Inklings, Movie Musings

It’s Been Long Enough: My Thoughts on The Hobbit Movies

(If you’re new, welcome to Inklings Week 2016! Don’t miss any of the posts this week, you can find them here!)

I realize I never really shared my thoughts on The Hobbit trilogy movies. I admit, I had plans to and I never got around to it…I’m sure my feelings will help explain why.

Before I dive into my nerdy post of angst, I will say I love the music from all three. When you have Thorin, Pippin and Ed Sheeran singing, bound for musical brilliance (the LOTR soundtrack is my background jam right now)

I also need to add I don’t think PJ (Peter Jackson) is a terrible director or producer. He’s insanely talented. I remember picking up the first LOTR movie on sale at Target (I had seen the cartoons long before that and remembered pieces of it) and after watching it, I vividly remember thinking “WHY HAS NO ONE TOLD ME ABOUT THIS BEFORE?!” It was love at first sight. I read the books immediately and was first in line for the two other movies (I took off work on release day).

BUT. Even he admitted he was making it up with The Hobbit as he went. So it’s not just me.

Alright, now let’s get honest and real…..

Movie One

“YAYYYYYYY!!! We’re back in Middle earth!!”

https://giphy.com/embed/knFyKpWwkFfMI

I was so ready!
https://giphy.com/embed/HVr4gFHYIqeti

After the movie, I thought “You know, PJ added some things and mixed them up, but that’s okay…he changed a few things in LOTR too…I think these will still be so great!” I have to say though, the Gollum/Bilbo scene was spot on and I really enjoyed the riddles scene.

I mean, y’all, who didn’t get chills when Thorin began singing “Misty Mountains?” Chills!

If only the awesomeness lasted…

Movie Two

“Well at least the dragon was really cool. I’m trying to just enjoy Middle Earth and not focus on what is happening to one of my beloved books. I’ll just pretend the love triangle isn’t actually happening. Instead, we’re just going to pretend it’s like LOTR all over again.”

https://giphy.com/embed/kl3F9X1zETOW4

Movie Three

“These movies are dead to me.”

Let’s go ahead with some bullet points:

  • THAT’S NOT HOW KILI AND FILI DIED. THIS IS LAME. I HATE THIS MOVIE.
  • Why hate on the eagles? They deserved better.
  • Ignoring Beorn are you PJ? Why? He’s awesome (he took out the Goblin leader in the Battle) and why did he get 17 seconds towards the end of the battle which consisted of jumping off an eagle while transforming?
  • The love story…just no.
  • Have I mentioned Kili and Fili deserved better? They died protecting their King, they weren’t killed by the pale jerk of an Orc (WHO WASN’T IN THE BOOK) (And before you get angry, yes I know Azog is in Middle Earth history, but he was not in The Hobbit and did not need such a role. The enemies they had were just fine). Also, neither died protecting a non existent elf either.
  • Did PJ watch Tremors while writing this?
  • I don’t understand the obsession with the creepy unibrow fellow (he doesn’t deserve a Google search to remember his name). Why was he in the movies again? Besides to haunt your dreams?

Suffice to say my Hobbit heart was broken in two when all was said and done. I couldn’t even bring myself to buy it on DVD…that means something Internet…

Alright, did y’all like the movies? I promise not to hold judgement if you do! 😉

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Inklings

A Guest Post From Wesley – All Things Tolkien and Lewis!

(If you’re new, welcome to Inklings Week 2016! Today is another fabulous guest post from my friend Wesley! Don’t miss any of the posts this week, you can find them here.) 

Hi everyone! I’m Wesley and I blog over at Library Educated. When Jamie asked me if I wanted in on Inklings Week I could not say yes fast enough! I’ve been a C.S. Lewis fan for a long time but have come to appreciate J.R.R.’s thorough world building and vast landscapes!

I think that it is fair to say that the people who love the books of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien are a fairly rabid bunch (maybe not like, One Direction fan base type of rabid, but I think that that’s okay). People have expressed their love of these books in all types of ways: tattoos, art, reimagined book covers, things that I MUST HAVE on Etsy, and of course – memes.

It’s hard not to be inspired by the books even before you open the books up and dive into their stories, look at some of these covers!

And my personal favorite of the Tolkien group:

Did you know there was a Queen who illustrated Lord of the Rings? Yeah! Check it out!

And onto some of my favorite CS Lewis covers (many from the same editions):

#saddragonissadbecausehisnameisEustaceandhealmostdeservedit
(Long hashtag is long)

Tattoos

(You guys, this whole post could be made up of “Not all who wander are lost” tattoos for the Tolkien end of things. We will keep it to one.)

