23 October 2007

Concert Cancelled

I am sorry to report that the concert that was originally scheduled for November 10th has been cancelled. If you were planning to attend, don't!

19 October 2007

matching composers & writers

I’ve always thought it would be fun to try to match up writers and composers who share similar technical approaches, aesthetic philosophy, etc. This would be an attempt to find correspondences in the vision, skill, content, or “Kappa element” between them. Here are some of my suggestions. What would you add?

1. Bach & Dante. Both evinced extraordinary technical skill, including manipulation of numerical elements as symbolism. Bach wrote his name into pieces of music and composed canons that play the same forwards and backwards. Dante used the significance of 3 at every level of his Divine Comedy, from the consonant-vowel-consonant word-endings of Italian through the treza rima rhyme scheme to the 33 cantos (+ 1 to make 100) in his three volumes. Both reached mystical heights of religious sublimity, Bach with the B minor Mass, Dante with Paradiso.

2. Byron & Berlioz. OK, this one is a little too easy, because it's just based on "Harold in Italy." And I don't know enough about Berlioz's life to know if they are comparable. As far as the heroic, humanistic vision, maybe Richard Strauss would be a better match for Byron. Or maybe Franz Liszt?

3. Chopin & Novalis. Two poetic, dreamy, lyrical souls who both died young of consumption. Both wrote short, dream-like, mysterious, achingly beautiful pieces. Each had a limited range of expression, but created works of delicate perfection within that range.

4. Schoenberg & e e cummings. Each tried to invent new ways to use notes/words, and invented a new tonal system/syntax. But although each is well applauded, studied, and appreciated, neither completely caught on. Schoenberg thought that in the next generation children would be whistling 12-tone rows in the street. They're not. And I'm sure I hear phrases in iambic pentameter quoted far more often than "in its box of lavender sky the moon rattles like a fragment of angry candy."

5. Hildegaard of Bingen and Julian of Norwich. OK, maybe this one is cheating, too, because it's so superficial and easy. Two Medieval ladies who wrote works of visionary ecstasy. Maybe too simple. But try reading the one while listening to the other! Maybe you'll go into a visionary ecstasy, too!

6. Wagner & ... hum. The late C. S. Lewis? To me, Till We Have Faces and part of Perelandra are like the overture to Tristan & Isolde or Parsifal or Tannhauser--big, grand, mythological, mythic, spiritual. But maybe that's just my perspective.

Please add to the list!

It might also be interesting to try to include visual artists. How about:

Wagner—?—Caspar David Friedrich

16 October 2007

Concert Invitation

You are cordially invited to:
* and French, Italian, German, and English…

If you live anywhere near Quakertown, PA, come and join us for:

An evening of hilarious and heart-rending selections from
some of the world’s best-loved operas,
including Carmen, La Boheme, The Italian Girl in Algiers, and Werther;
oratorio arias; songs from the Classical period;
and delightful Broadway tunes.

Nadine Kulberg, mezzo-soprano

Andrew Reith, baritone

Saturday, November 10th at 6:00 p.m.
The Master’s Academy of Fine Arts
258 Main Street, East Greenville, PA

Suggested donation: students—$5, adults—$10, family—$25.
To reserve tickets, send donation $ & a SASE to
The Master’s Academy, 2395 Mill Hill Rd, Quakertown, PA 18951
610.395.1814 or for more information.

14 October 2007

Mythology and the Ineffable

I would like to suggest that there are places in Lewis's work where he committed the unavoidable error of the religious writer, especially the mystic. This is the central paradox that an ecstatic experience is beyond comprehensionand therefore beyond words; yet the mystic employs words to express it. Of course, it would not be recognized as ineffable if an attempt were not made to communicate it. Lewis was aware of this powerful paradox. In advising a young writer, Lewis warned: “If you become a writer you’ll be trying to describe the thing all your life: and lucky if, out of dozens of books, one or two sentences, just for a moment, come near to getting it across” (Letters III:766). Earlier, he had written: “in a sense, one can hardly put anything into words: only the simplest colors have names, and hardly any of the smells. The simple physical pains and (still more) the pleasures can’t be expressed in language” (Letters II:947). How much more a transcendent mystical encounter with Deity!

