Category Archives: God

Reading the Inklings: Robert Harvard

I’m officially one step closer to reading something by all of the Inklings.

A few weeks ago, I started The Problem of Pain by CS Lewis because it has an appendix written by Robert Harvard. (Read more about that here.) Though he did publish many other things, all of them are in medical journals so I wouldn’t have as much appreciation for them as I would if it were written for someone outside of the field.

As it turns out, Lewis’ words were exactly what I needed to read. While I don’t agree with everything, I do agree with most. More importantly, though, much of it resonated deeply with where I am right now, and that’s what I was hoping for.

After Lewis discusses pain of all sorts and some theological musings, Robert Harvard has a very short appendix with some medical insight. It was certainly interesting, though shorter than anticipated. I had hoped for a bit more than a few pages, especially when the Kindle told me there was 89% left to the book. Evidently, the last 8% is copyright information, Lewis’ biography, and footnotes. Lots of footnotes.

So, while not the most insightful into Robert Harvard, it was still a great read. Now, time to move on to the next Inkling!


14 Day Writing Challenge: Day 11

Today’s prompt: Write a rant about something that upsets you.

Life isn’t fair. Things don’t always work out, and sometimes it seems like there’s no reason why they shouldn’t. You try hard. You wait patiently. You hope for the best. And it doesn’t happen. It feels like it’s all in vain. What’s the point of even trying?

I’ve been there before. I’m there right now. It’s easy to get frustrated and contemplate giving up, but with this situation, I know that’s not the answer. So I keep going even though I don’t know when I’ll achieve what I’m working towards.

Last week, I happened to be reading a book that made reference to The Chronicles of Narnia: The Horse and His Boy. Of all the Narnia books, this one has never been my favorite. It’s the one I read because I’m reading the whole series, not because I’m overly excited about it. But there’s one part I had never thought much of until last week.

Shasta, the protagonist, has had a rough life. And to make a long story short, he is at a point in the book in which he feels that he is “the most unfortunate boy that ever lived in the whole world” because everything has gone “right for everyone except me” (Lewis 280). To make matters worse, he’s had a pack of lions pursuing him since his adventure began, and now has been cornered by one. If anyone could say life stinks, he could.

But instead of eating him, the lion gives an explanation that has haunted me since I read it:

“I do not call you unfortunate … There was only one lion … I was the lion who forced you to join with Aravis. I was the cat who comforted you among the houses of the dead. I was the lion who drove the jackals from you while you slept. I was the lion who gave the Horses the new strength of fear for the last mile so that you should reach King Lune in time. And I was the lion you do not remember who pushed the boat in which you lay, a child near death, so that it came to shore where a man sat, wakeful at midnight, ready to receive you.” (Lewis 281)

Obviously, the lion (and cat) is Aslan, and his words resonate deeply with me.

Sometimes life is hard and doesn’t make sense, but I have to keep in mind that I only see things from one angle. I’m a character, like Shasta. I don’t see what the Author sees. I run from the lion, but I don’t know the reason why. I don’t see that I’ll miss the most important part of my story if I don’t hurry. It’s not like authors poke their heads into stories and say, “Oh, hey! Listen, I know you’re comfortable hanging out around here, but I need you to go over there as fast as you can, okay?”

I don’t know why things work out the way they do. But I also know that life wouldn’t be the same without struggle. There’s so much to learn and so many ways to grow, and sometimes the only time I can see those things is when life doesn’t go my way.

So I choose to enjoy life even when times are hard. I choose to count my blessings instead of staring at the things that make my heart ache. I choose to be grateful in the meantime and for the waiting because of the experiences I now have thanks to them. I choose to keep my hopes high and remember that I can’t see the whole story yet, but it’ll work out the way that it should in the end. And I choose to keep running. I don’t know where the lion is pushing me, but I want to be there on time.

Lewis, C.S. The Chronicles of Narnia. New York: HaperCollins, 2001.


Happy Tolkien Reading Day!

Sorry it’s been two weeks since my last post. Mix one of the busiest parts of the school year with the flu, and the result is that barely anything gets done. But I’m back now.

Anyways, today is one of my favorite holidays: Tolkien Reading Day!

There are several things I love about the holiday, especially on years like this. First off, it’s an homage to one of my favorite authors. Even though I love many writers, Tolkien’s influence on my own writing is undeniable. It’s a great excuse to read at least a few pages of one of his works and wear some of the geeky Lord of the Rings paraphernalia that I own.

My favorite excerpt to read (especially on years when I can’t sit and read the entirety of The Hobbit in one day) is about the reason this day was chosen to be Tolkien Reading Day in the first place: it’s the anniversary of the Fall of Sauron.

Even if I don’t get to read anything else, I always read The Return of the King, specifically Book VI, the last part of chapter 3 and the beginning of chapter 4, where it all goes down.

The Fall of Sauron

One of the best parts : )

Sometimes, like this year, it very appropriately falls on Good Friday. While The Lord of the Rings isn’t allegory (and Tolkien would roll over in his grave if such a thing were said of his works), it does ring true to what he and CS Lewis called the One True Myth. I think it’s one of those things he would make him smile.

So, happy Good Friday, Easter, and Tolkien Reading Day!

And here’s to being back after far too long.

Do you celebrate Tolkien Reading Day or any other booklover holidays?


