Bookish Radness

Instagram is My Jam

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

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

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

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

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Inklings

A Toast to the Professor | Celebrating with Favorite LOTR Moments

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

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

Current office decor

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

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

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

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

4. Samwise being Samwise

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

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

7. Éowyn being awesome:

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

9. “For Frodo.” Gets me every time.

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

What are some of your favorite scenes?

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?

Inklings

The Silmarillion (Part 2) by J.R.R. Tolkien | Inklings Series Discussion

It’s time for more of Middle Earth! In case you want to check out Part 1 discussion of The Silmarillion, you can find that post here.

Yet again I am amazed at Tolkien’s ability of creating such an incredible world. There’s intense sadness, pain, evil, extra evil and yet, goodness, hope and love. Even if you don’t like fantasy, you have to respect the talent.

I love the sentences he creates (and descriptions). Like this one:

But Fingolfin gleamed beneath it as a star; for his mail was overlaid with silver, and his blue shield was set with crystals; and he drew his sword Ringil, that glittered like ice.

In case you were wondering how creepy and scary and evil Morgoth was, here’s a snippet of what he was like (and also an epic and tragic Tolkien battle scene):

Then Morgoth hurled aloft Grond, the Hammer of the Underworld, and swung it down like a bolt of thunder. But Fingolfin sprang aside, and Grond rent a mighty pit in the earth, whence smoke and fire darted. Many times Morgoth essayed to smite him, and each time Fingolfin leaped away, as a lightning shoots from under a dark cloud; and he wounded Morgoth with seven wounds, and seven times Morgoth gave a cry of anguish, whereat the hosts of Angband fell upon their faces in dismay, and the cries echoed in the Northlands. But at the last the King grew weary, and Morgoth bore down his shield upon him. Thrice he was crushed to his knees, and thrice arose again and bore up his broken shield and stricken helm. But the earth was all rent and pitted about him, and he stumbled and fell backward before the feet of Morgoth; and Morgoth set his left foot upon his neck, and the weight of it was like a fallen hill. Yet with his last and desperate stroke Fingolfin hewed the foot with Ringil, and the blood gushed forth black and smoking and filled the pits of Grond.

Also, Sauron is all kinds of nasty as well: “Sauron was become now a sorcerer of dreadful power, master of shadows and of phantoms, foul in wisdom, cruel in strength, misshaping what he touched, twisting what he ruled, lord of werewolves; his dominion was torment.” He also sometimes turned into a vampire. So there’s that.

But, as with the first half, it would be near impossible to discuss each story or segment, so I thought I would spend most of my time on the story of Beren and Lúthien because it’s my favorite. Here’s a few reasons why:

  • I love their relationship. From how it started, to how it grew.
  • She fights right along side him.
  • They help each other overcome evil
  • They show what’s worth fighting for
  • They change into some hardcore animals when taking on Morgoth
  • They have their own happily ever after
  • They have the most awesome animal best friend ever in Huan the Hound of Valinor.

I think the way Tolkien even started our their chapter says something:

Among the tales of sorrow and of ruin that come down to us from the darkness of those days there are yet some in which amid weeping there is joy and under the shadow of death light that endures. And of these histories most fair still in the ears of the Elves is the tale of Beren and Lúthien. Of their lives was made the Lay of Leithian, Release from Bondage, which is the longest save one of the songs concerning the world of old; but here the tale is told in fewer words and without song.

Sigh….

Then there’s simply sentences like this:

But she was not willing to be parted from him again, saying: ‘You must choose, Beren, between these two: to relinquish the quest and your oath and seek a life of wandering upon the face of the earth; or to hold to your word and challenge the power of darkness upon its throne. But on either road I shall go with you, and our doom shall be alike.’

This was and still is my favorite story in The Silmarillion.

Then of course, if you’ve read The Children of Húrin, I’m sure you were just as excited to re-read the cliffnotes version of one of the most DEPRESSING FAMILY STORIES EVER. In case I forgot how tragic their lives were due to Morgoth’s wickedness, I was super excited to re-live it. Since the internet doesn’t give off sarcastic vibes, let me tell you…I got to be sad all over again. It’s such a sad sad tale. Tolkien definitely introduced it right:

Here that tale is told in brief, for it is woven with the fate of the Silmarils and of the Elves; and it is called the Tale of Grief, for it is sorrowful, and in it are revealed most evil works of Morgoth Bauglir.

