Recently, I found myself in the position of needing to name a teddy bear. (Long story.) After considering various Irish words and types of dessert, I finally decided upon the name Digory Kirke. An odd name for a teddy bear, perhaps, but it was the name of the professor who owned the wardrobe that brought Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy into Narnia.
With Narnia thus on my mind, I decided to give you my thoughts on the books. And not just the Narnia books, but all the other C.S. Lewis books I've read. And since I've read...eighteen of his books, I've decided to condense my reviews to ten words or less. I'll also add a rating, since ten words really isn't enough to describe a book. Here goes nothing!
The Magician's Nephew: Nothing better than flying horses, witches, and weird uncles. 10/10
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: Why can't my closet be magical? 10/10
The Horse and His Boy: The horse talks, and surprise! Shasta's a prince. 9/10
Prince Caspian: Lots of dwarves, swords, and sadness in this book. 9/10
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader: No real plot, but Reepicheep's back! *Excited squeals* 9/10
The Silver Chair: Sadder and weirder than the others; Puddleglum is Squidward. 8/10
The Last Battle: Literally everything and everyone dies. 8/10 (for sadness factor).
Mere Christianity: Apologetics and practical theology--ideal for all Christians. 10/10
The Screwtape Letters: Mind-bendingly scary, funny, and convicting all at once. 10/10
The Great Divorce: Damned souls take road trip to heaven, decide hell's better. 7/10
The Four Loves: Everyone should know about affection, friendship, eros, and charity. 10/10
The Abolition of Man: Philosophy that sucker-punches you on the fourth reread. 10/10
On Stories: Way more than writing advice and book reviews. 9/10
Surprised by Joy: Ironically-titled memoir of a man I want to hug. 10/10
Out of the Silent Planet: Lewis goes sci-fi, invents Martians and space angels. 9/10
Perelandra: Literally just two characters talking. 6/10
That Hideous Strength: Lesbian police officers? Demon-possessed severed heads? MERLIN? WHAT!? 8/10
The Pilgrim's Regress: Bunyan fanfiction full of poetry and stuff I can't understand. 7/10
Yep. Eighteen books. I also own three more that I haven't finished yet (heretical, I know) but I'll give you my opinions of Christian Reflections, God at the Dock, and Miracles as soon as I can. Do you agree with my assessments of Lewis's works? Want a more in-depth analysis of one? Let me know in the comments below, and I'll answer you! God bless you, dear readers, and don't forget to review us on Amazon!
Lukas McCamden's Thoughts on Education
The woman in whose mind I reside is preparing to return to what she calls "school." Personally, I've never seen her attend anything I would recognize as a school. She was quite young when I first met her--thirteen, I believe, the same age as Alynn when we had our first adventure. Still, glancing at her work, I was appalled. Where was the Latin and Greek? The exercises in oration and rhetoric? Where was the astronomy, the medicine, the botany? Why the effort wasted on the mathematical theorems?
Worse yet, at the particular institution she attended--quite a large one, boasting thirty students--she was given little attention. She was separated from her peers and given a book and told to learn from it. While self-instruction is a valuable skill, and the means by which I have acquired the larger half of my own academic knowledge, how dare those pedagogues thrust it upon children in this manner? Even the youngest students, the ones who ought to be hardly old enough to read their own directions, were left to their own devices.
Perhaps, I thought after a few months of witnessing such dismal educational circumstances, my young author would be given a better education as she aged. After all, the adults around her--parents, godparents, and priests--were doubtless instilling better things into her than her books could. Doubtless she was taught things like clothes-mending, child-minding, and finance-managing. She was a young lady, after all, preparing for her own future that invariably includes things such as marriage and children and keeping house.
But now, my author tells me, she has only a single year left in her education. She has grown into a lovely young lady now--she reminds me of Alynn, ever so slightly, mostly in the fact that she slips so effortlessly into the role of housekeeper when her mother is away. She was raised well, this child. At any rate, I asked after her areas of study--and think of it! Still no Latin! Still no Greek! Instead, she has been given a list of books to purchase. A list of some twenty books, all in one language, and all of them to be read in the span of sixteen weeks!
How education has become easier and yet more challenging all at once is simply baffling to me. I was blessed, I suppose, to have Father Sean instruct me in the Psalms and Brother Eammon sit beside me as I stumbled through Hippocrates for the first time. I was blessed, I suppose, to trot alongside my father in the barley fields, mimicking his motions as he scattered seed upon the fertile earth. I was blessed, I suppose, to find myself instructed by the Lord and Creator of knowledge after the untimely murder of my teachers and role models.