Wait, My Favorite Novels Have Been Banned? – Banned Book Week 2014

A couple of days ago, I found out that this week is Banned Book Week. I’ve seen some posts about it in my reader over the past two weeks, but since there’s been so much grading to do and there were so many posts, I hadn’t paid much attention to it.

Over at Cindy Grigg’s blog, she has a list of 19 frequently challenged books. Many are ones that I read and enjoyed: The Great Gatsby and Brave New World among them. (Seriously, if you’re in late high school or an adult, Brave New World is a must. It’s an eye-opener.) They both have adult content, so I understand why they would be inappropriate for younger age groups. But banned outright?

The one I was most surprised to find on the list was Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. Needless to say, I had to do some research into why. But once I did, it was obvious. I had a firsthand experience with the reasoning during my senior year of high school.

I dual enrolled in some college courses that year, and one of them was speech class. At 7:30am, the class was a mix of 19 year olds, 20-somethings, and adults returning to earn a degree. It was a small, community college class, so I ended up becoming acquainted with some of the people, including one of the adult men. I don’t remember his name anymore.

For one speech, the professor allowed me to use The Lord of the Rings as my topic. I was so excited to pull that speech and PowerPoint presentation together. It was a breeze since I already knew so much about all things Middle-earth and had a collection of pictures from the movies saved on my computer.

After giving the speech, I was pulled over by the aforementioned man who asked something to the effect of, “You like Tolkien and you’re a Christian?”

I was puzzled. How could those things possibly be at odds?

He presented his reasoning — the same reasoning I found while researching. It has wizards in it. And magic. And that Dark Lord, Sauron. Christians can’t like that, can they? Isn’t it dark and full of, you know, witchcraft?

But anyone who says that obviously knows nothing about Tolkien or the books. He was a devout Catholic, and his works contain themes that are reflective of the Bible. None of it’s allegory (because he, understandably, detested it), but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t correlations between the two. I could go on and on with the research I did around that time, but suffice to say, I don’t believe that any of it conflicts with my faith. If anything, I believe that the books compliment it. After all, as Tolkien would say, “God is the Lord, of angels, and of men — and of elves.”

This is why I would argue that people should read and research things for themselves before jumping on a bandwagon. And that doesn’t just apply to books. :)

Have you read any of the books on the banned/challenged lists?


Quote

When I was a teenager on the verge of starting college full time, my parents did quite a bit to prepare me for adulthood. Most of the lessons had started in childhood, and I learned many more from overheard conversations while they counseled other people or by watching their own lives. But it was during my senior year of high school that they had me read Sean Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens. It reinforced many things that I’d already learned, like prioritizing and the importance of rest and relaxation. But it also came with a challenge: to collect five quotes to live by.

Unfortunately, the day planner (yes, the binder type with refillable pages) that contained these quotes is long gone, but that doesn’t mean that all of them are forgotten or that I haven’t continued to collect quotes. Below are some of my favorites:

“Patience and fortitude conquer all things.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

“This is one of the miracles of love: It gives a power of seeing through its own enchantments without being disenchanted.” — C.S. Lewis

“I still think the greater part of the world is mistaken about many things. Surely one may be sane and yet think so, since the greater part of the world has often had to come around from its opinion.” — Dorothea, Middlemarch by George Eliot

“Reason is the natural order of truth; but imagination is the organ of meaning.” — C.S. Lewis

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” — Albert Einstein

And, finally, two that were on that original list of five quotes and that still are at the top of my favorites today:

“Always do right; this will gratify some people and astonish the rest.” — Mark Twain

This is one of the miracles of love: It gives a power of seeing through its own enchantments and yet not being disenchanted
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/c/cslewis117457.html#Jvxa6ScMLDUbzIGv.99

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time given us.” — Gandalf, Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien

What are some of your favorite quotes?


Passion

Passion. A love of something. The type of love that incites excitement at just the thought of it.

Passion. An undying love for someone. Their name awakens the butterflies and that uncontainable smile.

Passion. A selfless love. Painful but worth the sacrifice.


Epic

Ever since I was young, I’ve dreamed of being a part of a heroic adventure. To do noble deeds, to sacrifice, to perhaps even save the day. Maybe it’s from all of the fairy tales I grew up with; maybe it’s something much deeper, almost instinctual that’s hard to give voice to; or maybe it’s both. Regardless, that longing for adventure has always been an intrinsic part of me.

Perhaps that’s why Belle from Beauty and the Beast was always my favorite Disney princess. Okay, so she does have brown hair and an insatiable love of books and stories too, but more than that, she wanted adventure. And she was noble and heroic when the moment called for it.

Since then, the stories I love most have all repeated this theme. Someone ordinary becoming part of a grander story. An epic. The stories I tell reflect it as well, whether it’s the ones that are written for others to see or the ones I tell myself as I do laundry, garden, drive.

I don’t know what adventures I’ll meet in life, but like Dorothy, I’ve come to realize that I don’t have to look much further than my own backyard to show the heroism and sacrifice in all of those great stories. We’re all part of an ongoing epic. An everyday epic. We each play an important role. Like in written epics, the plot is winding and difficult, but the most memorable characters endure through the worst trials and are better because of them. And in this story, the Author will eventually end it in the most beautiful way. The greatest happily ever after.

In the meantime, there are epics to write, both on and off the page. And who knows what adventures we’ll find in Belle’s “great, wide somewhere”?