Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Top 5 C.S. Lewis Books

Christianity Today recently posted something that caught my eye - Alister McGrath's Top 5 CS Lewis Books (If you don't know who Dr. McGrath is, I suggest a quick google search or click his name for an impressive feed of accomplishments - one of which includes a new book CS Lewis: A Life which is sitting on my shelf, waiting to be read!).

Of course I took this as a challenge to figure out my top 5 books.  If I had to choose (although it's highly unlikely that anyone would ever demand such a thing), I suppose it would go something like this:

1. Mere Christianity - Not only was this the first book I ever read by Lewis (and, let's face it, I'm nostalgic) , but it has had tremendous significance in my own spiritual life.  The way he articulated certain aspects of faith helped bring to life what I believed more than anything I had ever heard.  Each time I pick up this book, I find more incredible ways Lewis speaks to my own understanding of Christianity.

2. The Magician's Nephew - My nostalgia peeks through with this book, too, as it is the only Narnia book I had ever read until a few years ago.  I am taken aback by the incredible way Lewis paints creation to his reader.  More than by reading Genesis, I feel as if I am there, witnessing God work.  The bits of humor, the curious children, and the talking animals all speak to me (pun intended?) as I flip page after page, soaking in the words.

3. The Screwtape Letters - Seriously one of the most impressive bits of work on Satan I have ever read.  The way Lewis is able to get into character and write from the Devil's perspective is truly a gift as he shines a light on what evil is after.  It provokes so much thought to grasp what is occurring, but it truly makes the reader question if they have fallen into some of Screwtape's traps in life.

4. Till We Have Faces - Like Lewis, I am a fan of Greek mythology.  Unlike Lewis, I am not a scholar of such works.  However, I appreciate his retelling of the myth of Cupid and Psyche in this novel.  I love the character development and the humanity that shines through these Greek gods & goddesses.

5. The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe - How could this not be on the list?  Maybe I am not as nostalgic towards this book (because I didn't read it until I was in my twenties!), but it truly is a classic.  The fact of the matter is that Lewis is able to weave in moral and faith-based truths throughout his fictional books.  I believe I have often gained more of an idea of Jesus's sacrifice through Aslan's sacrifice than I do sometimes by reading Scripture.

Lewis has a way of writing that truly shows creativity and sensitivity towards his readers.  He takes Biblical truths and shares them through words and analogies that make sense.

So what are your top 5 Lewis books? Are you a fiction-lover or a novice non-fiction reader (or split, like me)?
I'd love to hear from you!

Monday, July 29, 2013

A Grumpy Girl and her Dufflepuds

While my ever-so-supportive husband tells me constantly to not let my circumstances affect my mood, it happens. Especially this weekend.

My circumstances totally affect my mood.  I get scared when there are gunshots outside my house (like Saturday night), I get angry when my neighbors scream at 2 am (also, Sat. night), I'm annoyed when neighborhood kids climb my fence (Sun. afternoon), and I'm dumbfounded when I watch someone rob my neighbors (Sunday night).  These things affect me.

So when I woke up this morning, and things were looking brighter (literally..the sun was actually shining and I didn't stay up all night hoping the cops would wrangle up every single neighbor causing problems), I was excited.  It was going to be a better day. I was even inspired to wake up early to work on some writing before heading into work for the day.

BUT, of course things don't work out the way we think they will in our half-dream state, do they? My husband (who is sick so there is at least an excuse built in there) wanted me to sleep in a little longer with him. Then I lost some things I needed to work on my Etsy site (ZwytePaperDesign). Then I left - an hour later than I wanted - and got to Starbucks WITHOUT my wallet! Ugh.

Back home I headed, grumpier than ever as my free morning slowly dwindled away.  By the time I got back I barely had 20 minutes before I had to go to work.  So I figured I may as well not totally waste the morning and read a little bit to calm my frazzled nerves.

Of course I am still in the midst of the Narnia books, so I began my reading in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader with a grande white mocha americano in hand and the sun beaming down on me.

Yes, this was going to help.

I came upon the section about Dufflepuds. How could I not cheer up reading about these little guys?  While quite frightening in their invisible state, their silliness in demeanor and stature brought a smile to my face as they became visible when the spell was broken.

