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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.”

The conversion of C. S. Lewis is one of the strangest—and most instructive—conversion stories in the long and glorious history of Christian conversion.  It deserves a villanelle.

C. S. Lewis

SEHNSUCHT II

God knows no shame in what He will employ

To win a wandering sinner back again.

Thus, C. S. Lewis was surprised by joy.

A childish garden made to be a toy

Of moss and twigs upon a biscuit tin?

God knows no shame in what He will employ.

The silly garden helped him to enjoy

The real ones, made him want to enter in.

Thus, C. S. Lewis was surprised by joy.

Not Athens (first), Jerusalem, or Troy,

But Squirrel Nutkin’s granary and bin?

God knows no shame in what He will employ.

When Balder the beautiful was dead, destroyed,

The voice that cried it came into his ken;

Thus, C. S. Lewis was surprised by joy.

But pagan legend!  Could that be the ploy?

Somewhere the path to Heaven must begin.

God knows no shame in what He will employ;

Thus, C. S. Lewis was surprised by joy.

Remember: for more poetry like this, order Dr. Williams’s collected poetry, Stars through the Clouds, 2nd edition (Lantern Hollow Press, 2020) at https://smile.amazon.com/dp/173286800X?ref_=pe_3052080_397514860!  And look for Williams’ very latest books: Deeper Magic: The Theology behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis (Square Halo Books, 2016), An Encouraging Thought: The Christian Worldview in the Writings of L. R. R. Tolkien (Christian Publishing House, 2018), and The Young Christian’s Survival Guide: Common Questions Young Christians Are Asked about God, the Bible, and the Christian Faith Answered (Christian Publishing House, 2019)!  Order from the publisher or Amazon.

Donald T. Williams, PhD

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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.”

My friend, C. S. Lewis scholar Kathryn Linkskoog, the author of The Lion of Judah in Never-Never Land, suffered from a debilitating disease which deprived her of control over her muscles and confined her to bed.  She continued to write books to the world and emails to me, tapping them out one letter at a time on her computer with the one finger she could still control.  I disagreed with some of her later conclusions, but never was there a more heroic soul in the quest for truth, fighting on against unspeakable odds while battling a body that would no longer cooperate.  This poem was read at her funeral.

FOR KATHRYN

(Kathryn Lindskoog, d. 2003)

Her body, helpless, lay upon the bed,

Its life force all contracted to the head.

She had but one hand that she could control,

The feeble servant of a potent soul,

From which came, tapping, one key at a time,

Her thoughts—some controversial, some sublime—

All driven by the need to understand

The Lion of Judah in never-never land.

And now she does.  Fans’ cheers, the critics’ hiss

Fade out; she wakes up to a Lion’s kiss.

The once limp legs can run.  The race begins:

“My child!  Come further up, come further in.”

Remember: for more poetry like this, order Dr. Williams’s collected poetry, Stars through the Clouds, 2nd edition (Lantern Hollow Press, 2020) at https://smile.amazon.com/dp/173286800X?ref_=pe_3052080_397514860!  And look for Williams’ very latest books: Deeper Magic: The Theology behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis (Square Halo Books, 2016), An Encouraging Thought: The Christian Worldview in the Writings of L. R. R. Tolkien (Christian Publishing House, 2018), and The Young Christian’s Survival Guide: Common Questions Young Christians Are Asked about God, the Bible, and the Christian Faith Answered (Christian Publishing House, 2019)!  Order from the publisher or Amazon.

Donald T. Williams, PhD

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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.”

Sehnsucht, a German word for “longing,” was the technical term C. S. Lewis used for “Joy,” the unfulfilled desire evoked by literature, music, or nature that was better than any other having, and which he interpreted as a signpost pointing to the fact that we were made for God.  It comes out of the blue when a glimpse of a higher beauty comes through to you with the shocking realization that we were made for something that this world can hint at but cannot give us.  Has it ever hit you out of the blue?  This is an attempt to record one of the times it hit me.

C. S. Lewis, Theologian of Joy.

SEHNSUCHT

When the fog obscures the outlines of the trees

But breaks to show the sharpness of the stars

And the blood feels sudden chill, although the breeze

Is warm, and all the old internal scars

From stabbing beauty start to ache anew;

When mushrooms gather in a fairy ring

And every twig and grass-blade drips with dew

And then a whippoorwill begins to sing;

When all the world beside is hushed, awaiting

The sun as if it were his first arising

And you discover that, anticipating,

You’ve held your breath and find the fact surprising:

Then all the old internal wounds awake.

The pain is sweet we bear for beauty’s sake.

