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Archive for the tag “Inklings”

Neoinklings: Tolkien in South Africa

At 10:30 we went to Cafe 41 in Eastwood Road for our monthly Literary Coffee Klatsch of Neoinklings, and David Levey joined us to inkle, as he put it. It seemed a rather felicitous term.

He told us of a thesis someone had written, or was writing, on Tolkien’s South African connections, and we had a rather discursive discussion about that — Tolkien had left South Africa when he was 3 or 4, and as far as I know he never returned. Most of one’s memories of that age seem to be a series of still pictures. I recalled Leo Aylen, a poet who was the son of a former Anglican bishop of Zululand, who visited there about 35 years ago. He said the Australian aborigines had a concept of early childhood as one’s dream time, and he was revisiting the scenes of his dream time to give him something to write about.

Goanikontes, Namibia

Goanikontes, Namibia

We talked of the landscape — the Free State, where Tolkien was born, seems to be like the land of the Rohirrim in Lord of the Rings, and Val said that Goanikontes, in the Namib desert, was like Mordor though it seems unlikely that Tolkien would have visited it. Goanikontes had been where Val’s great great great grandparents, Frank and Frances Stewardson, had lived for a while, in the 1850s, and it may have been there that Frank Stewardson had been mauled by a lion.

We talked about the identity, or lack of it, of white English-speaking South Africans. It will be interesting to see if the thesis mentions whether Tolkien had such an identity, but generally speaking white English-speaking South Africans do not have a distinctive identity or a distinct culture. There is no consciousness of being a “volk”, like the Afrikaners. Though one could put them in a Venn diagram, it would be far less significant than a set of white Afrikaans -speaking South Africans, or Zulu or Tswana-speaking South Africans. I mentioned a friend who had recently written of “we”, referring to white South Africans, and that I find that to be one of the primary markers of racism, using “we” to refer to a group defined by race, and “they” or “these people” to refer to the outgroup. David said that John Lambert, one of the former history lecturers at Unisa, was writing about white English-speaking South Africans, and it will be interesting to see what he comes up with.

He also mentioned that the history department at Unisa has now been reduced to one lecturer, which is very sad, and does not augur well for the future of South Africa — all of history before 1994 will, in effect, become dream time, and labelled “Van Riebeeck”.

 

The One Ring

People have often discussed the symbolism of the rings of power in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. Some have tried to interpret the story allegorically, an approach that Tolkien himself rejected, and the question keeps cropping up.

Someone recently asked, in a Tolkien newsgroup:

Assuming Sauron’s fears would have come true, and Aragron had brought the Ring to Minas Tirith.

What could he have done with it?  Or did Sauron consider the unexpected appearance of the Army of the Dead as something that Aragorn had done with the Ring?

It seems to me that even attempting to answer that question would indicate that one had missed a central point of the story. Nevertheless, people do ask such questions, and there seems to be no adequate way of responding to them.

But the other day someone posted a graphic on Facebook relating to the elections taking place in the USA later this year, which seems to be an excellent response:

BernHil1

It says quite a lot about the US elections, and it says quite a lot about The Lord of the Rings. At least that it how it seems to me, writing from 10000 miles away from the US, in South Africa.

Of course it assumes familiarity with the plot of The Lord of the Rings, and it also assumes a certain degree of familiarity with US politics, and the different approaches taken by different candidates. Not being American, I rely on those online quiz thingies to tell me which candidates come closest to my way of thinking, and one of them told me that I side 94% with Bernie Sanders on most 2016 Presidential Election issues. Hilary Clinton came second. But the graphic summarises quite nicely the difference between them, if one is familiar with The Lord of the Rings, and it also, if one is at all familiar with the positions taken by the candidates and their supporters on various issues, helps to make the significance of the ring in the plot of the book clearer.

So one small graphic can help to clarify a political question, of who to vote for in an election, and a literary question of the meaning of a central artifact in a well-known novel.

 

What has happened to paper.li?

For some time now I’ve been using the paper.li web site to make sense of Twitter.

