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Hang on to your hats for this one, folks!  It’s a bit of a wild ride. And, please, if you’re not already familiar with my ideas, please read something else first! Good places to start would be With Hands Open, Something Like a Spear and Hands Open, or Musings on the Trilogy Theme. Maybe even The Arch Metaphor. This is gonna sound really weird without some background. I don’t think I’m crazy!

When I first read That Hideous Strength, I noticed that when Lewis describes a visit to Merlin’s Well in Bragdon Wood at Bracton College, he uses an abundance of feminine, even sensuous, imagery. I wasn’t sure what the implication was, but I noticed it, thought it was a definite choice, and wondered what he was getting at. Fast forward a couple of years and I’ve finally gotten around to reading Paradise Lost. And now I think I’m beginning to understand.

Before I started Paradise Lost, of course I read Lewis’s Prologue and started wondering why I hadn’t done so sooner! It was published just before Perelandra, and has some obvious connections in the subject matter (temptation of Eve/Tinidril anyone?). Then I started into the actual poem and the further I get the more interesting connections I see – Lewis sharing or expanding on or avoiding or altering Milton’s concepts of God and sin and Satan and the fall and, of course, masculinity and femininity. It’s fascinating how in the Prologue he points out, for instance, the almost-laughable foolishness of Milton’s Satan, then  in Perelandra describes the Unman as being like a kindergartener. His also-comparable description of Weston ignoring the existence of the eldil Malacandra in Out of the Silent Planet came before the Preface, but the idea is the same.

I didn’t realize how profound the influence on the trilogy was until I got to the place where Raphael comes to warn Adam of the impending temptation. The language there uses those same tones of feminine sexuality to describe the bower in which Adam sits that Lewis used of Bragdon Wood. Raphael travels

Into the blissful field, through Groves of Myrrh, And flow’ring Odours, Cassia, Nard, and Balm; A Wilderness of sweets; for Nature here Wanton’d as in her prime, and play’d at will Her Virgin Fancies, pouring forth more sweet, Wild above rule or Art; enormous bliss. Him through the spicy Forest onward come Adam discern’d, as in the door he sat Of his cool Bow’r, while now the mounted Sun Shot down direct his fervid Rays to warm Earth’s most inmost womb, more warmth than Adam needs; And Eve within, due at her hour prepar’d For dinner savoury fruits, of taste to please True appetite, and not disrelish thirst Of nectarous draughts between, from milky stream, Berry or Grape: to whom thus Adam call’d.

In Milton, the femininity is inherent in words and phrases such as ‘wanton’d’, ‘play’d’, ‘Virgin Fancies’, ‘sweet’ (used repetitively), ‘Wild above rule or Art; enormous bliss’, ‘spicy Forest’, the ‘fervid Rays’ of the sun warming ‘Earth’s inmost womb’, and so forth. Milton has his Adam found sitting in a bower characterized by a sense of sensuous femininity.

In That Hideous Strength, even the path to the wall surrounding the wood is characterized by feminine imagery. If you think of the descriptions of the planet Perelandra, you’ll have a pretty good idea of the ideas connected to femininity – water, growing things, diffuse light. In the path to the wood and the well, Lewis describes a ‘sense of gradual penetration into a holy of holies,’  ‘a cool tunnel-like passage’, green grass, buttresses giving the impression of being ‘soft and alive.’ He speaks of buildings that are ‘humble, almost domestic in character’(Lewis himself saw domestic work as something both sexes should share[see note], but it was nonetheless connected with femininity in Milton and in the popular culture of his own time), and the impression of being in ‘a sweet, Protestant world’. Then come a row of elms and the wall and the sound of running water. In fact, the path takes him over a bridge, so that ‘the dark brown dimpled Wynd was flowing under’ him. At that point he describes being ‘very near [the] goal’. The wood itself is a place of ‘sunlit green and deep shadows.’ ‘I suppose the mere fact of being walled in gave the Wood part of it peculiar quality, for when a thing is enclosed, the mind does not willingly regard it as common. As I went forward on the quiet turf I had the sense of being received.’ (This section reminds me so much of Mark at the end of the book, realizing that he has taken Jane for granted, treating her as common.)  Lewis says that it isn’t a long walk, but it seems to take a long time to get to the centre, the well, the place he has been seeking. When he arrives, he doesn’t walk on the pavement surrounding the well, but says ‘I lay down in the grass and touched it with my fingers.’ Then ‘[t]he air was so still and the billows of foliage so heavy above me, that I fell asleep. I was wakened by my friend hallowing to me from a long way off.’

That’s a pretty long descriptive paragraph for the scene, but even that doesn’t include all the the feminine imagery.  For instance, the words denoting fertility include florid, grass, green, soft and alive, mossy, elms, water, bowling green, wood, sunlit green, wood, turf, foliage, clearing, grass, out of doors, wood, grass, foliage.  Even the word ‘sweet’ comes into play when one realizes it appears twice in the the above description in Milton, and it is the characteristic Jane doesn’t understand why people keep attributing to her.

This whole section seems almost a picture of marriage; gaining entry through the proper means (being let in through the gate by a key used by his friend seems similar to a priest presiding over marriage vows), then entering the wood and be received. The path seems long – and what engaged couple doesn’t find the waiting long? Rather than walking on the pavement (bed?), he lies down on the grass and touches ‘it’ (consummation?). Then he falls asleep to be awakened by the far away voice of a friend. Maybe. In some ways it seems like a bit of a stretch, in others it seems to fit too well to be coincidence. In any case, I have a sense that Lewis had something more specific in mind in the progression of this walk than I fully understand. But here, undoubtedly, is the masculine well, and the masculine Lewis, surrounded by the feminine garden, as in Paradise Lost the masculine Adam was surrounded by the feminine bower.

That got me to thinking. What happens when masculinity is surrounded by femininity? Fertility!! And then to realize that in Perelandra, the fixed land isn’t just land – not just a beach, not flat, but mountains!  Very steep mountains! And that Ransom kills the Unman in the mountain, far above the feminine sea that covers the surface of the planet. And then he is born – borne on water out of a cave. Even the place he meets the eldil on Malacandra is an island rising out of a lake. These major moments of growth for Ransom happen when masculinity is surrounded by femininity.