Now, Lewis himself was not a mystic. He was a plain Church of England man. However, several of his characters undergo mystical experiences—-Ransom in Perelandra (218-19), Jane in That Hideous Strength (318-19), Orual in Till We Have Faces (308). Orual is the best example, since she is a pre-Christian figure. The ambiguity of mystical experience enabled Lewis to describe Orual’s visions and revelations in language similar to that of, say, Julian of Norwich. Since mysticism is non-sectarian, Lewis could use a pagan living in the time of the Greek Golden Age to speak universal spiritual—-even Christian—-truths.

But in his obsessive attempt to choose the correct words for his longing, Lewis forgot that, as Carl Jung explained, its nature was compromised by taxonomy. Placing it into certain words limited it. Lewis must have felt this problem, for as soon as he settled on one signifier or collection of terminology, he abandoned it/them and tried again. This is a microcosm of his essential dilemma: unifying fact and fiction, theology and imagination, Christianity and paganism.

Lewis was, in some ways, too much of a scholar for his own literary good, always imitating, modeling, copying, and modifying. While he had many novel thoughts of his own, he could hardly find a new form in which to shape them, for he had read too many books and memorized all he read. The Pilgrim’s Regress is a highly esoteric intellectual update of Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress; The Great Divorce is a parody of Dante’s Divine Comedy with an appearance by George MacDonald; the Narnia Chronicles are a gallimaufry of mythologies; the Cosmic Trilogy is a poly-generic Paradise Lost with Greek, Roman, and medieval mythology-astrology-theology mixed into science fiction and Christian evangelical tract; only Till We Have Faces is pure, triumphant Myth.

Perhaps this literary posturing expresses Lewis’s refusal to move forward. In his scholarly work he was always looking to the past. He lectured on medieval and renaissance literature and wrote three sizable scholarly works in that field: The Allegory of Love, The Discarded Image, and the sixteenth-century volume of the Oxford History of English Literature. He also tried to revive outmoded forms—such as allegory and epic—and meters such as Sapphics, Asclepiads, Alcaics, Hendecasyllabics, and Scazons (Poems v). Was all of this a rejection of modernity?

Perhaps it was. But the pendulum swings again, back to tastes more like his than like Eliot’s. One scholar believes that Lewis’s Sehnsucht is a basic continuity between nineteenth and twentieth century literature and is useful for understanding modern literature (Carnell 191). He suggested that scientific naturalism needed to wind down before Myth could regain the ascendant (Carnell 126). Perhaps that is happening. Relativity and quantum mechanics have undermined much of the scientific certainty many people expected by the year 2000. The theories of Freud are giving way to holistic psychiatry: “Along with the development of fields such as genetics and tools such as neuroimaging, psychiatry moved away from psychoanalysis back to a focus on physical medicine and neurology and to search for the causes of mental health conditions within the genome and the neurochemistry of the brain” (Wikipedia). With the making of The Lord of the Rings and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe into best-selling films, fantasy sales are hot in America. Along with Narnia on the top ten films of 2005 were three other fantasy hits: The War of the Worlds, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and Star Wars Episode III: The Revenge of the Sith (Cinema Blend). Children are hungry for magical beauty, tales of wonder and adventure. Nancy Drew and Hardy boys mysteries, The Babysitter’s Club, etc., are giving way to Harry Potter and Eragon.