One can get overwhelmed by so many tweets on different topics, and now that Twitter has added pictures, it’s become a bit of a bandwidth hog too, producing nearly as many “a script is not responding” messages as Facebook.

Paper.li produces a digest of articles with links on Twitter, suitably formatted and headlined. My personal one is The Steve Hayes Daily, which it makes from my Twitter feed.

But what I found even more useful was the ones based on Twitter hashtags, which enabled one to follow topics of interest. So I regularly look at The #Theology Daily and The #orthodox Daily.

There wasn’t one for my own field of Missiology, but paper.li let me create one, with the URL http://paper.li/tag/missiology. And you can see it as The #missiology Daily. So if anyone posts a link on Twitter to a missiological article, and includes the hashtag #missiology in the tweet, all those links will be conveniently collected in one place.

The problem is that paper.li no longer appears to allow this. The existing papers based on hashtags continue, but it seems that it is not possible to create new ones.

Inklings

Inklings

I am interested in the group of authors known as the Inklings (who include, among others, C.S. Lewis, Charles Williams, J.R.R. Tolkien and Owen Barfield). There quite a number of bloggers who blog about these authors, and there are other interesting articles on their works that people tweet about, and I thought it would be nice to see tweets about them in one place, so I looked for an #Inklings paper on paper.li, which would have the URL http://paper.li/tag/inklings.

But there wasn’t one.

But paper.li invited me to create one.

I tried to do so, but the URL wasn’t based on the tag, it was based on my name, and the content was a mishmash of stuff, none of which seemed to relate to the #inklings hashtag. I deleted it and tried again, but it still didn’t work. So it seems that the people at paper.li have removed the functionality of creating a paper based on a hashtag.

Boo hiss!

Actually the people who run web sites seem to do this quite often. They come up with something that people find useful, and attract them to start using the site, and then they remove the very thing that attracted them. They seem incapable of learning the lesson that “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Mrs Dalloway and the Greater Trumps

Mrs DallowayMrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It took me a while to read this book, even though it is quite a short one, and all the action takes place in a single day. I suppose ideally one should read it in one day too.

It is a day in the life of Clarissa Dalloway, a London housewife who is preparing for a party. The story switches from one viewpoint to another, not only her own, but those of people around her: servants, an old friend, her daughter, a suicidal shell-shocked soldier and others. It is set in the 1920s, and so scenes from Downton Abbey come to mind.

One of the reasons it took me so long is that I got distracted into reading other books in between, one of which was The Greater Trumps by Charles Williams. I began re-reading it as a result of a discussion about the names of books by Benjamin Disraeli, the titles of whose books Sybil, Lothair and Coningsby were used for the names of characters in The Greater Trumps.

I could not help but be struck by the contrast between Mrs Dalloway and The Greater Trumps. Both are set in a similar period, between the World Wars of the first half of the 20th century. But in Mrs Dalloway I was much more conscious of the setting in a specific time and place — London of the 1920s. I lived in London for a few months in the 1960s, but the London of 40-45 years earlier was very different, just as it is very different today from the 1960s. Some things may have been the same — the sea of bowler-hatted businessmen crossing London Bridge each morning and afternoon may well have been similar in the 1920s and 1960s, but now they belong to a vanished past. But in Westminster, where Mrs Dalloway is set, the fashions were very different in the 1960s, and are probably different from both today.

In The Greater Trumps, by contrast, though the action moves from a London suburb to the country, the time and place are less important. One could film it today, in present-day clothes, and it would make little difference to the characters or plot. The setting is important, in the sense that it is an isolated country house, and there is a snow stom, but characters and plot take precedence over time and specific place.

So this is not really a review of Mrs Dalloway, but the Good Reads review prompt asks “What did you think?” and that’s what I thought.

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Migration of the butterflies

Every year, between Christmas and New Year (New Year’s, if you’re American) butterflies migrate through our garden, flying northeast.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThey occasionally land briefly on flowers and other plants, perhaps for a bit of refreshment, but they are soon on their way.

Every year we see them going, always in the last week of the year, but we never see them coming back.

Where do they come from, and where do they go to?

