Thursday, September 30, 2004

Reepicheep, Cap'n Jack, or Matthias?

Dear [Hila]:

Thank you so much for your lovely letter and pictures. I realized at once that the coloured one was not a particular scene but a sort of line-up like what you would have at the very end if it was a play instead of stories. The [Voyage of] “Dawn Treader” is not to be the last: There are to be 4 more, 7 in all. Didn’t you notice that Aslan said nothing about Eustace not going back? I thought the best of your pictures was the one of Mr. Tumnus at the bottom of the letter. As to Aslan’s other name, well I want you to guess. Has there never been anyone in this world who (1.) Arrived at the same time as Father Christmas. (2.) Said he was the son of the Great Emperor. (3.) Gave himself up for someone else’s fault to be jeered at and killed by wicked people. (4.) Came to life again. (5.) Is sometimes spoken of as a Lamb (see the end of the Dawn Treader). Don’t you really know His name in this world. Think it over and let me know your answer!

Reepicheep in your coloured picture has just the right perky, cheeky expression. I love real mice. There are lots in my rooms in college but I have never set a trap. When I sit up late working they poke their heads out from behind the curtains just as if they were saying, “Hi! Time for you to go to bed. We want to come out and play.”

All good wishes,

Yours ever

C.S. Lewis

Letters to Children, June 3, 1953

See more polymer clay artwork by this artist here

I also found some wonderful illustrations from Redwall. Is anyone else here a reader of the Redwall series? Here is one I think could be the spitting image of Reepicheep!
I got this picture from The Encyclopedia of Redwall. It is Matthias, the warrior mouse.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004


"In this way they came to the edge of the chasm. It was about a thousand feet long and perhaps two hundred wide. They dismounted from their horses and came to the edge, and looked down into it. A strong heat smote up into their faces, mixed with a smell which was quite unlike any they had ever smelled. It was rich, sharp, exciting, and made you sneeze. The depth of the chasm was so bright that at first it dazzled their eyes and they could see nothing. When they got used to it, they thought they could make out a river of fire, and, on the banks of that river, what seemed to be fields and groves of an unbearable, hot brilliance--though they were dim compared with the river. There were blues, reds, greens, and whites all jumbled together: a very good stained-glass window with the tropical sun staring straight through it at midday might have something of the same effect. Down the rugged sides of the chasm, looking black like flies against all that fiery light, hundreds of Earthmen were climbing."
~C.S. Lewis, The Silver Chair, Chapter 14: The Bottom of the World (1953)

Click here to see a map of The Silver Chair, as illustrated by Lorinda Bryan Cauley, from Companion to Narnia (1980).

On this day:
1961 A Grief Observed is published by Faber and Faber, London under the pseudonym N.W. Clerk.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Reminiscing About Lewis

Today I decided not to share quotes by Lewis, but ones about Lewis, first by Erik Routley, from the book C.S. Lewis at the Breakfast Table, and Other Reminiscences:

I know myself what others know far better--how unfailingly courteous Lewis was in answering letters. I think I corresponded with him on three or four occasions. ..But there was a reply every time--it might be quite brief, but it was always written for you and for nobody else.

I think this was his greatest secret. He hated casual contacts; human contact must, for him, be serious and concentrated and attentive, or it was better avoided. It might be for a moment only, but that was its invariable quality.

That is not only why so many people have precious memories of him; it is also why he couldn't write three words without the reader's feeling that they were written for him and him alone. It's why his massive books of scholarship read as delightfully as his children's stories, and why he's one of the few preachers who can be read without losing their message."
~Erik Routley, "A Prophet", C.S. Lewis at the Breakfast Table and Other Reminiscences

And here is one written by A.C. Harwood:

"He was a wonderful guest to have in the house, and always wrote the most charming bread-and-butter letters to his hostess. He is said to have regretted that he had had so little to do with children and indeed never felt at home with them. All I can say is that my own children adored him. He entered with complete seriousness into their concerns, swung with them on their swing, and went swimming with them, and delighted them by discoursing volubly on some philosophical subject the moment his head appeared after he had dived into the muddy Sussex water. He played with them the noble game of heads, bodies, and tails, and excelled everyone in his sketches or, when more literary games succeeded, his contributions were of course masterly."
~A.C. Harwood, "A Toast to His Memory", C.S. Lewis at the Breakfast Table and Other Reminiscences

On this day:

1931 Lewis returns to a belief “that Jesus Christ is the Son of God” while riding to Whipsnade Zoo in the sidecar of brother Warren’s motorcycle.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Nearness by Proximity vs. Nearness by Approach

Here is a selection from Lewis's book, The Four Loves, which I feel really drives home the reason why some things, like immense artistic talent, transcendent beauty, the perfect sunset, or amazing intelligence can seem so much like God, yet not be God:

"Let us suppose that we are doing a mountain walk to the village which is our home. At mid-day we come to the top of a cliff where we are, in space, very near it because it is just below us. We could drop a stone onto it. But as we are no cragsmen we can’t get down. We must go a long way round; five miles, maybe. At many points during that detour we shall, statically, be farther from the village than we were when we sat above the cliff. But only statically. In terms of progress we shall be far “nearer” our baths and teas.

Since God is blessed, omnipotent, sovereign and creative, there is obviously a sense in which happiness, strength, freedom and fertility (whether of mind or body), wherever they appear in human life, constitute likenesses, and in that way proximities, to God. But no one supposes that the possession of these gifts has any necessary connection with our sanctification. No kind of riches is a passport to the Kingdom of Heaven.

At the cliff’s top we are near the village, but however long we sit there we shall never be any nearer to our bath and our tea. So here; the likeness, and in that sense nearness, to Himself which God has conferred upon certain creatures and certain states of those creatures is something finished, built in. What is near Him by likeness is never, by that fact alone, going to be any nearer. But nearness of approach is, by definition, increasing nearness. And whereas the likeness is given to us—and can be received with or without thanks, can be used or abused—the approach, however initiated and supported by Grace, is something we must do."
~C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves (1960)

Sunday, September 26, 2004

The Reality of Trees

We do not look at trees either as Dryads or as beautiful objects while we cut them into beams: the first man who did so may have felt the price keenly, and the bleeding trees in Virgil and Spenser may be far-off echoes of that primeval sense of impiety. The stars lost their divinity as astronomy developed, and the Dying God has no place in chemical agriculture. To many, no doubt, this process is simply the gradual discovery that the real world is different from what we expected...But that is not the whole story. It is not the greatest of modern scientists who feel most sure that the object, stripped of its qualitative properties and reduced to mere quantity, is wholly real. Little scientists, and little unscientific followers of science, may think so. The great minds know very well that the object, so treated, is an artificial abstraction, that something of its reality has been lost.
~C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man (1943)

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Screwtape on the Educational System

[The devil Screwtape in a speech at the “Annual Dinner of the Tempters’ Training College for Young Devils":]

In that promising land the spirit of I'm as good as you has already become something more than a generally social influence. It begins to work itself into their educational system . . . . The basic principle of the new education is to be that dunces and idlers must not be made to feel inferior to intelligent and industrious pupils. That would be "undemocratic." These differences between the pupils - for they are obviously and nakedly individual differences - must be disguised. This can be done on various levels. At universities, examinations must be framed so that nearly all the students get good marks. Entrance examinations must be framed so that all, or nearly all, citizens can go to universities, whether they have any power (or wish) to profit by higher education or not. At schools, the children who are too stupid or lazy to learn languages and mathematics and elementary science can be set to doing the things that children used to do in their spare time. Let them, for example, make mud pies and call it modelling. But all the time there must be no faintest hint that they are inferior to the children who are at work. Whatever nonsense they are engaged in must have - I believe the English already use the phrase - "parity of esteem." An even more drastic scheme is not impossible. Children who are fit to proceed to a higher class may be artificially kept back, because the others would get a trauma - Beelzebub, what a useful word! - by being left behind. The bright pupil thus remains democratically fettered to his own age group throughout his school career, and a boy who would be capable of tackling Aeschylus or Dante sits listening to his coeval's attempts to spell out A CAT SAT ON A MAT….We shall no longer have to plan and toil to spread imperturbable conceit and incurable ignorance among men. The little vermin themselves will do it for us.
The Screwtape Letters, ”Screwtape Proposes A Toast” (1959)

[The following series of cartoon strips appeared about five years ago in Doonesbury.]