One thing that came from it though, Húrin was pretty legit to withstand Morgoth’s torment as it all went to rags around him. “And even so it came to pass; but it is not said that Húrin asked ever of Morgoth either mercy or death, for himself or for any of his kin.”

Of course there is quite a bit more that goes on, but those were some highlights for me. As far as discussion questions, I have mostly the same ones:

1. After reading the whole book, do you have a favorite story?
2. What are some overall thoughts about it?

It’s been real Silmarillion, until I return to Middle Earth!

Inklings

The Silmarillion (Part 1) by J.R.R. Tolkien | Inklings Series Discussion

Hello friends of Middle Earth! Before I dive into my thoughts (again, really going to try to limit #AllTheQuotes), I thought I’d start with thoughts from Tolkien. In a letter to his Editor friend, Milton Waldman, Tolkien wrote this (in 1951):

“…an equally basic passion of mine ab initio was for myth (not allegory!) and for fairy- story, and above all for heroic legend on the brink of fairy-tale and history, of which there is far too little in the world (accessible to me) for my appetite.”

He goes on to say “I have always been seeing material, things of a certain tone and air, and not simple knowledge. Also – and here I hope I shall not sound absurd – I was from early days grieved by the poverty of my own beloved country: it had no stories of its own (bound up with its tongue and soil), not of quality that I sought, and found (as an ingredient) in legends of other lands….for reasons which I will not elaborate, that seems to me fatal. Myth and fairy-story must, as all art, reflect and contain in solution elements of moral and religious truth (or error), but not explicit, not in the known form of the primary “real” world.”

I have to say his passion came through brilliantly in this piece.

If you haven’t read it yet, here’s the thing y’all need to know about The Silmarillion – it’s an adventure to read. For those who have read it, y’all know what I’m talking about! Not only because there’s a lot of characters involved, but (in the beginning) it doesn’t flow in complete chronological order. Sometimes Tolkien would take you back to a part of the story to go in more depth. I thought by the time we got to Finwë and co., it went pretty chronological from there. Did y’all feel the same?

What I really needed was a wall size whiteboard, so I could chart out all the key players. Confession: I would forget one character’s role a few chapters later when they popped backed up, but thanks to this device known as the internet, a quick search served as a fabulous refresher.

I honestly don’t know where this discussion might lead, but let’s just dive in shall we?

I loved that music played a role in his creation:
“There was Eru, the One, who in Arda is called Ilúvatar; and he made first the Ainur, the Holy Ones that were the offspring of his thought, and they were with him before aught else was made. And he spoke to them, propounding to them themes of music; and they sang before him, and he was glad.”

“Then the voices of the Ainur, like unto harps and lutes, and pipes and trumpets…began to fashion the theme of Ilúvatar to a great music; and a sound arose of endless interchanging melodies woven in harmony that passed beyond hearing into the depths and into the heights, and the places of the dwelling of Ilúvatar were filled to overflowing, and the music and the echo of the music went out into the Void, and it was not void.”

On Melkor:
Well, he’s just a piece of work. I love Tolkien’s description of his pride and downfall. Like this:

“But now Ilúvatar sat and hearkened, and for a great while it seemed good to him, for in the music there were no flaws. But as the theme progressed, it came into the heart of Melkor to interweave matters of his own imagining that were not in accord with the theme of Ilúvatar; for he sought therein to increase the power and glory of the part assigned to himself. To Melkor among the Ainur had been given the greatest gifts of power and knowledge, and he had a share in all the gifts of his brethren. He had gone often alone into the void places seeking the Imperishable Flame; for desire grew hot within him to bring into Being things of his own, and it seemed to him that Ilúvatar took no thought for the Void, and he was impatient of its emptiness. Yet he found not the Fire, for it is with Ilúvatar. But being alone he had begun to conceive thoughts of his own unlike those of his brethren.”

Also, he brilliantly played out the darkness in Melkor. From his creation of orcs (“Melkor breed the hideous race of the Orcs in envy and mockery of the Elves”), Balrogs to all Melkor loathed (“Whereas Melkor spent his spirit in envy and hate, until at last he could make nothing save in mockery of the thought of others, and all their works he destroyed if he could.”), he embodied darkness.

For most of this first half, we see how Melkor pretty much messed everything up and how he stirred up dissension (why was he ever released after all those ages?!). It wasn’t blatant and out it the open; he used the elves’ pride and even fear to turn their hearts against each other. Not so different from human reality.

