The Reality of Trees

Forest in South Island, New Zealand

We do not look at trees either as Dryads or as beautiful objects while we cut them into beams: the first man who did so may have felt the price keenly, and the bleeding trees in Virgil and Spenser may be far-off echoes of that primeval sense of impiety. The stars lost their divinity as astronomy developed, and the Dying God has no place in chemical agriculture. To many, no doubt, this process is simply the gradual discovery that the real world is different from what we expected... but that is not the whole story. It is not the greatest of modern scientists who feel most sure that the object, stripped of its qualitative properties and reduced to mere quantity, is wholly real. Little scientists, and little unscientific followers of science, may think so. The great minds know very well that the object, so treated, is an artificial abstraction, that something of its reality has been lost.

C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man (1943)

While visiting New Zealand in November and December 2005, we visited Mount Doom, Mordor, Gollom's Pool in the North, and Isengard, Fangorn forest, the Misty Mountains, and Treebeard in the South. Gullible tourists?
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The Ents' Marching Song

We come, we come with roll of drum: ta-runda runda runda rom!
We come, we come with horn and drum: ta-runa runa runa rom!
To Isengard! Though Isengard be ringed and barred with doors of stone;
Though Isengard be strong and hard, as cold as stone and bare as bone,
We go, we go, we go to war, to hew the stone and break the door;
For bole and bough are burning now, the furnace roars - we go to war!
To land of gloom with tramp of doom, with roll of drum, we come, we come;
To Isengard with doom we come!
With doom we come, with doom we come!


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In the heat of composition I find that I have inadvertently allowed myself to assume the form of a large centipede. I am accordingly dictating the rest to my secretary. Now that the transformation is complete I recognise it as a periodical phenomenon. Some rumour of it has reached the humans and a distorted account of it appears in the poet Milton, with the ridiculous addition that such changes of shape are a 'punishment' imposed on us by the Enemy. A more modern writer - someone with a name like Pshaw - has, however, grasped the truth. Transformation proceeds from within and is a glorious manifestation of that Life Force which Our Father would worship if he worshipped anything but himself. In my present form I feel even more anxious to see you, to unite you to myself in an indissoluble embrace.

Signed Toadpipe
For his Abysmal Sublimity Under Secretary Screwtape, T.E., B.S., etc.

C.S. Lewis - "The Screwtape Letters", 1942 (page 114, 115) Posted by Picasa

On Charles Williams' death

"You will have heard of the death of my dearest friend, Charles Williams and, no doubt, prayed for him. For me too, it has been, and is, a great loss. But not at all a dejecting one. It has greatly increased my faith. Death has done nothing to my idea of him, but he has done - oh, I can't say what - to my idea of death. It has made the next world much more real and palpable. We all feel the same. How one lives and learns".

(excerpt from a letter to Sister Penelope CSMV, May 28th, 1945)
C.S. Lewis - Collected Letters, Volume II
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Wycliffe Hall Summer School (click here)

This is an outstanding opportunity for Christians to grow in their knowledge of God and to be spiritually refreshed in the city where many famous Christians have studied in the past, including: John Wesley, Thomas Cranmer, Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll), George Whitefield, Dorothy L Sayers, J R R Tolkien and of course John Wycliffe himself.

C S Lewis also studied and taught in Oxford and we will be devoting considerable time to the study of his work during the week.

You can also enjoy the beautiful 'Dreaming Spires' of the Oxford University colleges, as well as a wealth of museums, theatres, restaurants and art galleries, with Blenheim Palace, the birth place of England's most famous son, Sir Winston Churchill, only a short journey away.

Summer School Prospectus
Wycliffe Hall 2006
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The chamber pot

Kenneth Tynan recalled that his tutor at Oxford, C.S. Lewis, was in the habit of breaking off the tutorial to piddle, noisily, in a nearby chamber pot. What with the sherry and the pipe-stuffing, it helped get him through the hour.

John Sutherland
Wednesday February 1, 2006
The Guardian
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