Strip 1.
Provost to President: Sir, you’ll have to speak to the
faculty again about grade inflation. Standards are falling off the
chart. The pressure to pander is even affecting the math
President: Math? How can that be? Aren’t there absolute
answers in math?
Provost: Well, yes and no.
President (to himself): Yes and no?
(Switch to classroom) Students in the back of the room:
17! 19!
Math Professor Deadman: Excellent guesses! Well done!

The next day’s Strip 2.
Student (sporting sunglasses): This B+ is wrong, Man!
You’re dissin’ me here big time!
Prof. Deadman: Mr. Slocum, I merely gave you the grade
you deserved.
Slocum: Can’t be, Man! This is way off base!
Deadman: As was your entire first proof, in which you held
the square root of 144 to be 15. It is, in fact, 12.
Slocum: Well, sure, from a narrow, absolutist, Eurocentric
perspective, maybe it’s 12.
Deadman: So?
Slocum: So my culture teaches it’s 15, Man!
Deadman: Fascinating. Would this be an advanced

Strip 3, back to the president’s office.
President: Listen to me carefully, Deadman. These are
very tough times for small liberal arts colleges such as
Walden . . .
Deadman: I know, Sir.
President: And I’m sure you’ll agree that this college would
not exist without a critical mass of paying students . . .
Deadman: When you’re right, you’re right, Sir.
President: Deadman, do you know what would happen if
word got out that our grades corresponded to high standards?
Deadman: The college would become respected?
President: Exactly! A luxury we cannot afford!

Strip 4, in Professor Deadman’s office..
(Deadman , phone to his ear, listening to his wife)
Wife: Jules?
Jules: What is it, Honey?
Wife: Jules, someone just hurled a brick through our dining
room window!
Jules: My God! Are you OK, Sara?
Wife: I’m fine, but listen to the note, Jules: “Ease up on the
tough grading . . . or else!”
Jules: These d*** kids . . . They’re monsters!
Wife: Actually, it’s signed by the faculty!


On this day:

1929 Lewis's father, Albert, dies at age sixty-six.

Friday, September 24, 2004


On this day:

1952 - Lewis meets Joy Gresham for the first time, over lunch at the Eastgate Hotel, Oxford.

Can it be possible
That joy flows through and, when the course is run
It leaves no change, no mark on us to tell
Its passing? And as poor as we've begun
We end the richest day? What we have won
Can it all die like this? ...Joy flickers on
The razor-edge of the present and is gone.
~C.S. Lewis, Narrative Poems, "Dymer" (1st pub. 1926), verse 10

"We feasted on love; every mode of it, solemn and merry, romantic and realistic, sometimes as dramatic as the thunderstorm, sometimes comfortable and unemphatic as putting on your soft slippers. She was my pupil, my teacher, my subject and my sovereign, my trusty comrade, friend, shipmate, fellow-soldier. My mistress, but at the same time all that any man friend has ever been to me."
~C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed (1961)

Thursday, September 23, 2004

"An Expostulation"

Against too many writers of science fiction

Why did you lure us on like this,
Light-year on light-year, through the abyss,
Building (as though we cared for size!)
Empires that cover galaxies
If at the journey's end we find
The same old stuff we left behind,
Well-worn Tellurian stories of
Crooks, spies, conspirators, or love,
Whose setting might as well have been
The Bronx, Montmartre, or Bedinal Green?