Over a year ago, early in my research, I conjectured that for Lewis, one learns femininity from masculinity and vice versa. I realized that Ransom learns early femininity from the masculine planet of Malacandra. He learns further femininity, not from Perelandra itself, but from the masculine Presence on Perelandra. From Perelandra, and from Tinidril, he learns masculinity . He learns protectiveness because there is someone – a feminine person and a feminine planet – to protect. Jane learns femininity from Ransom’s masculinity.  It is the conjunction of the masculine and the feminine that bring fertility – life and growth. And isn’t that a reflection of life, of creation, itself? It’s definitely something I’ll keep an eye out for as I continue my research!

Note on Lewis seeing domestic chores as shared by both sexes: Consider the fact that Milton has Eve preparing Adam’s food, but Ransom gathers his own from the bounty of the planet. The men and women of St. Anne’s in That Hideous Strength share cooking and cleaning duties equally. It seems, from his letters, that Lewis himself did household chores when needed in his own home, though he usually had some form of hired help for daily cooking and cleaning. He speaks of cleaning messes made by sick dogs and people, caring for chickens, and so forth, as duties that sometimes interfered with his writing.

Next Post: Lewis vs. Milton

Previous Post: Metaphors and Meaning

I’m reading Lewis’s essays in chronological order (at least the ones I haven’t read yet), and I just read a strangely titled but very interesting one. The title is ‘Bluspels and Flalanspheres: A Semantic Nightmare.’ Told you it was weird!  Bluspels and Flalanspheres are two words Lewis made up to illustrate the point he was making about meaning. He was speaking about an argument in philological and philosophical circles about the nature of meaning and metaphor and their connection to specific words. Specifically at issue was the idea of ‘dead’ metaphors. English has many words whose basis is a metaphor that either no longer relates to modern life, or that has been essentially forgotten. He argues, essentially, that in using a term without an understanding of the metaphor underlying the word, either we have an understanding of the meaning of the term we use from outside sources, or that we are speaking nonsense. He distinguishes further between metaphors we create to teach others and metaphors that teach us. In the first case, the metaphor is a tool separate from our meaning. In the second, our understanding of the term is created by the metaphor itself.  In the second instance, further study may enable us to have an understanding of the term separate from the metaphor, but if we don’t develop that understanding AND forget the metaphor, then we would just be using the term without an understanding of what it meant and would therefore be talking nonsense. I won’t get into what bluspels and flalanspheres are (or the metaphors that underlie them), because that would just be re-writing the essay, which isn’t my goal today!

My interest is in a further point that Lewis makes – that many of the things of which we speak cannot be spoken of at all except through metaphor, and that more ‘scientific’ or ‘non-metaphorical’ language is often merely a different metaphor. He gives the illustration of the word ‘soul’, originally indistinguishable from the word for ‘breath’. He says that it is quite true that we can – and often do – have a conception of the soul that does not include the metaphor of breath. But any other words we can use to describe the soul are equally metaphorical. Even the more scientific language of complexes and respressions and neuroses are equally metaphorical. And he makes the point that being able to choose between metaphors at least shows more understanding than having only one to shape our understanding. If a man has never seen the sea or a boat, he will need to use metaphor to understand what one is. And having more metaphors (‘sea-stallions, winged-logs, wave-riders, ocean-trains’) will give him at least a better idea than any one of them alone. But they are still functioning as metaphors. The only non-metaphorical language we use is essentially names of physical objects – and unless we’re pointing at a particular boat, there are probably metaphors underlying even that. (It’s fun to write and think about the metaphors in even the most direct of language – ‘underlying’, for instance)

‘Either literalness, or else metaphor understood: one or the other of these we must have; the third alternative is nonsense. But literalness we cannot have. The man who does not consciously use metaphors talks without meaning. We might even formulate a rule: the meaning in any given composition is in inverse ratio to the author’s belief in his own literalness.’ Ahhhhh. Here at last we’re getting to what interests me – and relates to the trilogy. Further on in the essay, he says, ‘The percentage of mere syntax masquerading as meaning may vary from something like 100 per cent. in political writers, journalists, psychologists, and economists, to something like forty per cent. in the writers of children’s stories.’  

So, I think when Lewis had a topic, or set of topics, that he wanted to discuss seriously, deeply, meaningfully, he turned intentionally to using metaphor. As he crafted the trilogy – or at least the last two-thirds of it – he consciously used Ransom and Tinidril and Weston and the planet Perelandra itself as metaphors. And when he came to the end of the book, he chose a different, a more pointed, obvious (to him, at least) metaphor – the god Mars and the goddess Venus. He was using a variety of metaphors to communicate his themes, just as he said helped our understanding. And when he wanted to communicate something of the various facets of his God, the most important, the most wide-reaching and most beautiful topic of all, he wrote it in the form of children’s stories, containing the most meaning and the least ‘mere syntax’ to his way of thinking. So I don’t think it would bother Lewis at all to be best remembered, most beloved, as the author of children’s stories. I think it would please him.

NextPost: Femininity + Masculinity = Fertility

Previous Post: Musings on the Trilogy Theme

I’ve been thinking lately about the main theme of the trilogy. In my article (which I’m hoping to submit next week!), I make the point that the trilogy represents an interweaving of many themes – the ‘unity in diversity’ Lewis praised in The Allegory of Love – into a unified work. I mention that gender is one of these themes, and perhaps the primary one.  I carefully avoid saying that it IS the primary one. One of my beta-readers commented that he didn’t think it was the primary theme; he saw it as ‘unity in diversity’. But that’s not really a theme; it’s more of a strategy. So, what IS the primary theme?

I made the point in a post a while back (The Ransom Trilogy and Maturity) that the trilogy demonstrates Ransom’s maturation – especially his growth in femininity and masculinity. So, I’ve been thinking about the idea of maturation, growth, development.  And I think the overall theme of the trilogy has to do with that idea, not just in Ransom, but in Weston and Devine as well. And, I think, the two of them represent a sort of growth in evil – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. It’s also the contrast in Proverbs – the wise man and the fool (simple, fool, scoffer); the way that leads to life and the way that leads to death. Perhaps most significantly, it’s a reflection of the theme he quotes in his Preface to Paradise Lost, ‘“The great moral which reigns in Milton,” said Addison, “is the most universal and most useful that can be imagined, that Obedience to the will of God makes men happy and that Disobedience makes them miserable.”’ (Edit: As I get further into Paradise Lost, seeing in letters that he re-read it in 1940 and published his Preface in 1942, I realize more and more how much PL influenced the trilogy. I think he may have been writing his own variation on this theme when he wrote the trilogy.) And, Lewis being Lewis, the process they progress through and their interaction with various philosophical positions, regarding various subjects, exhibits that ‘unity in diversity’ he loved.