SIDENOTE: Here I thought Shelob was nasty. I’m sorry, but nothing compared to Ungoliant. Not only because she was 18 levels of NASTY, her bottomless and endless appetite for all things pure, good and light, was creepy. That is such a picture of evil. Let’s hope for no nightmares involving massive spiders that supposedly eventually ate themselves.

I also miss the trees that I know aren’t real, but I still miss them. I also am a fan of Fingon, because he put aside disagreement and went after Maedhros. A common evil can do that. The rescue though…man, intense…

Obviously there was quite a bit more that happened and we were introduced to characters that will play a much greater role in the second half of the book, but I hope y’all have enjoyed it as much as I have!

If you want to join in discussing, here’s a few questions y’all are free to answer!

1. How does this compare to the other Tolkien books you’ve read? Do you prefer one style or like the variety?
As I mentioned earlier, this book is an adventure to read. Completely different from the style of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings (which interestingly, did not have as much influence from his writing friends). But true story, I still love it and count it as one of my favorites.

2. Of the stories so far, do you have a favorite?
There are many, but I liked learning where everything in Middle Earth came from, whether that be the dwarves, the orcs or even Balrogs. The creative mind of Tolkien never ceases to amaze me. I also really liked the stories of Finwë and his sons. They were each examples of how both good and bad have ripple effects far beyond the lives we live.

3. Did anyone else freak out when the book mentioned familiar names like Galadriel or Minas Tirith? I’m asking for a friend.
My friend got super excited and highlighted those parts and may have included exclamation points.

4. Any other thoughts or quotes to add?

  • If there ever is a class on The History of Middle Earth, this girl is signing up immediately.
  • Can I live in Valinor?
  • I can’t pronounce 98.8% of the names

Excited to hear from you and yay for Middle Earth!

Inklings

Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis | October Inkings Discussion

How do I even began to put all my thoughts and reactions to this book in one post? Can I just say Lewis drops the mic approximately 967 times and call it a day? No? Well…here’s my attempt not to simply write out the book. You’ve been warned.

I’ll start by saying this is one of the books that has shaped my views in ways I’ve lost count. It amazes me that so much of what Lewis wrote is so incredibly significant for today’s generation. Plus he makes me laugh. His one liners throughout the book were one of many highlights.

In you didn’t catch the background to how this book came together, I think it’s worth mentioning from the Foreward:

“As a young man, C.S. Lewis had served in the awful trenches of World War I, and in 1940, when the bombing of Britain began, he took up duties as an air raid warden and gave talks to men in the Royal Air Force, who knew that after just thirteen bombing missions, most of them would be declared dead or missing. Their situation prompted Lewis to speak about the problems of suffering, pain, and evil, work that resulted in his being invited by the BBC to give a series of wartime broadcasts on Christian faith. Delivered over the air from 1942 to 1944, these speeches eventually were gathered into the book we know today as Mere Christianity.”

No big deal right? I love seeing the impact Lewis had and how the Lord opened so many doors. Alright, let’s dive right in!

I believe Lewis is one of the most capable to make arguments against atheism, as he himself was one more many years.

“My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust?”

“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.”

Furthermore, he is able to bring about the truth of Christianity and the spiritual battle we face. Take some of his thoughts from “The Invasion” (which I love as a chapter title):

“That is one of the reasons I believe Christianity. It is a religion you couldn’t have guessed. If it offered us just the kind of universe we had always expected, I should feel we were making it up. But, in fact, it is not the sort of thing anyone would have made up.”

“The difference is that Christianity thinks this Dark Power was created by God, and was good when he was created, and went wrong. Christianity agrees with Dualism that this universe is at war. But it does not think this is a war between independent powers. It thinks it is a civil war, a rebellion, and that we are living in a part of the universe occupied by the rebel.”

“Enemy-occupied territory – that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign of sabotage. When you go to church you are really listening-in to the secret wireless from our friends: that is why the enemy is so anxious to prevent us from going. He does it by playing on our conceit and laziness and intellectual snobbery.”

“Intellectual snobbery” – such a perfect phrase.

As I mention in the discussion questions below, “The Shocking Alternative” is one of my favorite sections and I had a hard time not adding all the quotes. His thoughts and discussion of free will are spot on. Like this gem: “Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having.” He also shows so clearly the ways satan tries to attack Christians and as he showed in The Screwtape Letters, it’s not easy to spot (otherwise who would fall prey to it?) as well as the results.

“What Satan put into the heads of our remote ancestors was the idea that they could “be like gods” – could set up their own as if they had created themselves – be their own masters – invent some sort of happiness for themselves outside God, apart from God. And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history – money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery – the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.”

