which the others do not share and which, till that moment, each believed to be his own unique treasure (or burden). The typical expression of opening Friendship would be something like, “What? You too? I thought I was the only one.”

“I have no duty to be anyone’s Friend and no man in the world has a duty to be mine. No claims, no shadow of necessity. Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like are, like the universe itself (for God did not need to create). It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.”

His description and discussion of friendship was insightful (i.e. how friendship can be used for evil when it involves folks who are criminals) and so thought-provoking.

Then this. Way to make me get teary-eyed Jack. “But, for a Christian, there are, strictly speaking, no chances. A secret Master of the Ceremonies has been at work…The Friendship is not a reward for our discrimination and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each the beauties of all the others….they are, like all beauties, derived from Him, and then, in a good Friendship, increased by His through the Friendship itself, so that it is His instrument for creating as well as revealing. At this feast it is He who has spread the board and it is He who has chosen the guests. It is He, we may dare to hope, who sometimes does, and always should, preside. Let us now reckon without our Host.”

Eros

This section didn’t hit me as much as Friendship, but I think Lewis was spot on, on so many levels. It’s about the other person. That’s what makes Eros so beautiful and vulnerable.

“Eros wants the Beloved.”

“Now Eros makes a man really want, not a woman, but one particular woman. In some mysterious but quite indisputable fashion the lover desires the Beloved herself, not the pleasure she can give.”

Lewis doesn’t hold back on the dangers of idolising Eros either, while also recognizing its “grandeur and terror.”

“We must not give unconditional obedience to the voice of Eros when he speaks most like a god. Neither must we ignore or attempt to deny the god-like quality. This love is really and truly like Love Himself.”

Charity

Well. This section has one of my all-time favorite quotes…EVER:

“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.”

Then….

THIS. “Christ did not teach and suffer that we might become, even in the natural loves, more careful of our own happiness. If a man is not uncalculating towards the earthly beloveds whom he has seen, he is none the more likely to be so towards God whom he has not. We shall draw nearer to God, not by trying to avoid the sufferings inherent in all loves, but by accepting them and offering them to Him; throwing away all defensive armour. If our hearts need to be broken, and if He chooses this as He way in which they should break, so be it.”

He was also a fan of keeping the truth simple:

“God is love.” Amen Jack. Amen!

Discussion time! Keeping it pretty simple, so please feel free to answer any or all.

1. Was there one discussion that stuck out to you more (of the Four Loves)?
As I mentioned, for me it was definitely the section of Friendship, but there were also several tidbits that packed a punch in the Charity chapter.

2. I always love reading the quotes that spoke to people, so please feel free to share any that hit home for you. I admit, I have at least another page of quotes, but I’ll save them for another day : ).

3. Please include any other thoughts or insight!
I don’t know if this was his intent, but Lewis had me chuckling quite a bit. Especially with some of his descriptions of people, like referring to one of his students as a “not so nice Rodent.” Or the time he compared humans to donkeys? “Ass is exquisitely right because no one in his senses can either revere or hate a donkey.” Then there was also his warning about his closing thoughts on Charity: “Take it as one man’s reverie, almost one man’s myth: If anything in it is useful to you, use it; if anything is not, never give it a second thought.”

Looking forward to hearing from y’all!

Inklings

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis | Inklings Series Discussion

“He’s wild, you know. Not like a tame lion.”

How and where do I start with this brilliant piece of work? Whether Lewis had me laughing or yearning for things beyond this world, I love this book and I just need to let the world wide web know that the world of Narnia is pure genius.

I laughed a bunch in this book. Lucy and Mr. Tumnus’ early interaction was a favorite. His take on where she came from? Genius.

“Daughter of Eve from the far land of Spare Oom where eternal summer reigns around the bright city of War Drobe, how would it be if you came and had tea with me?”

I want to have tea with you Mr. Tumnus!!

Reading The Chronicles of Narnia is numinous. That might be a strange way to describe it, but I see God’s story in every page and some of the ways Lewis discussed and described Aslan gave me the chills (in a good way!). Throughout the pages, we see humanity gone wrong, yet humanity restored. I saw bravery and love in the most beautiful sense.

