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Lantern Hollow and the Three R’s of Christian Renewal

As I look at the current scene, I see a church in desperate need of three great movements of God:

SchoolOfAthens

The School of Athens: The Life of the Mind

·        Renaissance:
A recovery of the life of the mind. An increasingly illiterate generation is harder to reach with a faith founded on the message of a Book; an increasingly illiterate church is incapable of experiencing full-orbed Christianity based on the whole counsel of God.  Electronic inundation keeps us perpetually distracted.  From a cultural (rather than a technical) standpoint, we may well be entering a new Dark Ages.  The original rebirth of learning and culture that we call the Renaissance of the Sixteenth Century started with a recovery of interest in reading classical literature in the original languages using grammatico-historical exegesis to recover its original message to its original audience.  God used that movement with its motto of ad fontes, “back to the sources,” to make the Reformation, the recovery of the pristine Gospel of the New Testament, possible.  If history repeats itself, a new Renaissance just might lead to a new . . .

Gutenberg

The Gutenberg Bible facilitated the Reformation of the 16th Century

·        Reformation:
A recovery of sound doctrine.  When the new learning of the Renaissance, the ad fontes tradition, was applied to Scripture, the original documents were enabled to speak again with their own voice.  This led to a recovery of sound doctrine in five areas:  Sola Scriptura, Scripture alone is the only infallible and inerrant authority and final court of appeal; Sola Gratia, salvation is by grace, God’s unmerited favor, alone, apart from works; Sola Fide, salvation is received by the empty hands of faith alone; Solus Christus, Christ alone is the only Mediator between God and men; Soli Deo Gloria, God’s glory alone is the end of salvation and the purpose of all of life.  All these truths are in danger of being lost again.  We therefore need a new Renaissance leading to a new Reformation.   Otherwise, we gorge ourselves on spiritual junk food while the great truths of the faith slip through our fingers.  But if God would grant us Renaissance and Reformation again, they just might lead to . . .

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Vibrant Spirituality? African Christians meeting in a church with no roof.

       Revival:

A recovery of vital spirituality. The great error of our generation is to believe that this recovery is possible apart from the first two. Biblically and historically, it is not.  Martin Luther recognized the debt the Reformation owed to the Renaissance:  “Whenever God wants to break forth truth anew out of His Word, he prepares the way by the rise of languages and letters, as if they were John the Baptists.”  And if Christianity is true, then only the faithful preaching of the pure Gospel of the New Testament can give us the genuine spirituality and real Christian lives that Revival is all about.  Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone! Without Renaissance and Reformation, all our zeal for Revival is vanity and striving after wind.  Do not stop praying and working for Revival.  But do start praying and working for the Renaissance and Reformation without which no true revival with lasting impact is possible.

InklingsofReality5c

An LHP book. To paraphrase Emperor Palpatine . . . You want this, don’t you?

Lantern Hollow Press pursues the goal of Renaissance as defined above by publishing quality fiction that seen the world through in terms of the Christian world view, along with other materials that support such works and help build the culture that can produce and appreciate them.  If my analysis above is correct, that is a more important endeavor, with greater implications for the advancement of the Kingdom of God, than you might have imagined.

Donald T. Williams, PhD, is R. A. Forrest Scholar at Toccoa Falls College and the author of eight books, including Stars Through the Clouds: The Collected Poetry of Donald T. Williams, Inklings of Reality: Essays toward a Christian Philosophy of Letters, 2nd edition, and Reflections from Plato’s Cave: Essays in Evangelical Philosophy.  To order, go to https://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/.

 

The Best of Erik the Reddest: C. S. Lewis’s Cosmic Trilogy

Erik the Reddest is not at his best;
he caught the flu, and needs his rest.

So in an effort to help we reblogged this post,
Because this is the one people like the most!

(Sorry but that’s the best we’ve got!)

__________

It is my opinion that his science fiction trilogy deserves at least as much attention and praise as his famous Narnia series.

I’m taking a short break from my “Science Fiction Problems” series to talk about… science fiction. Well, it’s something like a break, at least- I’d like to talk about one of my favorite science fiction series, which I hope I can convince every one of you to pick up. The series in question is C.S. Lewis’ Cosmic Trilogy.

C.S. Lewis space trilogy

These are the covers for the copies I have and they’re the best illustrations I’ve seen yet.

C.S. Lewis is a favorite among our writers here at Lantern Hollow Press and we’ve already talked a great deal about him and several of his works, but what comes to mind most often when people hear his name is his Narnia series, especially since their recent movie adaptations. However, The Lion, The Witch, And the Wardrobe was not my first exposure to Lewis or his allegorical ways, and it is my opinion that his science fiction trilogy deserves at least as much attention and praise as his famous Narnia series.

