Inklings

Fun Finds: Inklings Edition | Inklings Week

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Inklings

Inklings Starter Kit | Guest Post by Wesley Hoffman

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

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

Inklings Starter Kit

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

A good coat

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


Foreign and/or Old Language Dictionaries

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

 

Drink of Choice

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

Lots of Stationery and Writing Tools

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

Not Necessary but Helpful

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

A fireplace and cozy chair for maximum comfort.

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

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

 

Inklings

Favorite Characters From Narnia | Guest Post by Katherine Reay

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

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

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

Edmund First…

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

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

Then comes Eustace…

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

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

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

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

December 24th

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

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

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

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

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

Sincerely,
Sam

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

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

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

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

Inklings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Images © 2001 – New Line Productions, Inc.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Images © 2002 – New Line Productions, Inc.

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

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

I also loved Sam’s speech at the end:

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

Images © 2003 – New Line Productions, Inc.

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

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

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

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

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

Alright, what are some of your favorite scenes?

Inklings

The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis | Inklings Series Discussion

I had heard quite a bit about The Problem of Pain before I started reading it for this series. What I heard was quite accurate too – a very logical (for a lack of a better word at the moment) and a theological/philosophical look at pain and suffering. A very removed look. Did y’all feel that way?

I haven’t read A Grief Observed yet (it’s on the list for this series!), but I have a feeling C.S. Lewis is much more personal since it was written after his wife’s death. I don’t mean to say this wasn’t a good read or that I didn’t enjoy it, because there were definitely some gems throughout the pages. Although there were, as always with Lewis, some parts where I had to read it approximately 87 times before understanding (or not) what Lewis meant.

I also really loved his dedication to The Inklings. I admit, I have a random obsession with author dedications.

Moving on.

I like the arguments he brings in – the questions that need to be answered, like this from the Introduction: “If the universe is so bad, or even half so bad, how on earth did human beings ever come to attribute it to the activity of a wise and good Creator? Men are fools, perhaps; but hardly so foolish as that. The direct inference from black to white, from evil flower to virtuous root, from senseless work to a workman infinitely wise, staggers belief. The spectacle of the universe as revealed by experience can never have been the ground for religion: it must have been something in spite of which religion, acquired from a different source, was held.”

I loved the quote like this from Mere Christianity, so I thought it was worth sharing here:

“The claim [that Jesus was the Son of God] is so shocking – a paradox, and even a horror, which we may easily be lulled into taking too lightly – that only two views of this man are possible. Either he was a raving lunatic of an unusually abominable type, or else He was, as is, precisely what He said. There is no middle way.”

I’m promise I’m not trying to point out all the quotes from the introduction :), but he had so many key points, especially against the argument that Christianity is a “crutch.” Early on he writes, “Christianity is not the conclusion of a philosophical debate on the origins of the universe: it is a catastrophic historical event following on the long spiritual preparation of humanity which I have described. It is not a system into which we have to fit the awkward fact of pain: it is itself one of the awkward facts which have to be fitted into any system we make. In a sense, it creates, rather than solves, the problem of pain, for pain would be no problem unless, side by side with our daily experience of this painful world, we had received what we think a good assurance that ultimate reality is righteous and loving.”

In many debates, the idea of free will has come up. Again Lewis contributes to the conversation with this observation:

“The freedom of a creature must mean freedom to choose: the choice implies the existence of things to choose between. A creature with no environment would have no choices to make: so that freedom, like self-consciousness (if they are not, indeed, the same thing), again demands the presence to the self of something other than the self.”

After talking about miracles (and why they are not common), I love what Lewis adds: “Try to exclude the possibility of suffering which the order of nature and the existence of free wills involve, and you find that you have excluded life itself.” (To read more on the miracles, check out pages 24-25)

I’m really trying to only pick a few quotes and points, but as always with Lewis, it’s nearly impossible. Also, definitely read the book.

These next couple of quotes were from the chapter on Divine Goodness.

“When Christianity says that God loves man, it means that God loves man: not that He has some ‘disinterested’, because really indifferent, concern for our welfare, but that, in awful and surprising truth, we are the objects of His love. You asked for a love God: you have one…How this should be, I do not know: it passes reason to explain why any creatures, not to say creatures such as we, should have a value so prodigious in the Creator’s eyes.”

“The problem of reconciling human suffering with the existence of a God who loves, is only insoluble so long as we attach a trivial meaning to the word ‘love’, and look on things as if man were the centre of them. Man is not the centre. God does not exist for the sake of man. Man does not exist for his own sake. ‘Thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.’ We were made not primarily that we may love God (though we were made for that too) but that God may love us, that we may become objects in which the Divine love may rest ‘well pleased.’”