Remember: for more poetry like this, go to https://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/ and order Stars Through the Clouds! Also look for Inklings of Reality and Reflections from Plato’s Cave, Williams’ newest books from Lantern Hollow Press: Evangelical essays in pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.  And look for Williams’ very latest books: Deeper Magic: The Theology behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis (Baltimore: Square Halo Books, 2016) and “An Encouraging Thought”: The Christian Worldview in the Writings of L. R. R. Tolkien (Cambridge, OH: Christian Publishing House, 2018)!  Order from the publisher or Amazon.

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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.”

 C. S. Lewis is known for the Argument from Reason. If our thought processes just evolved randomly, and our minds were not created in the image of a rational and personal God, then why should we trust the thoughts are minds were randomly evolved by chance to have—including the ones about evolution? The fact that we can think rationally and that our thoughts can correspond to reality—not just to physical aspects of it that we get through our senses but to laws and principles—is a great mystery, however you slice it.

C. S. Lewis, his thoughts corresponding to reality.

THOUGHT

Whence comes a reason’s power to convince,

Illuminate the searching intellect

With sudden serendipity of sense?

No change of chemicals or elements

Could equal insight, letting us detect

Whence comes a reason’s power to convince.

Electrical impulses give no hints,

Yield nothing that could lead us to expect

A sudden serendipity of sense.

A chain of neurons firing boldly prints

Its trace upon a screen which can’t reflect

Whence comes a reason’s power to convince.

By faith we must accept this light that glints.

The eye can’t see itself, cannot inspect

Its sudden serendipity of sense.

A mystery much like the sacraments

Whose grace unseen we yet do not reject:

Whence comes a reason’s power to convince?

From sudden serendipity of sense.

Remember: for more poetry like this, go to https://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/ and order Stars Through the Clouds! Also look for Inklings of Reality and Reflections from Plato’s Cave, Williams’ newest books from Lantern Hollow Press: Evangelical essays in pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.  And look for Williams’ very latest books: Deeper Magic: The Theology behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis (Baltimore: Square Halo Books, 2016) and “An Encouraging Thought”: The Christian Worldview in the Writings of L. R. R. Tolkien (Cambridge, OH: Christian Publishing House, 2018)!  Order from the publisher or Amazon.

Books! We wants them, yes, precious!

Let me bring to your attention two recent books that belong in the library of every Christian college, Christian school, and Evangelical seminary—and in the personal libraries of many of their professors of English literature and theology–not to mention hordes of their students!  Not to mention yours.

First is Deeper Magic: The Theology behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis (Baltimore: Square Halo Books, 2016).  Diana Glyer says, “Williams has done the impossible: he has written a highly readable overview of C. S. Lewis’s theology.  He draws from the deep well of a lifetime spent studying literature and theology and Lewis.  My understanding has been greatly enriched; yours will be too.  This book is a marvel.”  Lewis was the greatest apologist and one of the most influential Christian thinkers and writers of the Twentieth Century.  Yet until now we have not had a study of Lewis’s theology that was both comprehensive and critical, asking, “What is the theology that lies behind the Narnia books, the Space Trilogy, and the popular apologetics, and what are its strengths and weaknesses as a guide to biblical truth?”  Clearly this book meets a critical need.

Then there is An Encouraging Thought: The Christian Worldview in the Writings of J. R. R. Tolkien (Cambridge, OH: Christian Publishing House, 2018).  Jim Prothero writes, “This book on Tolkien is not only readable, it is profound. The counter-culture movement latched onto to The Fellowship of the Ring more than a decade after its 1954 publication and never let go. The ultimate irony is that many of those young people were looking for alternative world-views to traditional values. And all the while, Professor Tolkien was a devout believer writing stories that reflected precisely traditional Christian beliefs and values. Donald T. Williams explores all the nuances of that irony here with humor and insight.”

Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings was listed as the book of the century in three separate polls, and remains one of the most popular and beloved books of all time.  And it was built on the biblical worldview of its author, as he himself said, “unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision.”  That grounding in the Christian worldview is less obvious and in-your-face than in his friend Lewis’s books, but Williams brings it into clear focus here.  Tolkien’s vision is a lens that lets us see the Gospel as true in the real world too.  Williams is a good guide to why that is true and to what difference it makes.

Donald T. Williams (M.Div., Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, PhD, University of Georgia) is R. A. Forrest Scholar and Professor of English at Toccoa Falls College in the hills of NE Georgia.  The author of eleven books and countless articles, he is a border dweller, camped out on the borders between theology and literature, serious scholarship and pastoral ministry, Narnia and Middle Earth.  These books are most easily ordered from Amazon.

Soli Deo Gloria!