There is a story by Charles Williams, The place of the lion, which has a scene that these butterflies remind me of. In William’s book the Platonic archetypes begin to gather their antitypes into themselves. The world becomes aware of this when a lioness escapes from a circus to find and be drawn into the archetypal lion.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThen a butterfly collector notices a migration of butterflies, and follows them to see where they are going, and sees the mother and father of all butterflies, drawing all its children to itself.

And so this one-way migration reminds me of this story, one that I have read several times.

At this time of the year I am also reminded of another book by Charles Williams, War in heaven. That is because at Matins on Christmas Eve we sing the Polyeleon, the “many mercies”.

O give thanks unto the Lord for he is good, Alleluia. For his mercy endureth for ever, Alleluia

And one of the characters in War in heaven, a mild and inoffensive and innocent-seeming Anglican archdeacon, goes through the book singing that psalm to himself, while the villains are raging. And though they may do their worst, he just carries on singing:

Sihon, King of the Amorites: for his mercy endureth forever.

And Og the King of Bashan: for his mercy endureth forever.

And whenever we sing it, it gives me goosebumps.

And still I wonder where the butterflies go to every year, and why they never return.

I imagine they lay their eggs far southwest of here, and then fly north-east, leaving their children behind them. And their children must hatch out next year, and lay their eggs before leaving, and flying, flying, flying to the northeast, never to return. Perhaps there is a giant archetypal Platonic ideal of a butterfly, hovering somewhere over Madagascar, calling, calling, calling …

Tarot twaddle

One of the things that I find vaguely annoying is the kind of nonsense one often hears spoken about Tarot cards. On the one hand you hear some Christians saying that Tarot cards are of the devil, and on the other you hear occultists talking about their deep hidden meaning that only those really in the know can discern (and when those in the know do reveal, in conspiratorial whispers, what they have discerned, it usually turns out to be quite trivial).

So I was quite pleased to discover (hat-tip to A Conservative Blog for Peace) this article 7 ‘Ancient’ Forms of Mysticism That Are Recent Inventions | Cracked.com:

Tarot’s new fortunetelling function was quickly seized upon by 19th-century fans of occultism, which was what bored white people used to do in the 19th century before backpacking around India was invented. The occultists ‘discovered’ tarot’s long history and renamed the two parts of the deck ‘Arcana’ to replace the slightly less spooky trumps and pits.

In 1909, two occultists published a new version of the cards, the Rider-Waite deck, which is what most Americans visualize today when they hear the word “tarot.” The new deck switched out the traditional Christian imagery on the cards with pagan symbols to make it look like they predated the New Testament, replacing the Pope and Popess with a Hierophant and High Priestess, presumably so that fortunetellers could say more exotic things than “I see a Pope in your future.”

I first heard of Tarot cards in Iris Murdoch’s novel The sandcastle in which a schoolgirl used the cards to interpret things that were going on in her life. The descriptions meant nothing to me, so I went out and bought a pack of Tarot cards. The only place in Johannesburg that sold them, I discovered, in the Johannesburg of 1962, was “The Mystic Bookshop”, which was on the second floor of a rather seedy looking building in Eloff Street (which probably looks a lot seedier today). The shop was full of spooky paraphernalia, like crystal balls, candlesticks in the shape of snakes and other such things. They had only two packs of Tarot cards in stock, retrieved from a dusty shelf in a rarely-opened cupboard, so I gathered that there wasn’t a big demand for them.

I took the cards home, and looking at them discovered what references to The Hanged Man and the Falling Tower in the book actually meant. I was also struck by the Christian imagery of the cards, especially in the Greater Trumps. The people were all dressed in medieval clothes, and one felt transported back into an age of faith, in which Christian imagery and symbolism came naturally to people and were a part of everyday life.

In The sandcastle the girl, Rain, assigns the cards her own meanings, and relates them to the people and events in her life. I became quite curious about them, and mentioned this to Brother Roger, an Anglican monk of the Community of the Resurrection, who had lent me the Iris Murdoch book. His response was to lend me another book, The Greater Trumps by Charles Williams.

