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Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Just a note! The meet for Surprised By Joy has been changed to Thursday June 14th 7:20 p.m.

Book list for the rest of the year-

Surprised By Joy -  C. S. Lewis (autobiography), June 14th
The Pilgrims Regress - C. S. Lewis, July 12th
The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis- C.S. Lewis, August 9th (chose a favorite  letter and come to discuss)
Pride And Prejudiced - Jane Austin, September 14th
Sir Gibbie - George MacDonald, October 11th
Reflections On The Psalms- C.S. Lewis, November 8th

Sunday, April 29, 2018

  Our Read for Thursday June 14th is Surprised By Joy Lewis' autobiography of his early life from earliest memories until around 1922. Written in 1955, C.S. Lewis starts his book with quite a bit of autobiography but becomes beautifully focused on his spiritual and intellectual process. It is more a revelation of the effects of his conversion on his inner life than a outward detail of events. This book has a vividness of his thought and sehnsuct, that joy described as longing. In some ways a heartrending read of circumstances and tragedy that causes his story to be both helpful and relatable to the reader. In my mind I was struck by the thought while rereading his book that joy is the manifestation of hope in a fallen world. Come join us at Barnes & Noble at 7:20 P.M. :)
Discussion Questions for Surprised By Joy by C. S. Lewis  
1. In the first chapter Jack tells us of his first experiences of “joy”: seeing the toy garden, standing beside a flowering currant bush, reading Squirrel Nutkin and being entranced with the idea of autumn, reading The Saga of King Olaf and being uplifted by “Northernness”. Have you ever had experiences like this? How might such experiences lead one to belief in God?

2. Jack describes the “loss of security” which he experienced following the death of his mother. How might one describe Jack’s early life as a “search for security”? Do you think he found it?

3. Lewis says that it was during his “concentration camp” experience that he first became an effective believer. Fear played a dominant role in his early faith. How was this fear assuaged later on in Jack’s life? Have you had a similar experience? Are you more fearful of God or drawn to him in love? Why do you think so?

4. It was at Cherbourg House (Chartres) in Malvern (Wyvern), England that Jack “ceased to be a Christian.” What influenced him to become an atheist? Why was he “desperately anxious to get rid of his religion”? Have you ever had a similar experience? 

5. What do you think of the fact that Jack describes, in some detail, the homosexual practices of Malvern College without condemning them? Does this make it easier or harder for you to listen to and appreciate Jack’s journey to God? Why? 

6. Jack notes that “spiritually speaking, the deadly thing was that school life was almost wholly dominated by the social struggle.” What effect did this have on Jack’s life? Did you ever experience this “social struggle” in your school days? What effect did it have on your life?

7. Lewis states that during his time at Malvern College he was angry with God for not existing and equally angry with him for creating a world. Do you think other atheists experience this? Have you ever felt this way? Why? 

8. One of the features of Jack’s early life was a strained relationship with his father. How do you think this relationship influenced Jack’s turn to atheism and later, back to Christianity?
 9. In the middle portion of the book Jack describes two people who had a great influence upon him: his life-long friend, Arthur Greeves, and his tutor, William Kirkpatrick. How did these two people influence Jack? What role have other people played in your own spiritual journey? 

10. One of the sub-themes of Jack’s early life was his great desire to be “left alone.” His great problem with Christianity was that there was a “transcendental Interferer” at the center of it. Do you think Jack’s feelings on this subject are characteristic of many people? Why or why not?

11. Toward the end of Jack’s time at Great Bookham he faced a great conflict between “joy” and his materialistic “faith.” What was the conflict? How was this conflict eventually overcome? 

12. Do you think the “dialectic of desire” is a powerful argument for theism? Why or why not?

13. In chapter 12 Jack writes that a person who wants to maintain his atheism needs to be careful of his reading. Two of the writers who had a dramatic impact on Jack’s return to Christianity were George MacDonald and G. K. Chesterton. How did these writers affect him? What writers have been influential in your own spiritual pilgrimage?

