Inklings

Closing out Inklings Week 2019 with International Inklings Day

(Welcome to Inklings Week 2019! You can find all the posts here. Hope you enjoy and thanks for stopping by!)

So what exactly is International Inklings Day? It celebrates these two genius and the beginning of their friendship. On May 11th, 1926, Tolkien and 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. I thought to close out the week, I’d re-post the story of their friendship, since it’s been a while. I hope you enjoy! (Originally posted on May 11, 2016)

The Friendship of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis

“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?

Don’t forget: Last chance to enter! We’ll keep this open through Sunday, 5/12. US residents only. Void where prohibited by law. Enter here for your chance the new Del Rey collection of THE LORD OF THE RINGS (image below), “A Well Read Woman is Dangerous” sticker, and other fun surprises!

Advertisements
Inklings

My Year with the Inklings | Guest Post by Katherine Reay

(Welcome to Inklings Week 2019! You can find all the posts here. Hope you enjoy and thanks for stopping by!)

Joining us today is the fabulous Katherine Reay! Her books are some of my favorites and I highly recommend them. Her upcoming, The Printed Letter Bookshop is one of my favorites this year!

Before we begin, I have a confession —it’s been a one note Inkling year. I can stretch it to two, as I rewatched The Lord of the Rings movies this year, but my focus has been primarily on C.S. Lewis.

My Writing

It all started with a single line…

The present is the point at which time touches eternity.

He states this in his deceptively simple book The Screwtape Letters. I say “deceptively simple” because it is just as much that as it is a “diabolical satire.” I am always entertained at every line and think I understand — until I look deeper, and then I’m blown away.

First of all, it’s a pithy statement. It caught my attention on that level alone. Then I found its life altering truth: The past is behind us. We cannot change it and to live there, linger there, dream of returning there, keeps us from living in the present. We don’t have to carry it as far as Miss Havisham sitting amidst the decayed ruins of her wedding banquet in Great Expectations to get my point — the past can be a dangerous place to dwell.

What about the future? I took the line and parsed that direction as well. Lewis doesn’t mean not to plan for the future, after all, “The duty of planning tomorrow’s work is today’s duty; though its material is borrowed from the future, the duty, like all duties, is in the Present.” (Again, The Screwtape Letters) But to live in the future — again, danger. We can’t assume we have one and to dream that all will be roses and buttercups there only detracts us from the business of living here.

So what about the present? Now that was an idea — What would learning to live well in the present look like? And there you have it… Three women, a bookshop, a trial or two, a few mistakes, a few wrong turns and The Printed Letter Bookshop.

The Printed Letter Bookshop releases next week and I am so excited about this story, but this one line’s power over my year doesn’t end here…

As soon as I finished writing The Printed Letter Bookshop, my first nonfiction manuscript sold and this very line consumed me again. Awful Beautiful Life is Becky Powell’s story regarding an eighteen month period in her life. And this idea — living in the present — took on particular poignancy. You can read a little about the story below, but bottom line: Becky could not look back — the past held no answers and could drown her in a quagmire endless questions and anger, and she could not depend upon a future — the prospect of criminal charges and serving time in jail was real. Becky had to live in the present and take each day as God gave it to her — and I had to figure out how to write that reality and bring her story to life on the page.

Awful Beautiful Life releases December 3, 2019. As I said, it has been a Lewis year!

And it doesn’t end there…

My Reading

I have had a wonderful time reading this year. As you can surmise from my writing, I spent a great deal of time in The Screwtape Letters. But, when looking back, I realized I spent more time reading about Lewis this year than reading his works. Here are a few to add to your TBR pile:

Becoming Mrs. Lewis — This wonderful book takes a close look at Joy Davidman and her marriage to Lewis. It gives beautiful insight into Lewis, his love for his wife and the literature they created together. I have always loved Till We Have Faces and now find the story makes more sense, in both content and style, as I understand Joy’s influence on its writing and editing. And what a fun book this is— what a wonderful love story they had!!!

How to Live Like A Narnian — This little guide walks one primarily through The Chronicles of Narnia and give hints on how to live one’s best life. It’s a short book and an absolute delight. Prior to this, I never realized the joy and wonder of King Lune from The Horse and His Boy. Pay attention when next you read The Horse and His Boy. He’s not a “throw away” character at all, but a true model of joy, duty, wisdom and affection. Again, Lewis is deceptively simple — he says so much in such a small character.