Any my favorite, random funny things on the internet (everyone’s favorite really, right?)

Ring ding ding ding ding ding ding!

And a Narnia – X-Men crossover? Yes please!
Awwww!
When you wish upon a scary floating eye…..

So basically my Inklings Week post was me messing around on the internet for hours and I couldn’t be more grateful to Jamie for the opportunity!

Yay!! Thanks so much for joining in Wesley – this was so much fun to read (lots of laughs too!). So y’all have a favorite from Wesley’s post?

Inklings

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

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

I miss you Oxford!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Inklings

The Reason I love C.S. Lewis | Guest Post by Katherine Reay

(If you’re new, welcome to Inklings Week 2016! I’m excited to have the lovely Katherine Reay on the blog today chatting about C.S. Lewis! Don’t miss any of the posts this week, you can find them here!)

Welcome Katherine!

If you’ve read any of my books, you know I love books. The stories I write are saturated with the stories of others because I believe books form a common language. The Classics are not “classic” merely because they are old. They endure because they are timeless and true. We return to them again and again because they speak with relevance to our experiences, our thoughts and our lives.

If you’ve read any of my books, you also know I love C.S. Lewis. He isn’t mentioned or quoted or cited as often as Austen, Bronte or Dickens – and there’s a reason for that. He is my little secret and the foundation, if not the propulsion, for everything I write.

Here’s a peek behind the curtain…

The idea for Dear Mr. Knightley came from a few sources. One can readily recognize Daddy Long Legs (Jean Webster) behind its structure. But rather than an homage to that story, Dear Mr. Knightley only “hides” within its framework much as its heroine Sam Moore hides behind literary characters. Rather Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters helped me form the basis of Sam’s journey.

The Screwtape Letters is a “diabolical parody” written in a series of letters from a top devil, Screwtape (an Under Secretary and “affectionate uncle”), to a beginning devil, Wormwood. The subject? Advice on how to secure a “patient” – a human soul – for their father in hell. The story is packed with humor and incredibly accurate insights into the human psyche as the patient is bombarded again and again by obstacles, temptations and pressures – anything and everything to keep his eyes off eternity. Reading this, I wondered how might a woman react today to getting hit again and again. Could she recognize the eternal or even begin to ask and answer those deeper longings for love, trust, safety in the midst of such trials?

It may not have been a nice way to treat Sam, but I did enjoy her tenacity in seeking wholeness. She – and we – keep asking those deep heartfelt questions and seek answers no matter our sufferings. We may even ask more loudly and fight harder for truth in the midst of them.

Lizzy and Jane, my second novel, came to me as I read another Lewis favorite: The Four Loves. In this non-fiction work, Lewis outlines and examines the four loves in our lives and the order in which we could/should regard them. Affection. Sibling love. Romantic love. God love. This examination prompted me to ask what could or would happen to a woman if I took all four loves away. What would force her to recognize their loss and seek them again? Although I consider Lizzy & Jane my “sister story,” Lizzy’s journey is one answer to this question.

As an aside, if you get a chance to listen to The Four Loves’ audio recording, please do. It is one of the only remaining recordings of C.S. Lewis reading his own work, and his voice, intonation and occasional jokes will make you smile.

The Bronte Plot is my most obvious homage to Lewis. His The Great Divorce is a wonderful dream and a fascinating journey. While asleep, Lewis travels to heaven where he witnesses souls journeying “upward and onward.” Decisions must be made and burdens relinquished. Wrapped within fantasy, he introduces us to the idea of free will, choice and consequence – strings pulling at our hearts and the nature of surrender. This was a touch point for me when I wrestled with Lucy and Helen’s choices in The Bronte Plot and planned their journey both internally and throughout England.

My next book, A Portrait of Emily Price, will release in November and it too began with Lewis. I had a bit more fun in this story as I examined Lewis’s Surprised by Joy and Till We Have Faces. Emily Price is a look at one young woman’s search for surrender and joy amidst some beautiful Italian scenery, delicious food, great art and a very handsome husband.

I could go on and on… There’s so much Lewis to explore. There’s Narnia (Lewis liked Reepicheep and Puddleglum best. I favor Edmund and Eustace.), there’s his science fiction (Out of the Silent Planet etc.), there are essays, there are letters… And there are countless biographies and collections that bring Lewis’s humanity and brilliance to us. Currently, I’m thoroughly enjoying C.S. Lewis: Man of Letters by Thomas Howard. Howard is addressing each of Lewis’s fictional works and his analysis overflows with the joy he finds within Lewis.