That Hideous Strength bear Mr. Bultitude

Yes, there is a bear involved with the story. No, the title does not refer to Mr. Bultitude’s prodigious bear-strength

I had read his good friend J.R.R. Tolkein’s work way back in middle school English when I picked up The Hobbit as my summer reading assignment, but I didn’t read anything by C.S. Lewis until my first semester at Tennessee Tech University in a British Literature class, where we read and discussed his space trilogy, beginning with Out of the Silent Planet. I had never been much of a fiction reader, usually picking my reading assignments based on which looked like it had the fewest pages or on the availability of Sparknotes (gasp!)*, and the thought of the writer of “That Story With the Jesus-Lion in it” somehow hobbling together a science fiction story seemed absurd to me… yet I was immediately sucked in as soon as I grudgingly began what I though would be an arduous read.

I loved the unwilling, misplaced protagonist Ransom and his seemingly useless expertise in linguistics (which I learned

C.S. Lewis Out of the Silent Planet Hross

A bit different from my own imagining, but I really like this rendering of the Hrossa

Lewis had a great deal of respect for), and Lewis’ descriptions of the bizarre landscape and citizens of Malacandra. I loved the unique and charmingly innocent aliens and was surprised to learn from my sagely professor that Lewis’ anthropomorphic creatures were some of the first of their kind in science fiction, designed to counter the trend of nihilism and dehumanization that had begun to run amok in the genre, much to Lewis and Tolkein’s disapproval.

Out of the Silent Planet spherical space ship

This is pretty much exactly what I imagined the spherical spaceship looks like

We moved on to the second book, Perelandra, where Ransom tried desparately to convince the new Eve of the evil that courted her, and I marveled at Ransom’s struggle to defeat the rationalizations the enemy proposed to the naive young girl. By the time we read the third book in the trilogy, That Hideous Strength, I needed no convincing; I wanted to see where Lewis would take the story, and I was not disappointed. Lewis used the depiction of darkness of the human heart and its inevitable defeat, the evil of the “bent” creation, and the power of Maleldil (the series’ name for God) to illustrate Christian themes in ways I had never seen or heard of in science fiction, and by the end of that semester I was confounded that the Space Trilogy was so unknown.

I highly recommend C.S. Lewis’ space trilogy to anyone who enjoys science fiction, but especially to those who don’t care for it- the series is exceptionally accessible and has a broad appeal to anyone who enjoys good fiction, and is an excellent primer for science fiction and C.S. Lewis both. I truly enjoyed these books, and hope that I’ve convinced you to pick them up- you won’t regret it.

*A habit I developed in public high school but dropped quickly that first semester of college, mostly because I so thoroughly enjoyed the books we were assigned in that course

LXXI

Wordsworth wrote an endless poem in blank verse on” the growth of a poet’s mind.”  I shall attempt a more modest feat for a more distracted age: a blog, “Things which a Lifetime of Trying to Be a Poet has Taught Me.”

Why did I go from seminary studying theology to graduate study in English literature?  It is a question I am often asked.  There are many good answers.  One is that Theology is the queen of the sciences, and Philology, even more than Philosophy, is her chief handmaiden.  Another is the sheer wonder of what Christians believe.  Take the reality of Christ’s Person, for example.  How would a theologian limited to mere prose try to capture it?  I have seen the results, abstract and dry, too often.  The problem is not just that they are incomprehensible; they manage to be incomprehensible without conveying any compensating sense of the beauty and mystery surrounding this most glorious of truths.  Here’s my way of doing it (published in Christianity Today, 17 October 1979).

TO CHRIST OUR LORD

Sonnet XXII

Thrice holy, three times spoken, meant, and heard

By one Voice speaking once, once only hearing,

One only multifold, all-meaning Word

From out of time, in time and flesh appearing;

Separate, though inseparably one,

Thou who art not the Father, yet art God,

Thou who art Son of Man, yet no man’s son;

Root of Jesse, Rock of Ages, Rod

Of Aaron blossoming in barren soil

Whose petals blades are of a burning sword

That strikes its deep wounds full of healing oil;

Servant of all and universal Lord:

With literal metaphors, we stumbling seek

To praise Thee, strong Firstborn of all who speak.

Remember: for more poetry like this, go to https://www.createspace.com/3562314 and order Stars Through the Clouds!  Also look for Reflections from Plato’s Cave, Williams’ newest book from Lantern Hollow Press: Evangelical essays in pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.  https://www.createspace.com/3767346.

