Inklings

A Toast to the Professor | Celebrating with Favorite LOTR Moments

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

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

Current office decor

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

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

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

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

4. Samwise being Samwise

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

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

7. Éowyn being awesome:

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

9. “For Frodo.” Gets me every time.

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

What are some of your favorite scenes?

Advertisements
Inklings

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?

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

Unfinished Tales by J.R.R. Tolkien | Inklings Series Discussion

We made it friends! Thanks for your patience – I knew moving and a major life change would definitely mix things up, but da-ang….I need a vacation from adulting for a good long while. Haha! Not really, I just sometimes stress out when I get behind on things and I don’t have all the energy I want to have for other things. My poor checklist just stares at me wondering why I’m ignoring him. 🙂 Anyway….let’s dive in!

I thought I would do this discussion like I did with The Silmarillion. There’s so many stories and tales, I picked a handful to discuss so this doesn’t turn into a dissertation that shuts the internet down. I mean, Inklings Week did attract some shenanigans, so you.never.know.

I’d love for you to add any thoughts in the comments on sections I didn’t cover!

“Of Tuor And His Coming to Gondolin”

Sometimes Tolkien’s heroes have it rough! Anyone else feel bad for Tuor? First by himself for ages and then it was a rough go to reach Gondolin. But getting to have a face to face conversation with Ulmo, wasn’t too shabby.

One of my favorite quotes from this section was Gelmir to Tuor: “Through darkness one may come to the light.” (pg 23)

Another favorite was from Ulmo to Tuor on sending him to deliver the message. “If I choose the send thee, Tuor son of Huor, then believe not that thy one sword is not worth sending…but it is not for thy valour only that I send thee, but to bring into the world a hope beyond thy sight, and a light that shall pierce the darkness.” (pg 32)

Tolkien likes to have some nasty creatures too. The Great Worm of Angband? I’m going to pass.

Also, I get these are called Unfinished Tales for a reason, but when this one ended I wanted more than the notes Christopher included! I wanted the finished tale – haha! But I still enjoyed it.

“The History of Galadriel and Celeborn”

I loved a deeper look into the life of Galadriel! I think having this background helps me to appreciate her character even more and how much she grew through the ages. And though while she left without permission, it does seem as though her intentions were always with good intent.

I loved Tolkien’s descriptions:
“She was proud, strong, and selfwilled, as were all the descendants of Finwë, save Finarfin; and like her brother Finrod, of all her kin the nearest to her heart, she had dreams of far lands and dominions that might be her own to order that she would without to tutelage. Yet deeper still there dwelt in her the noble and generous spirit of the Vanyar, and a reverence for the Valar that she could not forget.” (pg 23)

“From her earliest years she had marvellous gift of insight into the minds of others, but judged them with mercy and understanding, and she withheld her goodwill from none save only Fëanor. In him she perceived a darkness that she hated and feared, though she did not perceive that the shadow of the same evil had fallen upon the minds of all the Noldor, and upon her own.”

It’s pretty crazy to think that Tolkien never stopped working on his tales. Christopher mentioned in one of the notes that the section notes he found were from the last month of this life. A true genius. I enjoyed the notes almost as much as the stories! So many interesting and entertaining information.

“The Hunt For the Ring”

I thought I’d close with this bit because it took place during LOTR and felt like a behind-the-scenes extra.

Facts learned: Saruman waylaid or mislead servants of Sauron. So he again deserves “most trustworthy” with “his double dealings.” I didn’t realize how sneaky Saruman was with Sauron! Did I totally miss that in LOTR? (Highly possible with my brain these days).

“Saruman, already filled with wrath and fear by the escape of Gandalf, perceived the peril of standing between enemies, a known traitor to both. His dread was great, for his hope of deceiving Sauron, or at the least of receiving his favour in victory, was utterly lost.”