So, in the novels, Ransom illustrates development in good – in obedience, in femininity, in masculinity, in charity, in the knowledge of God and nature and humanity. Obviously I’m most interested, at least at the moment, in the gender aspect, but if you see growth as the primary theme – and remember Lewis called Out of the Silent Planet ‘Ransom’s enfances’ – there are several possible tracks to follow. So gender is A main theme, under that overarching idea of development. Ransom starts off a nice guy, so to speak. A bit selfish, a solitary walker. Nobody knows where he is, and nobody cares. He’s polite, but really much more interested in his own comfort than the well being of others. He grows to risking his life to protect others, then directing the growth of his neighbors (as in, the people God sends his way, as in the parable of the Good Samaritan) in the fight against, well, Satan. He grows to be respected by humans and gods, and his end is being translated, without death, to Venus to await the end of the universe in the company of King Arthur. The path of the righteous leads to life. Obedience makes men happy.

Lewis, as I’m beginning to understand is usual, provides a contrasting development in the characters of Weston and Devine. They start out selfish, but selfish in different ways. I see Devine reflecting the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes while Weston reflecting the pride of life. On the spaceship on the way to Malacandra Devine talks about what he hopes to gain from the trip, and it has to do with villas on the Riviera, yachts, and the best women. Weston’s hopes are the continuation of the species – conquest. Pride is a highly-emphasized characteristic throughout Ransom’s interactions with him.

Lewis echoes Milton’s portrayal of the foolishness of evil in the scene where the men are brought before Oyarsa Malacandra at the end of Out of the Silent Planet, as they both completely misread the situation and act foolishly in light of what we know that they don’t – that in their pride they refuse to recognize.

Weston’s development is summarized in Ransom’s talk with him after he lands on Perelandra. His seeking after power  – the power to ensure the continuation of the species – leads him to Satanic influence and eventually being fully controlled – possessed – by the trilogy’s equivalent of a demon.  His end is being overpowered by Ransom in the bowels of Perelandra, and his grave is in a river of lava. This is the path of development of the lust for power; the pride of life.

Devine’s development is shown in That Hideous Strength. His setback in not getting the gold from Malacandra doesn’t appear to have hindered him; he inherits a title, acquires some of the things he lusted after, but he is not satisfied and continues to seek more. That he grows to enjoy baser things is illustrated by the fact he stays and watches the carnage in the dining room at NICE. He continues to think only of himself and his end is being swallowed by the earth. The path of the foolish leads to death. Disobedience to God makes men miserable.

I’ll just say that I’m sure this barely, barely scratches the surface. I’m just jotting down my musings. I’m not very knowledgeable about the philosophical positions reflected in the characters’ beliefs. But maybe by pointing out this theme of growth, of contrasting development, I can encourage someone else to dig into that aspect while I dig into the gender one.

Next Post: Metaphors and Meaning

Previous Post: Preface to Paradise Lost

I don’t even know where to start!  I finished Lewis’s Preface to Paradise Lost a couple of days ago – and started in on the poem/book – and I am amazed. Why, oh, why didn’t the people I asked about what to read to help in my analysis of Perelandra tell me to read this first? Maybe they just didn’t think of it because it’s not their area of expertise. Or maybe they thought I couldn’t handle it 😉 It was only a million times easier to read than The Allegory of Love. But even more fascinating!

So, it seems that a lot of Lewis’s concept of both Tinidril and the Unman were shaped by his reading of Paradise Lost. The chapter on hierarchy alone will be exceedingly helpful when I get around to writing my book. It’s a bit too late in the game for me to insert it into my article – which four people have read and enjoyed. I have edited it a bit since a couple of them read it, inserting a section on the homily that clarifies the Lewis saw gender as God-ordained rather than as a social construct.

So, I’ll share a few highlights from the Preface. Lewis talks about some of Milton’s excessively high style – the references and comparisons to classical mythology and use of unusual or archaic words – as intended more to evoke an emotional response than for us to worry out specifics.  In fact, the way it’s written is probably intended to mimic an oral style, so that we keep reading rather than stopping to figure it out. It reminded me greatly of the style of the praise service at the very end of Perelandra. Some of the paragraphs are important comparisons, but many of them don’t make a whole lot of sense – because they’re not intended to. He’s stringing words together to evoke a sense of awe at God’s power and majesty and glory – just as he saw Milton doing.

He also talks about how part of the reason critics today have trouble understanding Milton is that they have lost the ‘stock responses’ Milton counted on when writing his poem. People don’t react to the ideas of disobedience or hierarchy or pride as they did when Milton wrote. It seems that part of Lewis’s goal in Perelandra was to write a book in which the stock responses of his own day could be used to elicit some of the same emotional responses Milton was going for. The torture of the frogs, for instance, went much further toward invoking the disgust most people no longer feel toward, say, maybe, blasphemy, that they would have felt in Milton’s day.

Then come the chapters on hierarchy and Adam and Eve and sexuality. Oh. Favorite quote (used often with my kids of late) ‘”The great moral which reigns in Milton,” said Addison, “is the most universal and most useful that can be imagined, that Obedience to the will of God makes men happy and that Disobedience makes them miserable.”’ Lewis points out that in Milton’s day, the assumption was that superior beings rule over inferior beings. God – angels – kings . . . So the justice of rule – and the kind of rule acceptable – depended on the relationship of the parties involved. A more superior being (say . . .an angel . . . or a man) ruling over an inferior being (say . . .a human . . . or, in Milton’s day, . . . a woman) was acceptable. An equal or inferior being trying to rule over an equal or superior being was tyranny. And refusing either to rule over inferiors or to obey superiors created problems (as in the quote above). I think Lewis would agree with this, with the emendation that ‘inferior’ and ‘superior’ referred purely to position and not necessarily to worth or ability, etc. But that should probably be a post unto itself . . .