Planet Narnia  — Wow!  But I must warn you… You get more from this book once you’ve read all the Narnia books plus Lewis’s space trilogy — primarily That Hideous Strength. Once you’ve done that, pick this up and marvel in Lewis’s genius. The author, Michael Ward, has done his research and presents an incredibly convincing case for the binding thought and connection, the very meta-theme, running beneath all Narnia. It’s an extraordinary read.

The Horse and His Boy — This is the only Narnian story I returned to this year. While The Voyage of the Dawn Treader holds my favorite scene, this book holds my favorite line:

“Child,’ said the Lion, ‘I am telling you your story, not hers. No one is told any story but their own.”

Again — deceptively simple. After I chew on that one sentence for a while, it sure makes it hard to assume I know anything about another’s story or make judgements at all. 🙂

Thanks for letting me share my year with one Inkling with you today. This next year I plan to expand  into the Inklings a little more. I recently bought The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings and can’t wait to dig in.

Happy Reading!

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway! We’ll keep this open through Sunday, 5/12. US residents only. Void where prohibited by law. Enter here for your chance the new Del Rey collection of THE LORD OF THE RINGS , “A Well Read Woman is Dangerous” sticker, and other fun surprises!

Also, here’s more about Katherine’s books. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed!

Love, friendship, and family find a home at the Printed Letter Bookshop

One of Madeline Cullen’s happiest childhood memories is working with her Aunt Maddie in the quaint and cozy Printed Letter Bookshop. But by the time Madeline inherits the shop nearly twenty years later, family troubles and her own bitter losses have hardened Madeline’s heart toward her once-treasured aunt — and the now struggling bookshop left in her care.

While Madeline intends to sell the shop as quickly as possible, the Printed Letter’s two employees have other ideas. Reeling from a recent divorce, Janet finds sanctuary within the books and within the decadent window displays she creates. Claire, though quieter than the acerbic Janet, feels equally drawn to the daily rhythms of the shop and its loyal clientele, finding a renewed purpose within its walls. When Madeline’s professional life takes an unexpected turn —and a handsome gardener upends all her preconceived notions – she questions her plans and her heart, and begins to envision a new path for herself and for her aunt’s beloved shop. Yet, even working together, these three women may find their best efforts too little and too late.

The Printed Letter Bookshop is an engaging story of good books, a testament to the beauty of new beginnings and a sweet reminder of the power of friendship.


A gripping story of grace, faith, and triumph for a woman whose world
shattered hours after her husband’s suicide.

Rebecca Powell faced the unthinkable on May 13, 2013. Her husband Mark called and said, “I’ve done something terrible.” Within hours, she learned that he had taken his own life and, over a period of several years, millions of dollars from friends and colleagues. Everything she believed to be true, the very fiber of her marriage, was called into question. Within a week, rather than planning carpool runs and volunteer fundraisers, she owed almost one hundred creditors millions of dollars and had her own team of ten lawyers. She was also the subject of open FBI, SEC and DOJ investigations-and faced potential criminal charges. And, although she instantly denounced every cent of Mark’s $15M in life insurance and promised to repay every penny taken, her lawyers knew that in reality she faced years of court battles and lawsuits, and possible jail time.

Yet from that first horrific moment, God was there. He showed up in his Word, in Rebecca’s friends, in her lawyers and in the generosity of those around her. He worked miracles. CNBC, the Wall Street Journal, Forbes and others covered the first moment, but what about the last? What about the story in which God gives your next breath because you can’t find it on your own? What about the story of a mom and three kids trying to make sense of their pasts, present and future while living under a microscope?

AWFUL BEAUTIFUL LIFE is Rebecca’s journey through the two years surrounding Mark’s death and how she overcame. It came down to a loving God who surrounded her, a present and dedicated family, and friends, who made her life, offered her sanctuary and showed up for her and her kids in tangible ways. This is a story of remarkable grit, strength and what the Body of Christ in action looks like.

Inklings

A Review of the TOLKIEN Movie: The Power of Story, Fellowship, and Love

(Welcome to Inklings Week 2019! You can find all the posts here. Hope you enjoy and thanks for stopping by!)

As you may have heard, TOLKIEN comes out this Friday. Last night, across 400 theaters, there was an early screening through Fathom Events, followed by a live simulcast with Nicholas Hoult (he plays Tollers), Lily Collins (she plays Edith), Dome Karukoski (Director), and hosted by fellow fan Stephen Colbert. It was a great event!

I really enjoyed the film. I think it was Colbert (or possibly Hoult) who said in the simulcast, that it was a story of “friendship, love, and loss.” Between the early years of Tolkien’s life, his schooling, and his time spent in WWI, especially The Battle of the Somme, this movie seeks to show how these experiences shaped the man who would write such beloved novels.

