Lewis: Out of the Silent Planet

Out of the Silent Planet (Space Trilogy, #1)Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve read the ‘excursionary’ Space Trilogy numerous times since 1992. Only recently have I been clued into the influence of the medieval cosmology which Lewis loved so much. In the past I enjoyed the book on its merits, but since, I have grown in my enjoyment of the attempt made by Lewis to let us enter a martial world in which the will stands like caryatids under the weight of necessary obedience.

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Lewis: Out of the Silent Planet was originally published on Grace Presbyterian Church

Dante’s Purgatorio

The Divine Comedy: Purgatory The Divine Comedy: Purgatory by Dante Alighieri
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The translation into rhyming verse is no doubt a daunting task. It does make the poetry more esoteric, and most likely more difficult to read and comprehend. Dorothy Sayer’s commentary, however, is gold. The book is worth reading simply for her commentary on Dante.

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Dante’s Purgatorio was originally published on Grace Presbyterian Church

The Four Holy Gospels

Fujimura – 4 Holy Gospels from Crossway on Vimeo.

Makoto Fujimura is illuminating The Four Holy Gospels in conjunction with a project at Crossway Books to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible.
(H.T. Justin Taylor)

Voyage of the Dawn Treaderness

In order to encourage the Christian community’s teachers, leaders, and pastors to engage and utilize the upcoming movie based on C.S. Lewis’ Voyage of he Dawn Treader, a group of Christian leaders has created narniafaith.com. There are a number of resources including study guides and sermon outlines.

I am dwarvish generally, and a snob regarding the superiority of books over movies (especially Lord of the Rings and the Narniad). As I have viewed the trailer, I think I will be disappointed again. Can you discern what changes were made to the story by watching the trailer?
What is especially disappointing is that the writers of the screenplay seem to have not taken any clues regarding the imaginative key of the Narniad as discovered by Michael Ward and explained in his most recent book, The Narnia Code. Speaking of which, the BBC documentary on Ward’s work also entitled, The Narnia Code, will be released in the U.S. in early January 2011. I’m thinking Christmas present?
And speaking of Christmas present this book is out now.

Merry Meeting

I just learned that Tolkein and Lewis first met on May 11, 1926 my birthday–albeit not 1926. Alan Jacobs in his book on Lewis, The Narnian, writes of Lewis’ first impression of Tolkein in this way,

“…the two young dons talked for the first time. In his diary entry…Lewis contrives to condescend to a man who, though just six years his senior, had achieved far more and whose career seemed at that time far more promising: ‘He is a smooth, pale, fluent little chap…. No harm in him: only needs a smack or so.'”

In spite of the posturing, this is for me, a merry meeting which brought together two for whom and whose work I hold dear. And to discover their meeting happened on my birthday, provides a picture for me to better understand my fragmented and sundered self. Because of these two, I so enjoy the merry wedding of language and story–of epic and symbol. These twins: Tolkein and Lewis, are my Castor and Polux–the rider of Rohan and the boxing apologist.

"What Sort of Tale"

I began Ralph Woods’ The Gospel According to Tolkein today. Many of my friends took his class on fantasy literature while students at Wake Forest University. I too am a fan. Below is an excerpt from an article he wrote on Lord of the Rings called “Frodo’s Faith” which you can read in its entirety here.

There are many competing stones that vie for our loyalty and Sam tries to distinguish them, to locate the one hope-giving story:

“We shouldn’t be here at all [Sam says to Frodo], if we’d known more about it before we started. But I suppose it’s often that way the brave things in the old tales and songs, Mr. Frodo: adventures, as I used to call them. I used to think that they were things the wonderful folk of the stories went out and looked for, because they wanted them, because they were exciting and life was a bit dull, a kind of sport, as you might say. But that’s not the way of it with the tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in the mind. Folk seem to have been just landed in them, usually — their paths were laid that way, as you put it. But I expect they had lots of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn’t. And if they had, we shouldn’t know because they’d have been forgotten. We hear about those as just went on — and not all to a good end, mind you; at least not to what folk inside a story and not outside it call a good end. You know coming home, and finding things all right, though not quite the same — like old Mr. Bilbo. But those aren’t always the best tales to hear though they may be the best tales to get landed in! I wonder what sort of tale we’ve fallen into?”

Sam has discerned the crucial divide. On the one hand, the tales that do not matter concern there-and-back-again adventures — escapades undertaken because we are bored and seek excitement and entertainment. The tales that rivet the mind, on the other hand, involve a quest that we do not choose for ourselves, Instead, we find ourselves embarked upon a journey or mission quite apart from our choosing. What counts, says Sam, is not whether the quest succeeds but whether we turn back or slog ahead. One reason for not giving up, not quitting, is that the great tales are told about those who refused to surrender — those who ventured forward in hope. Heel heroism, Sam implies, requires us to struggle with hope, yet without the assurance of victory.

Frodo interjects that it’s best not to know whether we are acting out a happy tale or a sad one. If we were assured oh happy destiny, then we would become presumptuous and complacent; if a sad one, then cynical and despairing. In neither case would we live and struggle by means of real hope.

“Don’t the great tales ever end?” Sam asks. Frodo says no. Each individual story — even the story of other fellowships and companies — is sure to end. But when our own stony is done, Frodo adds, someone else will take the one great tale forward to either a better or worse moment in its ongoing drama. What matters, Sam concludes, is that we enact our proper role in an infinitely larger story than our own little narrative: “Things done and over and made into part of the great tales are different. Why, even Gollum might be good in a tale.”

Sam has plumbed the depths of real hope. The “great tales” stand apart from mere adventures because they belong to the One Great Story. It is a story not only of those who fight heroically against evil, but also of those who are unwilling to exterminate such an enemy as Gollum. As Sam discerns, this tale finds a surprising place even for evil. For it is not only the story of the destruction of the ruling ring, but also a narrative of redemption.

GPC DGroup: Chosen by God, Chapter 1

As we start Chosen by God by R.C. Sproul there are a number of things that we must consider at the onset. Firstly, we need our faith to be conformed by what is true and not by what we understand. As both Protestant and Reformed, the scriptures are the foundation upon which we build our faith and practice. Secondly we must recognize that the subject is potentially divisive. As a professor of mine has written, even for John Calvin himself (probably the theologian most recognized as teaching predestination), predestination was both “a horrible decree” and a “very sweet fruit.” In spite of the potential conflict, nevertheless, predestination is a category that comes from the Bible, it is not one forced upon it. So, as we look at predestination, we would do well to remember the counsel of the Westminster Confession of Faith which warns,

“The doctrine of this high and holy mystery of predestination is to be handled with special prudence and care, that men, attending to the will of God revealed in His Word, and yielding obedience thereunto, may, from the certainty of their effectual vocation, be assured of their eternal election. So shall this doctrine afford matter of praise, reverence, and admiration of God; and of humility, diligence, and abundant consolation to all that sincerely obey the Gospel” (WCF III.8). 

Lastly, Calvin defended the teaching of this doctrine by reminding us that God would not give us something that was not for our good. As the Confession states, this doctrine is for our assurance and strengthening of faith, not for the confusion and destruction of it.

If it would be of help, you can watch R.C. Sproul’s lectures based on this book here.

Read chapter one and we’ll discuss the following questions on Sunday.

  1. Who are the philosophers and theologians addressed?
  2. How would you define the doctrine of predestination?
  3. What questions about the implication of the doctrine of predestination do you have?
  4. What do you hope to come to learn through this study?