Sweeter also than honey...

"More to be desired are they than gold, yea than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb" (Psalm 19).

One can well understand this being said of God's mercies, God's visitations, His attributes. But what the poet is actually talking about is God's law, His commands; His "ruling" as Dr. Moffatt well translates in verse 9 (for "judgements" here plainly means decisions about conduct). What is being compared to gold and honey is those "statutes" (in the Latin version "decrees") which, we are told, "rejoice the heart". For the whole poem is about the Law, not about "Judgement" in the sense to which Chapter I was devoted.

This was to me at first very mysterious. "Thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not commit adultery" - I can understand that a man can, and must, respect these "statutes", and try to obey them, and assent to them in his heart. But it is very hard to find how they could be, so to speak, delicious, how they exhilarate. If this is difficult at any time, it is doubly so when obedience to either is opposed to some strong, and perhaps in itself innocent, desire. A man held back by his unfortunate previous marriage to some lunatic or criminal who never dies from some woman whom he faithfully loves, or a hungry man left alone, without money, in a shop filled with he smell and sight of new bread, roasting coffee, or fresh strawberries - can these find the prohibition of adultery or of theft at all like honey? They may obey, they may still respect the "statute", but surely it could be more aptly compared to the dentists's forceps or the front line than to anything enjoyable and sweet.

C.S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms, Chapter VI "Sweeter Than Honey" (1955) Posted by Hello

The Inquisition

One might think that the phrase of Lord Acton (that "it cannot really be held that in Rome sixteen centuries after Christ men did not know that murder was wrong") might be held to apply [to the Inquisition]; it cannot be that men did not think such methods doubtfully holy. It was not so. Deep, deeper than we believe, lie the roots of sin; it is in the good that they exist; it is in the good that they thrive and send up sap and produce the black fruits of hell. The peacock fans of holy and austere popes drove the ashes of burning men over Christendom.

Charles Williams - The Descent of the Dove  Posted by Hello

Friday 26th January, 1923

"We went at our talk like a dogfight... He (Smith) and De la Mare are fast friends and imaginative philologists of a type which they have christened 'milvers' -- partly because it is a good word, partly because it 'supplies a long felt want' in rhyming with silver. Barfield hopes soon to meet De la Mare"

"All my Road Before Me"
The Diary of CS Lewis 1922-1927

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"

Cobwebby hours...

I am a barbarously early riser... I love the empty, silent, dewy, cobwebby hours.

C.S. Lewis, Letters to an American Lady (30 September 1958)

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What happened to the power of the Rings once the One Ruling Ring was destroyed?

The most widely held position is that with the destruction of the One Ring all the remaining rings also lost their power (including the Three Elven Rings) and became ineffectual against the passage of time for which they were created. The reasoning behind this is because the One Ring was embodied with the power necessary to bind and control all the Rings of Power when the One's power was destroyed so was the power of all the other Rings. Those who held the Three; Gandalf, Elrond, and Galadriel departed over the sea into the West and took the Rings with them.

The evidence for this is found in several places:

"Yet many voices were heard among the Elves foreboding that, if Sauron should come again, then either he would find the Ruling Ring that was lost, or at the best his enemies would discover it and destroy it; but in either chance the powers of the Three must then fail and all things maintained by them must fade, and so the Elves should pass into the twilight and the Dominion of Men begin."
[The Silmarillion]

"But when all these things were done, and the Heir of Isildur had taken up the lordship of Men, and the dominion of the West had passed to him, then it was made plain that the power of the Three Rings also was ended, and to the Firstborn the world grew old and grey."
[The Silmarillion]

"But what would happen, if the Ruling Ring were destroyed, as you counsel? asked Gloin. We know not for certain, answered Elrond sadly. Some hope that the Three Rings, which Sauron has never touched, would then become free, and their rulers might heal the hurts of the world that he has wrought. But maybe when the One has gone, the Three will fail, and many fair things will fade and be forgotten. That is my belief."
[The Fellowship of the Ring]

The most melancholy reference is when the lady Galadriel explains to Frodo the fate of the Elves upon the outcome of the quest:

"Do you not see now wherefore your coming is to us as the footstep of Doom? For if you fail, then we are laid bare to the Enemy. Yet if you succeed, then our power is diminished, and Lothlorien will fade, and the tides of Time will sweep it away."
[The Fellowship of the Ring]

Because the primary power of the Three Rings is to slow or arrest the passage of time, Galadriel's words clearly mean that with the destruction of the One Ring, they too lose their power.
(end) Posted by Hello

What About the Powers of the Seven and Nine?

As stated, the Seven and Nine Rings were originally made by the Elves and not evil until Sauron forged the One and later took these rings by war. Their initial purpose was to slow the passage of time and preserve beauty, but since Sauron had a part in their making they became accursed and had evil powers. He gave the rings to different races of Middle-earth to enslave and so control them.

Sauron gave the Seven to the Dwarves, who proved harder to enslave:

"They ill endure the domination of others, and the thoughts of their hearts are hard to fathom, nor can they be turned to shadows. They used their rings only for the getting of wealth; but wrath and an over mastering greed of gold were kindled in their hearts..."
[The Silmarillion]

This implies their rings had other powers but were not used probably because this would draw attention to the user and all that he did.

Sauron gave the Nine to Mortal Men who proved easiest to ensnare. It was said that:

"Those who used the Nine Rings became mighty in their day, kings, sorcerers, and warriors of old. They obtained glory and great wealth... They had, as it seemed, unending life, yet life became unendurable to them. They could walk, if they would, unseen by all eyes in this world beneath the sun, and they could see things in worlds invisible to mortal men..."
[The Silmarillion]

According to The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien #131, the Seven and Nine conferred invisibility to the user as well as unending life. However, eventually the user would fade and become a wraith under the control of Sauron, the Dark Lord.

The Three Elven Rings however, did not confer invisibility.
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