Why should I leave this green-floored cell,
Roofed with blue air, in which we dwell,
Unless, outside its guarded gates,
Long, long desired, the Unearthly waits
Strangeness that moves us more than fear,
Beauty that stabs with tingling spear,
Or Wonder, laying on one's heart
That finger-tip at which we start
As if some thought too swift and shy
For reason's grasp had just gone by?

~C S Lewis, Poems

On this date:
1938 Out of the Silent Planet (the first volume of Lewis's Space Trilogy) is published by The Bodley Head, London.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

A Living House

Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently he starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.
~C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Take an online tour of The Biltmore Estate: America's Largest House

Click here to view a 360 degree panoramic photo of
Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, UK

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

To Love is to be Vulnerable

Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket--safe, dark, motionless, airless--it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.
~C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

Questionable Love Links:

Just added (language warning):Real Country Music Song Titles--ahhh, some of these will break your heart...;-)

Are you compatible with, your current mate, Justin Timberlake, or Anna Kournikova? Use The Love Calculator to find out.

And here are 391 Reasons You Should Go Out With Dale.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Puddleglum's Bravery

The Prince and the two children were standing with their heads hung down, their cheeks flushed, their eyes half closed; the strength all gone from them; the enchantment almost complete. But Puddleglum, desperately gathering all his strength, walked over to the fire. Then he did a very brave thing. He knew it wouldn't hurt him quite as much as it would hurt a human; for his feet (which were bare) were webbed and hard and coldblooded like a duck's. But he knew it would hurt him badly enough; and so it did. With his bare foot he stamped on the fire, grinding a large part of it into ashes on the flat hearth. And three things happened at once.

First, the sweet heavy smell grew very much less. For though the whole fire had not been put out, a good bit of it had, and what remained smelled very largely of burnt Marshwiggle, which is not at all an enchanting smell. This instantly made everyone's brain far clearer. The Prince and the children held up their heads again and opened their eyes.

Secondly, the Witch, in a loud, terrible voice, utterly different from all the sweet tones she had been using up till now, called out, "What are you doing? Dare to touch my fire again, mud-filth, and I'll turn the blood to fire inside your veins."

Thirdly, the pain itself made Puddleglum's head for a moment perfectly clear and he knew exactly what he really thought. There is nothing like a good shock of pain for dissolving certain kinds of magic. "One word, Ma'am," he said, coming back from the fire; limping, because of the pain. "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 playworld 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 a small loss if the world's as dull a place as you say."
~C.S. Lewis, The Silver Chair, Chapter 12: The Queen of Underland

Watch an EBay auction in progress for a very rare first edition of
The Silver Chair here.

Get sterling silver chair charms here.

On this day:

1926: Dymer is published by J.M. Dent, London, under the pseudonym of Clive Hamilton.

1942: C.S. Lewis delivers the first of nine talks on "Christian Behavior" over the BBC. These talks are later expanded and become Book 3 of Mere Christianity.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Ares and Aphrodite

"Ocean" by Andy Simmons

The two white creatures were sexless. But he of Malacandra was masculine (not male); she of Perelandra was feminine (not female). Malacandra seemed to him to have the look of one standing armed, at the ramparts of his own remote archaic world, in ceaseless vigilance, his eyes ever roaming the earth-ward horizon whence his danger came long ago. "A sailor's look," Ransom once said to me; "you know . . . eyes that are impregnated with distance."

But the eyes of Perelandra opened, as it were, inward, as if they were the curtained gateway to a world of waves and murmurings and wandering airs, of life that rocked in winds and splashed on mossy stones and descended as the dew and arose sunward in thin-spun delicacy of mist. On Mars the very forests are of stone; in Venus the lands swim. For now he thought of them no more as Malacandra and Perelandra. He called them by their Tellurian names. With deep wonder he thought to himself, "My eyes have seen Mars and Venus. I have seen Ares and Aphrodite."
~C.S. Lewis, Perelandra(1944), Chapter 16.