So perhaps in the long run C. S. Lewis’s failure is a success. He never managed to define “It” to his own or our satisfaction; but in Till We Have Faces he finally admitted his failure and stopped classifying, defining, categorizing. He painted a vague, liminal, suggestive picture of Orual’s encounter with the god, and stopped short of describing (or naming!) the god Himself. Orual heard the voice of the god and looked up, but the “vision to the eye had, I think, faded one moment before the oracle to the ear." Lewis did not describe the god, I believe, for two reasons. First, because leaving the encounter to the reader’s imagination allows his audience to participate in his “unsatisfied desire.” This is perhaps the most powerful example of beautiful indeterminacy in all of Lewis’s work. The fragment is more suggestive, and thus more powerful, than any description could be. Second, he did not describe the god because he could not: a god’s appearance is ineffable. There are moments of slippage in this description where Lewis tries to modify language so that it can bear the weight of its message. He uses “the most dreadful, the most beautiful” as nouns instead of adjectives; he repeats “dread” and “beauty”; both are attempts to make language do more than it can do and convey to the human brain more than words can convey. But he stopped short before the signifier utterly failed, for what signs can visually describe a god?

Thus Lewis serves as midwife at the reader’s imaginative childbirth: he does not present an image of the god, but the reader will picture it him/herself. And he has turned religion into (not a fantasy, but) a fantastical, fantastic story. Thus we, along with Lewis, can continued to find satisfaction in a hungry filling, a consummate longing for the Divine Being.

11 October 2007

Christianity as True Myth

Child, if you will, it is mythology. It is but truth, not fact: an image, not the very real. But then it is My mythology. The words of Wisdom are also myth and metaphor: but since they do not know themselves for what they are, in them the hidden myth is master, where it should be servant: and it is but of man’s inventing. But this is My inventing, this is the veil under which I have chosen to appear even from the first until now. For this end I made your senses and for this end your imagination, that you might see My face and live. What would you have? Have you not heard among the Pagans the story of Semele? Or was there any age in any land when men did not know that corn and wine were the blood and body of a dying and yet living God? -—The Pilgrim’s Regress 169
In the Space Trilogy, as we have seen, Lewis took a pre-Christian mythology and an astrological system and combined them into a work of glorious Christian fiction. In Till We Have Faces, he went one step further: he simply told a myth, without ever breaking into New Testament language or inserting Pauline doctrine or drawing Anglican conclusions. How, then, is Till We Have Faces anything other (or more) than simply a retelling of a Pagan myth?

Well, the simple answer is that Lewis used Psyche’s and Orual’s relations with the god of the mountain as metaphors for true spiritual relations between a Christian’s soul and Christ. But this easy answer doesn't tell the whole story. A fuller interpretation needs to include Lewis’s concept, that Christianity is the one myth that happens to have happened, and that all other myths contain shreds of Christian truth because they are foreshadowing the actual events of Christ’s earthly life (cf. Surprised 62).

After years of studying philosophy, literature, mythology, and religion, Lewis had learned not to ask Which is “the one simply true religion among a thousand religions simply false?” Instead, he asked “Where has religion reached its true maturity? Where, if anywhere, have the hints of all Paganism been fulfilled?” (Surprised 235).
Dyson and Tolkien showed me… that if I met the idea of sacrifice in a Pagan story I didn’t mind it at all… I liked it very much and was mysteriously moved by it… I was prepared to feel the myth as profound and suggestive of meanings beyond my grasp tho’ I could not say in cold prose ‘what it meant.’ Now the story of Christ is simple a true myth…. the Pagan stories are God expressing Himself through the minds of poets … while Christianity is God expressing Himself through what we call ‘real things’” (Green 117).
By calling Christianity “The True Myth,” Lewis did not mean to suggest that the details recorded in the Bible, especially the Gospels, did not happen. On the contrary, he believed that “Myth does not equal the non-historical; myth equals the non-describable. The outline of the mythological story is analogous to the metaphor in poetry. …The distinction of mythology and history must be a result of The Fall” (Carnell 124-5; cf. Perelandra 45, emphasis mine). Lewis insisted that there had been an historical person named Jesus; that He did live and teach and speak the words the Gospels record; that He did perform miracles, die, and rise from the dead bodily; and that His death was efficacious for salvation—-in short, all those essential points of the Creeds. But Lewis also thought that the whole Gospel story had the emotional and imaginative power of a myth: a God comes to earth, dies, is reborn in the Spring.