Donald T. Williams, PhD

Living Stories on the Road: Satisfying my Muse on the White Cliffs of Dover

Hello again!  After a month, I have returned to contribute my weekly posts for the month of May.  Since last I posted, I have visited three countries, taken about two thousand photographs (don’t judge me), and encountered some literature in the process.

So, for the next four weeks, I want to take you on my adventure and point out the places where novels and plays and long ago tales happened to me.

I don’t generally go off on adventures simply because ‘thus and such’ happened in that spot or was written there or about that place.  Give me a castle and I’m pretty happy.  I can make up my own stories about it.  But in my two weeks of wandering, I had some dreams.  I had goals.  I had stories that were living in my head that I needed to find.  And find them, I did, and more besides.

My first stop was Dover.  When you think of literature and the cliffs and beaches of Dover (and you paid at least a little attention in English Lit), you are probably immediately going to think of Matthew Arnold’s poem ‘Dover Beach’.  Clearly, that must be what I was searching for.

Well, it wasn’t.  But I did find this:

The White Cliffs of Dover are fantastic, rising sheer and chalky and suddenly.  I was thrilled to have the chance to see them.  Dover Castle, grand and unyielding on the hills above the cliffs, is filled with shadows and echoes from centuries of political games and medieval grandeur, a first line of defense against enemy attack.  But what I wanted was, for once, not the castle – as much as I loved that castle.  It was the cliffs.  What I was searching for, you might be surprised to discover, was Shakespeare.

What has Shakespeare to do with the White Cliffs?  Perhaps you know the passage from King Lear:

 

There is a cliff whose
high and bending head
Looks fearfully in the confined deep
Bring me to the very brim of it,
And I’ll repair the misery thou dost bear
With something rich about me: from that place
I shall no leading need.

There is a hill called the Shakespeare Cliff that is supposed to be the one described by Gloucester in these lines.  This is the famous and most distinctive connection between Dover and Shakespeare.

So, of course, I was looking for King Lear!

Actually, no, I wasn’t.  The scene that I wanted to experience as I walked along the cliffs was not from King Lear, but from Henry V.  And it was, I freely admit, from a film version and not from the play at all.

If you have not seen Kenneth Branagh’s rendition of Henry V, you have missed out on a spectular film.  When I read the play, I hear the voices of those actors, particularly the bard-like voice of one Sir Derek Jacobi (just listen to him speak the first bit ‘O! for a Muse of fire!’ and you will be captivated.  Or you should be.)

Those of you who have seen it are now nodding and smiling knowingly.   You know where I’m going with this, don’t you?

Jacobi, as the Chorus, walks along the cliffs – these cliffs – , chilled and wind-lashed as he delivers his lines…

For now sits Expectation in the air,
  And hides a sword from hilts unto the point
  With crowns imperial, crowns and coronets,
  Promised to Harry and his followers.

This scene, for whatever reasons, stands out in my mind.  It is strange since the cliffs are not actually in the play itself.  But because of Jacobi, they are in the play when I read it.  After all, Shakespeare’s Chorus also advises us in the Prologue:

For ’tis your thoughts that now must deck our kings,
Carry them here and there; jumping o’er times,
Turning the accomplishment of many years
Into an hour-glass: for the which supply,
Admit me Chorus to this history;
Who prologue-like your humble patience pray,
Gently to hear, kindly to judge, our play.

A play is a visual art, not just a literary one, and when we read the words or watch on a small stage, we are kindly requested by the playwright to build in our minds the armies and castles and battlefields (and cliffs!) to see the story as it is meant to be seen.  When I read a book, a really good one, I want to see it in my head, hear the voices, watch the characters play out their roles as if on a massive stage. That’s how I get to know a story.

So yes, the White Cliffs, for me, are the stage for the dramatic prologue of Act II in Henry V, and I don’t think Shakespeare would find fault with my imagination.

I climbed those cliffs, stole a pebble as a souvenir, and I will never be able watch that scene in Branagh’s film without a silly grin on my face.

I was there.

*Next week: From Dover to Canterbury, I became a pilgrim twice over.
*For more pictures: My Travel Blog

And now for something completely different: Robert E. Lee

I recently did an interview with CSPAN on my small book on Robert E. Lee, and I thought I might share it:

http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/RobertELee

To be honest, I haven’t watched it–I hate watching myself on TV–so I’m just taking other people at their words that I didn’t make a fool of myself.  :)

So, for once, we have no elves, dwarves, or Jedi.  No Tolkien, Lewis, Rowling, or Lucas.  Just something on a real person from actual history, a person who was much more human than many people like to think.

If the book intrigues you, it will be out on April 30.  Here is the link to order on Amazon.com.

Best Regards,
Brian