View more art by this artist at ANS graphics

Saturday, September 18, 2004

"As the Ruin Falls"

All this is flashy rhetoric about loving you.
I never had a selfless thought since I was born.
I am mercenary and self-seeking through and through:
I want God, you, all friends, merely to serve my turn.

Peace, re-assurance, pleasure, are the goals I seek,
I cannot crawl one inch outside my proper skin:
I talk of love—a scholar’s parrot may talk Greek—
But, self-imprisoned, always end where I begin.

Only that now you have taught me (but how late) my lack.
I see the chasm. And everything you are was making
My heart into a bridge by which I might get back
From exile, and grow man. And now the bridge is breaking.

For this I bless you as the ruin falls. The pains
You give me are more precious than all other gains.
~C.S.Lewis, Poems, “As the Ruin Falls” (1st pub. 1964), pp. 109-110.

Friday, September 17, 2004

What is vulgar?

"It is low hearts and not low brows that are vulgar."

~C.S. Lewis, Selected Literary Essays, "High and Low Brows" (1939), para. 18, p. 275.

From the American Heritage Online Dictionary:

1. Crudely indecent.
a. Deficient in taste, delicacy, or refinement.
b. Marked by a lack of good breeding; boorish.
Offensively excessive in self-display or expenditure; ostentatious: the huge vulgar houses and cars of the newly rich.
Spoken by or expressed in language spoken by the common people; vernacular: the technical and vulgar names for an animal species.
Of or associated with the great masses of people; common.

Word history:
The word vulgar now brings to mind off-color jokes and offensive epithets, but it once had more neutral meanings. Vulgar is an example of pejoration, the process by which a word develops negative meanings over time. The ancestor of vulgar, the Latin word vulgaris (from vulgus,Vulgaris also meant “ordinary,” “common (of vocabulary, for example),” and “shared by all.” An extension of this meaning was “sexually promiscuous,” a sense that could have led to the English sense of “indecent.” Our word, first recorded in a work composed in 1391, entered English during the Middle English period, and in Middle English and later English we find not only the senses of the Latin word mentioned above but also related senses. What is common may be seen as debased, and in the 17th century we begin to find instances of vulgar that make explicit what had been implicit. Vulgar then came to mean “deficient in taste, delicacy, or refinement.” From such uses vulgar has continued to go downhill, and at present “crudely indecent” is among the commonest senses of the word.


So what do YOU think Lewis means here? How do you feel about vulgarity?

I've been thinking about this a bit lately, as the new message boards for are up and running and sexual subjects and profanity are allowed on those message boards. Oh the glee some people find in this verbal freedom! ;-) Also, I read an article the other day, titled "How to have a successful blog", and the author recommended profanity, and lots of it. What is it about swearing that attracts so many people? Do you think people swear more or less than they used to? Do you swear more online than you do in real life?

I have to confess that bringing up young children made me change my habits quite quickly when they became verbal. Nothing is worse than having your child be the one to teach the other preschoolers a bad word. Oh the frosty glares from the other mothers when
that happens! Now that we've censored ourselves at home, it feels strange, and my husband and I cringe a bit, to hear people swear in public when we are with our kids. But when they are not within earshot it doesn't bother me.

(The other thing I noticed is that Lewis is not above swearing in his private letters to his brother.)

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Baron Biscuit

A letter to his godchild, Sarah, during WWII:

"My dear Sarah—Thank you very much for sending me the pictures of the Fairy King and Queen at tea (or is it breakfast?) in their palace and all the cats (what a lot of cats they have!
And a separate table for them. How sensible!). I liked them very much. It must be nice for them (I mean the King and Queen) having so many currants in their cake. We don’t get many now, do we? I am getting to be quite good friends with an old Rabbit who lives in the Wood at Magdalen [College]. I pick leaves off the trees for him because he can’t reach up to the branches and he eats them out of my hand. One day he stood up on his hind legs and put his front paws against me, he was so greedy. I wrote this about it;

A funny old man had a habit
Of giving a leaf to a rabbit.
At first it was shy

But then, by and by,
It got rude and would stand up to grab it.