They are described as "one-footed men [who] got about by jumping, like fleas or frogs" with a single, large foot in which they sought protection under as they slept upside down.  Their stupidity is evident as the magician describes them "planting boiled potatoes to save cooking them when they were dug up" and "moving all the milk out [of the dairy]" when a cat got in instead of simply "moving the cat."  I laughed aloud as they showed their simplicity and bounced about the chapter.  I felt like I was beside Lucy as she watched this scene unfold.

And just like that, I was cured of my grumpiness.  The dufflepuds - along with a little sunshine and coffee - brought me back to an unfrazzled state and it was time to head to work with a better mood and a hilarious scene of dufflepuds fresh in my mind.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

FREE Music by Radial

After all that discussion about Lewis's views of Creation - 6 posts worth!-  I thought to reward you faithful readers with some free music about... wait for it... creation!

Go figure.

Our church plant (Radial Church) recently recorded and released a single entitled "See You" written by my amazing friend Brandon Schmidt  It's FREE on noisetrade at the moment & it'd be awesome if you would give it a listen and share with your friends.

Download "See You" @

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Love & Dignity

Reepicheep the mouse, after a battle in the novel Prince Caspian, loses his tail and along with that his honor.

He begs for Aslan to restore his dignity because "a tail is the honour and glory of a Mouse."  Though Aslan questions if this is really necessary he is taken aback by the other mice who are willing to cut off their own tails if the Chief must go without his.  One in the group, Peepiceek, states "We will not bear the shame of wearing an honour which is denied to the High Mouse."

What loyalty!

Aslan's response is one worthy of notation (in fact I have multiple lines and stars littering the page of my book here).  He agrees, stating "You have conquered me.  You have great hearts.  Not for the sake of your dignity, Reepicheep, but for the love that is between you and your people, and still more for the kindness your people showed me long ago when you ate away the cords that bound me on the Stone Table (and it was then, though you have long forgotten it, that you began to be Talking Mice), you shall have your tail again."

I love Aslan's reasoning in giving this bit of dignity back to Reepicheep.  It's not for his own gain, but because of the camaraderie among his own.  The loyalty of the mice towards their leader shows tremendous love.  They are willing to cut off their own tails and sacrifice their own bits of dignity to show loyalty and love towards their leader.

It makes me question what lengths I am willing to go to to honor my Chief.  Would I cut off my own tail (figuratively speaking, of course, because that would be weird if I had a tail)?  Am I willing to lose dignity and honor among my own?  And would I even first think of doing such a degrading thing to honor my king without his asking.  After all, Reepicheep didn't ask his fellow mice to cut their tails off - they thought of that on their own.  Am I even that thoughtful?

I suppose I took this as a bit of a devotion.  I keep getting drawn back to this particular passage and the loyalty and love represented among groups of people (and animals) throughout the Narnia novels.


Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Silence of Charn - guest blogger Randal Pope

“This place was at least as quiet as the Wood between the Worlds. But it was a different kind of quietness. The silence of the Wood between the Worlds was rich and warm (you could almost hear the trees growing) and full of life: this was a dead, cold, empty silence. You could not imagine anything growing in it.”

It intrigues me how C.S. Lewis contrasts two very different types of silence. Charn is described as a dark, dreary and dying place. A world at the end of it’s life, it’s ancient sun red and dying, while The Wood between the Worlds, on the other hand, is very much alive, although also silent. 

Lewis uses such vivid descriptions like “You could almost hear the trees growing” and “You could almost feel the trees drinking the water up with their roots” to transport his readers into his magical world.
In life we experience these same types of silence, in varying ways. Charn’s is a lonesome and uneasy silence. Charn is like a situation where we can not hear God. It represents being immersed in the world, where everything is dead and dying spiritually. 

It’s a scary situation, but like Polly and Digory, we usually find a way to navigate through such a situation, in their case (as is often the case in real life), find some trouble to get tangled up in.
Prior to arriving at Charn, the children visit the Wood Between the Worlds, which creates a stark contrast to their adventure in Charn. The Wood Between the Worlds is a place that is so alive, that any inkling of uneasiness leaves Polly and Digory. They become so relaxed and at home, for a moment they don’t even know how long they have been there. 

Imagine experiencing the presence of God in such a way that all worry flees you! They are so comfortable in the wood, I imagine they could have stayed there forever and lived in bliss, possibly not never needing anything ever again. 