The following passage from the letters explains more of Lewis’s ideas about mythology and truth.
Anyway, if you take the sacrificial idea out of Christianity you deprive both Judaism and Paganism of all significance. Can one believe that there was just nothing in that persistent motif of blood, death, and resurrection, which runs like a black and scarlet cord through all the greater myths—thro’ Balder & Dionysus & Adonis & the Graal too? Surely the history of the human mind hangs together better if you supposed that all this was the first shadowy approach of something whose reality came with Christ—even if we can’t at present fully understand that something (II:35).
Thus Lewis, the mature Christian who led a generation back to the Bible through his BBC broadcast talks and held an honorary doctorate in Theology was able to write with absolute comfort inside an entirely pre-Christian, Pagan world. Till We Have Faces was the scaffolding whereby Lewis was able to give images of kingship, birth, love, sacrifice, ritual marriage, loss, despair, wandering, blood, death, resurrection, and visionary ecstasy.

09 October 2007

The Mythology of the Space Trilogy

Jove gazed
On woven mazes
Of patterned movement as the atoms whirled.
—“Le Roi s’Amuse,” Poems 23

In his "Space" trilogy C. S. Lewis "baptized" astrology and mythology and turned them into a vehicle for his Christian message. In what ways was Lewis following the medieval astrology? Professionally, as a scholar of medieval literature, and fictionally, as a vehicle for spiritual truth.

There are [at least] seven specific ways that Lewis revived the Ptolemaic cosmology. First, medieval astronomers and theologians believed that “space” was not empty, dark, and cold. They called it “The Heavens,” and pictured the distances between planets as golden, bright, full of life and light (Discarded Image 112). When Ransom is kidnapped in Out of the Silent Planet and taken aboard a space ship, he discovers to his amazement that one side of the ship faces a sharp darkness, punctuated by glittering cold stars (Silent Planet 21). The other side basks in perpetual day, an “empyrean ocean of radiance” (p. 32) The light is golden, the heat invigorating rather than stultifying; it massages his body into health and vitality, making him feel “vigilant, courageous and magnanimous” (p. 29). It is like soaking in “a bath of pure ethereal colour and of unrelenting though unwounding brightness” (p. 31). In this golden Heaven, Ransom encounters spiritual beings very like the higher orders of angels in the system of the early church. Lewis calls them “eldila.”

The presence of these semi-divine beings fills the distances between planets with fair light and a sense of animation. In the passage from Earth to Mars , Ransom experiences a delight specifically tied to its physical stimulants: he feels “a heady, bounding kind of fear…poised on a sort of emotional watershed from which, he felt, he might at any moment pass into delirious terror or into an ecstasy of joy” (Silent Planet 23) which settles down into “a severe delight” (31). Human beings traveling through that golden essence are literally surrounded by spirits who experience sublime delight and partially communicate that ecstasy to the senses of their material fellow-beings. By describing the medieval Heavens, Lewis created a physical place in which his spiritual longing could be objectively located.

Second, Lewis made his planets match up to those of the Ptolemaic system. This is not to say exactly that he positions earth in the center of the solar system. Rather, in the end of That Hideous Strength, when the gods come to visit Ransom on earth, there are only five (not nine): Viritrilbia, Perelandra, Malacandra, Glund, and Lurga (p. 317). These are his names for Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. Aristotle did not know about Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto and Ptolemy also included the Sun and Moon in his system. Thus, the planetary gods of Homer, Virgil, and Dante descend into the bedroom of Elwin Ransom of Cambridge, and turn out to be servants of the Most High God (320).