But it’s a very nice Rabbit all the same; I call him “Baron Biscuit”.
~C.S. Lewis, Letters to Children, Letter to Sarah, July 16, 1944

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

The wind from beyond the world...

"I, like you, am worried by the fact that the spontaneous appeal of the Christian story is so much less to me than that of Paganism. Both the things you suggest (unfavourable associations from early upbringing and the corruption of one’s nature) probably are causes: but I have a sort of feeling that the cause must be elsewhere, and I have not yet discovered it. I think the thrill of the Pagan stories and of romance may be due to the fact that they are beginnings—the first, faint whisper of the wind from beyond the world—while Christianity is the thing itself: and no thing, when you have really started on it, can have for you then and there just the same thrill as the first hint. For example, the experience of being married and bringing up a family, cannot have the old bittersweet of first falling in love. But it is futile (and, I think, wicked) to go on trying to get the old thrill again: you must go forward and not backward. Any real advance will in its turn be ushered in by a new thrill, different from the old: doomed in its turn to disappear and to become in its turn a temptation to retrogression.

Delight is a bell that rings as you set your foot on the first step of a new flight of stairs leading upwards. Once you have started climbing you will notice only the hard work: it is when you have reached the landing and catch sight of the new stair that you may expect the bell again."
~The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Vol II, Letter to Arthur Greeves, Nov 8, 1931

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Concerning Centaurs

"Now, Roonwit," said the King. "Do you bring us more news of Aslan?"
Roonwit looked very grave, frowning a little.
"Sire," he said, "you know how long I have lived and studied the stars; for we centaurs live longer than you men, and even longer than your kind, Unicorn. Never in all my days have I seen such terrible things written in the skies as there have been nightly since this year began. The stars say nothing of the coming of Aslan, nor of peace, nor of joy. I know by my art that there have not been such disastrous conjunctions of the planets for five hundred years. It was already in my mind to come and warn your Majesty that some great evil hangs over Narnia. But last night the rumor reached me that Aslan is abroad in Narnia. Sire, do not believe this tale. It cannot be. The stars never lie, but men and beasts do."
~The Rashness of the King, The Last Battle

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Every time you make a choice

"People often think of Christian morality as a kind of bargain in which God says, 'If you keep a lot of rules, I'll reward you, and if you don't I'll do the other thing.' I do not think that is the best way of looking at it. I would much rather say that every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing into a Heaven creature or into a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow creatures, and with itself. To be the one kind of creature is Heaven: that is, it is joy, and peace, and knowledge, and power. To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence, and eternal loneliness. Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state or the other."
~C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Cats and Dogs

"We were talking about cats and dogs the other day and decided that both have consciences but the dog, being an honest, humble person, always has a bad one, but the cat is a Pharisee and always has a good one. When he sits and stares you out of countenance he is thanking God that he is not as these dogs, or these humans, or even as these other cats!"
--Letters to an American Lady, (Mary Willis Shelburne, March 21, 1955) p. 40

Pippin and Merry keep Scott company on the shelf where the family photos
used to be kept...

Note to visitors: Busy weekend ahead--next update will be Monday. Thanks for reading!

Two Quotes on Youth and Age

Youth and age touch only the surface of our lives.
~That Hideous Strength, chap. 1, section 3, p. 21

Critics who treat adult as a term of approval, instead of as a merely descriptive term, cannot be adult themselves. To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish; these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence. And in childhood and adolescence they are, in moderation, healthy symptoms. Young things ought to want to grow. But to carry on into middle life or even into early manhood this concern about being adult is a mark of really arrested development. When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.
~Of Other Worlds: Essays and Stories,”On Three Ways of Writing for Children” (1952), para. 9, p. 25.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004


“Some People Think”

“Some people think that I began by asking myself how I could say something about Christianity to children; then fixed on the fairy tale as an instrument; then collected information about child psychology and decided what age-group I’d write for; then drew up a list of basic Christian truths and hammered out “allegories” to embody them. This is all pure moonshine. I couldn’t write in that way at all. Everything began with images; a faun carrying an umbrella, a queen on a sledge, a magnificent lion. At first there wasn’t even anything Christian about them; that element pushed itself in of its own accord.”