And there is the crux of it… The reason I love Lewis. Joy! He sought joy, expressed joy, and he reveled in joy. Absolutely everything Lewis wrote points to it. I read Lewis because he not only provides a wonderful story, but because I agree with his motivations to write and enjoy such stories. He would assert that Joy exists, “story” always comes first and a “deeper magic,” a deeper story, propels the best fiction.

Thank you so much for inviting me here and letting me indulge in one of my favorite subjects. If anyone wants to comment, I’m sure Jamie would love to chat and, if she doesn’t mind, I’ll chime in as well.

Have a joyful and joy-filled day!

KBR

Inklings

Why Tolkien and Jack Matter (And We’re Kicking Off Inklings Week!)

IT’S FINALLY HERE!!! Inklings Week 2016! This is the second annual event and I’m so glad you’re joining in! I have lots of giveaways planned (some at the end of this post) and guest posts and all around Inklings awesomeness. So join the fun friends! (Also if you’re interested in last year’s posts, you can find them here)

I can say without a doubt, that the fictional works of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien have shaped my faith (and life) in more ways than any other pieces of literature. Some might say I’m a “fan” or maybe a bit “obsessed.” To which I say yep! That is 110% true. I can (and do) talk about them all the time. I can’t help it. Very few fictional works have spoken so deeply to my heart as those of Tolkien and Lewis.

There’s a scene in C.S. Lewis’ The Voyage of the Dawn Treader where, after all their adventures on the ship, Lucy and Edmund encounter Aslan for the first “real” time in the book. It is here they find out they will not be returning to Narnia. 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.”

Dead y’all. Dead. Outside of, you know, the Bible, Aslan has taught me more about God’s character and Jesus than any other fictional character.

And that’s what Tolkien and Lewis have done for me. They understood the power of story and were able to make themes of hope, redemption, love, sacrifice, friendship and adventure come alive.

What is it about their fantasy works that stir the heart the way they do? Well, let’s ask them shall we?

In Diana Pavlac Glyer’s Bandersnatch, Lewis offers the answer to those who condemn a book because it is fantasy.

“‘But why’, (some ask), ‘why, if you have a serious comment to make on the real life of men, must you do it by talking about a phantasmagoric never-never land of your own?’ Because, I take it, one of the main things the author wants to say is that the real life of men is of that mythical and heroic quality.” He continues, “The value of the myth is that it takes all the things we know and restores to them the rich significance which has been hidden by ‘the veil of familiarity.’ The child enjoys his cold meat (otherwise dull to him) by pretending it is buffalo, just killed with his own bow and arrow. And the child is wise. The real meat comes back to him more savoury for having been dipped in a story.”

Joseph Loconte also explains it rather well in his book, A Hobbit, A Wardrobe and War:

Mythmaking, what Tolkien calls “mythopoeia,” is a way of fulfilling God’s purposes as the Creator. By inventing a myth—by populating a world with elves and orcs, dragons and witches, gods and goddesses—the storyteller tries to retrieve the world he knew before man’s fall from grace. “There was an Eden on this very unhappy earth,” Tolkien explained many years later. “We all long for it, and we are constantly glimpsing it: our whole nature at its best and least corrupted, its gentlest and most humane, is still soaked with the sense of ‘exile.’ ” The mythmaker, fired by the sense of exile and the desire to return to his authentic home, reflects “a splintered fragment of the true light.”

That’s just the surface of it, yet packs a punch in explaining why their works matter so much. Plus, the stories are awesome!

Why do you love Tolkien or Lewis (or both!)? What are some of your favorite reads from them?

Inklings

The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis | The Inklings Series

Welcome to our first post in The Inklings Series! I’m so glad you’re here 🙂 First, I feel we all need to take a moment to appreciate the dedication of this novel:

Seriously. Way too much genius for one friendship circle.

Alright, now onto discussing this fabulous book! Although written in 1941, the lessons and wisdom from this book apply just as much as today as it did then. That alone blows my mind. It’s an original and genius piece of work, whether you consider the truths Lewis wrestles with, the names (Our Father Below (satan) vs. The Enemy (God) ) or any other aspect of this book. I want to include every quote I highlighted, but that would quickly escalate into the world’s longest blog post, so instead I’ll settle for some key points :).

The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis is a classic masterpiece of religious satire that entertains readers with its sly and ironic portrayal of human life and foibles from the vantage point of Screwtape, a highly placed assistant to “Our Father Below.” At once wildly comic, deadly serious, and strikingly original, C.S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters is the most engaging account of temptation—and triumph over it—ever written.