Third, each of Lewis’s planets had a sort of guardian angel: an Oyarsa (Silent Planet 119-21). The Oyarsa is the ruler of the planet and also its spiritual personification or even its soul. In The Discarded Image Lewis wrote: “each sphere, or something resident in each sphere, is a conscious and intellectual being, moved by ‘intellectual love’ of God” (115). Lewis’s five planets literally participated in the Great Dance guided by their Archangels. By investing each planet with a supra-personal intelligence, Lewis physically manifested eternal longings.

Fourth, these Spirits or Angelic Beings are good, ultimately good in some fundamental spiritual sense. But of course, to a believer in astrology, the planets often gave “bad influences” to human beings, causing plagues, floods, and other disasters. But Lewis explains: “they are bad only in relation to us… the fault lies not in the influence but in the terrestrial nature which receives it…. ‘Bad’ influences are those of which our corrupt world can no longer make good use” (Discarded Image 116-17). The narrator of Perelandra experiences this with singular intensity when he first meets an eldil:
I felt sure that the creature was what we call ‘good,’ but I wasn’t sure whether I liked ‘goodness’ so much as I had supposed. This is a very terrible experience…. suppose you struggle through to the good and find that it also is dreadful? …Here at last was a bit of that world from beyond the world, which I had always supposed that I loved and desired, breaking through and appearing to my senses: and I didn’t like it, I wanted it to go away (Perelandra 19).

He realized that Good is something other than, greater than, and even, in some sense, inimical to our fallen natures. This is something a medieval astrologist or theologian (and it is apparently possible that one individual could be both) would have understood more readily than a Modern or Post-Modern scientist or teacher of religion.

Fifth, there was another species of spiritual being in the Middle Ages: daemons, those who inhabited the “sublunary” sphere of the earth (Discarded Image 117). These came to be identified with demons, or fallen angels (118). These are active in the Cosmic Trilogy, too. Earth is known to the other Oyarsas as “Thulcandra,” the Silent Planet. There was a time when she spoke, or her Oyarsa spoke, to the other members of the Field of Arbol, but she or he or it rebelled and fought against the others (Silent Planet 121). This, of course, is an identification of Lewis’s science fiction universe with both the Greek/Roman hierarchy of gods and goddesses and medieval angelology and cosmology.

Sixth, Ransom was able to get about because of a convenient medieval convention: everyone speaks the same language on all the other planets, which also happens to be the same language that the Oyarsas speak. When he first realized that there were rational beings on Malacandra, Ransom hoped he might discover “the very form of language itself, the principle behind all possible languages” (Silent Planet 55). This is not without precedent: according to Dante, Adam spoke a language before the Fall that is now extinct (Paradiso XXVI:124-129). Lewis calls this “Old Solar,” and gives it to all extra-terrestrial beings: “The original speech was lost on Thulcandra, our own world, when our whole tragedy took place” (Perelandra 25)—which tragedy was the “bent Oyarsa” or Satan’s rebellion against the order, and his desire to corrupt other worlds, which led to our own planet’s disappearing into a state of siege and our first fore-mother’s eating “Of that Forbidden Tree, whose mortal taste / Brought death into the World, and all our woe, / With loss of Eden” (Paradise Lost III:2-4). Of course, as Lewis reminded his readers, “I don’t mean the idea of a cosmic language as anything more than fiction” (Letters 2.667).