And this quote on Wormtongue had me chuckling because it speaks of his character so well:
“Thus it was that on the evening of the next day the Black Riders came upon Gríma Wormtongue as he hastened to bring word to Saruman that Gandalf was come to Edoras, and had warned King Théoden of the treacherous designs of Isengard. In that hour the Wormtongue came near to death by terror; but being inured to treachery he would have told all that he knew under less threat.”

And turned out Wormy spilled thoughts and went on. Not shocked.

There’s so much more to these tales (and I didn’t discuss Túrin, since we’ve spent a whole book on him here already), and I really love hearing all these extra details. I’ll read everything about Middle Earth there is. 🙂 After going through these notes and stories, I could have majored in Tolkien and would have been as happy as a clam!

Alright! Since there’s so many ways to go with this discussion, I’m going to leave it open ended! What did y’all think compared to his other tales? Did you have a favorite? Did you like it?

Excited to hear your thoughts!

Inklings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sigh….

Then there’s simply sentences like this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Inklings

My (Current) Top 6 Books Written by J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis

Welcome to the final post of Inklings Week! You can find all the posts here. Thank you for joining in – it’s been a lot of fun and I look forward to next year (which will actually be by International Inklings Day, May 11th)! Think there’s something that should be added for next year? Please share!

Whenever I create any type of “favorites” list, I don’t include books written by Tolkien or Lewis. It wouldn’t be fair to the competition. But since it’s Inklings Week, I wanted to share my current favorites of the boys.

If you’re new to either Tolkien or Lewis, then this post is especially for you, but only because I get the honor of introducing you to some of the best books ever written. It’s a list of my favorites and ones I recommend to folks who are interested reading one of their books for the first time. (If I’ve read it for this blog, then it’s linked up, so you can hear me gush and discuss on those posts.)

Let’s start with Professor Tolkien. How can one adequately put into words just how amazing the creation of Middle Earth is? Before this turns into a gush fest, here’s my current top 3.

  • The Hobbit
  • The Two Towers
  • The Return of the King (Stop by next Wed. for this discussion!)

C.S. Lewis is a bit more difficult. From Narnia to Mere Christianity, how’s a girl to choose? Well, I’m going with the following three. Ask me next month and the list will probably change, but no matter, because these are all excellent ones to start with.

  • The Screwtape Letters
  • The Horse and His Boy
  • The Great Divorce

I’m glad we can all agree that they were geniuses and I look forward to reading more from them!

What are some of your favorite works by Tolkien and/or Lewis?

Inklings

Welcome to Inklings Week (and Why I Love Their Books)!

Ready for a bit of summer fun?! It’s the first ever Inklings Week! I thought of doing a Inklings Week earlier this year around International Inklings Day (it’s not a thing yet, but it shall be!) in May, but the idea popped in my head two days before. All kinds of planning time right? I also didn’t want to wait until 2016, so I figured July was the perfect month! (For all the posts from this year, just go here!)

First, things first – a (hopefully) fun announcement. You’ve already heard this if you subscribe to my quarterly newsletter (which you should totally sign up if you haven’t! It’s all kinds of bookish fun and there’s giveaways. You can here), but if not…there’s an Inklings podcast coming! I’m working on the details (like how I even get this up on iTunes) and material (I’m hoping it won’t be just me talking!) and I’m really excited about it. So if you’re into podcasts, I hope you’ll join in the fun!

There’s plenty of reasons people love the works of Tolkien and Lewis and I’d love to hear why you do! For me? Where to begin right? Their books have shown me what it means to be brave, what it means to be a true and loyal friend until the very end, what it means to love, what it means to fight for good against all odds, and what it means to embrace what you were meant to do.

Their books have also helped me realize it’s okay to wrestle with faith, to understand God’s character in ways I didn’t see before, how to hope in the most dire of circumstances and that there’s always a chance to turn back.

They wrote more than just books. They left a legacy (of their lives and their stories) that will continue to impact generations to come.

I love knowing I can always come back to them and be amazed. Sigh…I just love them.

So please, fellow fans, share below! Why do you enjoy reading Tolkien and Lewis?