Book Review: C.S. Lewis’s That Hideous Strength – The Real of Religion

that-hideous-strengthThat Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis opens with a grumbling wife and goes onto weave in realities of marriage, science, the supernatural, morality, magic, politics, violence and animals, all under the auspices of exploring, through story, what a well-lived life looks like. The answer it settles on is surprisingly warm and domestic.

This was the first of the Space Trilogy (which began with Out of the Silent Planet and Perelandra), which grabbed me from the beginning and pulled me right through the pages; it is far more character-driven and less allegorical than the others, while equally thoughtful. It is one of those life books that encompasses so many experiences, states in life and realities that it is grand and revelatory such that every page seems to reveal more to me of own soul. Another book I have read like this was The Once and Future King by T.H. White, which was my book of the year for 2015. I loved it so much I couldn’t decide what to write about it, so I never wrote anything, a tragedy.

Anyway, the themes addressed in That Hideous Strength were manifold, though very pointed and specific, such that I wouldn’t be surprised if many readers did not connect with this book because it does feel located in a very concrete time and place, with very precise philosophical concerns–those of C.S. Lewis–a small university in a quiet, English town and the rising onslaught of scientific materialism. While I find the academic setting relatable and generalizable, not all readers might agree.

Here is a short list of themes worth noting; their breadth is the pleasure of the novel: Continue reading

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2016: Welcome Waterways and other Themes

In 2015, I picked a theme for the year instead of resolutions. For us, it was Farm Year: we planted a vegetable garden, learned about tractors, plows and combines, visited farms, learned about farm animals, sang Old MacDonald had a farm, read books about farms and animals, talked about where our food came from.

Farm year wasn’t remotely stressful; it just provided inspiration for activities. Since it was such a success, I’ve decided on a new theme for 2016.

Waterways.

We will learn about and visit streams, lakes, rivers, ponds and the ocean. We will learn about the animals that live in them and the vessels that travel atop or within them. Connecting it to farm year, we will talk about irrigation and the importance of water for food production and human life.

I don’t expect my one year old and three year old to fully absorb all this, as I am still absorbing it myself, but it is part of their foundation.

I like the themes concept. It has proven more transformative and less stressful than “resolutions,” which just seem like one more thing on the to-do list.

What else for me in 2016?

  1. Keep writing; keep the articles coming, and post at least one blog post per week.
  2. Finish first draft of a longer project
  3. At least 5 minutes of Scripture or spiritual reading per day
  4. Participate in Pope Francis’s Jubilee Year of Mercy by making a pilgrimage (albeit a small one) to the National Basilica in Washington DC (more info on this to come)
  5. Focus on kindness and generosity especially with my husband and children and in general
  6. Run my home more like a monastery or try to. Read The Rule of St. Benedict

Whelp, there are more detailed things that I have in mind, but those are the basics.

What are you thinking for this year? Did you make any themes or resolutions?

 

Themes for 2015: Farm, Creation, Writing, Crafting, Painting

Pinterest recommended that I come up with “themes” for the New Year instead of “resolutions.” While I could always eat healthier and go running more often, calling it “themes” stirred far more ideas in my mind. So here goes:

For parenting:

Farms – this year I want to teach my littles about farm life: growing food, raising animals, living on the land. So that means I’ll be doing a lot of learning myself. I got them two farm picture books for Christmas. I plan to visit local kid-friendly animal farms, barns and of course Claude Moore Colonial Farm, my favorite place in Northern, VA. I even plan to try my hand at raising a few veggies again. Never once have I succeeded at bringing a plant successfully through the spring, summer and fall alive. May this year be different. My youngest will be one year old in the spring, so maybe she will be interested too. I think it would be a good way for us to get outside, learn about American history and culture, see animals, exalt God’s creation, and as always, eat food. I like food.

Art – My two year old loves painting with his dad’s art supplies. I plan to fill out our art supply cabinet and bag with way more acrylics, brushes, canvases and also the kiddy construction paper, glue, scissors, markers, crayons, poms poms, etc. I think this will be a great family activity for us all since we all love this stuff. I also look forward to making posters out of the things my boy finds in nature.

The Grown-Ups

Devotion: finding ways for us both to grow in our Faith. As with business or the mind, if it’s not growing, it’s dying. Stagnation is death. May we blossom and flourish. [Additionally, I hope to get better at talking about my Faith instead of being weird about it. Yeah, most people aren’t super Catholic, but I am and I love it, so why would it be weird to share that with someone interested in me as a person?]

Creation: Nature, God’s creation is so calming and pure. Just a walk outside lifts my mood more than a million cupcakes. I want to get outside more, which relates to my parenting themes. My hubby and I have recently compiled a decent array of camping gear. It only got tested once last summer. Let’s break it in this year.

Drawing: For Will, drawing. Lots of it.

Writing: For me, both my novel and articles. Because I write Catholic articles, when I took a break from it, my spiritual life suffered. For me, writing little Catholic articles is actually a form of devotion. I would like to balance this better with my longer project.

There are more of course, but I’ll leave it here for now. Do you have any themes for the new year?