Like the way we learn about Aslan’s character through people’s reactions. Check this passage:

“They say Aslan is on the move – perhaps has already landed.

And now a very curious thing happened. None of the children knew who Aslan was any more than you do; but the moment the Beaver had spoken these words everyone felt quite different.”

It’s that joy (even if you don’t see it at first) of knowing you will be restored & redeemed.

Now how do I not just unleash of all things Aslan right now?

First there’s this song:
“Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,
At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more,
When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death,
And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.”

Then there’s 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.”

Aslan is simply awesome. I know, a terribly inadequate description, but he is!

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

Alright – discussion time! Here’s some questions for discussion. As always, please feel free to answer any or all and include any additional thoughts!

1. Which of the siblings (or parts of their personality) do you connect with?
Before I answer, I want to add how I thought Lewis’ description of how each sibling felt when they first heard the name of Aslan very telling (and how that carries over into real life reactions)
Edmund: “A sensation of mysterious horror.”
Peter: “Brave and adventurous.”
Susan: “As if some delicious smell of some delightful strain of music had just floated by her.”
Lucy: “The feeling you have when you wake up in the morning and realize that it is the beginning of the holidays or the beginning of summer.”

I think I would have Lucy’s reaction to Narnia, pretty much running around saying “this is the greatest thing ever!!” And maybe a touch of Peter.

2. Do you have a favorite character?
Aslan! Since he’s probably a favorite for many readers, I’ll also add Mr. and Mrs. Beaver. I love that they didn’t doubt when they knew (without seeing) and felt that Aslan was on the move. Then they were all in, not matter the dangers that surely awaited them. I really like Edmund’s change too.

3. What were some of your favorite lines or quotes?
When the girls were watching Aslan as he sacrificed himself, well the whole scene was beautiful, but especially this line during his moment of “weakness”, when the White Witch thought she had won and disgraced Aslan by shaving him: “…for now that the first shock was over the shorn face of Aslan looked to her braver, and more beautiful, and more patient than ever.” Sigh. Have I mentioned I love C.S. Lewis?

4. What’s one part of the story you connected with?
Another theme I really loved seeing played out was the one of bravery. For example, when Maugrim (captain of the Witch’s guard) is trying to get Susan and Peter is her only hope: “Peter did not feel very brave; indeed, he felt he was going to be sick. But that made no difference to what he had to do.” That seems to be a recent theme in my life. Sometimes you don’t feel all that brave until a situation that requires bravery, is thrust upon you.

“…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.”

Excited to discuss with y’all!!

Inklings

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis | Inklings Series Discussion

Hello everyone! As always, I love these discussions and getting to chat all things Narnia with y’all and am looking forward to your thoughts! So let’s dive in shall we?

Everytime I read C.S. Lewis’ humor in his books, it gives me hope that if we lived at the same time we would have been great friends. This book starts off with this hilarious line:

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

It sets up Eustace’s character so perfectly.

I figured I’d start with some overall thoughts of the book. I love the adventures in this one. From finding out what happened to each of the Lords, to encountering Stars to sea serpents and other such mischief, I found this one most full of adventure. I also love how Lewis reminds us of the past stories (he’s done this before, not just in this one). It’s like the cool kids know what he’s talking about. I will admit to this geekery, I feel special knowing all the details.

“Most of us, I suppose, have a secret country but for most of us it is only an imaginary country. Edmund and Lucy were luckier than other people in that respect. Their secret country was real.”

Sigh…I’ll never stop wishing this place was real.

Can we also all agree that Eustace is a bit of a hot mess early on? 🙂 His journal entries cracked me up, along with his thoughts on Reep. Like this one:

“Nearly forgot to say that there is also a kind of Mouse thing that gives everyone the most frightful cheek. The others can put up with it if they like but I shall twist his tail pretty soon if he tries it on me. The food is frightful too.”

I’ll get to more of this soon, but I absolutely loved what Lewis did with his character and what it took for Eustace to change.

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.

