I gave in, and admitted that God was God...

This discovery flashed a new light back on my whole life. I saw that all my waitings and watchings for Joy, all my vain hopes to find some mental content on which I could, so to speak, lay my finger and say "This is it," had been a futile attempt to contemplate the enjoyed. All that such watching and waiting ever could find would be either an image (Asgard, the Western Garden, or what not) or a quiver in the diaphragm. I should never have to bother again about these images or sensations. I knew now that they were merely the mental track left by the passage of Joy — not the wave but the wave's imprint on the sand. The inherent dialectic of desire itself had in a way already shown me this; for all images and sensations, if idolatrously mistaken for Joy itself, soon honestly confessed themselves inadequate. All said, in the last resort, "It is not I. I am only a reminder. Look! Look! What do I remind you of?"

From C.S. Lewis - Surprised by Joy : The Shape of My Early Life (1955) ~ Chapter XIV

Mere Theology

In The Pilgrim’s Regress, John, the chief character longs for an island in the west that he has seen in a vision. His longing for the island leads him on a journey far from. his home in Puriunia and far from the Landlord (God). However, when John reaches the island he finds out that it is merely the back side of the mountains of the Landlord and that he must retrace his steps in order to arrive once again at his real home.

Lewis communicates the power of longing in John’s first vision of the island in The Pilgrims Regress. There comes to John from behind him the sound of a musical instrument, very sweet and very short, and after it a full clear voice — so high and strange that John thinks it is very far away, further than a star. The voice says, “Come.” Then John sees that there is a stone wall beside the road. However, this garden wall is unique in that it has a window in it. There is no glass in the window, and there are no bars; It is just a square hole in the wall. Through it he sees a green wood full of primroses, and he remembers suddenly how he went into another wood to pull primroses, as a child, very long ago — so long that even in the moment of remembering the memory seems still out of reach. While he strains to grasp it, there comes to him from beyond the wood a sweetness and a pang so piercing that instantly he forgets his father’s house and his mother, and the fear of the Landlord, and the burden of the rules “All the furniture of his mind as taken away.” A moment later he finds himself sobbing. The sun has gone in. He cannot quite remember what has happened, whether it had happened in this wood or in the other wood when he was a child. it seems to him that through a mist he has seen a calm sea, and in the sea an island, where the smooth turf slopes down unbroken to the bays.

There is probably no more dominant theme in all of Lewis’s writings than this theme of longing, or what the Germans call sehnsucht, or what Lewis came to call joy. The theme appears in his sermons, like The Weight of Glory, where he says that he feels a certain shyness in regard to speaking of this longing. He says that he is trying to rip open the inconsolable secret an each of his listeners, a secret that pierces with such sweetness that when the mention it becomes imminent …

Will Vaus -- Mere Theology: A Guide To The Thought Of C.S. Lewis,
Chapter 1 – Defending the Faith

Arthur C. Clarke & C.S. Lewis

In 1956 Clarke moved to Sri Lanka to pursue his hobby of scuba diving. That's the year when C.S. Lewis told Kathryn Lindskoog that the best science fiction book, in his opinion, was Clarke's ‘Childhood's End’. (Lewis didn't happen to mention that he and Clarke were acquainted, and that he had a close friend named Joy Gresham who was a friend of Clarke's.)

About ten years later Clarke mentioned Lewis in an article called ‘Armchair Astronauts’ in Holiday magazine:

“Less sympathetic to our aims was Dr. C. S. Lewis, author of two of the very few works of space fiction that can be classed as literature -– ‘Out of the Silent Planet’ and ‘Perelandra’. Both of these fine books contained attacks on scientists in general, and astronauts in particular, which aroused my ire. I was especially incensed by a passage in ‘Perelandra’ referring to ‘little Interplanetary Societies and Rocketry Clubs’...

An extensive correspondence with Dr. Lewis led to a meeting in a famous Oxford pub, the Eastgate... Needless to say, neither side converted the other. But a fine time was had by all, and when, some hours later, we emerged a little unsteadily from the Eastgate, Dr. Lewis' parting words were, ‘I'm sure you're very wicked people-but how dull it would be if everyone was good’. ”

Lewis on Williams

As for the man: he is about 52, of humble origin (there are still traces of cockney in his voice), ugly as a chimpanzee but so radiant (he emanates more love than any man I have ever known) that as soon as he begins talking whether in private or in a lecture he is transfigured and looks like an angel. He sweeps some people quite off their feet and has many disciples. Women find him so attractive that if he were a bad man he could do what he liked either as a Don Juan or a charlatan. He works in the Oxford University Press. In spite of his "angelic" quality he is also quite an earthy person and when Warnie, Tolkien, he and I meet for our pint in a pub in Broad Street, the fun is often so fast and furious that the company probably thinks we're talking bawdy when in fact we're very likely talking Theology. He is married and, I think, youthfully in love with his wife still.