How much damage have we seen in history and humanity because of people searching for purpose and meaning outside of Christ alone?

Another reason I love this book is because it reminds me that I’m not alone and I don’t need to have control. Things I have doubted or struggled with are things that other believers have struggled with. When we fail, we get up, dust off our knees and keep marching on. I really liked this bit:

“Very often what God first helps us towards is not the virtue itself but just this power of always trying again. For however important chastity (or courage, or truthfulness, or any other virtue) may be, this process trains us in habits of the soul which are more important still. It cures our illusions about ourselves and teaches us to depend on God.”

And that chapter on Hope? Y’all, I can hug it every day because YES. I cut down my quotes to four, so here’s some encouragement. I definitely thought of The Last Battle (Narnia) with some of these. We long for what’s next and I’m encouraged that this isn’t it.

“If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next.”

“Most people, if they had really learned to look into their own hearts, would know that they do want, and want acutely, something that cannot be had in this world.”

“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.”

“I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that other country and to help others do that same.”

Alright, I hope I didn’t overwhelm y’all! Now for some discussion questions. Join in any or all and please share any other insight. This is one of those awesome books that I want to hear all your thoughts!

1. Did you have a favorite section(s)?
There were several that had most of it underlined. Lewis seemed to have something incredibly powerful to say in each section. Some of the ones I really liked? The Shocking Alternative, his thoughts of forgiveness and pride and charity. I could definitely add more, but I’ll stop. Wait! One more: Hope.

2. Any favorite quotes you want to share?
One more because it’s a favorite: “Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

3. What’s your overall view of this book? Any major take aways?

Inklings

Bedeviled by Colin Duriez | Inklings Series Discussion

Welcome to this month’s Inklings discussion! This book was much different what I expected. I don’t mean that in a negative way by any means, but I thought it would be more biographical on Tolkien and Lewis during the First World War. Instead, there was more discussion on the works and themes that resulted from their experiences in the war and life after. Like I mentioned, not complaining (it makes for a great introduction to their works – mainly Lewis – with some of their motivations and inspiration), just a random fact to kick things off.

I also have to confess that I didn’t read Chapter 6. Once I realized how Duriez discussed the books and plot lines, I didn’t want to read the chapter that went into depth about the Space Trilogy since I have only read the first one. Might sound weird, but hey, I promise to come back to it once I’m done!

The more I read about the Inklings, the time they were together, they experiences, etc. it is so clear that group of writers and friends was divinely ordained. I truly mean that because if they were together any other decade, we wouldn’t have the works we have all come to treasure. Another reminder that we are in the exact place and time we were meant to be.

“C.S. Lewis needed a group of likeminded friends around him. In those wartime years it was the perfect place for him, as well as for Tolkien and Charles Williams, to explore devilry and connected themes…the Inklings group had an edge to it in that most who attended at that wartime time had experienced combat in World War I.”

I’m definitely going to read up more on Charles Williams and some of his work. But how horribly sad was it that he died right after the war ended? Then Lewis found out when he went to visit him at the hospital and had to go to the Eagle and the Child to tell the rest of the group. Talk about depressing! The Inklings seemed to know sadness on a deeper level than most.

I enjoyed the discussions of the works, but also all the fun facts throughout the pages – like the fact that Out of the Silent Planet was Lewis’ second attempt writing about his conversion to Christianity and that those themes went unnoticed by the readership – but then came Mere Christianity and that blew the world’s brain (unbiased opinion of course).

Another fun fact, further proving Lewis was awesome? This:
After speaking his experience with speaking to the RAF, “Lewis’s experiences with the RAF led him to work very hard to be more successful in speaking to non academic people. Despite his heavy academic workload, writing projects and visits to RAF airfields, Lewis also found time to engage with his peers who did not accept his faith. Less than two years into the war Oxford University Socratic Club was set up by a parish worker to university women students, Stella Aldwinckle. Its purpose was to discuss questions about Christian faith raised by atheists, agnostics and those disillusioned about religion. Lewis accepted her invitation to be its first president, a position he held until the end of 1954, when he went to Cambridge University to teach.”

I feel like there was so much discussion in each chapter about each work, so I want to open it up to y’all! Here’s a few questions to start things off and please (as always) add any other thoughts!

1. Since there were so many of his books discussed, is there a Lewis or Tolkien book you want to read now more than the others?
There’s so many books of Lewis I want to read right now! I read The Pilgrim’s Regress in my early 20s and didn’t really dive in, so that one is high on my list, but so is The Problem of Pain. Decisions, decisions. I need to get my hands of a copy of Tolkien’s “Leaf by Niggle” too.