I’ll end with my favorite quote in the book, from the section Human Pain:

“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

Questions for Discussion: Feel free to answer any or all!

1. Did you have a favorite section?
There were several I enjoyed. I was encouraged by many of them and several also had me thinking on the topic for a while. Example: I thought this response to those who opposed the doctrine of hell:
“In the long run the answer to all those who object to the doctrine of hell, is itself a question: ‘What are you asking God to do?’ To wipe out their past sins and, at all costs, to give them a fresh start, smoothing every difficulty and offering every miraculous help? But He has done so, on Calvary. To forgive them? They will not be forgiven. To leave them alone? Alas, I am afraid what is what He does.”

2. What were your overall thoughts on the book?

3. Have you read A Grief Observed? How did this compare if you have?

4. Did you have favorite quotes?
Just one more that I thought about a while after I finished the book :).
“Even a good emotion, pity, if not controlled by charity and justice, leads through anger to cruelty.”

Inklings

That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis | Inklings Series Discussion

Hello Inklings fans! First, I apologize for the delay. For all my goals of not putting too much on my plate and not reaching a point to make me lose my mind (up in here, up here), March majorly failed in all aspects. Mea culpa though and lessons learned. Sometimes, it just takes me years to learn something :).

Anyway, I finally have a few thoughts on The Hideous Strength (and I apologize this isn’t the longest or most thorough of all discussion posts).

This was quite a different read from the first two in the trilogy. It can definitely stand on its own and if you’re expecting it to be like the first two, just know, it’s not.

This seemed to be a mix of all the things. There’s the dystopian vibe, the satirical commentary of politics, the search for meaning and truth (with Jane), unhealthy desire in career (Mark), our old favorite (Ransom), planets and, you know, Merlin too. What did y’all think of all the pieces? I haven’t decided what I think. I know, just great for a discussion post – ha! It’s so different, but that doesn’t mean better or worse for me. I think I would need to re-read it to have a stronger opinion (and unfortunately didn’t have time for that).

“There are a dozen views about everything until you know the answer. Then there’s never more than one.”

Jane’s journey reminded me a bit of Ransom’s, in that her journey towards truth wasn’t one defining moment, but bit by bit and over time. I liked that Lewis had them as a realistic couple, with a troubled marriage, priorities not necessarily in the right order and the different paths each one took. So different, but through fantasty-ish/dystopian, we were able to learn from both of them.

I knew early on Mark was going to frustrate me – ha! At one point early on, this quote popped up:
“And Mark said – God forgive him, he was young and shy and vain and timid, all in one…”

But Mark came through in the end and I thought this was a great ending too:

“Still she did not move that latch. Then she noticed that the window, the bedroom window, was open. Clothes were piled on a chair inside the room so carelessly that they lay over the sill: the sleeve of a shirt – Mark’s shirt – even hung down over the outside wall. And in all this damp too. How exactly like Mark! Obviously it was high time she went in.”

There’s plenty more to add and my plan is to come back and do just that. Honestly, with it being already late, I didn’t want to hold off posting something.

Please share your thoughts, favorite quotes and any other fun! I still think my favorite is Out of the Silent Planet – which one is your favorite?

Inklings

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight translated by J.R.R. Tolkien | Inklings Series Discussion

I hope everyone enjoyed the “detour” we took in the Inklings series, looking at some of Tolkien’s translation work. After finishing this one, I realized I don’t have much to say about Tolkien’s translation as I’ve only read one other translation and that was in high school, so I couldn’t tell you the differences for all the Mexican food in the world. But I did enjoy the story when all was said and done. (Also, for time’s sake, I’m only focusing on Sir Gawain and the Green Knight)

I thought these were some interesting quick facts about the story:

  • The copy that The British Museum has was written around 1400
  • It’s believed to be the same author, but nothing is known about him.

I thought this was insightful from the introduction: “In terms of literature, undoubtedly this break in the mathematical perfection of an ideal creature, inhuman in flawlessness, is a great improvement. The credibility of Gawain is enormously enhanced by it. He becomes a real man, and we can thus really admire his actual virtue.”

Once I got into the story telling style (since I don’t read a ton of alliterative poems), I enjoyed it. Before it all came out (I had completely forgotten the ending) though, I was getting really upset that Gawain kept letting Lady Creeper come into his room. How could he not smell that trap? I was also cool without the description of what they did with the deer or the boar. Gross and nasty internet.

But then it all made sense after it turns out Morgan isn’t a fan of Arthur. I need to brush up on my Arthurian legends, because I don’t know much about Morgan le Faye and her desire to take down Arthur and Camelot. What a great sister.

