Screwtape on the death of Death

The first thing he did was to lower himself and be born as one of "them." We almost got him killed when he was a baby. But he eluded us then. He grew up to be a man. He taught those poor humans about himself, all the while not really spreading around who he was. Then one day he gave himself up to be killed by a bunch of jealous religious leaders. We figured it was a big bluff. Just an excuse to perform a public miracle and escape at the last minute. But he actually went through with it. He let them nail him to a cross and he died. We all thought, "Aha, you're beaten now! You've just made your big mistake!"

All of us were feeling, for a few hours, a big relief from that constant fear we had always felt toward the Enemy. Maybe all those prophecies about our last judgement would never happen after all. Death had claimed the Creator of life. Finally our Lord Satan would be undisputed ruler of all.

Then Sunday morning came. The Enemy reappeared. Suddenly, he was alive. Death could not hold him. But it was even worse than that. He had become an innocent sacrifice for the sins of all those humans. He had paid their penalty. He had died in their place. Now death could not hold them either. They could be forgiven and reunited with the Enemy. They can now live forever. For all practical purposes, death has died. There has never been a more disastrous day in the history of the universe.

That, my dear Wormwood, is the whole sad truth.

The Screwtape Letters Posted by Hello

After Prayers, Lie Cold

Arise my body, my small body, we have striven
Enough, and He is merciful; we are forgiven.
Arise small body, puppet-like and pale, and go,
White as the bed-clothes into bed, and cold as snow,
Undress with small, cold fingers and put out the light,
And be alone, hush'd mortal, in the sacred night,
A meadow whipt flat with the rain, a cup
Emptied and clean, a garment washed and folded up,
Faded in colour, thinned almost to raggedness
By dirt and by the washing of that dirtiness.
Be not too quickly warm again. Lie cold; consent
To weariness' and pardon's watery element.
Drink up the bitter water, breathe the chilly death;
Soon enough comes the riot of our blood and breath.

C.S. Lewis, Poems (1964) Posted by Hello

Walking with God

"Let us suppose that we are doing a mountain walk to the village which is our home. At mid-day we come to the top of a cliff where we are, in space, very near it because it is just below us. We could drop a stone onto it. But as we are no cragsmen we can't get down. We must go a long way round; five miles, maybe. At many points during that detour we shall, statically, be farther from the village than we were when we sat above the cliff. But only statically. In terms of progress we shall be far 'nearer' our baths and teas.

Since God is blessed, omnipotent, sovereign and creative, there is obviously a sense in which happiness, strength, freedom and fertility (whether of mind or body), wherever they appear in human life, constitute likenesses, and in that way proximities, to God. But no one supposes that the possession of these gifts has any necessary connection with our sanctification. No kind of riches is a passport to the Kingdom of Heaven.

At the cliff's top we are near the village, but however long we sit there we shall never be any nearer to our bath and our tea. So here; the likeness, and in that sense nearness, to Himself which God has conferred upon certain creatures and certain states of those creatures is something finished, built in. What is near Him by likeness is never, by that fact alone, going to be any nearer. But nearness of approach is, by definition, increasing nearness. And whereas the likeness is given to us-and can be received with or without thanks, can be used or abused - the approach, however initiated and supported by Grace, is something we must do."

C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves (1960) Posted by Hello

The Gest of Beren and LĂșthien

Such lissom limbs no more shall run
on the green earth beneath the sun;
so fair a maid no more shall be
from dawn to dusk, from sun to sea.
Her robe was blue as summer skies,
but grey as evening were her eyes;
'twas sewn with golden lilies fair,
but dark as shadow was her hair
Her feet were light as bird on wing,
her laughter lighter than the spring;
the slender willow, the bowing reed,
the fragrance of a flowering mead,
the light upon the leaves of trees,
the voice of water, more than these
her beauty was and blissfulness,
her glory and loveliness;
and her the king more dear did prize
than hand or heart or light of eyes.
(Lines 23-41 - J.R.R. Tolkien) Posted by Hello

Lewis and Salvation by Grace...

What did Lewis have to say on salvation by grace? In the 'tome' English Literature in the Sixteenth Century Excluding Drama, he opined:

"On the Protestant view one could not, and by God's mercy, expiate one's sins. Like an accepted lover, he feels that he has done nothing, and never could have done anything to deserve such astonishing happiness. All the initiative has been on God's side, all has been free, unbounded grace. His own puny and ridiculous efforts would be as helpless to retain the joy as they would have been to achieve it in the first place. Bliss is not for sale, cannot be earned, "Works" have no "merit," though of course faith, inevitably, even unconsciously, flows out into works of love at once. He is not saved because he does works of love; he does works of love because he is saved. It is faith alone that has saved him; faith bestowed by sheer gift."
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Holy Trinity Church in Headington Quarry, Oxford

In the graveyard of Holy Trinity Church in Headington Quarry, Oxford, lies buried a professor of Medieval and Renaissance English. As befits a scholar of literature, the epitaph on his tombstone (chosen by his brother, who was later buried beside him) is taken from Shakespeare; "Men must endure their going hence." Spoken by Edgar in the final act of King Lear, these words strike a tone of stoic resignation in the face of death, and some might be surprised to find them engraved on the tombstone of this professor, C.S. Lewis, who is best known as a defender of full-blooded Christian orthodoxy. What, it may be asked, of his Christian hope?