Central to the Williams book is the role and character of The Fool, shown on the left. Williams’s dealing with the Tarot in his novel is quite different from that of Iris Murdoch, though there is one common feature. Like Rain, Williams interprets the cards in his own way; he takes some of the occultists’ interpretations, but reworks them and weaves them in with others, and in a sense restores the Christian symbolism that the occultists removed.

The Cracked article debunks some of the 19th-century occult hogwash about the cards, and points out that they were, like ordinary playing cards, originally intended to be used in a game. But the designers and manufacturers of the cards incorporated symbolism of the world around them. There are French packs that are clearly influenced by the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, but the oldest ones seem to have been designed in a Medieval setting, real or imagined.

Charles Williams had some associations with occultists, including A.E. Waite, who was one of the originators of the Rider-Waite pack referred to in the Cracked article. I was rather saddened to discover that that was the pack that Williams was probably most familiar with, in which the Fool has been debased into the image of a late-Victorian fop.

But the main point remains: Tarot cards have whatever symbolism we want to give them. As a Christian, I suppose I prefer the older Marseilles pack, with its Christian symbolism, into which, like Rain in the novel, I can read whatever symbolism I wish. I find the Rider-Waite pack rather repulsive, and I can’t think of them as “real” Tarot cards.

I suppose one of the things that appeals to me about the “real” Tarot cards is that in the figure of the Fool there are echoes of the figure of the “fool for Christ”, a kind of saint who was more common in medieval times than in more recent ones. And that is one of the reasons I have adopted the Tarot Fool as my “Gravatar” for blog comments and the like. Not that I am a real fool for Christ, but rather a wannabe. The Rider-Waite version doesn’t cut it. Yet when I did a Google image search for the Fool of the Tarot, the real Fool didn’t come up at all on the first three pages. And perhaps that is because in our age, the real Fool is hidden.

Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory (I Cor 2:6-8).

And “occult”, of course, means “hidden”.

And this came up in another context earlier this week. There was a synchroblog on the Wild Goose Festival, a kind of vaguely Christian wayzgoose held in the USA last month. We were told that the wild goose was an ancient Celtic Christian metaphor for the Holy Spirit.

I couldn’t attend the festival, and had never heard of the ancient Celtic metaphor, so I decided to write about it once I had found out more about it. I found it stretched back over the years to the dim and misty 1960s, which makes me feel really ancient. And I think that makes an eighth that could be added to the Cracked seven.

The Inklings: Williams and transformation

For some Christians, “witness” is an active verb, and so “witnessing” is an activity that they engage in, and expect others to engage in, and it often ends up0 as a kind of “in your face” proselytising. In the following story, however, I think we come closer to the true meaning of “witness”. The Inklings: Williams and transformation:

W. H. Auden worked with Charles Williams on a collection of Poetry he edited for Oxford University Press. Many years after first meeting Williams, he would recall that interview in surprising terms and mark it as one of the events that led him to embrace the Christian faith:

‘For the first time in my life, [I] felt myself in the presence of personal sanctity… I had met many good people before who made me feel ashamed of my own shortcomings but in the presence of this man… I did not feel ashamed. I felt transformed into a person who was incapable of doing or thinking anything base or unloving (I later discovered that he had had a similar effect on many other people.)’

From Auden’s testimony “witnessing” can be more effective if it is a mode of being than a mode of soing or talking.

Mere Ideology: The politicisation of C.S. Lewis

I recently read a couple of articles that appear to me to be attempts to co-opt C.S. Lewis for the cause of American Libertarianism.

C. S. Lewis on Mere Liberty and the Evils of Statism, Part 1:

In comparison to contemporary ‘progressive’ Christians such as Jim Wallis, Tony Campolo, Ronald Sider, and Brian McLaren, who clamor for the foolish and disastrous notion of achieving ‘social justice’ through gigantic government powers, was Lewis just ignorant or naive about modern realities, or was he aiming at a deeper and more significant purpose? (See Robert Higgs’s book refuting the ‘progressive’ myth in American history, Crisis and Leviathan, and his book on the disastrous ‘progressive’ state since 1930, Depression, War, and Cold War; see also Arthur A. Ekirch, Jr.’s The Decline of American Liberalism and The Civilian and the Military, and Jonathan Bean’s Race and Liberty in America.) In this article, I only begin to touch on some of Lewis’s many writings pertaining to the subject of liberty and Christian teachings because any truly adequate examination would warrant at least an entire book.