2. Did you have a favorite chapter?
I thought they all provided a lot of insight, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy any excuse to talk about Aslan! I especially liked seeing how each book represented a piece of Christianity and our theology. I also enjoyed “The Way of Goodness and the Far Country.” I love the hope of it. #ForAslan.

3. Any quotes stand out about their works or directly from their works?
The best quote of a book I haven’t read yet (The Problem of Pain):
“There are time when I think we do not desire heaven; but more often I find myself wondering whether, in our hearts of hearts, we have ever desired anything else.”

4. Any other random thoughts?
I want to investigate more into the life and works of Dorothy L. Sayers.

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Inklings

Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis | Inklings Series Discussion

I mentioned this on Twitter, but every time I finish a Narnia book, my soul feels refreshed. I love Lewis’ capability to help us understand God’s character through Aslan and humanity through the people and creatures of Narnia. Every time I reread them, I have more life experiences, so I seem to understand these things more deeply.

I love when the stories mention the history of Narnia. I’d forgotten that Caspian’s line, the Telmarines, were pirates from our world (thus why Caspian ruled as a son of Adam), had a famine and then invaded Narnia. What are the odds stories from the “missing” years will appear? You know, Go Set a Watchman style, but without the shadiness? I’m so curious what happened in all those years between the destruction of the White Witch and Caspian. Did the Telmarines rule for all those years then? Who ruled Narnia after the siblings left? Questions, questions.

There were two things I really enjoyed from Prince Caspian:

  • How the characters’ reactions or beliefs mirror how many people believe or don’t.
  • How Lewis displayed the freedom that comes with following Aslan.

Before diving into that a bit more, I just have to mention I caught the chuckles every time they referred to Trumpkin as D.L.F (Dear Little Friend). Also, I love Lucy! Especially because of comebacks like this:

“That’s the worst of girls,” said Edmund to Peter and the Dwarf. “They never can carry a map in their heads.”

“That’s because our heads have something inside them,” said Lucy.

Lewis had an incredible way of describing Narnia and all those who lived there with such ease. When the council was forming, I learned so much more about the creatures and their personalities just by reading their reactions to when they should have the council. Like so:

“The Bulgy Bears were very anxious to have the feast first and leave the council till afterwards: perhaps till to-morrow. Reepicheep and his Mice said that councils and feasts could both wait, and proposed storming Miraz in his own castle that very night. Pattertwig and the other squirrels said they could talk and eat at the same time, so why not have the council and feast all at once? The Moles proposed throwing up entrenchments round the Lawn before they did anything else. The Fauns thought it would be better to begin with a solemn dance. The Old Raven, while agreeing with the Bears that it would take too long to have a full council before supper, begged to be allowed to give a brief address to the whole company. But Caspian and the Centaurs and the Dwarfs over-ruled all these suggestions and insisted on holding a real Council of War at once.”

Confession: Lucy’s reaction to Trumpkin after she said she saw Aslan, is how I feel inside when people say they don’t like Narnia or Lewis.
“He’d be a pretty elderly lion by now,” said Trumpkin, “if he’s one you knew when you were here before! And if it could be the same one, what’s to prevent him having gone wild and witless like so many others?”

Lucy turned crimson and I think she would have flown at Trumpkin, if Peter had not paid his hand on her arm. “The D.L.F. doesn’t understand. How could he?”

Please tell me I wasn’t the only one :).

Now let’s chat about Aslan. You know, just my fav. Not that y’all will find that shocking in the least since I mention it in just about every post. It’s just that through Aslan, Lewis has such an incredible way of portraying real life feelings of encountering Jesus. Like when Aslan was calling Lucy, I connected with so much of that.

“She felt so extremely comfortable and happy.”
“She sat up, trembling with excitement but not with fear.”
“She went fearlessly in among them, dancing herself as she leaped this way and that to avoid being run into by these huge partners. But she was only half interested in them. She wanted to get beyond them to something else; it was from beyond them that the fear voice had called.”

I also really loved how the siblings (and Trumpkin) didn’t all see Aslan at once. For me that was an example of people’s faith, from what is often a stumbling block (fear) to disbelief. Even more, I loved his response to each of the siblings after everyone finally saw Aslan.
After Peter apologized, he called him “My dear son.”
To Edmund: “Well done.”
To Susan: “You have listened to your fears, child” said Aslan. “Come, let me breathe on you. Forget them. Are you brave again?”