There were several times throughout the letters where it seemed as though it was written just for me. Today. Here and now. That’s when you know it’s a classic. Whether the chapter on prayer (I was rather encouraged to become “very far advanced in the Enemy’s service.”), humility (i.e. becoming proud of one’s humility) or modesty (which he called what modern day advertising would become decades before it happened), each chapter had me thinking through plenty of things.

“For if he ever comes to make the distinction, if he consciously directs his prayers ‘Not to what I think thou art but to what thou know art thyself to be’, our situation is, for the moment, desperate.”

One of the biggest themes (or tools of “The Father Below”) I found was one of distraction. That’s definitely how I become complacent in my faith and in my life. Never does temptation come across as a little devil on our shoulder with a pitchfork, but as Lewis so eloquently points out, it’s in a quieter, almost non-noticeable way. Those times of simply getting people to focus on daily life distractions. Before we know it, something good has become twisted.

“It is funny how mortals always picture us as putting things into their minds: in reality our best work is done by keeping things out.”

“Everything has to be twisted before it’s any use to us.”

This is one of my favorites:

“You will say that these are very small sins; and doubtless, like all young tempters, you are anxious to be able to report spectacular wickedness. But do remember, the only thing that matters is the extent to which you separate the man from the Enemy. It does not matter how small the sins are provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and out into Nothing. Murder is no better than cards if cards can do the trick. Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one – the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts…” (emphasis mine)

On the other hand, God isn’t about removing things, but rather filling us up. A great example of the opposite of this is Screwtape’s anger toward Wormwood reveals how satan works (i.e. when he gets so mad he turns into a centipede). Yet, Lewis gives us hope in the truths that God wants to make our lives beautiful and full.

“The real centre, what the Enemy calls the Heart.”

“We want cattle who can finally become food; He wants servants who can finally become sons. We want to suck in, He wants to give out. We are empty and would be filled; He is full and flows over. Our war aim is a world in which Our Father Below has drawn all other beings into himself: the Enemy wants a world full of beings united to Him but still distinct.”

“To get the man’s soul and give him nothing in return – that is what really gladdens Our Father’s heart.”

I’ll close out my thoughts with this quote – I love the description of the Patient’s understanding upon reaching the heavenly realms.
“But when he saw them he knew that he had always known them and realised what part each one of them played at many an hour in his life when he had supposed himself alone, so that now he could say to them, one by one, not ‘Who are you?’ but ‘So it was you all the time.’ “

Alright, here’s some questions to open up discussion:
1. If you could sum up the message(s) of this book in a sentence, how would you? Think elevator pitch for this book. 😉
2. What are some of your favorite quotes?
3. What did you think of the ending? It’s been so long since I’ve read it, I totally forgot how it ended! Anyway, would love to hear what you thought!

And here’s my answers:
1. I’ll just sum it up right quick: That what God wants for each of us is better than we can imagine. That when he asks you to “lose yourself” in Him, it’s so we can gain something much more beautiful. On the other hand, satan seeks out ways to destroy our souls. (Like when Screwtape asks Wormwood “And anyway, why should the creature be happy?”). Also, satan’s attacks are much more subtle and dangerous than blatant attacks.

2. Since I’ve already included about 57,000 quotes, here’s one more that had me laughing out loud:
“For we must never forget what is the most repellent and inexplicable trait in our enemy; He really loves the hairless bipeds He has created…” (I wasn’t laughing at the part of He loves us – because internet high fives all around for that – but the part where Screwtape calls humans hairless bipeds. Cracked me up!)

3. I forgot that the Patient was killed during an air raid. It takes a skilled writer who can create a character with no name, yet one the readers (or at least me) become attached to. And was that not a fantastically creepy way to sign off a letter? “Your increasingly and ravenously affectionate uncle”…aka “I’m going to eat you.” Have I mentioned I love this book?

Just because I really enjoyed reading C.S. Lewis’ thoughts on writing this book (and in case your version didn’t include C.S. Lewis’ thoughts on writing it), here they are:
“Though it was easy to twist one’s mind into the diabolical attitude, it was not fun, or not for long. The strain produced a sort of spiritual cramp. The world into which I had to project myself while I spoke through Screwtape was all dust, grit, thirst and itch. Every trace of beauty, freshness and geniality had to be excluded. It almost smothered me before I was done. It would have smothered my readers if I had prolonged it.”

Please feel free to include any other thoughts or questions! I’m all about a good discussion 🙂

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