While Tolkien had often said that Lord of the Rings wasn’t an allegory to his war time experience, I thought this movie beautifully showed how the emotions of losing his parents at a young age (thus becoming an orphan) and fighting in horrific trench warfare still greatly impacted his life. (Although, fun fact sidenote: Tolkien did use his experience from The Somme for some of his works, including the Dead Marshes in The Two Towers). I can’t help but believe his writing the hope he created in them, were healing for him in some ways.

Even Karukoski, who after watching this one interview, clearly loves Tolkien deeply, shared that in his hard years as a young child, Tolkien’s “stories became friends.” I don’t think Tollers could have imagined the impact and hope his mythology would give millions, years after they were published.

His early friendships with Robert Gilson, Christopher Wiseman and Geoffrey Bache Smith portrayed the deep impact and meaning friendships have on each of us. It’s a reminder that we each need our own fellowship. It’s a beautiful part of life. Also, even having read about it before the movie, I still chuckle at the name they gave themselves: TCSB (Tea Club and Barrovian Society).

I also loved how the movie gave us a peek into the relationship between Tolkien and Edith. I’ve always loved the strong women in Middle Earth and knowing Edith played such a role made me enjoy it all the more.

Finally, I absolutely loved hearing Karukoski and Colbert share what Tolkien’s meant to them (both encountered him in early teen years and, as they both said, saved them) and geek out about his stories and characters. Books will always come to you at the exact moment you need them.


Can we hang out Stephen Colbert?!

While I wasn’t surprised there was some artistic license (and yes, there are pieces I wish they would have explored more), I do believe this will draw more people into Tolkien’s story and give a deeper appreciation to Middle Earth and Lord of the Rings.

I’ll close with a quote from Colbert on why Tolkien’s stories matter: “The power of story, it can give us hope.”

Inklings

A Day in the Life of a Hobbit | Guest Post by Wesley Hoffman

(Welcome to Inklings Week 2019! You can find all the posts here. Hope you enjoy and thanks for stopping by!)

Joining us today is my friend Wesley from Library Educated! Enjoy!

Even though the hobbits drive me a little crazy in the works of Tolkien (everyone just keep your hands to yourself! Don’t start a fire when you’re trying to be sneaky! Stop drinking too much and telling people things, THE RING’S DISAPPEARING ACT IS NOT A TRICK YOU SHOW PEOPLE AT THE PUB).

Good gravy, no joke Elf Lord.

However, life in the Shire sounds preeeetttty good. The hobbits and I are alike in a lot of ways, just wanting the finer things like: eating, drinking good beer, and hanging out with friends until the wee hours.

Which got me thinking: “Man, with all the eating and drinking and friend time, how do you get anything else done?” If it was me it would be a lot of sticky notes, reminders in my phone, and an alarm or two. But honestly, something tells me that the hobbits don’t live and die by their bullet journals and efficiency apps – but if they did I feel like it would like this.

6:45am: Slap the alarm off of the nightstand and wander into the kitchen scratching and belching. Almost slept through breakfast. That was a close one.

7:00am: Breakfast – chow down on leftovers from last night’s supper. Ugggghhh it’s going to be a busy one, should probably get a move on it. Wander out to the garden to pull some weeds and do some gathering of whatever looks ripe and delicious. But gosh, doesn’t that sun feel great on your hairy hobbit toes and your (somehow) hairless face? Maybe we just stretch out on the grass just for a quick nap……….snoooooooree….

8:30am: Wake with a start as a caterpillar sneaks across your forehead. By Gandalf’s beard, did you almost sleep through another meal? We need to get our priorities straight…and maybe plant some Valerian Root or something. Wander into the house with your hastily gathered veggies and throw them in a basket. You’ve got to trade those later on in this incredibly busy day but since it’s right around 9:00am you better get on with Second Breakfast because you’re not as young as you used to be and you have to keep that stamina up.

Yeah, what about it?

10:00am: After eating Second Breakfast over the sink because you realize you haven’t washed dishes in a few days you decide you can probably put some in the sink to soak (look at you, adulting so hard) and will wash them later. Right now you have to see your distant cousin who lives at the other side of Bag’s End about making a trade for your home grown goodness in exchange for HIS home brewed goodness. It’s kind of a hike so you should probably get to getting.

