Friday, August 22, 2008

Observations on a Trilogy, Part 1

The year's first Knoxhouse Fellowship gathering will discuss our reading of C.S. Lewis's first two books of his Space Trilogy; Out of the Silent Planet and Perelandra.  Having read them a few years ago, it has been enjoyable to go through them again, not only to derive pleasure from the tales themselves, but to consider and explore the themes Lewis sets forth.  So, for what it's worth, here are a few of my observations:
In Book 1, Ransom, the main character, is a Philologist - a lover of languages, a lover of learning, apparently a man of words.  Perhaps a reflection of The Word?  For he took the place of a boy and became himself the intended sacrifice.  In Book 2, Ransom realizes that he was intentionally named, "enacting only what philosophy thinks."

Noted Themes:
1.  Prefallen-ness, Unfallen-ness, Fallen-ness
CSL's ideas on this matter cover not only man, but beasts and the earth itself.  He illustrates the idea of earth's fallen-ness being confined to its own atmosphere - indeed cut off from the rest of creation in the 1st book - hence it's name of the Silent Planet.  Eldila could rarely come and go from it, and its Oyarsa no longer communicated in the heavens.  

Also in Book 1, CSL also brings in the element of fear as being prevalent in the very fiber and being of fallen man.  "The weakest of my people do not fear death.  It is the Bent One, the lord of your world, who wastes your lives and befowls them with flying from what you know will overtake you in the end."  Yet in Book 2, Lewis's ideas of pre-fallen and un-fallen man are a strong contrast:  calm, un-earthly, pure, perfect, royal, untroubled, knowing God's voice.  "But here, where His live image like Him within and without, made by His own bare hands out of the depths of divine artistry, His masterpiece of self-portraiture coming forth from His workshop to delight all worlds, walked and spoke before Ransom's eyes, it could never be taken for more than an image.  Nay, the very beauty of it lay in the certainty that it was a copy, like and not the same, an echo, a rhyme, an exquisite reverberation of the uncreated music prolonged in a created medium."
Both books illustrate CSL's ideas of unfallen-ness in beasts; increasing their worth and ability as pure creatures, communing with man by various means, and capable of development.  In Perelandra, Tinidril - the Eve figure - answers Ransom's question about the beasts' near rationality by saying, "We make them older every day.  Is not that what it means to be a beast?"  

In observing these particular ideas on the theme of fallen-ness and unfallen-ness found in Books 1 & 2 of the Trilogy, it causes the reader to consider anew the affects of the Fall upon all creation and to long for the return of Christ when all things will be redeemed and restored.

2.  Myths
Throughout much of CSL's writings, one sees his enormous knowledge and understanding of ancient myths and how they tie into man's thinking and writings up to this day.  He gives the impression in Book 1 that he has done much thinking on the origins of these myths:  "He remembered how in the very different world called Malacandra...he had met the original of the Cyclops, a giant in a cave and a shepherd.  Were all things which appeared as mythology on earth scattered through other worlds as reality?"  and "He remembered his old suspicion that what was myth in one world might always be fact in some other...were the old myths truer than the modern myths?  Had there in truth been a time when Satyrs danced in the Italian woods?"  As Lewis' like-minded friend J.R.R. Tolkein wrote, "History became legend and legend became myth."  Personally, I think these ideas of CSL's are lovely to ponder!  Unicorns and dragons may not have simply had their origins in the imagination.

Along similar lines, one has to wonder if Lewis had the 4 Living Creatures of Revelation, Ezekiel, and Daniel in mind when he wrote of Perelandra's 4 singing beasts that proclaimed joy to all ears.

Lastly, CSL's description of the heavenly Eldila as movement, speed, and light reminded me of Tim Powers' ideas of being and frequency in his book Declare.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


"Buttercup nodded and said good-bye,
Clover and daisy went off together,
But the fragrant water lilies lie
Yet moored in the golden August weather.
The swallows chatter about their flight,
The cricket chirps like a rare good fellow,
The asters twinkle in clusters bright,
While the corn grows ripe and the apples mellow."  ~ Celia Thaxter

Aging, Weary Summer

The flowering honeymoon of May is past, the bursting fullness of June and July, too; now summer in August shows her weariness and her readiness for Autumn.  The sky is polished brass, and far above in its highest ceiling are faint hints of clouds.  But, they're fruitless clouds bearing no rain.  The grass is dry and brown and it fairly crackles beneath the foot.  The dust is deep and powdery, covering anything the rare breeze blows it upon.  It rises in puffs when water from the buckets in the barn is thrown out.  Neighboring ponds have sunk low, revealing muddied bottoms for the geese to track about on.  Even the trees look tired.  Their leaves seem to be a heavy burden to them rather than their lovely garment, and only occasionally do they stir in a sigh of dry wind.  They, and all creation, settle down patiently in the dusty earth like a mother hen to wait patiently for the day that rain will finally come.
As I observe these things during the waning of the season, I am reminded of how creation is a picture of the heart of the Believer who suffers patiently, longing for the hope of redemption, for the returning of the Lord.  And someday, like the longsuffering August field, we will rejoice in the rain of the Spirit at the coming of our Lord.  
"For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.  For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.  For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.  For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.  And not only the creation, but we ourselves, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.  For in this hope we were saved."  Romans 8:18-24a

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Gotta Have It!

This is an absolute must-have for any Texan worth his Texas-Hold-em-chips!

Our Carolina Kids

Children are a blessing from the Lord, no matter their age!
                   With a baby on the way, life is good!
                A pleasant New Bern morning.

Beautiful Beaufort by the Bay

Driving from Savannah along the coast to New Bern to visit our children is an absolutely beautiful drive, except for the one spot in North Carolina where part of the commercial crass of Florida was extracted and deposited.  It's called Myrtle Beach, but I digress.  South Carolina was particularly beautiful, and I think that every neighborhood lane, every avenue, every country road must be overhung with stately, mossy oaks.  The coastal Carolina architecture with it's soft, cool colors is a delight to see.  There was a photo-op at every turn on the trip, but I was only quick enough to capture to amazing bridge that spans the bay at Charleston.
Little Beaufort is a little Colonial-era jewel tucked away on the bay.  Closely opposite its shore is Carrot Island where wild horses from the Spanish galleon days still roam free.  The homes in this seaside village are absolutely beautiful.  The photo below is of homes that front the harbor and bay.  By the way, in North Carolina, Beaufort is pronounced "Bow-fort" while in South Carolina, it is pronounced "Bew-fort".Following an afternoon of surfing and lolling on the beach, we enjoy the quiet pleasantness of Beaufort in the evening.                  Personal water transportation.A window of one of the many fabulous restaurants in Beaufort.                          A leisurely stroll to dinner.

Two Moons Ago

Last night's beautiful full moon in the clear night sky reminded me that two moons ago we watched the rising of the moon over our favorite bay while sitting in our favorite spot, listening to the lulling sound of gentle waves and being caressed by the warm, salty breeze.