Monday, June 27, 2005


I have stumbled across a neat little blog called "The Inklings". The Inklings were a gathering of friends -- all of them British, male, and Christian, most of them teachers at or otherwise affiliated with Oxford University, many of them creative writers and lovers of imaginative literature -- who met usually on Thursday evenings in C.S. Lewis's and J.R.R. Tolkien's college rooms in Oxford during the 1930s and 1940s for readings and criticism of their own work, and for general conversation.

Over the weekend I
purchased a book called Tolkien and C.S. Lewis: The Gift of Friendship and am excited to read it. I've enjoyed very much learning of Tolkien and all of his writings at this middle-stage of my life, and am about to do the same with Lewis. All I had read of CSL to this point were The Screwtape Letters (which I loved), but never anything else, including Narnia. This will be changing as I've picked up Narnia, and am going to also read Mere Christianity, A Grief Observed, Surprised by Joy, The Four Loves, The Great Divorce, The Problem of Pain, and The Weight of Glory.

The following paragraph is from The Weight of Glory, which is a collection of nine of Lewis' sermons. I've boldfaced the final lines of the paragraph as they were highlighted to us during the "Called & Gifted" conference I attended this weekend on finding our spiritual gifts. If we were to truly live these last lines, imagine the affect it would have upon the world.

There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations--these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit--immortal horrors or everlasting splendours. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of the kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously--no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption. And our charity must be real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinners--no mere tolerance, or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment. Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses. If he is your Christian neighbour, he is holy in almost the same way, for in him also Christ vere latitat, the glorifier and the glorified, Glory Himself, is truly hidden.
The line, "…our charity must be real and costly love…" also catches my attention, as this weekend's readings and homily by our assistant pastor dealt with sacrifice. Yesterday's Gospel from Matthew 10:37-42 is the one in which Jesus says:

"Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me,and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it,and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it."

We are called to sacrifice all…to live our lives in a way that would not make sense if not for the existence of God. And I can think of no better example than what Jesus is saying above. It had always been a passage that I struggled with, and still do at times.

Tolkien's selection below seems dreary by contrast, until you read the final line. The main overriding theme of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings is that of Divine Providence, which he alludes to here:

Tolkien to his son Christopher (extract)
10 April 1944

I sometimes feel appalled at the thought of the sum total of human misery all over the world at the present moment: the millions parted, fretting, wasting in unprofitable days - quite apart from torture, pain, death, bereavement, injustice. If anguish were visible, almost the whole of this benighted planet would be enveloped in a dense dark vapor, shrouded from the amazed vision of the heavens! And the products of it all will be mainly evil - historically considered. But the historic version is, of course, not the only one. All things and all deeds have a value in themselves, apart from their "causes" and "effects." No man can estimate what is really happening sub specie aeternitatis. All we do know, and that to a large extent by direct experience, is that evil labors with vast power and perpetual success - in vain: preparing always the soil for unexpected good to sprout in.

- from
The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien


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