Can I just say that I love that Lewis said he wasn’t sure Milton was wise in trying to portray sexuality before the fall . . . and then avoided it in Perelandra by having Tor absent until the end? Smart man. I also love the discussion on Adam and Eve as highly intelligent beings rather than the ‘primal’ (as in simple and ape-like) beings his contemporaries tended to imagine the first humans to be. That is certainly reflected in his portrayal of Tor and Tinidril.

So now I’m excited to read Paradise Lost, like I did the Divine Comedy, a little at a time. After just a few pages I’m loving the way, as Lewis also points out, Milton shows us how foolish Satan is to think that he can thwart God’s divine plan. I just read how Milton shows Satan being so proud of himself for getting out of the lake of fire onto dry ground on his own power rather than God’s, with the understanding that his readers know that God created Satan and he wouldn’t even be able to do that much if God hadn’t given him the power, so he’s still acting in power that came from God. It shows his pettiness – as Lewis does when having the Unman repeat Ransom’s name over and over like a kindergartner, not knowing that he is a ransom.

Now I’m off to more editing and continued reading . . . and supervising math and cooking dinner . . .

Next Post: Musings on the Trilogy Theme

Previous Post: A Second Danae

 

The more I read C.S. Lewis, the more amazed I am at the complexity of his work.  I had noted the feminine imagery in chapter 5 of Out of the Silent Planet, where Lewis describes Ransom as ‘a second Danaë.’ I think I had looked up her mythology at some point, but while listening to that section the other night (Audiobooks are awesome for doing dishes and laundry. Have I said that before?) I realized that the whole section is permeated by references to the story.

So, I’ll give the story first. Danaë was the only child of King Akresius. He wanted a male heir, so he consulted an oracle, which told him that he would be killed by the son of Danaë. He locked her up in a (variously) bronze/brass tower/underground prison, with a small skylight for light and air. That, of course, didn’t stop Zeus, who impregnated her with a shower of gold. Her father locked her and her son in a casket and tossed them into the ocean, where Poseidon protected them and brought them safe to land. There’s much more to the story, but that’s all we really need to give here.

So, in OSP, Ransom is on the spaceship, on the way to Malacandra, having been kidnapped and with only his kidnappers for company. But he feels great! In explaining why, he describes the daylight on one side of the ship and the night on the other. Both are delightful. At night, or on the night side of the ship, he describes some stars as ‘pinpricks of burning gold,’ with a comet to the left side of the ‘skylight.’ ‘Stretched naked on his bed, a second Danaë, he found it night by night more difficult to disbelieve in old astrology: almost he felt, wholly he imagined, “sweet influence” pouring or even stabbing into his surrendered body. All was silence but for the irregular tinkling noises.” The word tinkling is from an old word for star. In the myth, the gold enters Danaë’s womb to give her Perseus. Then he mentions being in a ‘hollow drum of steel,’ not brass exactly, but a metal container like Danaë’s prison.

Ransom then moves to the sunward side of the ship. There he is ‘immersed in a bath of pure ethereal colour and of unrelenting though unwounding brightness.’ The water imagery brings to mind both Danaë and Perseus floating in the casket on the sea, and Venus herself, especially when one considers the descriptions of the planet Perelandra – the overall golden brightness and wateriness of the planet. Again he mentions being ‘stretched [to] his full length’ in the ‘strange chariot’ and he ‘felt his body and mind daily rubbed and scoured and filled with new vitality.’  Again, it sounds like impregnation, especially when he mentions Weston explaining this vitality by his exposure to ‘rays that never penetrated the terrestrial atmosphere.’ Here Lewis-reporting-Ransom moves into the comparative inaccuracy of the word ‘space’, in which he describes the ‘empyrean ocean of radiance in which they swam. He could not call it “dead”: he felt life pouring into him from it every moment. How indeed should it be otherwise, since out of this ocean the worlds and all their life had come? He had thought it barren: he saw now that it was the womb of worlds.’ Wow! As I said, the whole section is permeated by not only feminine imagery, but imagery connected directly to the myth of Danaë and to Venereal influence.

So, the question is, what was Lewis getting at with this imagery? Here’s where it gets a bit tricky. From my reading of the trilogy, the primary focus is not only gender, but maturation in gender. And, for Ransom and I think possibly in Lewis’s view for everyone, maturation in femininity (open-handedness toward God) precedes maturation in masculinity (protectiveness for others). And, I think, masculine influence encourages growth in femininity and vice versa.  I know, I know, it sounds weird, but bear with me. I’ll just say that the primary reason I think this, other than the fact that Ransom learns femininity from/on Malacandra and masculinity from/on Perelandra, is that in That Hideous Strength,  the answer to the final question from Merlin, the one that convinces him that Ransom truly is the Pendragon, is that he learned war on Venus. It’s an important scene, and an important question, and I don’t think Lewis would have put it there if it wasn’t important. So, he learned war (as in, war to protect others, as in masculinity) on Venus, representative of femininity. Anyway, back to the scene in question.

In this scene, I think, possibly, pending more reading, that Lewis intends the two sides of the ship to represent masculine and feminine influence, and a double impregnation of Ransom with the seeds of femininity and masculinity. I know, crazy. But maybe not.

First Lewis pictures a masculine influence from the night, star studded sky – Zeus of the Danaë myth. The stars ‘reign,’ the planets are ‘of unbelievable majesty’ he thinks of meteorites powerful enough to smash the ship. And he is Danaë, open to impregnation by Zeus via the ‘pinpricks of gold’, also pictured in the tail of the comet, pouring into ‘his surrendered body.’ I think (think being the operative word) this is an image of Maleldil planting the seed of femininity/openness in Ransom. As I wrote in an earlier post, this seed is developed under the influence of the masculine planet of Malacandra, as Ransom learns more and more to ‘surrender’ to the will of Maleldil.

On the other side of the ship, the sunward side, the water imagery begins. This is not only the second episode in the story of Danaë, it is also indicative of the influence of Venus. He is “drawn by an irresistible attraction’ to this area of the ship. This attractiveness, along with her connection to water and fruitfulness, seem to indicate the involvement of Venus. The description of being ‘filled with new vitality,’ ‘penetrated’ by rays, may well be a second  impregnation, this time with the seed of masculinity. This masculinity is brought to fruition on the planet of Perelandra, or Venus.

Like I said, it’s just a theory. But if fits so well that I can’t help but think it’s intentional. It wouldn’t be the first time if I’m wrong! But at least this time it’s all coming out of the text, in conjunction with the rest of the novels in the series. The man’s mind simply astounds me.