~C.S. Lewis. Essay Collection and Other Short Pieces, p. 527

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Atheism turns out to be too simple...

"My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust? If the whole show was bad and senseless from A to Z, so to speak, why did I, who was supposed to be part of the show, find myself in such violent reaction against it? A man feels wet when he falls into water, because man is not a water animal: a fish would not feel wet. Of course, I could have given up my idea of justice by saying that it was nothing but a private idea of my own. But if I did that, then my argument against God collapsed too--for the argument depended on saying that the world was really unjust, not simply that it did not happen to please my private fancies. Thus in the very act of trying to prove that God did not exist--in other words, that the whole of reality was senseless--I found I was forced to assume that one part of reality--namely my idea of justice--was full of sense. Consequently atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be without meaning."

~C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Monday, September 06, 2004

Excerpt from: "Spirits in Bondage: A Cycle of Lyrics" by Clive Hamilton [C.S. Lewis]

Note: Published under the pseudonym, Clive Hamilton, Spirits in Bondage was C. S. Lewis' first book. Most of the poems appear to have been written between1915 and 1918, (he would have been between 17 and 20 years old) a period during which Lewis was a student under W. T. Kirkpatrick, a military trainee at Oxford, and a soldier serving in the trenches of World War I. This was a time when Lewis struggled with the difficult issues presented by The Great War, and also his growing cynicism about the existence of God.

XII. De Profundis

Come let us curse our Master ere we die,
For all our hopes in endless ruin lie.
The good is dead. Let us curse God most High.

Four thousand years of toil and hope and thought
Wherein man laboured upward and still wrought
New worlds and better, Thou hast made as naught.

We built us joyful cities, strong and fair,
Knowledge we sought and gathered wisdom rare.
And all this time you laughed upon our care,

And suddenly the earth grew black with wrong,
Our hope was crushed and silenced was our song,
The heaven grew loud with weeping. Thou art strong.

Come then and curse the Lord. Over the earth
Gross darkness falls, and evil was our birth
And our few happy days of little worth.

Even if it be not all a dream in vain-
The ancient hope that still will rise again-
Of a just God that cares for earthly pain,

Yet far away beyond our labouring night,
He wanders in the depths of endless light,
Singing alone his musics of delight;

Only the far, spent echo of his song
Our dungeons and deep cells can smite along,
And Thou art nearer. Thou art very strong.

O universal strength, I know it well,
It is but froth of folly to rebel;
For thou art Lord and hast the keys of Hell.

Yet I will not bow down to thee nor love thee,
For looking in my own heart I can prove thee,
And know this frail, bruised being is above thee.

Our love, our hope, our thirsting for the right,
Our mercy and long seeking of the light,
Shall we change these for thy relentless might?

Laugh then and slay. Shatter all things of worth,
Heap torment still on torment for thy mirth-
Thou art not Lord while there are Men on earth.

Sunday, September 05, 2004


“Friendship arises out of mere Companionship when two or more of the companions discover that they have in common some insight or interest or even taste which the others do not share and which, till that moment, each believed to be his own unique treasure (or burden)…we can imagine that among those early hunters and warriors single individuals—one in a century? One in a thousand years?—saw what others did not; saw that the deer was beautiful as well as edible…dreamed that his gods might be not only powerful but holy. But as long as each of these percipient persons dies without finding a kindred soul, nothing will come of it; art or sport or spiritual religion will not be born. It is when two such persons discover one another when, whether with immense difficulties and semi-articulate fumblings or with what would seem to us amazing and elliptical speed, they share their vision—it is then that Friendship is born.”
~C.S. Lewis from The Four Loves