In another Aslan scene, when all he does is stand on a hillside when Caspian and Edmund start fighting over a lake of turning things into gold? He doesn’t even have to say anything:

“Across the gray hillside above them—gray, for the heather was not yet in bloom—without noise, and without looking at them, and shining as if he were in bright sunlight though the sun had in fact gone in, passed with slow pace the hugest lion that human eyes have ever seen.”

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.”

One more thought on Aslan (I know, I’m obsessed), but I love that He brings comfort in their darkest of time. This part was after they were in the dark cloud creepy-as-shanaynays island where dreams (not happy ones) come to life. They had already picked up crazy guy who survived so far and were seemingly lost on the way out:

“Lucy leant her head on the edge of the fighting-top and whispered, “Aslan, Aslan, if ever you loved us at all, send us help now.” The darkness did not grow any less, but she began to feel a little—a very, very little—better. “After all, nothing has really happened to us yet,” she thought.”

Then this (which y’all might recognize a favorite quote of mine):

“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.”

I’d also like to take a moment to also say how much I love Reepicheep. Bound by honor and one of the bravest character you’ll meet in literature, he’s one of my favorites. Plus he cracks me up in this book. From picking a fight with Eustace early on to making it to Aslan’s country. I heart him. This scene:

“And why not?” he said. “Will someone explain to me why not?”

No one was anxious to explain, so Reepicheep continued:

“If I were addressing peasants or slaves,” he said, “I might suppose that this suggestion proceeded from cowardice. But I hope it will never be told in Narnia that a company of noble and royal persons in the flower of their age turned tail because they were afraid of the dark.”

“But what manner of use would it be plowing through that blackness?” asked Drinian.

“Use?” replied Reepicheep. “Use, Captain? If by use you mean filling our bellies or our purses, I confess it will be no use at all. So far as I know we did not set sail to look for things useful but to seek honor and adventure. And here is as great an adventure as ever I heard of, and here, if we turn back, no little impeachment of all our honors.”

Several of the sailors said things under their breath that sounded like, “Honor be blowed,” but Caspian said: “Oh, bother you, Reepicheep. I almost wish we’d left you at home. All right! If you put it that way, I suppose we shall have to go on.”

You gotta love little Reep!

“Where the waves grow sweet,
Doubt not, Reepicheep,
There is the utter East.”

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.”

As always, feel free to answer any or all the questions. I’d love to hear from you!

1. How does this rank in the Narnia series for you?
I really enjoyed this, as I do with all of Narnia tales, but it doesn’t rank in my top of top lists. It’s hard to beat my favorites. Still loved this one though.

2. Do you have a favorite scene or part?
Outside of scenes I’ve already mentioned, I found the idea of the creepy/dark cloud island scene fascinating. That would have to be one of the most scary possibilities in existence.

3. What about favorite characters?
I really liked seeing how Eustace changed and of course little Reep!

4. Finally, what were some of your favorite quotes?

Inklings

The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien | Inklings Series Discussion

“But in the days of Bilbo, and of Frodo his heir, they suddenly became, by no wish of their own, both important and renowned, and troubled the counsels of the Wise and the Great.”

I admit these are sometimes the hardest posts for me to write. All I want to do is say how much I loved it and then list a bunch of quotes :). It’s the balance of not writing out a dissertation and having a worthy discussion! But it’s not my fault Tolkien and Lewis were geniuses right? Moving on…after reading this delightful book again (years after my last reading of it), I have been reminded of the age old truth: the book is always better. I love the LOTR movies, but man! There is so much more that awaits in the book! You can’t understand Tolkien’s true greatness without reading the book.

For me, some of the biggest themes are courage, bravery, sacrifice and friendship. Take this interaction:

“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.”

I also was a huge fan of the brotherhood and friendship of the hobbits. The commitment and loyalty to follow Frodo, knowing it would be dangerous, made my heart happy. Plus the forming of the Fellowship? Awesome all around.

Other tidbits worth noting:

  • Hobbits are sometimes feisty and witty fellows and it had me cracking up. When Gildor (an elf) didn’t answer Frodo’s question one way or the other, his response was “And it is also said ‘Go not to the Elves for counsel, for they will say both no and yes.'”
  • Glóin was at Rivendell and we got all the details on our dwarf friends from The Hobbit 🙂
  • Aragorn has pretty much been everywhere in Middle Earth approx. 100 times.
  • Lady Galadriel – love her character. From “tempting” each member of the fellowship to her gifts. Everything done with a purpose; to make each one stronger. The gift to Sam? His garden-in-a-box? Loved it!
  • The story of Beren and Lúthien..sigh. That’s worth reading The Silmarillion for.

