My God, make me a light on the path I am taking, even if I stumble and fall, even if at times I get mad, even if it’s difficult to be silent in my enemy’s presence, even so… make me a light.
Teach me to walk straight and fight the evil one when he comes to me with temptations in order to make me fall.I want to fight and defeat sin-so that he (the evil one) won’t point the finger at me and You’d get sad because of my fall. But if I fall, if I’m injured in my fall, I want to come to you in a great rush and repent of my sin.
For Yours is the kindness and forgiveness .
Teach me to not get angry on my neighbor, to not yell, to not get angry- even if he is in the wrong. Because getting angry burdens the heart and makes the soul bitter. Give light to my eyes and strength to battle against the malice in my heart. But if I got angry, if I fell and hurt myself, I come to you in a rush to wash my clothes in Your blood- because Your blood was shed for me and Your body was broken for me.
Teach me Oh Lord, to be quiet in my enemy’s presence. Even if he shouts and even if his anger will pour over me-even if he looks at me from above thinking that he is more important – give me the strength to love and forgive.
Help me to stand up on my feet and know that You are the One who holds me. Help me look at me and see You- and to know that You give me credit and that nobody stands unless you empower them to do so.
Help me understand that nothing can separate me from Your love: not people, nor circumstances, not joy, nor suffering or tribulations. And the light You’ve put in Your child- may it shine over the ones in darkness, over the ones in pain, the arrogant ones, the fallen ones- the ones that do not have and do not know You.
And if Your light shines over them, give them eyes to see who You are and strength so that in any circumstance they may be- they can recognize You and humbly say: “My God, I have missed you!” Amen
For those who have or will have exams this summer, I know it’s hard. Some of us have been there and know how it is.
Make sure you do your part ! Don’t be discouraged, don’t fret!
And most of all, never, ever allow yourself to be in other people’s shoes!
Here’s a snipet of what not to do during exams|! :)
Why a musical? Why not a movie, just as it is?
Well, because, you see, a musical is not just a boring show where you see people singing some songs, a musical is so much more than this.
Seeing someone pour their hearts out when singing can be quite extraordinary.They can transmit so many things, they can share everything that they feel with you and make you feel with them.
And to prove it, here are a few excerpts from some of my favorites. In no particular order, of course!
1. My Fair Lady
The beautiful, talented Audrey Hepburn, plays the role of a flower girl, earning her keep every day but aspiring to more than that. She meets professor Henry Higgins who will help her obtain her aim, but not as she thought she would.
3.Les Misérables, which I think needs no introduction.
4.Sweeney Todd is a dark musical of Tim Burton that depicts the infamous story of Benjamin Barker . If you don’t like gloomy, dark movies, then I recommend you don’t watch it.Johnny Depp plays beautifully, by the way. ^_^
5. Then there is the absolute classic The Phantom of the Opera which belongs to Andrew Lloyd Webber and the story revolves around a beautiful soprano, Christine Daaé, who becomes the obsession of a mysterious, disfigured musical genius.
5. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory belongs to Tim Burton who is famous for film making. This is a children’s story of a poor little boy winning a tour on the famous Chocolate Factory in town alongside with other colorful personalities. It’s quite funny especially the oompa loompa song !
If you haven’t watched it already, well, shame on you! :-)
7.Hairspray is a teens musical that keeps you up on your feet (or,if you prefer, just continuously tapping your feet under the table) because its colorful, joy filled and entertaining.
[ P.S. Travolta’s still got some moves left, if you ask me! ]
9. And last, but not least, Notre – Dame de Paris which I think is the greatest musical ever! :)
the full version :
Of course, the list doesn’t end here, but for now, I will conclude here!
,,To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
,,In friendship…we think we have chosen our peers. In reality a few years’ difference in the dates of our births, a few more miles between certain houses, the choice of one university instead of another…the accident of a topic being raised or not raised at a first meeting–any of these chances might have kept us apart. But, for…
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After Lunch, followed the second part of the session, which was opened by Dr. Laura Carmen Cuțitaru, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Linguistics, at the English Department of the University in an essay called “ From C.S.Lewis’s Joy to Nicolae Steinhardt’s Happiness. This was also a confession on how Mrs. Cuțitaru became a Christian after reading Lewis’s “Mere Christianity” and Steinhardt’s “Jurnalul Fericirii” [read about Steinhardt here].