Hat-tip to C S Lewis on economic and social liberty – National Hobbits, Narnia & Spirituality | Examiner.com.

Though the authors of both these articles acknowledge that C.S. Lewis was decidedly non-political, he was also, and I would say even more decidedly non-ideological. Yet both authors seem to want to co-opt Lewis to support an ideology.

What gives me that impression is the use of the word “statism”, which I associate with the decidely anti-Christian ideology of Ayn Rand. I know she didn’t invent the term, but she used it and her followers used it to give it a particular meaning, so it has become an ideologically loaded term.

Not that I like “statism”. It also speaks to me of the totalitarianism of Hitler and Stalin, which elevated the state to the highest value.

I suppose as a political (but not economic or theological) liberal I could make a case for C.S. Lewis being a liberal, and supporting a liberal view of society. When he says things like:

I am a democrat… I am a democrat because I believe that no man or group of men is good enough to be trusted with uncontrolled power over others. And the higher the pretentions of such power, the more dangerous I think it both to the rulers and to the subjects. Hence Theocracy is the worst of all governments. If we must have a tyrant a robber baron is far better than an inquisitor. The baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity at some point be sated; and since he dimly knows he is doing wrong he may possibly repent. But the inquisitor who mistakes his own cruelty and lust of power and fear for the voice of Heaven will torment us infinitely because he torments us with the approval of his own conscience and his better impulses appear to him as temptations. And since Theocracy is the worst, the nearer any government approaches Theocracy the worse it will be. A metaphysic, held by the rulers with the force of a religion, is a bad sign. It forbids them like the inquisitor, to admit any grain of truth or good in their opponents, it abrogates the ordinary rules of morality, and it gives a seemingly high, super-personal sanction to all the passions by which, like other men, the rulers will frequently be actuated. In a word, it forbids wholesome doubt (Lewis 1966:81).

It was sentiments like that that led me to sign up as a card-carrying member of the Liberal Party when I was a student, and to reject the ideology of the ruling party — Christian Nationalism — as evil and anti-Christian. When Lewis says “I am a democrat because I believe that no man or group of men is good enough to be trusted with uncontrolled power over others” that decided the case for Liberalism back then, because the Liberal Party was the only legal political party that advocated a policy of “one man, one vote”. Even the Progressive Party (whose descendants, the Democratic Alliance, like to claim to be heirs of South African liberalism) believed that one group of men, the rich and the educated, were good enough make decisions on behalf of others.

And Lewis goes on to say

Being a democrat, I am opposed to all very drastic and sudden changes of society (in whatever direction) because they never in fact take place except by a particular technique. That technique involves the seizure of power by a small, highly disciplined group of people; the terror and secret police follow, it would seem, automatically. I do not think any group good enough to have such power. They are men of like passions with ourselves. The secrecy and discipline of their organisation will have already inflamed in them that passion for the inner ring which I think at least as corrupting as avarice; and their high ideological pretensions will have lent all their passions the dangerous prestige of the Cause. Hence, in whatever direction the change is made, it is for me damned by its modus operandi. The worst of all public dangers is the committee of public safety. The character in ‘That hideous strength’ whom the Professor never mentions is Miss Hardcastle, the chief of the secret police. She is the common factor in all revolutions; and, as she says, you won’t get anyone to do her job well unless they get some kick out of it (Lewis 1966:82).

And in the fascist South Africa of the 1960s the Security Police (Veiligheidspolisie) were literally the “safety police”.

Lewis may have been non-political, but it is clear from the above that he was not just non-ideological, but anti-ideological, and I’m pretty sure he would have rejected ideologies like Randism or American Libertarianism just as strongly as he rejected Hitlerism and Stalinism. Ideologies, of course, have codes of political correctness, and American Libertarians make it very clear indeed what views and attitudes they regard as politically incorrect, and we have been given a list of people whose views must be regarded as politically incorrect: Jim Wallis, Tony Campolo, Ronald Sider, and Brian McLaren.