“Courage is found in unlikely places…be of good hope!” (Gildor to Frodo)

As always, here’s a few questions to get the discussion going. Feel free to answer some, none or all and of course be sure to include any other insight and thoughts!

1. Which Hobbit do you identify with at this point in the book?
I appreciate Pippin’s love of food :). I understand Frodo’s reluctance to have people come with him, as he didn’t want them hurt. Merry has courage in him and Sam, well Sam is amazing. I’ll say this – I want to be the type of person Sam is.

2. If you could be one in Middle Earth, which would you pick: Hobbit, dwarf, elf, wizard or man?
An elf! They are wise and know how to handle their weapons.

3. What’s something you wished would have been added or done differently in the movie?
Two words: TOM BOMBADIL. Also Glorfindel deserved better.

4. What were some quotes that really stuck out to you?
This statement. Frodo is not only vulnerable, to me he shows such courage.

“I will take the Ring,’ he said, ‘though I do not know the way.”

I want to memorize this in elvish:

“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.”

Just because I love how Tolkien writes:

“The bow of Legolas was singing.”

One more quote on friendship:

“You do not understand!’ said Pippin. ‘You must go – and therefore we must, too. Merry and I are coming with you. Sam is an excellent fellow, and would jump down a dragon’s throat to save you, if he did not trip over his own feet; but you will need more than one companion in your dangerous adventure.’ ‘My dear and most beloved hobbits!’ said Frodo deeply moved. ‘But I could not allow it. I decided that long ago, too. You speak of danger, but you do not understand. This is no treasure-hunt, no there-and-back journey. I am flying from deadly peril into deadly peril.’ ‘Of course we understand,’ said Merry firmly. ‘That is why we have decided to come. We know the Ring is no laughing-matter; but we are going to do our best to help you against the Enemy.”

Other thoughts:
I love much of the new fantasy stories out there (looking at you Potter), but Tolkien really was the master and I see Tolkien influence in so many of these stories. But that’s okay because Tolkien was a genius. Times a billion.

I also need to mention I was reading the part of the CREEPY CRAWLING BLACK RIDER BY MYSELF. Any sound that night was clearly a creature fixin to attack me. So that was neat. But not really.

Can’t wait to hear from y’all! 

Inklings

The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis | Inklings Series Discussion

I thought I knew what to expect from Mr. Lewis. Really, I did. I’ve read enough of his works to know he’s awesome. Then comes The Great Divorce. I mean really, Jack, how many masterpieces did you write?! I love his warning at the beginning:

“I beg readers to remember that this is a fantasy. It has of course – or I intended it to have – a moral. But the transmortal conditions are solely an imaginative supposal: they are not even a guess or speculation at what may actually await us.”

“The last thing I wish is to arouse factual curiosity about the details of the after-world.”

I wasn’t sure what to think the first pages in. I wasn’t stressed that I wasn’t going to like it, but I was kind of afraid it was going to end up being meh. Then suddenly I found myself wanting to copy 97% of the book in my quote book. I love this book! It has become one of my favorites of Lewis.

The conversations our narrator had or overhead felt like conversations I’ve had in real life. Like the ghost who couldn’t see that he was missing the full truth? Instead the bits and pieces he did believe were weaved in other falsehoods of spirituality.

I love how much it gets you thinking from all the different responses to the narrator’s experiences. There was the cynic, where it was all propaganda and conspiracies and complaints, but the one who doesn’t actually want to change anything either. Plus the narrator’s change and development was done so well. I could understand why he questioned with the early ghost examples, especially after Debbie Downer Ghost (remember his commentary on rain?!)

“I have not fully made up my mind to go back to the bus, but wanted to avoid open places. If only I could find a trace of evidence that it was really possible for a Ghost to stay – that the choice was not only a cruel comedy – I would not go back.”