14. How did Jack’s Oxford friends (Jenkin, Barfield, Harwood, Coghill, Dyson and Tolkien) influence him toward embracing Christianity? 

15. One of the most fascinating aspects of Jack’s conversion to theism is the fact that he did not want to become a believer in God. Why was this true? Does this make Jack’s story more or less credible to you?

16. What do you think of the fact that Jack immediately started attending his parish church once he became a theist even though churchmanship was “wholly unattractive” to him? Do you think there is anything we can learn from Jack in this regard?

17. The question which led Jack finally to accept Christianity was this: “Where has religion reached its true maturity?” Do you find Jack’s answer to this question credible? Why or why not?

Questions from Speaking of Jack by Will Vaus

    Our Read for Thursday June 14th is Surprised By Joy Lewis' autobiography of his early life from earliest memories until around 1922. Written in 1955, C.S. Lewis starts his book with quite a bit of autobiography but becomes beautifully focused on his spiritual and intellectual process. It is more a revelation of the effects of his conversion on his inner life than a outward detail of events. This book has a vividness of his thought and sehnsuct, that joy described as longing. In some ways a heartrending read of circumstances and tragedy that causes his story to be both helpful and relatable to the reader. In my mind I was struck by the thought while rereading his book that joy is the manifestation of hope in a fallen world. Come join us at Barnes & Noble at 7:20 P.M. :)

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Discussion Questions for The Magician's nephew   Questions from Speaking Of Jack by Will Vaus

 1. Do you notice anything significant about the time period in which this story is set? 


2. How does Lewis teach morality through this book? 


3. Does Jack make the supernatural realm believable in this story? If so how?


 4. How is Digory like Jack? 


5. Digory says of the wood between the worlds, “Nothing ever happens here. Like at home. It’s in the houses that people talk, and do things, and have meals. Nothing goes on in the in-between places ...” Does this statement remind you of anything in any of Lewis’ other books?



 6. How would you describe Digory and Polly, using one adjective for each? 


7. After reading this book, what would you guess was Jack’s view of magic? 


8. What view of kingship does this book present? 


9. What do Jadis and Uncle Andrew have in common?


 10. What does the situation with Digory’s mother remind you of from Jack’s life? 


11. What do you think of Jack’s account of the creation of Narnia? How does it compare to the biblical account of creation?


 12. How might we judge each character in this story by their various reactions to Aslan? 


13. What do you think Aslan means by the statement: “Evil will come of that evil, but it is still a long way off, and I will see to it that the worst falls upon myself.”? 


14. What do you think of Aslan’s choice for the first King and Queen of Narnia? 


15. What do you think of Aslan’s response to Digory’s request in chapter XII? 


16. How do you respond to Jack’s descriptions of scenery throughout this story?


17. How does Digory’s temptation in the garden compare to the temptation in the Garden of Eden? 


18. Do you think there is any connection between Jadis and the witches in the other Narnia stories?


 19. How did you feel about the end of this story? 


20. How would you summarize what this story is about?
The beginning of Narnia! Come join Polly, Digory and Fledge on the grandest of adventures. We have all had an "Uncle Andrew" to deal with. We've all wondered if Aslan had forgotten us or not sorrowed as we sorrow. Brilliant read as only Lewis can deliver. See you there. Barnes & Noble Thursday April 12th 7:20 P.M.  :)

Sunday, February 11, 2018



The Man Born to be King                                      I'm not certain of the writer of this introduction or questions
Dorothy Sayers

The Man Born to be King is a radio drama based on the life of Jesus, produced and broadcast by the BCC during the second world war. It is a play cycle consisting of twelve plays depicting specific periods of Jesus' life, from the events surrounding his birth to his death and resurrection. It was first broadcast by the BCC Home Service on Sunday evenings, beginning on December 21, 1941, with new episode broadcasts at four-week intervals, ending on October 18, 1942.