I know nothing of Tony Campolo, but I’ve read some of the writings of some of the others, and I’ve not noticed a great love of totalitarianism or theocracy in what they write. Missing from the list, however, is Rousas John Rushdoony, who advocated something like the theocracy that Lewis thought the worst of all possible forms of government.

I agree with David Theroux and Mark Sommer to some extent, when they say that not all human problems can be solved by politics. But their silence on the ways in which they think they can be solved leaves me wondering whether they perhaps think that it is better that they not be solved at all. Christian attempts to solve all problems by politics do not work too well, as Will D. Campbell and James Y. Holloway point out in their book Up to our steeples in politics. As they say, what is wrong with us that can be solved by politics is not all that is wrong with us.

But we in the Church persist: we are still hopeful that though all these means we can build a kingdom in which all things will be set right between man and man (and occasionally between man and God), refusing to recognize that these means are an attempt to build a kingdom by our guidelines and blueprints, by our sociology and politics, not by what God’s reconciliation has already done for the world in Christ. In this book we are trying to confess that the goals of the contemporary Church – that is to say, the Church of St John’s by the Gas Station, the Christian College, the denominational and interdenominational seminary – the goals of these Christian communities are blasphemous. The reconciliation the Church is seeking to accomplish today by these subterfuges has already been wrought. The brotherhood – the “one blood” of Acts 17, 26 – that the Church makes its goal today is already a fact. And because this is so, that very fact judges our goals and our efforts to achieve brotherhood by social action as blasphemous, as trying to be God. Instead of witnessing to Christ, the social action of the Church lends support to the totalitarianism of the wars and political systems of the 20th century. By its social action, the Church permits and encourages the State and culture to define all issues and rules and fields of battle. The Church then tries to do what the State, without the Church’s support, has already decided to do: to “solve” all human problems by politics. And this is specifically the political messianism of contemporary totalitarianism and of Revelation 13. “Politics” by definition can only “adjust” and “rearrange.” It cannot – as politics – “solve” anything. But the Church’s social action encourages the very movements in the contemporary political processes which are moving us straightaway into 20th-century totalitarianism (Campbell & Holloway 1970:2).

But the way American Libertarians talk, it sounds as though while they reject the attempt to solve all problems by politics, they propose instead to solve them all by economics, and specifically by American big business, whose interests must take precedence over everything else.

And I doubt very much that C.S. Lewis would have supported that notion. The nearest equivalent to Ayn Rand’s heroes — Dagny Taggart, John Galt and Howard Roark — in C.S. Lewis’s novels is Dick Devine, and Lewis gives him an altogether different treatment. The Sackville-Bagginses could also be said to represent the “entrepreneurial spirit”, which probably needs to be exorcised rather than encouraged.

A few weeks ago my blogging friend Matt Stone posted this ikon on his blog, asking “What is it saying theologically and politically?”

My response was that what it is saying theologically and politically is that political power and authority are to be exercised subject to Christ, and not sought for their own sake. The task of those in authority is to make the earthly kingdom an image of the heavenly one in righteousness and justice.

And I think that C.S. Lewis had somewhat similar notions, when he made Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy kings and queens of Narnia to promote justice and righteousness. And when their successors in Prince Caspian abused their power, they returned to Narnia to put things right. Mark Sommer in his article extols freedom and social liberty, but despises social justice. Yet in The Silver Chair Jill Pole discovers at her school (a libertarian institution, if ever there was one) that liberty without justice is a recipe for misery.

We cannot solve all problems though politics because what is wrong with us that can be solved by politics is not all that is wrong with us. It is a bit like the relation between law and grace. Law can restrain us from evil, but it cannot make us good. Justice is not love. The most that can be said is that it is a kind of congealed love. Law and politics cannot make men love one another, but they can restrain the effects of their lack of love, and that is justice.

