We are storied creatures; we naturally love stories because our lives are filled with tension and resolution, and at any given moment there is likely to be more tension than resolution. So we identify with this character or that, with this moment or that, with this or that twist of the plot . . . and we are hooked. We want to know what happens, how it works out.
So we live within the world of the narrative as creatures in search of an ending, in search of happiness, on the quest for to teleion, “the complete.”
N.T. Wright from “After You Believe”
Monthly Archives: September 2012
An Unexpected Party
(In which I tell you things I thought while reading the first chapter of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Hobbit.)
You can nearly hear it: the squirming under the blankets, the excited whispers from little voices, the occasional giggle or outright laughter, and, perhaps, the interrupting questions which are bound to pepper any evening spent telling a good story to children.
I remember a letter that Lewis wrote to someone who read the newspapers and he said “if you must read newspapers and magazines at least give yourself a mouthwash with The Lord of the Rings.” I think we all read newspapers and magazines and see this horrid modern language, and we’re used to shoddy writing and shoddy imagining, and I think we all need one great book to have a mouthwash with, once a year. It’s absolutely required.
- Walter Hooper, C.S. Lewis’s personal secretary, from “Tolkien: A Celebration”
Let me make this last point quite clear. The conduct of human life and the organization of human society depend on our answers to such questions as what happiness consists in, what our duties are, what form of government is most just, what constitutes the common good of society, what freedom men should have, and so on. Not one of these questions, nor any question like them which involves right and wrong or good and bad, can be answered by science, now or ever. . .
In my judgement it is philosophy, not science, which should be uppermost in any culture or civilization, simply because the questions it can answer are more important for human life. Certainly it should be clear that the more science we possess, the more we need philosophy, because the more power we have, the more we need direction.
- Dr. Mortimer J. Adler from the book “Great Ideas From The Great Books”