11:15am: Um, okay, how did that walk take longer since the last time you walked it? And now you’re hot and sweaty and cranky and your carrots look droopy and just.so.thirsty. Luckily your cousin has a chair in the shade waiting for you to sample some of his fine ale and have a little snicker snack for Elevensies. Even if it’s closer to like ElevensiesTwenty when you’re done. After several samples and a snack you know you should talk business but that breeze sure feels nice and you already here your cousin’s thunderous snores and decide, yeah, let’s take a nap and wheel and deal when we are firing on all cylinders. You eventually get shaken awake for an early lunch, and then after some hard negotiating find yourself tottering home with a small cask of ale underneath each arm. Which is good news because you’re having a couple of people over for dinner that night – it’s not going to be an all night bender but you have a reputation to uphold and you don’t want to run out of ale.

3:00pm: You are a beast! Those dishes in the sink are cleaned, you swept, you made sure there was clean ash trays for everyone’s pipe ash, the casks are chilling like villains in the root cellar, you have stew simmering in the fireplace, your crudite platters are on point and you have never felt more entitled to a nice long tea.

5:59pm: Hobbits never on time unless there is free booze and food involved. #FACT #Dont@me. Dinner is off and running!

Things get……fuzzy after here…..you’re assuming there was supper at about 9:00pm, and it’s not just because literally every dish in your cozy kitchen is dirty AGAIN, it’s also because there is no food left in your house. Dinner must have somehow turned into that all night bender it wasn’t supposed to because not only are those casks empty they are dry as the eyes of Sauron. You find some sad looking radishes under an over turned bucket and decide that will serve for breakfast tomorrow, because what would you actually cook that early. As you swerve to your cozy hobbit bed you think….

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway! We’ll keep this open through Sunday, 5/12. US residents only. Void where prohibited by law. Enter here for your chance the new Del Rey collection of THE LORD OF THE RINGS (image below), “A Well Read Woman is Dangerous” sticker, and other fun surprises!

Inklings

A Collection of Randomness to Kick Off Inklings Week 2019

(Welcome to Inklings Week 2019! You can find all the posts here. Hope you enjoy and thanks for stopping by!)

“Literary experience heals the wound, without undermining the privilege, of individuality. There are mass emotions which heal the wound; but they destroy the privilege. In them our separate selves are pooled and we sink back into sub-individuality. But in reading great literature I become a thousand men and yet remain myself. Like a night sky in the Greek poem, I see with a myriad eyes, but it is still I who see. Here, as in worship, in love, in moral action, and in knowing, I transcend myself; and am never more myself than when I do.”

C.S. Lewis penned these words in his essay, “An Experiment in Criticism.” Isn’t that one of the key reasons humanity is drawn to literature? We, for those moments we are reading the book, are transcending ourselves.

As you know, for myself, Tolkien and Lewis’ stories do just this. That’s why I love Inklings Week and the opportunity to celebrate them. To kick off Inklings Week, I thought I’d share a few fun finds about Tolkien and Lewis. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do! Also, we’ll have a giveaway throughout the week, so be sure to check it out!

Lewis was a spy. I repeat Lewis was a spy.

(Full story here)

Found in the archives: Tollers reading from The Hobbit.

How I wish there were audio versions with them reading their books! (You can hear it by clicking here or by clicking on the image below)

And here’s Jack reading from The Four Loves.

Can you imagine what it would have been like to have him as a Professor?

Finally, they both new how to party.

I found this thread on Twitter (via @SketchesbyBoze) and it’s time I finished this biography, because I’m missing out on some gems!

From Humphrey Carpenter’s Tolkien biography

Thanks for joining the start of Inklings Week 2019!

Now it’s giveaway time! We’ll keep this open through Sunday, 5/12. US residents only. Void where prohibited by law. Enter here for your chance the new Del Rey collection of THE LORD OF THE RINGS (image below), “A Well Read Woman is Dangerous” sticker, and other fun surprises!

Inklings

Next Week is Inklings Week!

GUESS WHAT?! Inklings Week is BACK!!

I’m so excited for next week and so sad that I had to miss last year (life sometimes…). We’ll kick things off next Monday (5/6), but any chance to talk about it beforehand, I’m in!

Also, I would like to thank Hollywood for joining the Inklings Week celebration with the release of TOLKIEN on May 10th. I’m glad you recognize the importance of this week :). (If you haven’t seen a preview, check it out here).

We’ll have daily posts here on the blog, but also have some fun on Facebook, so be sure to follow along and sign up for the event here.

Also, I’d like to introduce two of the contributors for next week. Inklings Week is always more fun with friends!

Wesley is the reader behind Library Educated. When she isn’t corralling the neuroscientists at work she is – reading, snuggling her dog, planning her next trip and getting experimental with her secondhand bread machine.

