In the Great Stories

Sam: It’s like in the great stories Mr. Frodo, the ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were, and sometimes you didn’t want to know the end because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end it’s only a passing thing this shadow, even darkness must pass. A new day will come, and when the sun shines it’ll shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you, that meant something even if you were too small to understand why. But I think Mr. Frodo, I do understand, I know now folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going because they were holding on to something.

Frodo: What are we holding onto, Sam?

Sam: That there’s some good in the world, Mr. Frodo, and it’s worth fighting for.

JRR Tolkien

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Once You are Real

From “The Velveteen Rabbit”:

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

Once you become Real, you can’t be ugly…❤️

The Privilege of Individuality

“Literary experience heals the wound, without undermining the privilege, of individuality. There are mass emotions which heal the wound; but they destroy the privilege. In them our separate selves are pooled and we sink back into sub-individuality. But in reading great literature I become a thousand men and yet remain myself. Like the night sky in the Greek poem, I see with a myriad eyes, but it is still I who see. Here, as in worship, in love, in moral action, in knowing, I transcend myself; and am never more myself than when I do.”

C.S. Lewis (An Experiment in Criticism)

The Coming Peril

The coming peril is the intellectual, educational, psychological and artistic overproduction, which, equally with economic overproduction, threatens the well-being of contemporary civilization. People are inundated, blinded, deafened, and mentally paralyzed by a flood of vulgar and tasteless externals, leaving them no time for leisure, thought, or creation from within themselves.

Gilbert K. Chesterton

The Spirit of Christianity

Dear Ladies,

Who told you that Christians must not go to the theatre, dance, play cards, drink, or smoke? The “World,” you will remember, is mentioned along with the flesh and the devil. The Flesh means sexual vice (but not marriage), drunkenness (but not drinking) enslavement to indulgent habits (but not [illegible], not smoking just as much) and over-eating (but not enjoying one’s meals). The Devil means occultism and magic in all their various forms (spiritualism, astrology, future-telling, avoiding 13, not walking under ladders). The World means worldly ends and ambition (inordinate interest in one’s career, love of money, snobbery, desire to be in the right set, desire for popularity). Of course any of the innocent pleasures may have to be given up in a particular xtreme: e.g. cards must go if you can’t play without becoming totally absorbed in it and drink must go if you can’t drink without taking too much. But a list of general prohibitions such as you suggest is not in the spirit of Christianity at all: it is more like the old Jewish law, from which, as St. Paul says, we are ‘set free’. The test of an innocent pleasure is whether you can with a clean mind give God thanks for it—as I certainly can for a glass of beer on a hot day but can not for being drunk: can be contended without it. It is not the pleasure but the enslavement to an act is bad. I don’t myself know of a particular actor who has been converted—how shd. I—just as I don’t happen to know of a particular postman who has. But I don’t think that means that I must’ve lost the letter. You write again if I haven’t been clear: meanwhile, all good wishes.

Yours sincerely,

C.S. Lewis

Some Sign

When I see the blindness and the wretchedness of man, when I regard the whole silent universe and man without light, left to himself and, as it were, lost in this corner of the universe, without knowing who has put him there, what he has come to do, what will become of him at death, and incapable of all knowledge, I become terrified, like a man who should be carried in his sleep to a dreadful desert island and should awake without knowing where he is and without means of escape. And thereupon I wonder how people in a condition so wretched do not fall into despair. I see other persons around me of a like nature. I ask them if they are better informed than I am. They tell me that they are not. And thereupon these wretched and lost beings, having looked around them and seen some pleasing objects, have given and attached themselves to them. For my own part, I have not been able to attach myself to them, and, considering how strongly it appears that there is something else than what I see, I have examined whether this God has not left some sign of Himself.

I see many contradictory religions, and consequently all false save one. Each wants to be believed on its own authority, and threatens unbelievers. I do not therefore believe them. Every one can say this; every one can call himself a prophet.

But I see that Christian religion wherein prophecies are fulfilled; and that is what every one cannot do.

Blaise Pascal

The Loss of the Freedom of the Mind

It had never occurred to me, as a general moral principle, that two educated men were for ever forbidden to talk sense about a particular topic, because a lot of other people had already voted on it. What is the matter with that attitude is the loss of the freedom of the mind. There can be no liberty of thought unless it is ready to unsettle what has recently been settled, as well as what has long been settled. We are perpetually being told in the papers that what is wanted is a strong man who will do things. What is wanted is a strong man who will undo things; and that will be a real test of strength.

#gkchesterton