It makes me think of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, their every need met, living in the comfort of the presence of the Lord. Like Adam and Eve though, Polly and Digory had the insatiable desire to know more, which is what lead them to Charn where corruption in the form of an innocent bell awaited Digory, and eventually Narnia.
From this I think we can learn that we need to be comfortable in our walk with God. The temptation to venture out into the dead and corrupting world will be there, but isn’t it better to remain with God, where life abounds?

Guest Blogger Randal Pope is a good friend of mine who not only puts up with me and my husband, but is a part of our church family at Radial Church... and is a member of our book club! 
Special thanks for his input in this week's post!!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Brethren General Conference

So this week's lackluster postings is because we are helping lead worship at the Brethren General Conference and it is being streamed live at ... Check out this gathering of awesome leaders from our denomination!

Monday, July 15, 2013

CREATION (part 6 - final thoughts)

I genuinely appreciate Lewis’s take on creation as told in his fictional story, The Magician’s Nephew because of the re-awakening I feel when reading it; it gives a vivid picture to the creation of life.  In fact, this particular account is precisely the reason why it has become my favorite stories among the Chronicles of Narnia. 

Aslan singing the world into creation sends chills up my spine.  The vibrant descriptions are a perfect way to encapsulate the reader, enabling them to appreciate the creation story of this world. 

“By allowing the reader to watch the creation of another world, C.S. Lewis evokes an appropriate awe and delight in the things of this world.” 

This story points me to God, which I believe is essentially what Lewis intended.
I also appreciate C.S. Lewis’s humble view of humanity.  Not only does he heighten the depictions of wrongdoing through the use of magic and science, but he also enables the reader to see a humble hero, like Digory in The Magicians Nephew, or Lucy in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.  
Lewis emphasizes the struggle between good and evil throughout all his books, but “throughout the Chronicles, the process of creation is treated as fundamentally good.”[1]  He understands that adventure through creativity is not our own doing, but rather comes from an ultimate Creator. 

“The reality of God’s creation and originality was so woven into the warp and woof of Lewis’s everyday thinking that he consistently denied any originality for his own books.”[2] 

Lewis understood that without God, there would be no source for creativity.  His thoughts on Creation theology are embedded within the fiction and non-fiction writings Lewis dedicated his life to.  It is only through the use of Creation that we can truly enjoy the creativity embedded in Nature by the Great Creator.

[1] Gregory Bassham, Jerry L. Walls, and William Irwin, eds., The Chronicles of Narnia and Philosophy: the Lion, the Witch, and the Worldview (popular Culture and Philosophy) (Chicago: Open Court, 2005), 246.
[2] Vaus, 63.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Creation (part 5- Creativity)

I think it is pretty evident that C.S. Lewis had a plethora of creativity.  In this post, I will delve a bit more into my thoughts on creative life.


Lewis placed quite an emphasis on creativity.  He “believed strongly that originality was the prerogative of God alone and that, even within the Trinity, originality seemed to be confined to God the Father.”[1]  Therefore all which is created is ultimately linked back to God.  The cars we drive, the pens we write with, and even the pipes we smoke are all examples of creation by man, but ultimately through God’s gift of creativity to man.

The only way we can “perceive the Creation” is through “image, metaphor, and myth”[2] because there is no way of obtaining true knowledge.  We gain knowledge paired with creativity because we were created in the image of the first Creator.  “God has designed his higher creatures for the happiness of being voluntarily united to him” because “a world of robots would hardly be worth creating.”[3]  Lewis understood the breadth of creativity through the gifts and care given in the Creator’s making of humans.  

Monday, July 8, 2013

Morning Reads

The best part of waking up is not Folgers in your cup... I think it's waking up, excited to read the next chapter in a book with a drink in hand!

My morning today consists of Prince Caspian and a chai. I'm so thankful for a flexible schedule where I can do this prior to heading to work for the day!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

CREATION (part 4)

So in the past few posts, we've covered what Lewis's basic theology was with Creation.  But the more important topic to focus on is what we should do with creation.  This, I think, is what Lewis's main point was throughout his Narnia books.


This creation invokes response.  While it may seem like a nice idea that the world was created merely for our pleasure, Lewis understood that there is an appropriate response through our actions and relationships with others.  