Wesley is not always good at articulating just why she loves the Inklings. Is it because no one writes a great wizard or a lonely bear man like Tolkien? Is it because C.S. Lewis’ words have spoken directly to her soul in more situations than she can count? Is it because it sounds awesome to sit at the pub with your friends and talk about the awesome books that you or reading or writing? All very good possibilities.

Katherine Reay is a national bestselling and award-winning author of several novels, including Dear Mr. Knightley and the upcoming The Printed Letter Bookshop. She has enjoyed a lifelong affair with books — and with everything C.S. Lewis wrote — and brings that love to her contemporary stories. Her first full-length nonfiction work will release in December 2019. Katherine holds a BA and MS from Northwestern University. She currently writes full time and lives outside Chicago, IL with her husband and three children. You can meet Katherine at http://www.katherinereay.com or on Facebook: KatherineReayBooks, Twitter: @katherine_reay and Instagram: @katherinereay.

I’m a fan of writers getting together and sharing life — and this is just about the most famous group there is. The name, the meeting place, and the stories surrounding the Inkings also create this hazy image of a smokey room, a pint of beer, and some the of best and liveliest conversation to be had — by some of the most interesting men — and an occasional woman — anywhere. We primarily think of Lewis and Tolkien when pondering the Inklings, but it was a very diverse group — academics, children’s writers, historian, biographers, poets… And I love that fact that despite this diversity of thought and all their erudite credentials, they loved fantasy. They loved that fiction held a unique place in all writing and that by inviting readers into new worlds, they could change ours.

I’m so excited to have both Wesley and Katherine join us next week! Be sure to pass it along to friends who might enjoy!

Inklings

How to Have the Perfect Hobbit Party (and Happy Birthday Bilbo and Frodo)

It’s a Hobbit weekend! Today, The Hobbit released in 1937. Tomorrow is also another important day in the Tolkien world – Frodo and Bilbo’s birthday, which is simply referred to as Hobbit Day. Obviously both are very worthy of celebration. And so, I’m here to help. I have experience in this area and who am I to deny the internet my expertise? It would be wrong of me and that’s not the kind of person I am.

Now, on to party business.

Food: This is a vital part of Hobbit existence (another reason why I think I’m part Hobbit). If you’re going to have a party, please make sure to have ample snacks. Thanks to the internet, there’s plenty of ideas to choose from, including Samwise’s Strawberries and Cream Tart, Bofur’s Mince Pies (or any of these really), Lembas bread (obviously), and a Hobbit Hole Cake.

Decor: Although not 100% necessary for a party, I wanted an excuse to share my favorite recent finds.

(Sources: Here Here Here Here Here Here)

Favors: It is Frodo and Bilbo’s birthday after all…

(Sources: Here Here Here Here)

What would you add to the party?

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

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

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

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

“Follow After Agape”
God’s Love

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

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

“You Have Transfixed My Heart”
Our Love of God

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

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

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

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

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

“Fatherly and Forgiving Goodness”
Grace and Redemption

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

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

“Divine Influence”
Living a Devout Life

Christina Rossetti’s The Poetical Works:

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Worthy to Receive More”
Humility

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

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

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

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

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

Henry Vaughan’s Sacred Poems: Peace

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

Where stands a winged Sentry All skillful in the wars.

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

And One born in a manger Commands the beauteous files.

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

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

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

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

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

Your God, your Life, your Cure.

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

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

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

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

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

Inklings

Aslan and Why I Love This Lion | Inklings Week

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

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

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

The Magician’s Nephew

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sigh…

The Horse and His Boy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prince Caspian

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

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

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

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

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

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

Take the scene where Dragon Eustace became boy Eustace again:

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

“You mean it spoke?”

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

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

“I know exactly what you mean,” said Edmund

(Eustace describes the process a bit more…)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Silver Chair

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

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

“Oh, if only we knew!” said Jill.
“I think we do know,” said Puddleglum.
“Do you mean you think everything will come right if we do untie him?” said Scrubb.
“I don’t know about that,” said Puddleglum. “You see, Aslan didn’t tell Pole what would happen. He only told her what to do. That fellow will be the death of us once he’s up, I shouldn’t wonder. But that doesn’t let us off following the sign”

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

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

I’ll take Narnia too.

The Last Battle

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

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

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

Raise your hand if you cry when Aslan shows up?

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

Lewis was able to so brilliantly capture a teeny bit of our heart’s reaction to Glory. Of course it is beyond our wildest dreams, but I love so so much that he was able to stir our hearts with these passages and story.

“Beloved, said the Glorious One, unless thy desire had been for me thou wouldst not have sought so long and so truly.” #CommenceCrying

Further up and Further in!

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

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

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