The Project aroused a storm of controversy, even before it was broadcast.
Objections arouse to the very idea- atheists complained of Christian propaganda, while devout Christians declared that the BBC would be committing blasphemy by allowing the Christ to be impersonated by a human actor- and also to Sayers' approach to the material. Sayers, who felt that the inherent drama of the Gospel story had become muffled by familiarity and a general failure to think of it's characters as real people, was determined to give the plays dramatic immediacy, featuring realistic, identifiable characters with human emotions and motivations. (And speech-patterns. The decision to have the characters speak in contemporary colloquial English was, by itself, the cause of much disquiet among those more used to hearing Jesus and his followers speaking in the polished and formal words of the King James Bible.) In the event, although it continued to be criticised by conservative Christians- one group going so far as to proclaim the fall of Singapore in February 1942 to be a sign of God's displeasure with the series- The Man Born to be King was generally considered a great success, both as a drama and as biblical representation.

     1.  In another work, Dorothy Sayers says of the practice of Christianity that "the dogma is the drama," meaning that those hidebound words all children must memorize are among the most mindbending concepts around- the virgin birth, the incarnation of God, the resurrection of Jesus, etc. In The Man Born to be King, Sayers presents a very  undogmatic dramatization of the life of Jesus Christ, with Jesus as a very casually-spoken young man with a distinct sense of humor. Are these antithetical pronouncements?  Where is the dogma in The Man Born to be King?


2. Faith in Jesus and what he preaches are, in this work, very much bound to actual perception of  Jesus in action- witness Benjamin in "A Certain Nobleman" and Proclus in "The Heirs of the Kingdom." Does this portrayal of the life of Jesus weaken the ability to have faith when Jesus is not around? Why would the other characters in this work continue to have faith after Jesus is dead, and why would those who never met him and were born after his death have faith in this Jesus?

3. The portrayal of Judas in this work is somewhat more sympathetic than the widely-held perception of Judas.  Should Judas as portrayed in this work be condemned?  Is he to some degree admirable or sympathetic?  How does that change the dogma that is the drama?

4. What do you think of Jesus' take on the Old Testament, as set forth in "The Heirs to the Kingdom"?  Is it a logical extension, e.g. from "thou shall do no murder" to "never hate anybody-for hatred is what leads to murder"?  Is it repudiation, e.g. "an eye for an eye" rejected for "take no revenge at all"?  Is Dorothy Sayers rejecting the Old Testament with this speech?  Is she commenting upon and perhaps seeking the root of the old laws?

5.  The attitude displayed by contemporaries in this work toward Jesus' miracles is one of gossip and mundane interests, e.g. with the commentary on Lazarus' rising from the dead in "Royal Progress" taking the form of dinner table gossip and the comment that "if only this miracle was properly advertised..." Is this attitude present today? Is it contemptible?  A way to deal with the incomprehensible?   Does it lessen the drama or make it more accessible to have the dogma discussed in such common terms? 

6. What do you think of the character notes set forth in each play?  Does it help your understanding of the characters or interfere with it?  How does it play into the actual biblical portrayal of these events- does it change your thinking of Peter's denial of Jesus to read his character notes in "The King's Supper?"

7. Why does Jesus make an effort to save Judas from himself if in fact he knows that Judas will betray him?

8. These plays were broadcast in the middle of World War II, after the demise of appeasement as a strategy and the beginning of Churchill's regime of blood, sweat, toil and tears.  How do you think that affected the people hearing the play, hearing about Jesus for really the first time speaking in the vernacular?  How do you think the war and the tensions leading up to the war affected Dorothy Sayers' writing?

9. Why do you think C.S. Lewis encouraged Dorothy Sayers to write this work, and why did he read it every year on Easter? 
"There is no other word but magnificent for this play drawn from the Gospels. Sayers' interpretation of the characters is simply brilliant. Her Jesus can bring tears to your eyes. You will be deeply moved-a powerful experience"~Sheldon Vanauken
Certainly on of the best works I have ever read. Come on Thursday March 8th 7:20 pm Barnes & Noble. 
Be blessed by this writer who inspired C.S. Lewis.