Books and Things

I’m thinking that it may make more sense for me to just have a weekly book update rather than a post at odd times when it occurs to me to write about what I’ve been reading lately. So I will (try to) make this a Wednesday convention on my blog.

Finally finished Our Idea of God, the last chapter had me bogged down for quite a while. Quite an interesting book. Essentially, Thomas Morris tries to show that the ideas we hold about God are pretty consistent with logic and also, therefore, philosophy. I admit I was surprised by how much he relied upon Anselm and his idea of a Being, greater than which none can be imagined. I’d never read much about Anselm, but the times I’d seen him mentioned in passing he seemed to be regarded as having been superseded. All in all, quite a good book which provokes thought about the consistency of one’s beliefs.

I’ve also read a couple books criticising (perhaps “analysing” would be more apt) Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. The first was Defending Middle Earth by Patrick Curry. I couldn’t stand it. It was mostly left-wing Green propaganda and clap-trap with a few quotations from Tolkien to dress it up. He is explicitly post-modern (his own term) and draws connections that are somewhat reasonable, but then assigns them strength that is unwarranted. (The Shire is humanity, surrounded by Middle Earth as nature and that encompassed by the Sea for spirituality. And what a loathsome word “spirituality” is! Redolent of soft-headed and muddled thinking. People who are interested in “spirituality” are often, it seems to me, the people who tell you, “it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you believe something earnestly.” Rubbish.)

Better was Bradley J. Birzer’s J.R.R. Tolkien’s Sanctifying Myth. Birzer, being Catholic, was better able, I think to understand what it was that Tolkien may have intended by what he wrote. While he did take proper note of Tolkien’s love of things green and natural, he didn’t go too far and speculate that Tolkien would have supported the radical ideas of the eco-terrorists like Earth First!, Greenpeace and others. On the whole, a more level headed assessment.

The most recently completed book is The Dark Tower and Other Stories, by CS Lewis, edited by Walter Hooper. I didn’t realise that the reason there is so little of Lewis’ writing published posthumously (unlike Tolkien, whose son Christopher has published 12 volumes of his father’s writing and hasn’t even published it all) was because Jack Lewis’ brother Warren essentially made a great big bonfire of his brother’s papers after he died. According to Hooper it “burned steadily for three days.” One cannot but wonder what was lost. The actual story of The Dark Tower I found to be rather creepy. It was interesting, but I don’t know that I would have wanted to read the entire book. All the stories were interesting, but what I liked best was a fragment at the end. I’m not going to say what it was about, because I think my enjoyment of it would not have been half so great had I known what it was about from the first. The slow realisation of what is going on really engages the reader’s interest. Unfortunately, just as it is starting to get really interesting, the fragment breaks off.

While looking for the link above, I ran across Stephen King’s Dark Tower series. Does anyone know if it is at all related to Lewis’ story?

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