Not only did I appreciate the way in which Gawain came to his senses (“Though a fool I now am made.”), but I liked Arthur’s reaction below (as seen in the quotes)

“Lo! Lord,” he said at last, and the lace handled,
“This is the band! For this a rebuke I bear in my neck!
This is the grief and disgrace I have got for myself
From the covetousness and cowardice that o’ercame me there!

“every Knight of Brotherhood, a baldric should have,
A band of bright green obliquely about him,
And this for love of that knight as a livery should wear.”

I did have one piece I couldn’t figure out: Why did the name spelling exchange between Gawain and Wawain?

That’s what I got for this month! What did y’all think? Have you read this story before?

Inklings

Surprised by Joy by C.S. Lewis | Inklings Series Discussion

Remember that one time I thought I was a pretty intelligent human being? Well, then I read C.S. Lewis’ “autobiography” and have decided I was sorely mistaken and need to hourly start inserting literary analogies and references in my daily discussion. “Well, this reminded of the time Herodotus explained this…” As I’ve said before, Lewis was a genius.

I’ll start with 5 key takeaways:
1. This was not at all what I expected.

2. He’s hilarious and witty.

3. As I mentioned, you need a PhD in English to get half of what he’s saying. All his casual and totally obscure writer references? Didn’t get most of them (I like you Google). I felt like the person who never got the joke.

4. Can we take a moment to appreciate this from the intro? “The story is, I fear, suffocatingly subjective; the kind of tiling I have never written before and shall probably never write again. I have tried so to write the first chapter that those who can’t bear such a story will see at once what they are in for and close the book with the least waste of time.”

5. Wyvern had quite a few issues.

I took this more to be a story of his influences and the path that eventually led him to follow Jesus. Yes, he does say that in the intro, but even so, it took a much different route than I envisioned.

I was fascinated by his description of his father and their relationship. I couldn’t help but wonder if it was a product of personality, the era or a mix of both (which I’m leaning towards). I also enjoyed hearing him share about his brother – “Two frightened urchins huddled for warmth in a bleak world.” – (even with their disagreements about Wyvern). Also, reason #89890 Jack and I would have been friends: “To this day I would rather meet a ghost than a tarantula.”

Yet another fascinating part was, of course, how he came to theism and Christianity, but also how he “lost” his faith when he was young. From Oldie to significant losses, there was quite a bit that happened to young Jack. He’s thoughts after his mom passing away made me sad.

“With my mother’s death all settled happiness, all that was tranquil and reliable, disappeared from my life. There was to be much fun, many pleasures, many stabs of Joy; but no more of the old security. It was sea and islands now; the great continent had sunk like Atlantis.”

Lewis is honest in all the things and, for me, that adds even more strength to his story (if that makes sense). Through the friendships he finally made, to the professors he was blessed with, to his war experiences and then Oxford, this is a packed book. Yet it never seemed overwhelming to me. After all the time he spent on Wyvern, I didn’t think he’d get to his Tolkien days, but it flowed and we got there right on time.

I’ll post a few quotes I liked (either because his tone made me laugh or they were rather wise).

“For eating and reading are two pleasures that combine admirably. Of course not all books are suitable for mealtime reading. It would be a kind of blasphemy to read poetry at table.”

“The hardness of God is kinder than the softness of men, and His compulsion is our liberation.”

“Dickens I looked upon with a feeling of horror, engendered by long poring over the illustrations before I had learned to read. I still think them depraved.”

“Perhaps a good influence; for poor Tim, though I loved him, was the most undisciplined, unaccomplished, and dissipated-looking creature that ever went on four legs. He never exactly obeyed you; he sometimes agreed with you.”

“It was late in the winter term of 1916 that I went to Oxford to sit for my scholarship examination. Boys who have faced this ordeal in peacetime will not easily imagine the indifference with which I went. This does not mean that I underestimated the importance (in one sense) of succeeding. I knew very well by now that there was hardly any position in the world save that of a don in which I was fitted to earn a living, and that I was staking everything on a game in which few won and hundreds lost.”

“Straight tribulation is easier to bear than tribulation which advertises itself as pleasure.”