One more thought on the story – what a beautiful portrayal of freedom when Aslan, along with Susan and Lucy, were going through the towns and bringing life to the people who lived there (and chose to follow). He calls them gently, like “Dear heart” and they are changed. Such a great image. Plus the fact that the old nurse was reunited with Caspian made my heart happy!

Now it’s your turn to share! If you want, here’s a few discussions starters

1. How does this rank towards the other Narnia books you’ve read?
2. What did you think of the villains in this story?
There was the obvious villain, Miraz, with his pride and trying to hide the truth of Narnia, but I thought Lewis also showed another type of villain, with Nikabrik and how deep seeded hatred can lead you astray. He didn’t care if it was Aslan or the white witch and was willing to pretty much sell his soul (and not for the betterment of everyone, just for himself and the dwarfs).
3. Did any part of the story stick out more than the rest?
4. Please share anything else you’d like to add!

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on it!

Inklings

The Weight of Glory by C.S. Lewis | Inklings Series Discussion

You know when you read a book and once you finish you think “huh, not at all what I was expecting.” That’s how I felt after finishing The Weight of Glory. By no means is this a bad thing, not one bit, but there was such a variety of topics, it made for some interesting reading. I also think the fact that I have been reading Mere Christianity (for my bible study) at the same time, played a role in those expectations.

But of course I’m glad I read it! One of the takeaways for me was the vast amount of topics Lewis not only preached on, but his knowledge on so many of them. I’m pretty sure I was looking up names, pieces of literature and philosophies every other page. Like talking about the philosophy Pelagian? Oh yes, my friends and I were chatting about that just the other night….oh wait…. (It’s the belief that sin didn’t taint humanity, so there’s no need for Divine aid, in case you’re in my boat).

I love that in each of his books, Lewis is honest about his struggles. His humility is evident through his passion and writings. It always makes for intense, yet awesome reading experiences.

One of my favorite chapters was the book’s namesake “The Weight of Glory.” He wasted no time at all.
“We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

Loved this:
“For they are not the thing itself [speaking of the beauty we find in books and music]; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not yet heard, news from a country we have never yet visited…And you and I have need of the strongest spell that can be found to wake us from the evil enchantment of worldliness which has been laid upon us for nearly a hundred years. Almost our whole education has been directed to silencing this shy, persistent, inner voice; almost all our modern philosophies have been devised to convince us that the good of man is to be found on this earth.”

One more from this chapter:
“A scientist may reply that since most of the things we call beautiful are inanimate, it is not very surprising that they take no notice of us. That, of course, is true. It is not the physical objects that I am speaking of, but that indescribable something of which they become for a moment the messengers.

This was not as easy of a read for me as say, Mere Christianity. Was that the case for any of y’all? Some chapters (like Transposition) were very philosophical. I felt like a freshman all over again in my philosophy 101 class. Say what did I just read?? Let’s go ahead and read that again…

I also really appreciated the introductions that described where all the chapters came from and who Lewis shared them with. Some chapters were also much more impactful for me than others, say The Weight of Glory vs. Pacifism. Although I would like to know how the Pacifist Society responded to his talk.

“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.”

“To excuse what can really produce good excuses is not Christian charity; it is only fairness. To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”

Then his last chapter has this. He knows how to make you think –
“If you have not chosen the Kingdom of God, it will make in the end of difference what you have chosen instead.” Those are hard words to take. Will it really make no difference whether it was women or patriotism, cocaine or art, whisky or a seat in the Cabinet, money or science? Well, surely no difference matters. We shall have missed the end for which we are formed and rejected the other thing that satisfies. Does it matter to a man dying in a desert by which choice of route he missed the only well?

Discussion time! Here’s a few questions I thought to get the party started :).
1. Which were your favorite chapters?
Mine were: Forgiveness, The Weight of Glory, A Slip of the Tongue and I also really enjoyed Is Theology Poetry. It’s like the ultimate literary academic argument for Christianity..comparing it to so many other works.

2. What were some of your key takeaways (whether from the book as a whole or an individual essay)?

3. Any favorite quotes?
It’s a miracle I only picked a handful of quotes for this post – ha! But the ones above were the ones that really stuck out.

4. How does this rank from the Lewis books you’ve read?
I feel I have so many more of Lewis’ books to read. This was different than the others I’ve read and I enjoyed it, but Mere Christianity still ranks number one in his theology/faith books.

5. What are thoughts would you like to add about the book?

Looking forward to reading your thoughts!