Slowly, I am learning that there is more to life than books and logic. I watch my author, though she does not always see me watching. I watch as she tends to her plants in the plastic tub she calls a garden; I watch as she shepherd-knits hats for infants and sings them to sleep with the same lullaby my father once sang to me. And I realize that, although education has changed, life has not. And when it comes to life itself, book knowledge is of little consequence. The majority of my contemporaries, after all, got by with far less formal education than is common in my author's era.
Although I do wish I could teach her a bit of Latin and Greek. Reading Caesar and Hippocrates is quite a rewarding endeavor.
Texas is surprisingly cool for mid-July. The high today is only 90. Clouds cover the sky like a soft gray coverlet, save for a soft white glow on the horizon. I haven't been outside yet today; I slept in and now I fully intend on taking advantage of my day off to relax.
I was hoping to pick up a shift today. After spending yesterday shopping and tutoring and enjoying a surprise visit from a friend, though, I'm glad I didn't sign up for anything. Cloudy days, when they come in moderation, are some of my favorite days.
On cloudy days, I can open my curtains and peer out at the empty field behind my house. Queen Anne's Lace is in season--wild carrot. The white blooms dot my vision. I've tried eating the roots before. They taste only vaguely like carrots and are almost too woody to chew. Dandelions, on the other hand--the flowers are delicious and the leaves make a good salad. Those grow earlier in the spring, though.
On cloudy days, I can curl up with a good book. There's something about the dim light from the windows that makes novels come to life and the real world melt away. Cloudy days make blankets seem more inviting and beds more comfortable.
On cloudy days, I'll work on my yarncrafts. Knitting dishrags and mending crocheted blankets can be hot work on sunny days. Rain makes the day even better--I can listen to the pattering of raindrops on the roof and revel in the peals of thunder as they drown out the clicking of my bamboo needles.
The clouds are clearing now. Perhaps they'll come back; you can never tell what Texas weather is going to do. Living here gives you the sense that this is still wild land, untamed land. You cannot predict or control it, only coexist with the heat and the thorns and the wildlife.
But while it is still cloudy, I will enjoy today.
I do apologize for the radio silence, my friends. I was in Mexico for the past week, and the WiFi didn't allow me to write a post. However, I just might have gotten enough inspiration to write some more poetry on Mondays, so keep an eye out for that!
My parents, like plenty of other people, adore the beach. They also have the funds to go to the beach every once in a while. And I've been lucky enough to go with them on most of their adventures. By the time I was eight, I'd been to Cancun, Cozumel, and Jamaica--not to mention Florida, where my aunt owns a lovely vacation property.
Beaches have their downsides. Things like sunburns, strong winds, and sand that gets absolutely everywhere. My younger self got hung up on those downsides, and I decided that I didn't exactly like the beach.
I'm so glad I gave it a second chance. This trip was amazing.
A very large part of what made this trip was wonderful was the addition of my sister's friend. My sister and I tend to fight, and since my sister's attention was drawn away from me, I was free to enjoy the trip without being pestered by a sixteen-year-old perpetually-sunburned blonde who enjoys insulting me.
Since my sister left me alone, I was free to enjoy myself. Relax by the pool with a book in hand. Gaze at the water--it was such a lovely blue color! Sit on the balcony and knit. Watch the birds. There are a lot of pelicans in Mexico, along with crows and finches and gulls and sandpipers other large seabirds that I couldn't identify. We also got to see dolphins, flying fish, and a couple of crabs.
And the sunsets were amazing.
Something happened to me while I was there. I don't think it's permanent, but it was beautiful while it lasted. I devoured a novel in two days--something I haven't done in years. I laughed and smiled and felt a level of relaxation that I don't think I've ever felt before. I felt like a little kid, like my younger self, and it was beautiful.
Spending thirteen hours getting home yesterday didn't exactly help that feeling. I think I'm still trying to wake up after going to bed at 1:30 and waking up at 6:30, then going back to sleep after a half hour or so and waking up at nine. I'm mad at myself for agreeing to play on worship team when I don't know the set list and only have three days to practice. But at least I get to remember that feeling--I get to remember bounding barefoot down the beach, collecting shells and climbing rocks and letting the waves wash over my feet. And that means something.
Speaking of worship team, I'd better go practice now. Dear readers, when's the last time you went on vacation? What was your favorite part? Let me know in the comments below! God bless, and don't forget to review us on Amazon!
M. J. Piazza is a Jesus-loving, dog-walking country girl who just so happens to write books.