I was also genuinely sad for the lady who was too ashamed of her “nakedness” and didn’t trust that she would become solid again. How much she missed out on!

“What are we born for?”
“For infinite happiness,” said the Spirit. “You can step out into it at any moment.”

Meeting George MacDonald was one of my favorite parts of the book.

“Literary ghosts hang about public libraries to see if anyone’s still reading their books.” I caught the chuckles on that one.

Alright, I’m going to attempt to only include a “few” more quotes. I apologize in advance for the length, but I seriously can’t help myself. It’s like asking me to get rid of books. I just can’t.

“Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory…damnation will spread back and back into their past and contaminate the pleasure of the sin.”

Internet. THIS:

“There have been men before now who got so interested in proving the existence of God that they came to care nothing of God Himself…as if the good Lord had nothing to do but exist! There have been some who were so occupied in spreading Christianity that they never gave a thought to Christ. Man! Ye see it in smaller matters. Did ye never know a lover of books that with all his first editions and signed copies had lost the power to read them? Or an organiser of charities that had lost all love for the poor? It is the subtlest of all snares.”

“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.”

“This curious wish to describe Hell turned out, however, to be only the mildest form of a desire very common among the Ghosts-the desire to extend Hell, to bring it bodily, if they could, into Heaven.”

How many people is this quote perfect for? “They terrify lest they should fear.” Tacitus

Then this was this: After discussing those ghosts so grotesque that they made the trip simply to spit in the face of Heaven: “Those that hate goodness are sometimes nearer than those that know nothing at all about it and think they have it already.”

Oh and then with the painter: “Light itself was your first love: you loved paint only as a means of telling about light.” On a total cheesy geek note, my heart did a happy dance when the artists mentioned were Claude and Cézanne. Lewis even had excellent taste in art. One more piece of evidence to prove Jack and I would have been friends.

“Do you mean there are no famous men?”
“They are all famous. They are all known, remembered, recognised by the only Mind that can give a perfect judgement.”

I thought the whole interaction of the Lady and dwarf was interesting as well and here’s some quotes I pulled from that section –
“Here is joy that cannot be shaken. Our light can swallow up your darkness: but your darkness cannot now. No, no, no. Come to us. We will not go to you. Can you really have thought that love and joy would always be at the mercy of frowns and sighs? Did you not know they were stronger than their opposites?”

“The demand of the loveless and the self-imprisoned that they should be allowed to blackmail the universe: that till they consent to be happy (on their own terms) no one else shall taste joy: that theirs should be the final power; that He’ll should be able to veto Heaven.”

Alright, now that I’ve pretty much written out the book :), how about we discuss? Here’s a few questions, but as always, please share any other thoughts!

1. Which of the ghosts did you find the most interesting?
I’ll say the most annoying was the nagging wife. I kept calling her a wench. So edgy, I know. Man alive! Always the victim and I felt bad for her husband. Then she wanted him to come so she could have another “project.” Yet, she couldn’t forgive him either. For what? Who knows, but she was a mess.

The most interesting/sad for me was probably with the mother who lost her son. What did y’all think of Pam and Reginald’s conversation? I personally cannot imagine what losing a child would be like, but in her case, she lost both her children (and even husband) when she ignored her daughter and focused only on the past.

2. What was one of your favorite scenes?
I could simply say all of them, but I’ll go with the saucy lizard and the Ghost who didn’t want to quite let go of the sin. It was a perfect illustration of what it looks like to free yourself of the “lizard” in your life.

“Why, you’re hurting me now.”
“I never said it wouldn’t hurt you. I said it wouldn’t kill you.”

I thought he was going to keep the lizard, but am so glad he didn’t. I loved Lewis’ description of what happened after too.

3. Any favorite quotes to share?
Please see all of the above 🙂

4. How does this rank in the works of Lewis?
I have plenty more to read, but this is right up there with Narnia for me. Man, what a fascinating look at human nature.

5. Any final thoughts to share?
Lewis reminds me that while the face of culture changes drastically through each generation, people don’t. The same things that hold people back in the time Lewis wrote this are many of the same today. And once again I wish I could have had one conversation with Clive. Just one.