The seventh, final, and most important association between this solar system and Lewis’s writing is not the gods themselves, but the motion inherent in Dante’s spheres and the cause of that motion. George MacDonald wrote: “The whole system of the universe works on this principle—the driving of things upward to the centre” (CSL's LettersII:616, paraphrasing MacDonald, Unspoken Sermons, First Series, pp. 194-5). In this system, one ray of light comes from God—-Aristotle’s unmoved Prime Mover (Discarded Image 113)—-and illuminates the Primum Mobile, giving it motion, power, and life (Paradiso XXX: 39-41; 52; 106-109). “All power, movement, and efficacy descend from God to the Primum Mobile and cause it to rotate… [it] causes that of the Stellatum, which causes that of the sphere of Saturn, and so on, down to the last moving sphere, that of the Moon” (Discarded Image 102). Medieval writers and thinkers projected onto the physical elements and objects of the universe our own human strivings and desires: a “kindly enclyning” as Chaucer calls it (quoted in Discarded Image 94). This carries a strong suggestion of anthropomorphism, as if apples emotionally desired to fall towards the ground and planets longed passionately to spin towards the Empyrean. Such anthropomorphism is implicit in Aristotelian physics, as Lewis shows.
Dante went one step further and personified his planets literally: each sphere spins because it loves God and ardently desires to be near Him. The best physical expression its love can manage is this glorious and dizzy orbiting in a perfect circle. Lewis discusses how this whole model, truly devotional in Dante, is apparently contradictory to the Christian idea of “I love God because He first loved me” (I John 4:10, 19), but on second thought harmonizes perfectly (Discarded Image 114, 120). Even in Aristotle’s saying, “He moves as the beloved,” Lewis liked to argue (LettersII:153), “there is, after all, an active verb.” Perhaps God is sending His love out towards the spheres, causing them to love Him and rush towards Him along their fixed paths. Immortal longing is embodied in their very orbits.

Like Dante’s, Lewis’s planets have a clear theological motive for motion: “the revelry of insatiable love” (Discarded Image 119). In the Cosmic Trilogy, it is incarnate in their persons: “Pure, spiritual, intellectual love shot from their faces like barbed lightning” (Perelandra 199-200). Perhaps this is why the Earth is stationary in Dante’s universe (cf. Discarded Image 139): it has fallen, waived its share in the Great Dance, and denied its passionate desire for God. It is “Thulcandra”; the Silent Planet.

Thus, the Interplanetary trilogy took this scattered Greek, Roman, and medieval mythology-astrology-theology and unified it into one embodied spiritual system to the enrichment of a Christian approach to these systems. It can no longer be said that “this cosmology …is not fused with high religious ardour in any writer I know except Dante himself” (Discarded Image 120); for Lewis took the heavens and the arrangement of the planets and turned them into a paean to the Christian God, embodying his immortal longings in the orbits and Oyarsa of his planets.

08 October 2007

Is Christianity Mythology?

...or vice-versa? or neither?
In this post, I'll begin exploring C. S. Lewis's idea that mythology prefigured Christianity. I would be happy to read your responses. Do you believe that a writer of Christian poetry or fiction can use mythological symbols to represent truth? Or is that dangerously like heresy or paganism? Why do you think there are so many common threads between Christianity and all the myths? Are they all true? ... and so on.

Like most authors of either the spiritual or the fantastical (or both; compare George MacDonald, Charles Williams, J. R. R. Tolkien, or even Dante and Milton), Lewis was always searching for symbols and images that would best carry the essential Ideas of his story-telling. In his children’s tales, he often turned to “dressed animals.” In a poem entitled “Impenitence,” he wrote: “they all cry out to be used as symbols… parodies by Nature / Formed to reveal us / Each to each” (Poems 2, ll. 20, 21-3). He also used a multitude of characters from mythology, folktales, and fairy tales. His writings are peopled with fabulous creatures and gods of all sorts. Walter Hooper claims:
Lewis did not, of course, believe in the factual existence of Dryads (any more than Spenser or Milton); nor did he believe in their non-existence as a nihilist would. The whole rich and genial universe of mythological beings—giants, dragons, paradises, gods—were to him abbreviated symbols of qualities present in the world (Poems vi).
But he did hope that he would meet these creatures in Heaven! (Pike 38). He thought that since these beings—-giants, for example-—appear in the tales of many different cultures, they must personify persistent human impressions—-such as the sensation that we are small in the universe and powers larger and stronger than ourselves haunt its dark corners. In The Weight of Glory, Lewis explained that “we have peopled air and earth and water… with gods and goddesses” (Weight of Glory 16) because “though we cannot fully participate in Nature, …we feel that we are somehow meant to do so; therefore we invent deities to inhabit and enjoy Nature from the inside for us” (Kulberg 6). In both the Narnian stories and in all his other fiction, he ransacked the rich heterogeneous universes of mythology, tumbling the results together in a delightful—-or frustrating—-hodge-podge.

