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.

Lord of the Rings (3): Favorite Scenes, Characters, Quotes

My favorite scenes are the Council of Elrond (239-271); Gandalf at the Bridge of Khazad-Dum (330-331); Frodo looking into the mirror of Galadriel (363-366); Sam and Frodo’s battle with Shelob (720-730); Eowyn’s slaying of the Witch-King of Angmar (841); the dialogue with the Mouth of Sauron before the final battle (888-891); and Frodo’s extreme desperation just before destroying the Ring (937-938).  I also love – and this may seem strange – how Frodo never fully recovers from the Ring.  He says after all is done, “there is no real going back.  Though I may come to the Shire, it will…

Lord of the Rings (2): Good and Evil

If I had to condense what I learned from The Lord of the Rings into one sentence, I would say this: good does not need to destroy evil; good needs only to resist evil, and when it does that, evil destroys itself.  Looking at evil, good, and good’s triumph over evil, each in turn, will bear this out. Evil in The Lord of the Rings The greatest theme of this book, for me at least, is the seductive, enslaving, oppressive power of evil. I understand fallenness and evil much better from reading this book. 1) Evil is seductive. Its very…

Lord of the Rings (1): 10 Differences with the Movies

Two summers ago I started reading Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, and a few days ago, on a plane ride from Tulsa to Las Vegas, I finished it, right as the plane was setting down on the ground.  Wow.  What a book!  Tolkien didn’t merely write a story – he created a world, complete with its own languages, histories, genealogies, myths, and even metaphysics.  Its a book that doesn’t fit on a spectrum, but it creates new spectrums of its own.  It doesn’t fall into the orbit of some already existent genre or category, but it creates its own…

Shelob

I’ve finisehd The Two Towers. I’m 2/3 done in my slow trek through The Lord of the Rings. The last three chapters were terrifically exciting, and terrifying in their presentation of Sam and Frodo journeying into Shelob’s lair. I found Shelob to be a fascinating character. Tolkien tells you a lot more about her than is revealed in the movies. In the book, Gollum worships her (724). Also, she is revealed to be older even than Sauron (723), and known to Sauron, who sends her prisoners for her to make prey of (724). Here is a sample from this section,…

Like a Solid Thing

Here’s another favorite passage from That Hideous Strength.  A few good characters are searching for the historical Merlin, come back from the dead.  One of them, Dimble, a scholar, is more aware of their danger than the others, and is reflecting on the significance of the person they are about to meet.  Its a great description of the medieval world: Out here, with only the changing red light ahead and the black all round, one really began to accept as fact this tryst with something dead and yet not dead, something dug up, exhumed, from that dark pit of history…

Almost Anything Might Be True

I keep listening to That Hideous Strength on my ipod shuffle when I go hiking with Sophia.  Its one of my favorite books.  This is a great passage in which Jane’s skepticism about God and Christianity begins to be undermined as she considers death: It was likely, then, that this – this stumbling walk on a wet night across a ploughed field-meant death. Death – the thing one had always heard of (like love), the thing the poets had written about. So this was how it was going to be. But that was not the main point. Jane was trying…

Joad and Lewis on Natural Evil

About a year and half ago I stumbled across C.S. Lewis’ treatment of the problem of the suffering of animals before the human fall in chapter 9 of his The Problem of Pain, titled “On Animal Pain.”  In it he suggests (as he also suggests in Miracles) that the fall of angels may have corrupted the natural world prior to the creation of humanity.  I’ve been helped by this possibility.  I know that for some, this whole issue is a strange one to even think about, but for me, the problem of natural evil is a serious one that calls…

Religion Without Dogma?

I am listening to C.S. Lewis’ God in the Dock this week and last, and I have to say that his essay “Religion without Dogma?” in the first section is fantastic.  His apologetics at their finest.  He gently but relentlessly tears to shreds an essay called “The Grounds of Modern Agnosticism” by Professor Price (whoever that is).  People who have never read any C.S. Lewis could read it as miniature representative of his apologetic approach as a whole, as in in books like Miracles and The Problem of Pain; those who are like myself Lewis fanatics like me will still…