Inklings

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien | Inklings Series Discussion

(The Inklings Series is a monthly series featuring the works of my two favorites, J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, or books about them. But I don’t want it to be just me chatting about these books, so that’s where y’all come in! I’ll announce the book at least four weeks in advance of when the discussion post will go live, so you have plenty of time to get the book and read it. Then, the following month, I’ll post a discussion post and let the fun begin!!)

“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.”

J.R.R. Tolkien was truly a master story teller. Not only is this tale entertaining (the narrator made me laugh quite often), so many lessons come from the pages of this book. How greed can change a person, bravery, courage and how we might not think we’re ready for an adventure, but often we just need to step outside the door and go. Sigh…I can go one for days about this little gem of a book.

I not so secretly love Hobbits and how Tolkien describes them. Bilbo’s initial resistance, like the fact that going on adventure makes you late for dinner (a totally legit concern if you ask me ;))  is one of my favorite parts of the story. Not only because it makes me laugh (and we learn how golf really came about), but it makes his change all the more lovely.

This is a story of how a Baggins had an adventure, and found himself doing and saying things altogether unexpected. He may have lost the neighbors’ respect, but he gained – well, you will see whether he gained anything in the end.

I also think this is the perfect book for readers to introduce themselves to Middle Earth. It’s not too overwhelming to tackle and you get bits and pieces of the history of Middle Earth. Of course I’m biased, but reading it definitely made me want to dive into more of Tolkien’s Middle Earth books.

I also like the glimpses into each race (elves, dwarves, humans, goblins, Wargs, etc). Not only because it’s interesting, but we get hints at a much larger story (i.e. Lord of the Rings). Alright, enough of just me talking about the book. Here’s some questions that got me thinking and please feel free (as always) to share any other thoughts!

1. Did you have a favorite passage? I cheated and picked four.
“As they sang the hobbit felt the love of beautiful things made by hands and by cunning and by magic moving through him, a fierce and a jealous love, the desire of the hearts of dwarves. Then something Tookish woke up inside him, and he wished to go and see the great mountains, and hear the pine-trees and the waterfalls, and explore the caves, and wear a sword instead of a walking-stick.”

“To the end of his days Bilbo could never remember how he found himself outside, without a hat, a walking-stick or any money, or anything that he usually took when he went out; leaving his second breakfast half-finished and quite unwashed-up, pushing his keys into Gandalf’s hands, and running as fast as his furry feet could carry him down the lane, past the great Mill, across The Water, and then on for a mile or more.”

“Somehow the killing of this giant spider, all alone by himself in the dark…made a great difference to Mr. Baggins. He felt a different person, and much fiercer and bolder in spite of an empty stomach, as he wiped his sword on the grass and put it back into its sheath. ‘I will give you a name,’ he said to it, ‘and I shall call you Sting.’ ”

“There is more in you of good than you know, child of the kindly West. Some courage and some wisdom, blended in measure. If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” (Thorin to Bilbo before he died)

2. Do you have a favorite character?
I’m a fan of Fili and Kili – especially as the greed didn’t effect them as it did with most of the other dwarves. Plus the movie portrayal of them? Love them! But really, my favorite is Bilbo. At first, so resistant to going on such an adventure, yet he becomes a hero.

3. Thoughts on Thorin. Go!
My first thought is how perfectly cast Richard Armitage is for the role of Thorin. While completely beside the point, I can’t help it – I had to bring him up because he’s Richard Armitage and if I ever had the chance to meet him I wouldn’t be able to make a coherent sentence. He’s such an interesting character who I liked, disliked and ultimately liked again in the end (when he saw the error of his ways). I like that he wasn’t the perfect King of the Mountain – it makes me like the story that much more.

4. It always makes me so sad for the ones we lose in the final battle. Apparently there was a petition going around to change that in the movies. As sad as it was, I think Thorin dying is fitting. Although I’m still sad about Kili and Fili, even if they died defending their Uncle (Thorin) and showed true loyalty. It was kind of like Lupin and Tonks’ death in Harry Potter. Totally not necessary. What did you think of their deaths?

5. As always, please share any other thoughts!
Me? I want an Eagle.