Next Post: Preface to Paradise Lost

 

I’ve been reading – and collecting – Agatha Christie novels since I was in my early teens. I literally own every novel she wrote – and yes, that includes the Mary Westmacotts. I have yet to comb through to make sure I have all the short stories, but if I don’t have them all I’m pretty close. Add to that an assortment of autobiographical works and collections of letters, etc. and, well, you get the idea. I know I don’t have all the plays; just a few. Not quite an obsession, but maybe bordering on it. I can’t tell you how happy I was to find Adventure of the Christmas Pudding (never published in the US) in hardback at an antique store. My aunt texted me pictures of finds at a library sale a couple weeks ago. I bought 4 books . . . some nicer hardbacks of ones I already have.

My hubby even made me this little paperback shelf which now contains only Christie and Sayers . . .

Anyway, a few years ago, I think, after reading and being disappointed yet again by a mystery author somebody recommended after hearing I liked Christie, I got to thinking about why I enjoy her books. The only mystery authors I really enjoy are Christie and Dorothy Sayers.  And maybe the Baroness Orczy, but there’s not exactly a huge canon there. Anyway, I realized that I enjoyed reading – and re-reading – her books more because I love her characters than for the mystery plot. They’re so very human, with natural and interesting  personalities and goals and relationships. And she manages to delineate these characters, set up a crime and resolve it in a couple hundred pages! Amazing! I also love the sense of respect with which she treats her characters. They may make foolish or wrong choices, but she manages somehow to imbue them each with a sense of dignity, which I love. Characters who treat others with disrespect are generally corrected or proven to be foolish or wicked. Poirot, especially, often makes the point that for anyone to take another’s life is the ultimate form of disrespect, and a frequent motivation for him to solve the crime is a sense that that disrespect must not go unpunished or be repeated.

So, with that background, you can imagine my surprise when a person whose literary opinion I generally respect said ‘Nobody re-reads Agatha Christie – at least not for her characters. Maybe if they forget the plot.’’ Now, to be fair, the context was a discussion on the atmosphere of books; the idea being that some authors are adept at creating a vivid atmosphere that transports you to a different place and time whereas some stories could take place pretty much anywhere anytime and it wouldn’t make much difference. C. S. Lewis wrote about this idea in his essay ‘On Stories.’ For example, Lewis loved the vividness of James Fenimore Cooper’s Last of the Mohicans – he thought the detail of a tomahawk instead of a pistol as a weapon added to the atmosphere of the story, as did the descriptions of the mountains, trees, and wildlife. As a contrast, Lewis said The Three Musketeers could have taken place anywhere – it moves from London to Paris with no discernible difference in tone or character.  A personal favorite for me is L. M. Montgomery – PEI to the core! The descriptions of place as well as the social mores and language of the characters all contribute to this turn of the century, down to earth but with this bare-possibility-that-fairies-are-real atmosphere. In Planet Narnia, Michael Ward christens this idea ‘donegality’ after Lewis saying he appreciated different places for different reasons, such as Donegal for its Donegality; its characteristic atmosphere. Hence the title of my essay.

Now, this person who referred to Agatha Christie as not having much atmosphere did moderate most of the statements regarding Christie with phrases like “the typical Christie mystery’ and ‘most readers,’ but of course the very phrase that wasn’t qualified was essentially the same phrase I’d used in a conversation with a friend just a couple of weeks before. Favorite authors . . . I love Christie . . . friend doesn’t read mysteries . . . I don’t read her for the mysteries but for the characters . . . I loan friend a Christie non-mystery novel.

Now, granted, many Christie readers read her for the plot and aren’t likely to re-read unless they forget it and want to be surprised. And I agree that’s definitely the pervading opinion of her work. Aaand for some readers the little tricks of the trade become apparent and they get bored with her. Set up, crime, eventual resolution . . the arc is easily predictable. BUT I had a feeling there were other people out there like me; people who read Christie because we love her characters rather than only, or primarily, for the plot. Email to person who made comments explaining that there is at least one person who reads Christie differently, to avoid A Defense of Agatha swirling in my head for days afterward. Case closed. Or so I thought.

The question came up again recently in a conversation with a friend whose literary tastes are surprisingly similar to my own. I asked her about it and she also re-reads Christie because of her characters! It’s not just me! Ha! She specifically appreciates the way Christie could create a cast of characters who are all so very different from one another and who interact in interesting ways.

So a couple of days later, stuck acting as a human security blanket after the cold season struck our house, I started pondering.  Is there an overarching atmosphere – a donegality, if you will – that draws people to Agatha Christie’s work?

And it struck me that I really think that a significant part of her appeal is her mid-twentieth century Englishness.  There’s this uniquely English flavor to all her work – her murder mysteries and her more literary works under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott – that is, perhaps, part of what draws people to her.  She is, after all, an international phenomenon. So it makes me wonder if there’s a segment of readers that read her for the plot and another that reads for that atmosphere, those characters. The language, the interactions, the  values, the relationships of her characters all contribute to this orderly world, peopled with individuals who conform to specific types but who each also have their particular flavor.  In fact, I’d say that sense of orderliness and conventionality are key aspects of the atmosphere that permeates her work. Murder messes up that conventional, orderly atmosphere. Therefore it must be solved so things can go back to normal! 

I think this idea may even account for part of the popularity of Hercule Poirot, her distinctly foreign detective. I think that the contrast provided by his un-Englishness brings the very English, conventional flavor of other characters (ahem, Hastings) to the fore. It’s also true that several of her works are set in foreign locales (she did travel a lot!), but with very English characters driving or reporting the action. The contrast of the place, like the contrast of Poirot, emphasizes that Englishness. The one place I think she really steps away from this is in a work set in ancient Egypt, and there her characters have an entirely different flavor – different setting, different values, different relationships.

And then I realized that part of the reason the person saw Christie as having little atmosphere may be that they’re . . . from England. So maybe, just maybe, that atmosphere doesn’t stand out to them  because it just seems like normal life. After all, I don’t read novels about moms in middle class suburban America because, well, that’s the life I’m living and it would be kinda boring . . . to me. A murder set in that world would be a bit more interesting, though!  And then I’d be reading for the plot rather than for the atmosphere!