The Magician’s Nephew demands that the reader see the physical world as a created world.  It demands that the reader respond to the creation, and to the creator.”[1]  The created world holds a purpose through right relationships with one another and with God.  This is explained by “the biblical understanding of God as Creator [which] is primarily concerned not with his creative act of bringing the world into being, but rather with his ongoing involvement in and with his creation.”[2]  

Not only is there a reaction to the vastness of creation, but also that the grand Creator wants a relationship with the created beings.  Lewis supposed that “the relation between Creator and creature is, of course, unique, and cannot be paralleled by any relations between one creature and another.”[3]  It is a special relationship that is communicated to the reader by Lewis’s depiction of Aslan with his created beings.

For the created beings, there are basically two responses to creation: use it or abuse it.  In his book, The World According to Narnia, Jonathan Rogers explains these two responses in the form of the characters Digory, the adventurer, and Uncle Andrew, the magician.  

Monday, July 1, 2013

CREATION (part 3)


Lewis’s take on the creation account in the Magician’s Nephew is a striking attempt at capturing the beauty in which the world as we know it was created.  His vibrant descriptions paint a created world which makes the reader feel the significance of creation.  As Jonathan Rogers puts it, “You’ve heard it so many times you may have lost the ability to marvel at the most marvelous, and perhaps the most fundamental of Christian truths: the natural world is of supernatural origin.”[1]  The story of Adam and Eve has become an overused story through Sunday School lessons, children’s Bibles and Vacation Bible Schools in our culture. 

Yet Lewis, through his gift of writing, creates a world that evokes feeling and emotions which the Biblical narrative of creation just cannot do. 

Though it is evident that Adam and Eve are recognized even in Narnia as the created beings of earth, the land of Narnia takes on an entirely different – yet similar – creation story.  God speaks the world into being, while Aslan, the Great Lion, sings his land of Narnia into being.  This smooth and “most beautiful noise”[2] brought light and vegetation and animals to the world, which is an impressive testament to the created things of the world as well.  

Lewis clearly understood the phenomenon of creation by the way he described two wonders during Narnia’s creation.  One was the harmony of voices, “more voices than you could possibly count.”[3]  The other wonder “was that the blackness overhead, all at once, was blazing with stars…one moment there had been nothing but darkness; next moment a thousand, thousand points of light leapt out.”[4]  If this gives any testament to the Genesis account of “Let there be light” (Genesis 1:3 NIV), then it surely paints a more vivid picture and understanding of the massive change the world had just experienced.  

In fact, I cannot help but wonder if there is a hint of C.S. Lewis represented by the Cabby who responds to the creation scene by stating, “I’d h’a been a better man all my life if I’d known there were things like this.”[5]  Perhaps this was his way of inserting his regrets of not understanding God’s beauty and grace sooner in life.

The remainder of the creation story in chapter 9 of The Magician’s Nephew is primarily focused on the animals and humans.  After identifying a lion as the source of the song of creation, the land of Narnia begins its growth through the musical undertones.  

As he walked and sang, the valley grew green with grass…making that young world every moment softer.  Soon there were other things besides grass,”[6] like trees and mountains and flowers.  Nature grew right in front of the small crew of people from London.  They were able to witness life from the beginning as trees sprouted quickly as the “great Lion, Aslan”[7] sang nature into creation.  

The next thing he focused upon is the birth of animals.  The Lion’s song changes and the land swells into humps which “moved and swelled till they burst, and the crumbled earth poured out of them, and from each hump there came out an animal.”[8]  This interesting creation of animals brings about dogs and moles and frogs and panthers and all sorts of new life.  

Lewis is clear in Mere Christianity that he understood the act of God creating as “begetting, not making, because what He produces is of the same kind of Himself,[9] and it is evident that Narnia has a similar beginning.  The song of the Lion is soon overtaken by the new noises of the animals who join in their creator’s song, emphasizing that “Narnia was quite a different world from ours.”[10]

[1] Jonathan Rogers, The World According to Narnia: Christian Meaning in C.S. Lewis's Beloved Chronicles (New York: FaithWords, 2005), 153-4.
[2] C.S. Lewis, “The Magician’s Nephew” in The Chronicles of Narnia, 1st American ed. (New York: HarperCollins, 2001), 61.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Ibid, 62.
[6] Ibid, 65.
[7] Kilby, 118.
[8] Lewis, Magician’s Nephew, 69.
[9] Lewis, Mere Christianity, 151.
[10] Kilby, 120.