Just Babies Making Up a Game

One of my favorite passages in all of literature is Puddleglum’s response to the Lady of the Green Kirtle in The Silver Chair. The Lady (an evil sorceress) has several characters trapped underground, and with the help of a little magic is trying to convince them that Narnia and Aslan and the rest of the “Overland” do not actually exist. The characters are on the verge of giving in when Puddleglum stomps on the magic fire in these words: One word, Ma’am,” he said, coming back from the fire; limping, because of the pain. “One word. All you’ve been saying…

My Three Favorite C.S. Lewis Poems

C.S. Lewis’ prose is far more acclaimed than his poetry. But poetry was always important to him. He wrote poems continuously from age 14 until his death; his first publications were poetry (Spirits in Bondage, Dymer); his first prose publication was also filled with lyrics (The Pilgrim’s Regress); and arguably his greatest work (Till We Have Faces) began as a poem before it morphed into a novel. I love his poems. They demonstrate the same spiritual insight and facility with words that characterize his prose and make him my favorite writer. In the spirit of sharing them for a wider…

The Overcoming of Prejudice in To Kill a Mockingbird

When Harper Lee passed away a few weeks ago, I pulled out my copy of To Kill a Mockingbird (Grand Central 1960) and re-read it for the first time since 1999. I haven’t followed the controversy about Go Set a Watchman very closely, but I had to read To Kill a Mockingbird in 8th grade, and then again in 9th grade when my family moved. I liked it the first time, loved it the second time, and now appreciate it even more 17 years later. I was also surprised how much I remembered all these years later. How can you…

A Tribute to Jurassic Park on the Occasion of its 25th Anniversary

This summer I re-read Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park. I read it for the first time along with The Lost World back in 8th grade, and so reading it again was fun and brought back old memories. People typically enjoy the Jurassic Park franchise for its thrills and special effects. The idea of dinosaurs brought back to life makes for a great story. But Crichton’s novels also have a deeper philosophical point that the movies largely eviscerate (especially the sequels). The original Jurassic Park book is a cautionary tale, akin to Frankenstein. The dinosaurs are there not just because dinosaurs are…

How Should Writers and Editors Work Together?

The writer-editor relationship can be a delicate one. I’ve had the opportunity to sit in both seats, and I know the frustrations that can develop on each side. Here are 5 reflections or pieces of advice to both writers and editors about how to relate to each other. 1) Writers, don’t be unduly resistant to editorial changes and advice. Humility means we don’t just affirm in the abstract that we “we see in a mirror dimly” (I Cor. 13:12), but we genuinely receive this truth with our hearts, and put it into practice in our day-to-day interactions. Other people can…

The Psychology of Law and Grace in Les Mis

For both the legalist and the lawbreaker, the experience of grace is agony. But it is a sweet agony for those who know they need it.

So: are we fundamentally self-presuming or fundamentally self-despairing? Is the world of grace a threat, or a liberation? Are we Javert or Valjean?

This will determine what happens when the agony of grace touches us, scalds us. This will determine our fate for all eternity.

Clarity Needs Humility

C.S. Lewis was an accomplished academic. He taught at Oxford and then Cambridge, and wrote several significant academic works that are still highly regarded today (The Allegory of Love, The Discarded Image, English Literature in the 16th Century, A Preface to Paradise Lost). His academic credentials are solid. Among many readers, especially American evangelicals where his influence is greatest, he is primarily perceived as an “intellectual” writer, and first and foremost an apologist. At the same time, Lewis has always had a somewhat ambiguous relationship with academia. His fame and influence is chiefly from his popular works, not his scholarly…