It also may help to recognize that she was severely limited in what she could accomplish as a novelist by the mystery genre. She wrote The Mysterious Affair at Styles as part of a bet with her sister. Sis says it would be hard to write a detective novel . . . Agatha says not that difficult; she could do it better than the one in question . . . bet you can’t . . . it’s on . . . and she did.  But once she started writing mysteries, she was stuck in that genre. She had to make a living for herself and her daughter after her husband left her. The publishers didn’t want her writing anything else because they didn’t think they’d make as much money. She did eventually manage to  publish 6 novels under a pseudonym, and they did fairly well. About one of them, Absent in the Spring, she wrote in her autobiography that it was, of all her books, “the one book that has satisfied me completely.” Reading them, I have a feeling they’d have done better if they didn’t hit quite so close to home (as in having characters whose self-deception is highlighted . . . whose motivations aren’t really what they had told themselves they were . . . and not many of us want to be made to think too deeply about those ideas!).  Interestingly, for those who complain about all her mysteries being solved and everything going back to normal, these novels don’t have happy, uncomplicated endings. They’re not tied up in neat little bows, but reflect the complications of real life, as I said, perhaps too closely.

It’s just an idea, but I’d love an excuse to do more research. We’ve just moved into fireplace weather after all, and curling up with a Christie by the fire sounds just about perfect. At any rate, I think she does a marvelous job of using Poirot, foreign locales, and murder itself to emphasize and make us want to get back to that conventional, orderly English world she creates. Anybody with me?

P.S. I just had the thought that someone might object to my theory on the grounds that Christie was just writing the culture in which she lived. But didn’t Jane Austen do the same?  And Cooper was writing about things that could have happened in the generation before – as he was friends with many who had served in the Revolutionary War, which ended only 8 years before he was born. And, as I said, I think Christie writes of the culture in which she lived, but she emphasizes the ordinary, conventional, orderly aspects of it as a contrast to the mayhem of crime and to make her readers want to see the crime solved so the world can return to that base of normalcy.  That’s all!

Hi! I’ve been rather busy lately – trying to be more consistent with things like exercise and teaching kids, in addition to having company over Thanksgiving and trying to winterize the house and yard!

As far as my more scholarly pursuits, I finally finished Allegory of Love – whew! Not an easy read, especially when I have no familiarity with most of the works Lewis discusses. I would like to read a few of them, eventually! Other than that I’m reading the letters – much more fun, though thought provoking. I love the way he talks about the outdoors and doing farm work – digging worms for chickens and splitting wood, for instance. I’m also reading the occasional essay, but feel like I need a bigger chunk of time to digest those.  I’d get a lot farther if the reading was easy enough to do via audiobook! I’m listening to Lorna Doone read by Jonathan Keeble. Masterful! I got a beautiful old hardback of the book and would really rather be reading it that way, but this is a close second. He captures the bits of poetry and the straight-faced humor so well!

Getting back to Lewis . . . most of my time has been spent polishing my article – tracking down quotes I half-remember and didn’t mark because I was more interested in the feminine side of things and didn’t mark much on masculinity, for example. I re-read a not-easy-to-follow chapter in one book only to find that what I really wanted was the focus of the next chapter. Silly me.

But I’ve finally sent it off to a couple of people to read it for me, and I have one more person willing to take a look next month. Today I sat down and drafted an outline for a book, since I’ve found that if I focus too much on general reading rather than writing about what actually interests me I tend to lose interest pretty quickly.

I’ve also half-written a couple of posts that I just wasn’t satisfied with, but I’m hoping to take a look at those over the next week or so – thinking about reading as conversation, why I love Agatha Christie, and how some tv shows are exhibiting the kind of time prejudice Lewis spoke against – as in, assuming that the values of our time are naturally better than those of other times and places.

Toodles and Happy Holidays!

Most of the sets, and many reviews and articles, refer to C.S. Lewis’s interplanetary novels as the ‘Space Trilogy.’ Given his discussion of the term ‘space’ in the first of those novels, Out of the Silent Planet, I think Lewis himself would have objected to that title. He saw the modern term ‘space’ as usurping the older term ‘heavens.’ ‘The heavens,’ to medieval and later writers and readers, signified a place full of life – of God and angels. The modern term ‘space’ refers to emptiness punctuated by stars and planets, few of which are likely to support life. So I don’t think he would have approved of calling his novels by that name.  Another, closely related option, would be ‘Cosmic Trilogy.’ That seems, to me, much more acceptable. The trilogy is indeed about the cosmos – the entirety of God’s creation and how it all works together. That option includes all of those themes woven throughout the novels. And it has a nice ring to it. When I started writing, I was really more inclined to use that terminology.

But there is a third option – the Ransom Trilogy. It’s the one Michael Ward uses in Planet Narnia. I don’t remember why he said he used it, other than that he objected to Space Trilogy. I just know that it doesn’t sound as good, to me at least, as Cosmic Trilogy. Ransom is, after all, just a man. That can’t compare to THE COSMOS as a big idea.

But as I’ve studied the trilogy, I’ve realized that it really is all about Ransom. It’s about Ransom’s growth from the weak, indecisive, bungling middle-aged professor struggling through a gap in a hedge in Out of the Silent Planet, to the kingly figure directing much of the action in That Hideous Strength. It’s about his maturation.  

As you read this summary, please keep in mind that, if you’ve read my other posts, I think Lewis saw mature men and women as both feminine (open-handed, accepting) toward God, and mature men particularly as masculine (protective, willing to sacrifice) toward others. Both, as evinced by the eldila’s faces in Perelandra, should be mature in charity – a desire to help others grow to maturity.

In Out of the Silent Planet, Ransom starts out with some good inclinations. He does, after all, offer to check on the woman’s son, late in returning from his employment. He wishes he hadn’t. He regrets the inconvenience to himself. But he does follow through, though unaware of the potential danger. So there is a seed of masculine protectiveness. Lewis also portrays Ransom, on the spaceship, as open to the influence of the sun’s rays – an image of God’s influence on man. And he portrays it in feminine terms, ‘a second Danaë.’ Throughout that first voyage into the cosmos, he learns the beginning of femininity. He learns to accept help from Hwin, to accept the place given him in the hnakra hunt. He learns the consequences of disobeying the eldil when Hwin is shot. He opens his hands more and more to the will of Maleldil.