“George MacDonald had done more to me than any other writer; of course it was a pity he had that bee in his bonnet about Christianity. He was good in spite of it. Chesterton had more sense than all the other moderns put together; bating, of course, his Christianity. Johnson was one of the few authors whom I felt I could trust utterly; curiously enough, he had the same kink. Spenser and Milton by a strange coincidence had it too. Even among ancient authors the same paradox was to be found. The most religious (Plato, Aeschylus, Virgil) were clearly those on whom I could really feed. On the other hand, those writers who did not suffer from religion and with whom in theory my sympathy ought to have been complete—Shaw and Wells and Mill and Gibbon and Voltaire— all seemed a little thin; what as boys we called “tinny.” It wasn’t that I didn’t like them. They were all (especially Gibbon) entertaining; but hardly more. There seemed to be no depth in them. They were too simple. The roughness and density of life did not appear in their books.”

TOLLERS!!!! “When I began teaching for the English Faculty, I made two other friends, both Christians (these queer people seemed now to pop up on every side) who were later to give me much help in getting over the last stile. They were H. V. V. Dyson (then of Reading) and J. R. R. Tolkien. Friendship with the latter marked the breakdown of two old prejudices. At my first coming into the world I had been (implicitly) warned never to trust a Papist, and at my first coming into the English Faculty (explicitly) never to trust a philologist. Tolkien was both.”

“Really, a young Atheist cannot guard his faith too carefully. Dangers lie in wait for him on every side. You must not do, you must not even try to do, the will of the Father unless you are prepared to “know of the doctrine.” All my acts, desires, and thoughts were to be brought into harmony with universal Spirit. For the first time I examined myself with a seriously practical purpose. And there I found what appalled me; a zoo of lusts, a bedlam of ambitions, a nursery of fears, a harem of fondled hatreds. My name was legion.”

“That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England.”

Wow, sorry y’all, I went from “a few” to “a dissertation” of quotes. But do you blame me?

Discussion Questions (feel free to answer any, all or your own thoughts!)

1. Was anything surprising to you?
I’ll just drop Wyvern and leave it at that. What many of the Bloods felt entitled to do was disgusting and I found it telling that Lewis spent more than a chapter on his experiences there.

2. What was one of the most interesting pieces you took away from this story?
Hmmmm….I found his time as Wyvern and his war time both interesting. The whole book really, but I had to pick something for this question right? 🙂

3. Do you have any favorite quotes?

4. Was there anything new you really enjoyed learning about Lewis?
As I mentioned, learning about his Dad was new (I knew a bit about their relationship), but hearing it from Lewis shed a lot of light on him.

Thanks for joining in!

Inklings

The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis | Inklings Series Read

I’m going to start off with a very serious question.

WHY CAN’T NARNIA BE REAL?

Now that that is out, let’s move forward and chat about the book instead. It helps you know? 🙂 I’ll start by saying, like the ending of Narnia/beginning of the true Narnia, the beginning of this young Narnia is so beautiful. I absolutely adore of Lewis’ use Aslan and music to create. It is such a reminder that God is the Master Artist and it makes me heart beat a few extra beats.

I’ll start off by sharing a couple of my favorite scenes and quotes:

“Narnia, Narnia, Narnia, awake. Love. Think. Speak. Be walking trees. Be talking beasts. Be divine waters.” I love that after awakening, Aslan commands them to love.

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

If there was one book episode I would want to be real and that I would get to be a part of, I think it might be this scene:
“In the darkness something was happening at last. A voice had begun to sing. It was very far away and Digory found it hard to decide from what direction it was coming. Sometimes it seemed to come from all directions at once. Sometimes he almost thought it was coming out of the earth beneath them. Its lower notes were deep enough to be the voice of the earth herself. There were no words. There was hardly even a tune. But it was, beyond comparison, the most beautiful noise he had ever heard. It was so beautiful he could hardly bear it. The horse seemed to like it too; he gave the sort of whinny a horse would give if, after years of being a cab-horse, it found itself back in the old field where it had played as a foal, and saw someone whom it remembered and loved coming across the field to bring it a lump of sugar.”

I thought it would be fun to chat about some of the characters this month too, so here are a few more of my thoughts:

Polly
She has some sass (and loved it!), but also loved her friendship with Digory. Sorry I don’t have a quote for her (except when she called Digory an ass for his antics when he first saw Jadis, I call that a win), but I promise, she’s fabulous.

Digory
Before he went for the apple, I loved this scene with Aslan:
“The Lion drew a deep breath, stooped its head even lower and gave him a Lion’s kiss. And at once Digory felt that new strength and courage had gone into him.”

Then this scene. In case y’all ever forget: Friends and friends forever….!!
“You needn’t take the little girl back with you, you know.” That was where the Witch made her fatal mistake. Of course Digory knew that Polly could get away by her own ring as easily as he could get away by his. But apparently the Witch didn’t know this. And the meanness of the suggestion that he should leave Polly behind suddenly made all the other things the Witch had been saying to him sound false and hollow.”