As for trying to trying to solve problems by economics, let the Orthodox philosopher Nicolas Berdyaev have the last word:

The Origin of Russian Communism (Ann Arbor Paperbacks)The Origin of Russian Communism by Nikolai Berdyaev

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Quote: It was the industrialist capitalist period which subjected man to the power of economics and money, and it does not become its adepts to teach communists the evangelical truth that man does not live by bread alone. The question of bread for myself is a material question, but the question of bread for my neighbours, for everybody, is a spiritual and religious question. Man does not live by bread alone, but he does live by bread and there should be bread for all. Society should be so organized that there is bread for all, and then it is that the spiritual question will present itself before men in all its depth. It is not permissible to base a struggle for spiritual interests and for a spiritual renaissance on the fact that for a considerable part of humanity bread will not be guaranteed. Such cynicism as this justly evokes an atheistic reaction and the denial of spirit. Christians ought to be permeated with a sense of the religious importance of the elementary needs of men, the vast masses of men, and not to despise these needs from the point of view of an exalted spirituality.

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Notes and References
Campbell, Will D. Holloway, James Y. 1970. Up to our steeples in politics. New York: Paulist.
Lewis, C.S. 1966. Of other worlds: essays and stories. London:Geoffrey Bles.

Mythcon 41 internet roundup

The Mythopoeic Society recently held its conference, Mythcon. The Mythopoeic Society deals mainly with fantasy literature, and especially that written by members of the literary group the Inklings, notably Charles Williams, J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis.

Lingwë- Musings of a Fish: Mythcon 41 internet roundup:

In the meantime, here’s a roundup of some other thoughts, gathered from around the Web.

Calling Inklings bloggers

I’ve found quite a number of blogs written by fans of the Inklings, the mid-20th century informal literary group that included C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Charles Williams and several others.

In spite of this, a search of Blogger profiles reveals only 14 who list the Inklings as one of their interests, and most of them don’t have blogs, or their blogs are dead. A similar search at BlogCatalog revealed a similar result.

I’ve started an Inklings group at BlogCatalog, in the hope that it may be possible to bring at least some Inklings bloggers together, and make it easier to find blogs that deal with the Inklings.

As is the way of such things, the first two people who applied to join had no discernible interest in the Inklings — that seems to be typical of the Internet nowadays, where people you’ve never heard of announce that they are listing you as their “friend” and thereafter you never hear from them again. All that does is clutter up the net with useless links.

I hope to make this group a little more selective. To join, you don’t need to blog about the Inklings in every single post, but a search of your blog should teveal at least some posts about the Inklings.

If you don’t have a blog and don’t want to have one, there is also an Inklings discussion forum on the net that you can join. There you can also, in the fashion of the Inklings, upload your own writing for others to read and discuss.

Here’s a list of the members of the Inklings:

  • Barfield, Owen 1898-1997
  • Bennett, Jack Arthur Walter 1911-1981
  • Coghill, Nevill Henry Kendal Aylmer 1899-1980
  • Dundas-Grant, James Harold 1896-1985
  • Dyson, Henry Victor Dyson 1896-1975
  • Fox, Adam 1883-1977
  • Hardie, Colin Graham 1906-1998
  • Havard, Robert Emlyn 1901-1985
  • Lewis, Clive Staples 1898-1963
  • Lewis, Warren Hamilton 1895-1973
  • Mathew, Anthony 1905-1976
  • McCallum, Ronald Buchanan 1898-1973
  • Stevens, Courtenay Edwards 1905-1976
  • Tolkien, Christopher 1924-
  • Tolkien, John Ronald Reuel 1892-1973
  • Wain, John Barrington 1925-1994
  • Williams, Charles Walter Stansby 1886-1945
  • Wrenn, Charles Lesley 1895-1969

They met in Oxford, usually at C.S. Lewis’s rooms at Magdalen College, to read their writings to each other, and in some cases the comments and suggestions made at the meetings influenced the version that was eventually published.

So if you sometimes write blog posts about any of them, or about their writings, please consider joining the Inklings Group.

Here are a few blogs that post stuff about the Inklings, which I hope will join this group:

I’m sure there are more out there, so let’s try to link them.

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