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Showing posts from January, 2012


Just received a package from my favorite bookshop in the world--Blackwell's of Oxford, founded in 1879. Receiving a package in the mail is not quite as good as being there, but it is the next best thing. The Norrington Room (above) at Blackwell's is a bibliophile's dream. It contains three miles of shelving and is listed in The Guinness Book of World Records as the largest single room selling books. Blackwell's Broad Street shop in Oxford was originally only twelve feet square but quickly grew to incorporate the upstairs, cellar, and neighboring shops. Blackwell's was a favorite haunt of C. S. Lewis. Many of the books from his library (now at the Wade Center, Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois) bear the neat little Blackwell's sticker on the inside front cover. The sign in Blackwell's window from Christmastime a year ago says it all: "A book is a gift that lasts a lifetime." I doubt that e-books will ever give the same joy as the smell

Lion, Witch & Wardrobe on Stage

C. S. Lewis' Top Ten

In 1962, The Christian Century magazine asked C. S. Lewis: “What books did most to shape your vocational attitude and your philosophy of life?” In response, Lewis offered the following list: Phantastes by George MacDonald The Everlasting Man by G. K. Chesterton The Aeneid by Virgil The Temple by George Herbert The Prelude by William Wordsworth The Idea of the Holy by Rudolf Otto The Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius Life of Samuel Johnson by James Boswell Descent into Hell by Charles Williams Theism and Humanism by Arthur James Balfour I am writing a book about Lewis' Top Ten Books, with one chapter on each of the above. I have already written the Introduction and the chapter on MacDonald. Each chapter will include a section on how the book influenced Lewis, a brief biography of the author and an overview of the book itself. My goal is to write a chapter per month in 2012. So I thought I would share here some of the

The King's Speech

My friend, Ruth Douthitt, told me about King George VI's Christmas Speech of 1939 being on YouTube. So here it is. His quotation of "The Gate of the Year" mentioned in my last post comes at the end of the speech. I agree with Ruth that this is very moving to listen to, considering the situation with Britain descending into WWII, and the personal struggle the King had with his speech impediment. "The King's Speech" was another one of my favorite movies recently. If you haven't seen it, do!

The Gate of the Year

“I said to the man who stood at the Gate of the Year, ‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.’ And he replied,  ‘Go out into the darkness, and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be better than light, and safer than a known way.’” These lines are part of a poem, written and published by Minnie Haskins in 1908. Haskins was a student and later a teacher at the London School of Economics. This poem caught the public attention and the popular imagination, when Elizabeth handed a copy to her husband, King George VI, and he quoted it in his 1939 Christmas broadcast to the British Empire. These words meant a great deal to the British public as their country was descending into the dark days of World War II. These words remained a source of comfort to Elizabeth, the mother of the current Queen Elizabeth, for the rest of her life. The Queen Mother had these words engraved on brass plaques and fixed to the gates of the King George VI