Reading this makes me appreciate the Professor all over again in the following books.

Uncle Andrew
Hello Shady McShadyson. But the good news with Uncle A, is his character reminds us that not all is lost and sometimes it requires a bit of humility before we can change.

“The commercial possibilities of this country are unbounded.” Oh Uncle A…

I also loved how Lewis changed Uncle Andrew to not be able to understand Aslan or the animals. How easily we humans convince ourselves of believing in something glorious because of fear (or pride or a many other things).

“And the longer and more beautiful the Lion sang, the harder Uncle Andrew tried to make himself believe that he could hear nothing but roaring. Now the trouble about trying to make yourself stupider than you really are is that you very often succeed.”

Empress Jadis
This reaction is so fitting for Jadis (during the creation of Narnia)

“There was soon light enough for them to see one another’s faces. The Cabby and the two children had open mouths and shining eyes; they were drinking in the sound, and they looked as if it reminded them of something. Uncle Andrew’s mouth was open too, but not open with joy. He looked more as if his chin had simply dropped away from the rest of his face. His shoulders were stooped and his knees shook. He was not liking the Voice. If he could have got away from it by creeping into a rat’s hole, he would have done so. But the Witch looked as if, in a way, she understood the music better than any of them. Her mouth was shut, her lips were pressed together, and her fists were clenched. Ever since the song began she had felt that this whole world was filled with a Magic different from hers and stronger. She hated it.”

Anything good she would obviously hate. And the scene with the apple tree? Umm…we know all about this and I’m glad Digory remembered and trusted in Aslan’s mission over her lies. I also loved when Digory went back to Aslan and how it was true that the apple would heal, would do what it was meant to do, but if done with the wrong intentions or at the wrong time, it would turn out in ways not expected (and not in a positive way).

Finally, this little gem at the end…how The Wardrobe came to be? I’ll keep checking ones I find y’all because PLEASE BE REAL.

“However that might be, it was proved later that there was still magic in its wood. For when Digory was quite middle-aged (and he was a famous learned man, a Professor, and a great traveler by that time) and the Ketterleys’ old house belonged to him, there was a great storm all over the south of England which blew the tree down. He couldn’t bear to have it simply chopped up for firewood, so he had part of the timber made into a wardrobe, which he put in his big house in the country. And though he himself did not discover the magic properties of that wardrobe, someone else did.”

Discussion Questions (if you so wish!)

1. Who are your favorites from this novel?
I’m a fan of the Cabbie, who while his role came later in the novel, was a great character to make King. Humble, yet willing to take on the privilege.

I’m a fan of Digory (and his journey) and Polly too.

2. What are some of your favorite scenes and/or quotes?
3. How does this compare to the other Narnian novels?

Further up and further in friends!

Inklings

All Hallow’s Eve by Charles Williams | Inklings Series Discussion

Death as death was preferable to death mimicking a foolish life.

Well this book gets filed under “stories that turned out to be not at all what I expected.” Early on I wasn’t at all sure what to think. In my mind this story was going to be like Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow style. I have no basis for this assumption except that All Hallows’ Eve reminds me of Fall and that story usually is told around Halloween.

By chapter two I wasn’t sure what I had gotten myself into and terrible memories of Kafka’s Metamorphosis came rushing back (Blame bugs and people morphing). I was at a loss, but as the story unfolded, I was able to look back and appreciate what was going on in the scene and the meaning of the painting and each character. Some fabulous writing.

I also wasn’t expecting Betty to play such a key role. Again, I don’t know where I got any of my assumptions (since I didn’t know about this story until only recently), but it threw me off because I kept expecting the story to be solely about Lester and Richard and how their love transcended even death. I realize in that last part I was right, but once I got over my unfounded expectations of the storyline, I was able to appreciate the other characters.

I really was a fan of the theme of love defeating all. I give William’s props for developing such a unique story that reveals that in such a way. Both in friendship and romantic love. I’m sure I missed like 97% of the symbolism in this book (Most of the time I did not feel smart reading this book #INeededCliffNotes), but I did like that Jonathan was an artist and there was meaning in that.

And who would have thought a dead woman could have such character development? Evelyn on the other hand…what a terrible human being/ghost.

I’m all for clever and clear battles between good and evil, so while I can appreciate Williams’ skill and talent, my boys are still top in my book. 🙂

Since this was a new author to the Inklings series, I’m leaving it open ended for discussion….or maybe just a few prompts. 🙂

  1. What did you think of the characters? Did you have a favorite?
  2. Any thoughts to share on the symbolism throughout the novel?
  3. What’s your impression of Charles after reading this?

Looking forward to hearing from y’all!