The Silmarillion

I got a copy of The Silmarillion for Christmas, which I started reading a little bit (though now that we’re into the quarter it will have to wait until summer to be finished). The Silmarillion tells of the creation of Ea (the universe in which Middle-earth exists) and the first three “Ages” (leading up to the events in The Hobbit). I’ve reflected before about how Tolkien didn’t merely write a story; he created a world, complete with its own languages, history, and even metaphysics. My thought after diving into this story a bit is that the essentially Christian structure of…

Atonement in Narnia

One of the books I have read for my atonement seminar this fall is IVP Academics’ The Nature of the Atonement: Four Views. One of the most fascinating parts of the book for me came with Greg Boyd’s response to Tom Schreiner’s presentation of the penal substitutionary view. In general, I found Boyd’s contribution to this book more helpful than I expected. I rank his presentation second after Schreiner’s, and I thought his critique of Joel Green’s kaleidoscopic view to be very insightful. In his response to Schreiner, Boyd appeals to C.S. Lewis’s presentation of Aslan’s sacrifice on behalf of…

Reflections on Mere Christianity

I’m looking back through Mere Christianity these days, one of my favorite books by one of my favorite authors. Some miscellaneous thoughts: 1) Lewis’ appeal to mere Christianity was not tantamount to doctrinal minimalism, as some people have suggested. His metaphor for a hall (Christian orthodoxy) with many rooms (Christian denominations) on it at the end of the preface makes it clear that he focuses on the broad essentials of Christianity because he is introducing his listeners (and now readers) to the Christian faith, not because he thinks the broad essentials are all people need to subsequently accept. He is…

A Review of Orwell’s Review of That Hideous Strength

On August 16, 1945, just days after the United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, George Orwell, author of the dystopian novel 1984, wrote a review of C.S. Lewis’ similarly dystopian novel That Hideous Strength. He acknowledges various admirable qualities of the book and – interestingly – the plausibility of the plot Lewis envisages. “There is nothing outrageously improbable in such a conspiracy. Indeed, at a moment when a single atomic bomb – of a type already pronounced ‘obsolete’ – has just blown probably three hundred thousand people to fragments, it sounds all too topical.” Orwell faults the…

The dry and choking places

Picking up in my previous post, here’s a crucial passage in the depiction of Mark’s redemption. Its such a creative literary presentation of the conviction of sin: There were no moral considerations at this moment in Mark’s mind. He looked back on his life, not with shame but with a kind of disgust at its dreariness. He saw himself as a little boy in short trousers, hidden in the shrubbery beside the paling to overhear Myrtle’s conversation with Pamela, and trying to ignore the fact that it was not at all interesting when overheard. He saw himself making believe that…

Hugeness

One of my favorite things to do these days is to go on a long hike in the mountains with Sophia and listen to either That Hideous Strength or Till We Have Faces on my iPhone, my two favorite C.S. Lewis books. I especially love That Hideous Strength these days –  I come back to it again and again. I think people don’t like it as much because its so different from the first two books of the Space Trilogy, but on its own its such a great story. I love the way both Mark and Jane experience redemption in…

Courage

I read The Hobbit as a kid (hoping to re-read it before the movie), but even now I still remember this passage where Bilbo is in the tunnel going down to meet Smaug. This would make an awesome sermon illustration about courage: It was at this point that Bilbo stopped. Going on from there was the bravest thing he ever did. The tremendous things that happened afterwards were as nothing compared to it. He fought the real battle in the tunnel alone, before he ever saw the vast danger that lay in wait.