C.S. Lewis, The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis: Volume II, (Letter to Arthur Greeves Jan 30, 1944)

Two spiritual maxims were constantly present to the mind of Charles Williams: "This also is Thou" and "Neither is this Thou." Holding the first we see that every created thing is, in its degree, an image of God, and the ordinate and faithful appreciation of that thing a clue which, truly followed, will lead back to Him. Holding the second we see that every created thing, the highest devotion to moral duty, the purest conjugal love, the saint and the seraph, is no more than an image, that every one of them, followed for its own sake and isolated from its source, becomes an idol whose service is damnation. The first maxim is the formula of the Romantic Way, the "affirmation of images": the second is that of the Ascetic Way, the "rejection of images." Every soul must in some sense follow both. The Ascetic must honour marriage and poetry and wine and the face of nature even while he rejects them; the Romantic must remember even in his Beatrician moment "Neither is this Thou."

C. S. Lewis, Arthurian Torso, "Williams and the Arthuriad" (1948)

The fall of Gil-galad

[Image: Antii Rantanen]

A brief extract from a poem "The fall of Gil-galad", sung Sam Gamgee to the company on Weathertop before the attack of the Nazgûl:

Gil-galad was an Elven-king.
Of him the harpers sadly sing:
the last whose realm was fair and free
between the Mountains and the Sea.

His sword was long, his lance was keen,
his shining helm afar was seen;
the countless stars of heaven's field
were mirrored in his silver shield.

But long ago he rode away,
and where he dwelleth none can say;
for into darkness fell his star
in Mordor where the shadows are.

"That's all I know," stammered Sam, blushing.
"I learned it from Mr. Bilbo when I was a lad."

The Fellowship Of The Ring - JRRT

Williams on Wodehouse

Barbara stretched out her hands, and Lionel pulled her to her feet. "I just want to shimmer up, like Jeeves, not walk," she said. "Do you like Jeeves, Mr. Persimmons?"
Jeeves?" Gregory asked. "I don't think I know it or him or them."
"Oh, you must," Barbara cried. "When I get back to London I'll send you a set."
"It's a book, or a man in a book," Lionel interrupted. "Barbara adores it."
"Well, so do you," Barbara said. "You always snigger when you read him."
"That is the weakness of the flesh," Lionel said. "One whouldn't snigger over Jeeves any more than one should snivel over Othello. Perfect art is beyond these easy emotions. I think Jeeves -- the whole book, preferably with the illustrations -- one of the final classic perfections of our time. It attains absolute being. Jeeves and his employer are one and yet diverse. It is the Don Quixote of the twentieth century."
"I must certainly read it," Gregory said, laughing. "Tell me more about it while we have tea."

War In Heaven (Eerdmans 1978), page 157-8

The Geste of Beren and Lúthien

Songs have recalled the Elves have sung
in old forgotten elven tongue
how Lúthien and Beren strayed
by the banks of Sirion. Many a glade
they filled with joy, and there their feet
passed by lightly, and days were sweet.
Though winter hunted through the wood,
still flowers lingered where she stood.
Tinúviel! Tinúviel!
the birds are unafraid to dwell
and sing beneath the peaks of snow
where Beren and where Lúthien go.

J.R.R. Tolkien (lines 2,856 - 2,867)

The Yearning for Heaven

We are very shy nowadays of even mentioning heaven. We are afraid of the jeer about 'pie in the sky', and of being told that we are trying to 'escape' from the duty of making a happy world here and now into dreams of a happy world elsewhere. But either there is 'pie in the sky' or there is not. If there is not, then Christianity is false, for this doctrine is woven into its whole fabric. If there is, then this truth, like any other, must be faced, whether it is useful at politicial meetings or not. Again, we are afraid that heaven is a bribe, and that if we make it our goal we shall no longer be disinterested. It is not so. Heaven offers nothing that a mercenary soul can desire. It is safe to tell the pure in heart that they shall see God, for only the pure in heart want to. There are rewards that do not sully motives. A man's love for a woman is not mercenary because he wants to marry her, nor his love for poetry mercenary because he wants to read it, nor his love of exercise less disinterested because he wants to run and leap and walk. Love, by definition, seeks to enjoy its object.

C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain (1940)

(Reviewing a detective novel published by Cassell and Co.)

Messrs. Cassell, on the jacket, ask "Why was Nahum afraid of life?"

I don’t understand. Aren’t Messrs. Cassell?

Charles Williams