Tuesday, April 09, 2024

Six Clerihews in Gilbert


Six of my clerihews are in the March/April 2024 issue of Gilbert:

As an actor, Tom Baker
was more of a character than a heart-breaker.
But I think his Doctor is worthy of a clerihew,
even though at the mention of his name some folks just say, “Who?"

The replacement Apostle Matthias
was chosen by lot, not by bias.
Alas, except for his selection.
he's eluded all other historical detection.

Fyodor Dostoevsky
was plagued by vices that proved pesky .
To pay his bills he took a successful gamble
creating characters who were prone to verbally ramble.

When reading Robert Frost
I often find myself getting lost
in thoughts of walls and trees and snow and roads,
but never once of toads.

Inspector Javert
felt an insatiable desire for a chocolate eclair.
But since the bakeries would not open until well after dawn
he obsessed instead about Jean Valjean.

The Brits now have their third Chuck,
and so I wish them lots of luck.
He finally achieved one of his two main goals,
the other, of course, being Mrs. Parker Bowles.

Monday, February 19, 2024

Ten Books with C. S. Lewis


Thomas Salerno has posted a reading list inspired by C. S. Lewis. 

While scrolling through Twitter (I refuse to call it “X”) a few days ago, I came across a very interesting thread posted by the account Coffee with the Classics. Apparently in 1962, C. S. Lewis was asked which books most influenced him as a writer and shaped his philosophy of life. Lewis responded with a list of ten remarkable titles:

Phantastes by George MacDonald
The Aeneid by Virgil
The Temple by George Herbert
The Prelude by William Wordsworth
The Idea of the Holy by Rudolf Otto
The Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius
The Life of Samuel Johnson by James Boswell
Theism and Humanism by Arthur James Balfour
Descent into Hell by Charles Williams
The Everlasting Man by G. K. Chesterton

He then goes on to explain his reading plan.

I found his list interesting. I've read a few of the titles - Phantastes, The Aeneid, The Consolation of Philosophy, and, of course, The Everlasting Man. Meanwhile, Descent into Hell is in my pile of books to read. Two of the titles are new to me -  The Idea of the Holy and Theism and Humanism. Not sure I will ever read them. But Herbert, Wordsworth, and Boswell I just might read at some point, once I clear the 20 or so books already in my to-read pile!


Saturday, January 06, 2024

Tolkien's Sanctifying Myth


Tolkien's Sanctifying Myth,  by Bradley J. Birzer in The Imaginative Conservative

Myth, J.R.R. Tolkien thought, can convey the sort of profound truth that is intransigent to description or analysis in terms of facts and figures. But, Tolkien admitted, myth can be dangerous if it remains pagan. Therefore, one must sanctify it.

To enter faerie—that is, a sacramental and liturgical understanding of creation—is to open oneself to the gradual discovery of beauty, truth, and excellence.[1] One arrives in faerie only by invitation and, even then, only at one’s peril. The truths to be found within faerie are greater than those that can be obtained through mere human understanding; and one finds within faerie that even the greatest works of man are as nothing compared with the majesty of creation. To enter faerie is, paradoxically, both a humbling and exhilarating experience. This is what the Oxford don and scholar J.R.R. Tolkien firmly believed.

The last story Tolkien published prior to his death, “Smith of Wootton Major,” follows a normal but charitably inclined man who has been graced with the ability to make extraordinarily beautiful things while metal smithing. Smith, as he is known, discovered the gift of grace on his tenth birthday, when the dawn engulfed him and “passed on like a wave of music into the West, as the sun rose above the rim of the world.”[2] Like the earth at the end of Eliot’s “Wasteland,” Tolkien’s Smith had been baptized, and through this gift he receives an invitation to faerie. While visiting that world, he discovers that in it he is the least of beings. Its beauty, however, entices him, and he spends entire days “looking only at one tree or one flower.”[3] The depth of each thing astounds him. “Wonders and mysteries,” many of them terrifying in their overwhelming beauty and truth, abound in faerie, Smith discovers, and he dwells on such wonders even when he is no longer in faerie.[4] Nevertheless, some encounters terrify him: ... 

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