Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Not Anti-Blake, but Sounds Like it

The Great DivorceThe Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Having re-read this, I cannot wait for the movie (N.D. Wilson is writing the screenplay or something like that). And George MacDonald!!! Yes! Referred to simply as "the teacher" in many places, the noble Scotsman permeates the second half of the book.

Tragic, lovely, heartbreaking and glorious, this book is a theological treatise on the afterlife in the way that Chesterton's Orthodoxy is a description of the Roman Catholic Church, which is to say, not even remotely. It is rather more like a semi-whimsical view of sin and its long-term effects: a tour of heaven made by the citizens of hell/purgatory (which Lewis brilliantly places in a tiny crack in the ground of heaven).

My favorite theme in this book is that of the ethereal verse solid, though it drove me to distraction the first time I heard it, as I'd spent a solid six months working out the exact same theory. In a nutshell: we tend to view God and all things Spiritual as ghostlike, and therefore unnoticeable to us. It would be more accurate to reverse that, to view God as the mountain that we break upon as a mist.

Magnificent book. A must read.

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Not to be Confused With Wormtongue...

The Screwtape Letters (Paperback)The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

How does one review this book? It is simply one that a person must read. And please don't be stupid about it ("he believes that there's a demon assigned to everyone! Heresy!!!"). If you're reading this book like that, please don't read Pilgrim's Progress. Or any poetry. Actually, just stick with the World Book Encyclopedia and Webster's Unabridged Dictionary of Every Language Known to Civilized Man and the French.

It is a magnificent book, and loaded with commonplaces and Spiritual insights.

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His Prose be Not of Ruth

The Discovery of Genesis: How the Truths of Genesis Were Found Hidden in the Chinese LanguageThe Discovery of Genesis: How the Truths of Genesis Were Found Hidden in the Chinese Language by C.H. Kang

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Reading this, I felt like I was watching a "doctor" named Bubba offering to start an epidural with his chainsaw. There was absolutely fascinating material that was good enough to make the rest of the book worth it, but then there was other material. The author--and this was simply tragic--offered opinions that were his very own. I honestly don't know if he could have destroyed his ethos more if he claimed to be the reincarnation of Jerry Garcia. Adam and Eve apparently were covered in an imitation of God's Glory Cloud, complete with glowing flames, and this disappeared when, as a terrible surprise to God, Eve disobeyed. Adam nobly followed along out of his undying love for his bride--not because he was too lazy to do anything while he was there with her (a fact that went right over our illustrious author's head), nor because Eve was the world's first guinea pig--no, it was a noble action. To make matters even worse, he helpfully fills out Scripture wherever he feels that God forgot to make a necessary entry.

However, the sheer quality of the material did almost make up for that. I got to the point where I skimmed the prose to minimize rage (if someone's going to say something really stupid in a book, they ought to have the decency to make the book large enough to be worth beating your head against) until I hit parts that involved Chinese characters.

The thesis of this book is that whoever compiled the pictographic language of (primarily Mandarin) Chinese had knowledge of the Genesis account, and embedded it into the language. The evidence for this is primarily found in which radicals, which are the building blocks of the Mandarin language that have a distinct meaning of their own, in which radicals are combined to make another word. For example: the word "covet" is comprised of the radical that signifies a woman combined with two of the radicals that mean tree. So, when someone writes covet in Mandarin, they put a woman and two trees together. And there are many, many astonishing examples of this, though not nearly so many as our author thinks there are. He's got a hammer, and everything begins to bear an uncanny resemblance to the head of a nail.

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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Charles in Barge (Or a Bright Pink Viking Ship)

Charlie and the Chocolate FactoryCharlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I quite enjoyed it: a nice, clear list of "villains," though why Charlie is the hero is almost a bit ambiguous; the difference is his politeness, his obedience, and it one case, his honesty. Good for a family read when kids are young.

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Wodehousian Fun