Saturday, September 04, 2004

The Music of the Spheres

"The Earth's disk was nowhere to be seen; the stars, thick as daisies on an uncut lawn, reigned perpetually with no cloud, no moon, no sunrise to dispute their sway. There were planets of unbelievable majesty, and constellations undreamed of: there were celestial sapphires, rubies, emeralds and pin-pricks of burning gold; far out on the left of the picture hung a comet, tiny and remote: and between all and behind all, far more emphatic and palpable than it showed on Earth, the undimensioned, enigmatic blackness. The lights trembled: they seemed to grow brighter as he looked."
~C.S. Lewis: Chapter 5, Out of the Silent Planet

The Window in the Garden Wall

A consistent theme running through much of Lewis’s writings is the expression of Sehnsucht--a German word meaning wistful, soft, tearful longing. But Lewis describes it as a fleeting sensation, when glimpsing the divine:

It was a sensation, of course, of desire; but desire for what? . . . Before I knew what I desired, the desire itself was gone, the whole glimpse withdrawn, the world turned commonplace again, or only stirred by a longing for the longing that had just ceased. It had taken only a moment of time; and in a certain sense everything else that had ever happened to me was insignificant in comparison.”
~Surprised by Joy

Lewis experienced this longing while reading the works of George MacDonald, and also many of the ancient myths. While he struggled with his rational explanations as a young man that there was no God or Supreme Being, he was at the same time aware of these deep emotions which pointed to a dimension of existence beyond time and space. A longing that so many of us feel, but find so difficult to put into words. We are all seeking restlessly that which eludes us: the divine, the magical, the Northern-ness, the ecstatic, the Truth.

"Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for desires exists. A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food . A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing. If that is so, I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or be unthankful for, these earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for something else of which they are only a kind of a copy, or echo, or mirage. I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that other country and to help others to do the same."
~C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, Bk. III, chap. 10, "Hope"

I hope “The Window in the Garden Wall” will become a tool for all of us seekers—to learn a little more about C.S. Lewis, and also discover some glimpses of the world beyond. I hope you will join me in my search for my true country.


And now for the quote which prompted the name for this site:

Then came the sound of a musical instrument,
from behind it seemed,
very sweet and very short,
as if it were one plucking of a string
or one note of a bell,
and after it a full, clear voice
-and it sounded so high and strange
that he thought it was very far away,
further than a star.

The voice said, Come.
Then John saw that there was a stone wall
beside the road in that part:
but it had (what he had never seen
in a garden wall before) a window.
There was not glass in the window and no bars;
it was just a square hole in the wall.
Through it he saw a green wood full of primroses:
and he remembered suddenly how he had gone into another wood
to pull primroses, as a child, very long ago
-so long that even in the moment of remembering
the memory seemed still out of reach.

While he strained to grasp it,
there came to him from beyond the wood a sweetness
and pang so piercing that instantly he forgot
his father's house,
and his mother,
and the fear of the Landlord,
and the burden of the rules.
All the furniture of his mind was taken away.
A moment later he found that he was sobbing,
and the sun had gone in:

and what it was that had happened to him
he could not quite remember,
nor whether it had happened in this wood,
or in the other wood when he was a child.
It seemed to him that a mist
which hung at the far end of the wood
had parted for a moment,
and through the rift he had seen a calm sea,
and in the sea an island,
where the smooth turf
sloped down unbroken to the bays,
and out of the thickets peeped the pale,
small-breasted Oreads,
wise like gods,
unconscious of themselves like beasts,
and tall enchanters,
bearded to their feet,
sat in green chairs among the forests.

But even while he pictured these things he knew,
with one part of his mind,
that they were not like the things he had seen
-nay, that what had befallen him was not seeing at all.
But he was too young to heed the distinction:
and too empty, now that the unbounded sweetness passed away,
not to seize greedily whatever it had left behind.
He had no inclination yet to go into the wood:
and presently he went home,
with a sad excitement upon him,
repeating to himself a thousand times,
"I know now what I want."

The first time that he said it,
he was aware that it was not entirely true:
but before he went to bed he was believing it.

~C.S. Lewis, "The Dream of the Island", from "The Pilgrim's Regress"