For Lewis did not choose one culture’s mythology and build upon it alone throughout his life. While there was one system which he used more than any other, and used coherently in his own imaginative universe (the Ptolemaic cosmology), he often picked and chose from among Greek, Roman, Norse, and Irish mythologies. The "Narniad" alone, for example, is peopled with fauns, talking beasts, centaurs, dryads, satyrs, a Minotaur, Bacchus, Silenus, Maenaeds, naiads, the river god, dragons, dwarves, giants, and a Pegasus (also a Phoenix and Centaurettes, according to the Disney film!).

This miscellany did not delight everyone. J. R. R. Tolkien, a good friend, colleague, and fellow Inkling, disliked the Narnia Chronicles precisely because of their mixture of mythologies. Tolkien had felt all his life that England lacked a great national mythology of its own, like those of Greece and Rome, since even most quintessentially British legends—-King Arthur’s—-are actually French in origin. Thus Tolkien set about to create a consistent legend cycle, with roots in the Norse sagas and other Germanic folklore. He set himself the task of creating all the languages of his peoples, then found that language presupposes a history or mythology, and so worked his way backwards into the ancient history of Middle Earth. He never finished his task. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, thorough and consistent though they are in and of themselves, are only the narrow latter end of an epic reaching back millennia. After Tolkien died, his son Christopher gathered together his father’s notes and complied something like what the magnum opus was to have been: The Silmarillion.

Lewis’s “Silmarillion,” his consummate and consistent mythology, is his "Space" Trilogy; his masterpiece is Till We Have Faces. These two extremely different works deploy mythology in different ways, just as each expresses the quest and consummation of Sehnsucht differently. Both express truth in profoundly mythical ways. But before I examine these text, I would like to discuss how C. S. Lewis was able to communicate Christian truths through pagan mythology by means of his his interpretation of General revelation-- so that will be my next post!

04 October 2007

October poem of the month

I'm sorry this poem is late! But I have several pieces of good news that are also excuses for dilatory blog posts:

1. G & I are building a house. We're doing most of the work ourselves, which means slave-labor dawn to dusk!

2. I'm giving a paper entitled "Heraldry of Heaven: The development of Sehnsucht in the writings of C. S. Lewis" at the C. S. Lewis: The Man and His Work: a 21st-Century Legacy conference at the end of the month, and have much work to do on that paper yet.

3. I've had my first poetry chapbook, The Significance of Swans accepted for publication by Finishing Line Press!! It is scheduled for release next August 8th. There will be plenty more news about that as the time draws closer. I just finished revising the MS and formatting everything for publication. My fellow blogger, Rosie Perera, has agreed to supply the cover art; a fitting physical and public expression of our long virtual collaboration!

So, with all those excuses out of the way, here's a (rather rough) poem. It is a precursor to a series of posts I'm planning on Lewis's ideas about Christianity and mythology. Enjoy!

Goddess of the Moon

If you exist, Diana,
in the minds and hearts of men,
running silver under moonlight passionate and cold,
Omnipotence created you.

He laboured with the idea of His work,
shaping every false, fantastic, mortals’ word
for thoughts they cannot understand but feel
into images, intangible but real.

Call it myth,
name yourself imaginary, praise
the sages whose inspiring gave you breath,

perhaps. But praise divine intent that,
knowing fact from fiction,
in His kindness gave us something other,
something more:
in His creation made a space
for truth.