In Perelandra, Ransom continues to learn femininity at first – most notably in the scene when he wants to put his hands in his nonexistent pockets and smoke a nonexistent cigarette, and the Presence seemingly rebukes him. He says there that his uncomfortable feeling has to do with ‘assert[ing] his independence.’ As he gradually learns to avoid this habit of mind, to instead submit in feminine dependence, his ‘day became better and better.’ He was growing in feminine open-handedness toward Maleldil. When Weston appears on the planet and assumes the character of the Unman, Ransom begins to more strongly exhibit the masculine characteristic of protectiveness. First he attempts to protect the Green Lady with his words, then he protects the animals with his presence, and finally, in the climactic decision of the novel, he chooses to sacrifice his life if need be to rid the planet of the Unman. This is Ransom coming to maturity.

In That Hideous Strength, we see Ransom pictured as a warrior-king, receiving information and counsel and making decisions. We see him continue to grow as he leads others to their maturity. He is the earthly leader, the Pendragon who leads in defending Logres from Britain – in defending a God-centered aspect of England from the Bent One who would usurp His authority. Lewis here presents Ransom as the complete image of masculine maturity.  

I still really like the sound of the Cosmic Trilogy better. Sigh. But given the way that the novels center on the character of Ransom and his maturation, it seems more fitting to call it the Ransom Trilogy.

What do you think? Do you agree? Disagree? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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“Not the end of the world, Tom. The end of time. To free humanity of time. For time is the great enslaver of us all. Time that ages us, time that limits us. Think how often you have wished to have more time for something, or wished you could go back a day and do something differently. When humanity is freed of time, old wrongs can be corrected before they are done.”   Robin Hobb, Assassin’s Quest (Kindle: Del Rey, 1997)

It’s been a few weeks, but I wrote most of this right after writing my last post. I just keep getting sucked into a house or yard project – or, well, kids. So I’m just going to jump back in.

This whole idea of God being outside time brings up some really fun ideas.  And this is complete speculation on my part, but like I said, I like to look at things from a perspective that makes God look awesome (in the original sense. But better ‘awesome’ in the current terminology than ‘awe-ful.’) and this does it, for me.

What if . . .  we were also made to exist outside time? What if God exists, and made our souls to  exist, in another dimension that is not bound by time? It might partly explain the popularity of Dr. Who. And I’m not even joking! Why were the ancients so fascinated with the heavens? Why is science fiction so popular? Why do we love to dream up what could happen if we could break the barriers of time and space that limit us? “He has put eternity in man’s heart . . .” after all.

When people think of heaven they almost always think of it as a literal, physical place – in our understanding of physical. At least, I always did, and it’s what pastors and others I heard always reasoned from. But what if the heaven John describes in the Revelation is the result of his attempts at conveying what he experienced in another dimension – but in ways that we humans-still-on-earth, with our limited senses, can (sort of) understand. So it all sounds very solid – I mean, measuring sticks, after all – but what if it were solid on a different plane?

I have a physics-and-math-loving son. So one day we watched a few videos exploring the idea of a fourth dimension. A line is one dimensional. A square is two. A cube is three. And that’s as far as our senses allow us to experience.  Mathematics and physics, as I talked about with the idea behind The Physics of God, indicate the existence of one or more other dimensions beyond that. And some scientists have actually tried to design experiences that give us an idea of what it might be like to experience a fourth dimension. Like if you have a square on a piece of paper, and you imagine a being existing in that dimension. (as in, a two-dimensional being. Remember that part from A Wrinkle in Time?) Anyway, you take a cube and you drop it through that dimension on the edge, to that being, it would look like a line which becomes a small rectangle, which gets bigger and bigger and then smaller and smaller until it becomes a line and disappears as it moves out the other side. (Here’s one of our faves where he uses that image https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1wAaI_6b9JE . And here’s another really cool one about projecting four dimensional shapes, but hard to follow and a tad annoying because Matt keeps interrupting Henry.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LOVzytir7bM .) It just helps me begin to understand how limited we are; how much may exist that we cannot see or understand – but which we try to imagine. And how even that imagining could be an echo of what God has created us to experience.

Reading The Physics of God in tandem with the end of Perelandra is a revelation. If you have a leaning toward science and challenging concepts, I’d highly recommend it. Then add in I Peter 3:1-8 and Romans 8:18-25.

Our concept of heaven has always involved the idea of something beyond the circle of the earth’s atmosphere. I don’t believe it’s an accident that our word for the place where God dwells is essentially the same as that for whatever exists beyond the bounds of our planet.  The heavens. The “firmament” in Genesis is essentially that “firm” thing that keeps the atmosphere in and everything out there out.

So, what if  ‘going to heaven’ is moving out there, into the dimension where God exists!? Beyond time and space as we are able to experience it now? We are told that we will have a body – but a different one. A body like Jesus’s post resurrection body. You know, the one he placed into certain times and places on earth – like when he accosted Paul, and possibly in certain places in the Old Testament, as in to Abraham at Mamre and wrestling with Jacob. A body that simply placed itself into a locked room and scared the disciples out of their wits! I think Madeleine L’Engle would like the idea. Of course, she was probably thinking about something similar all along.

And – even more fun – if that is so, and if, as Paul says, all of creation is groaning to be set free from “decay” (how’s that for being linked to time?) as we wait for the redemption of our bodies, it seems quite possible that God intends even to translate the universe itself into that other, well, I’ll call it dimension for lack of a better word.

Like I said, this isn’t something I think is definitely true. It’s just, I think, a reasonable possibility. It gets me a lot more excited than clouds and harps, anyway. And please don’t ask me what I think our bodies will be like or what super powers we’ll have or whether we’ll be able to come back to earth or watch our lives like tv. I don’t know. I had a bit of this discussion with my 8 year old the other day. It was fun.

This is just something that makes me more awe-struck at the power and beauty and creativity of my God. So I’ll think of it this way, until and unless He leads me to another way to look at it. Thanks for reading my ramblings! I’m hoping get back to Lewis next week.

As always, I’d love some discussion on the topic. Tell me what you think!