However, the Lewis' epitaph had more significance than is at first evident. In the room where Lewis' mother died there was a Shakespearean calendar hanging on the wall. His father kept the leaf from that day, and "Men must endure their going hence" was the quotation. Warnie thus paid tribute both to Jack and to Albert and Florence (Flora) his parents in this 'less-than-obvious' quote.
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From Evil's Ultimate Impotence... [Click for full article]

Because Williams was so comfortable with the unseen world, because he truly served the good, he knew evil for what it is. Through Williams' eyes, or the words of his stories, we are enabled to see evil in contradistinction to good. Next to transcendent good, evil is a petty, boring sham, bent on destruction because it is unable to achieve creation.

Williams and Lewis shared a similar view of evil. In fact, Ransom's perception of the possessed Weston in Book Two of Lewis's science-fiction trilogy, Perelandra, is as good an introduction to Williams' own perception as any:

"He had full opportunity to learn the falsity of the maxim that the Prince of Darkness is a gentleman. Again and again he felt that a suave and subtle Mephistopheles with a red cloak and rapier and a feather in his cap, or even a somber tragic Satan out of Paradise Lost, would have been a welcome release from the thing he was actually doomed to watch. It was not like dealing with a wicked politician at all: it was more like being set to guard an imbecile or a monkey or a very nasty child."

Ransom found that though evil was certainly as terrifying, as grotesque, as he had always imagined, it was also dull and senseless.

The Triumph of Good in Charles Williams' Writings
By Elodie Ballantine

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Gollum's Song in the Dead Marshes

The cold hard lands
they bites our hands,
they gnaws our feet.
The rocks and stones
are like old bones
all bare of meat.
But stream and pool
is wet and cool:
so nice for feet!
And now we wish -

Alive without breath;
as cold as death;
never thirsting, ever drinking
clad in mail, never clinking.
Drowns on dry land,
thinks an island
is a mountain;
thinks a fountain
is a puff of air.
So sleek, so fair!
What a joy to meet!
We only wish
to catch a fish,
so juicy-sweet!

J.R.R. Tolkien
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Oxford Poetry 1947

Unique among Blackwell's editions in having a biographical index, revealing that of the 23 contributors 12 had served as officers in the war, and 2 as sergeants. Showing its mixed blood, so to speak, in being the old Blackwell's-style volume allied with the two OP pamphlets of 1946, this volume bears a heraldic cover device divided as the Oxford University crest on the left and a hand and star of David on the right. Whatever this signified, it did not appear again.

Lord David Cecil, who seldom missed an opportunity to pose as an aesthete, praised the earlier look of OP in terms reminiscent of the celebrated blue lily vase which was the only adornment of Oscar Wilde's undergraduate rooms at Magdalen: "Within its elegant blue and white covers the successive literary fashions lie enshrined, ready for the future historian to examine." (It was for examining and failing the graduate degree of Kingsley Amis, editor two years later, that he was much maligned in the latter's Memoirs.)

Introduction by Lord David Cecil

20 Northmoor Rd, Oxford

Suburban House Where JRR Tolkien Wrote the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings is listed by Heritage Minister Andrew Mcintosh

DEPARTMENT FOR CULTURE, MEDIA AND SPORT News Release -- issued by the Government News Network on 23 November 2004

A comfortable 1920s eight bedroom house in the suburbs of Oxford is to become a Grade II listed building, Heritage Minister Andrew McIntosh announced today.

Despite having no special architectural qualities, the house is to get the extra protection from alteration or demolition that listed building status confers, because of its historical importance.

For it was there – between 1930 and 1947 – that Prof. JRR Tolkien wrote 'The Hobbit' and virtually all of 'The Lord of the Rings' trilogy, recently voted the 'most popular book in Britain' in a BBC survey.

Andrew McIntosh said:

"Buildings are usually listed because of their fine architecture or unique design. But we can also give protection to buildings that have historical association with nationally important people or events. Professor Tolkien’s house in Oxford is a fine example of this.

The house is largely unaltered since Tolkien’s time, with original doors, doorhandles and ornate window catches. As such it is an important part of our national heritage, and worthy of the additional layer of protection that listing brings."

Notes to Editors

1. The house – at 20 Northmoor Road, Oxford – was built in 1924 by Fred Openshaw, a local architect, for Basil Blackwell, the owner of Oxford’s famours bookshop. JRR Tolkien lived in the house from 1930 to 1947 and is known to have written The Hobbit and most of The Lord of the Rings trilogy in the drawing room. The interior plan, as well as numerous features, survives unaltered except for the removal of a wall between the former study and drawing room (by Prof. Tolkien) in order to increase the size of his study, presumably to accommodate the increasing number of reference books required to write his work. The main purpose of listing a building is to ensure that care will be taken over decisions affecting its future, that any alterations respect the particular character and interest of the building, and that the case for its preservation is taken fully into account in considering the merits of any redevelopment proposals. The listing covers the whole of the building. Any significant changes to exterior, interior or within the curtilage of the building would require listed building consent. The listing is not restricted to features mentioned in the list description.

2. The criteria for listing are set out in Section 6 of Planning Policy Guidance Note 15: Planning and the Historic Environment (PPG15). This can be found on this web page:–planning/documents/page/odpm–plan–606900.hcsp

Department for Culture, Media and Sport
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London SW1Y 5DH