Next Post: The Ransom Trilogy and Maturity

Previous Post: Time and Predestination

I’m going to start in today on a big subject, not related to gender, that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.  In studying Lewis’s work, I’m a bit perplexed by the way he advocates the idea of Free Will (as in The Problem of Pain), and denigrates the idea that we aren’t fully in control of our own destiny (as when Ransom becomes convinced that the Green Lady can fall, and he can choose not to kill the Unman), and yet he makes it clear that, for instance, Ransom’s name was chosen because he was to be an echo of Christ’s ransom and this naming was planned hundreds of years before he was born. The Great Dance at the end of Perelandra also seems to symbolize God’s total control over all things; it’s beauty is in its intricate and over-arching design.

Personally, I tend toward a view that focuses more on God’s sovereignty. I like Spurgeon’s concept that faith is a door. On one side the lintel reads, “Whosoever Will May Come.” The other reads, “Chosen Before the Foundation of the World.”  We speak and act and live as though we are in control, and the Bible is full of people making choices. But it is also full of indications that God is ultimately sovereign over those choices – he hardens Pharaoh’s heart, even as Pharaoh hardens his own. “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: He turns it whithersoever He will.” The significance of that becomes clear when you realize those “rivers of water” are in actuality irrigation ditches, whose course the farmer changes by the flip of a switch.

So, how does this all fit together?

Well, I suppose everybody has their view.  I’ve just finished reading the Divine Comedy, and Dante seems to see it kind of like time in Dr. Who.  In his discussion of Free Will, he seems to indicate that God creates some things and lets them create others, and the things he creates directly are fixed/predestined, but the things they create are unfixed. It’s like in Dr. Who – many things in time are changeable,  but others are ‘fixed points’ which cannot be altered without, well, destroying time. Like the episode that has Winston Churchill ruling as Caesar . . .

And the idea of time brings me right to where I was going. The issue is time, at the heart of it; the nature of time, God’s relation to time, our relation to time. And a book that really helped me look at it from a different perspective is The Physics of God.  It’s written by a physicist – not a Christian. Actually, he doesn’t really believe in God – he believes in, well, something that links everything that exists outside space and time. Call it a fourth dimension, though I don’t think he does. His point, essentially, is that the materialism – the idea that if I can’t see it or measure it or prove it mathematically, it doesn’t exist – of our age doesn’t explain what physics teaches modern physicists. It is literally impossible for a good pianist reading a difficult piece of music to have the notes from the page enter their eye, travel to their brain, then travel back down to their fingers as quickly as it does. It’s practically instantaneous. And it’s impossible given the limitations of the natural, observable, physical world.

So, that got me to thinking. There are several indications in the Scriptures that God exists outside time.  “A day is with the Lord as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day,” for instance. In the creation story, God creates the heavenly bodies “for times and seasons and for days and years” – to set up time. He essentially created time when He created the stars and moons and planets. And He tells us specifically that that’s why He made them.

That brings us to God as Creator. He created everything intimately, purposefully, intentionally. Jeremiah says that he was intended to be a prophet from the womb. Psalm 139 talks about God knitting David, knowing him intimately, in his mother’s womb. God knows how many hairs we have on our head at any given moment.

With all that being so, then God, existing outside time, as He creates people, has every moment of their lives, every thought in their minds, every good deed and every sin, before Him, in all its detail.  I believe that He creates us in such a way that we will make the choices we will make, in every situation in which we find ourselves, situations He saw even as He was creating time itself. How can He not? If He is outside time, and He is Creator, and He is sovereign, how could He not plan/know/choose all the acts of His creation?

Now, let me say that I realize this brings up the whole problem of evil and it rubs the wrong way against American individualism and the idea that we are in control our own destiny.  I’ll just say that I absolutely disagree with some of what Lewis says in The Problem of Pain, especially about Free Will and about creation, but I think he hits the nail right on the head when he talks about God loving us and knowing that we will never be happy until we trust Him and grow in Him to perfection, and that requires us to experience pain. Even Jesus learned from pain – He “learned obedience through the things which He suffered.”

And when it comes down to it, Paul answers the whole question of what we should do with this  in Romans 9. “But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, ‘Why have you made me like this?’ Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory?” (ESV)

We do choose, from our perspective. We do strive against sin. Whosoever will may come. But God has ultimately placed us in that position and given us the mind and emotions and will that will choose what He has also chosen/is choosing/will choose (if you’re outside time, tense doesn’t matter ) for us. The real joy, the real trust, the real freedom from worry and fear, come when we acknowledge that God is completely, fully in control, and that we will trust Him. “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” And when I remember that He made me to be exactly as I am – not as I wish I were, not as others expect me to be, not as I think others would like me if I were, or if they thought I were, I experience complete freedom. Yes, I sin. But He has a redemptive purpose for allowing me to sin, like teaching me the wonders of His grace and His marvelous use of even my sin to bring Him glory.

My favorite illustration of this truth is from Jim Berg. He compares it to a dog show. He says, say there’s this awesome dog trainer whose dogs always win. But some people say it’s just because he always gets the best dogs to train. There’s not much glory in that. But what if he takes the worse, scruffiest, dirtiest, sickest, ugliest dogs who bite and scratch and kick him while he’s trying to clean them and care for their wounds and feed them and teach them? If he trains them to love and obey him how much greater the glory will he receive?

God is “endur[ing] with much patience” our sin and our fighting against him so that he will receive much greater glory than would have been possible if sin had never existed. And on questions of faith, I try to lean toward the explanation that brings God the most glory – that makes Him look bigger and stronger and more beautiful. And I think this does. It’s also why I believe in a literal six day creation. Evolution was developed as a way to explain the universe with God taken out of the equation. And if God is all-powerful, of course He could create a universe that looks billions of years old. He could have done it over billions of years. But if you’re looking for the explanation that makes him look most powerful, most creative, then I’ll stick with a week – and the evening and the morning were the first day, after all.

Now, please understand that I don’t think everyone has to agree with me on this. We can go to church together and disagree. We can be friends and disagree.  I’ll discuss it with you if you want. I’d love to hear other perspectives – after all, I love getting as close to the truth as I can through discussion. And, really, that is part of why I love this view. I think God leads us to what particular branch of Christianity He wants us in. I love Lewis’s picture of a hallway filled with doors, and each door is a different branch of Christianity. And sometimes He leads us out of one door and into another. I can only go into the door that He created me to enter – the one he made my mind to agree with and my heart to respond to in love. And I can love others with whom I disagree, trusting that God has led them into the door He wants them to enter. And maybe they’ll stay there, and maybe they won’t. And maybe I’ll stay here and maybe I won’t. I’m keeping my hands open 😉

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