The concept of joy is not new for Christianity but for the Orthodox Christians it means something else, a feeling that accompanies the faithful. Haydn was questioned on why was his music joyful and not ceremonial. “Because whenever I think of God, I’m joyful”.
Professor of English and American Literature and culture at the University of Paderborn, Germany, Till Kinzel gave a lecture on “ The Contemporary Significance of C.S. Lewis as a Literary Scholar”, a very academic, intellectual lecture that met the needs of many people present.
Different from the other teachers at Oxford, that taught in much detail, C.S.Lewis approached things in a more appealing way , because he saw the bigger picture. “If I cannot get out of the dungeon I might try to look behind the bars, it’s better than sitting in a corner on a haystack. At least, this way, I can see something…” –C.S. Lewis
After the coffee break,Michael Ward had his second session, in which he tackled the subject of “The Imagination and Reason in Lewis’s Christian Apologetics”.
Surely, Lewis was the most successful Christian apologetic* that our days has seen. In the 1930’es the Christianity that Lewis presented was with imaginative approach and reason. Reason can only be used if there is reasonable material to talk about. So he used imagination. Yes, imagination can be a slippery term, but according to Lewis, imagination is the organ of meaning. This definition appears published for the first time in 1939 in a very important but much overlooked essay called “Bluspels & Flalansferes: A Semantic Nightmare”.Its main concern is how the metaphors are created and used and what is the opposite of meaning? Is it error? No. It is not. The opposite of meaning is not error, but nonsense. In order to see if something has been rightly judged to be meaningful, we need to see if it is true or false ( ex: Why is someone lying to me?-even a lie must have a meaning ). Only the nonsensical things mean nothing.
Reason is the natural organ of truth(allowing room for Supernatural). Imagination is the organ of meaning and meaning itself is the antecedent condition of both truth and falsehood. Reason can operate without imagination but if you take it away, reason is just floating there and cannot work on its own. Take reason away and imagination will stay there where it was, but it’s now free from having reason report its findings to any higher cost. It’s unrelated to rational supervision. In Lewis’s terminology, this sort of imagination is what we call the imaginary.
Lewis’s own imagination was “baptised” when he became a believer, awakening his capacity for appreciating holiness and sanctification.It was through imagination that his reason and will was transformed. HE became a Christian after a long night talk with Dyson and Tolkien on “Christianity, metaphor and myth”. For him, it wasn’t a difficulty in believing but a difficulty in what Christian doctrine** meant. The primary language that Christians believe in is historical, living.Doctrine is a product of an analytical dissection, they’re not as meaningful but thinned down, so that you can put them in a column. The lived narrative of Christianity was the primary idea of true Christianity.
Christianity is a true myth (God’s myth) whereas mythology is man’s myth.
C.S.Lewis found in the pagan myth what Jesus said you can see in the stories of the Old Testament.Thus, he passed over from being almost certain that Christianity is true, to being certain (after talking to Dyson and Tolkien).
Reason cannot operate without imagination.
As a boy, Lewis was told that Christianity was 100% correct while mythology was 100% wrong. Once he became a Christian he understood that we should not be ashamed of the presence of mythology.Paganism should be there as a flicker, because God is the Lord of Light.
Divine wisdom spoke not only on the Mount of Olives but also on Mount Parnassus. Paul quotes the Greek god Zeus when he says that “we are his offspring” [“We are his offspring” Acts 17:28 A poem in which Aratus gives an overview of the origins of the stars.] Rather than saying “you are 100% wrong” he says “you are partly right” meeting the men of Athens where they are. He doesn’t denigrate nor diminish their incomplete theology. “You’ve got something here, but there is more to it”. Paul meets them where they are.Where else can they be met?
Respect (look back at) for paganism is the proper way to approach it. Reason depends (cannot work without) on imagination. C.S.Lewis communicates the heart of his faith through the Chronicles of Narnia, using words that not only tell a story but are resonant. He didn’t want to turn pagan myths into cold prose.
Reason can’t work without imagination but imagination can work without reason. The myths are too imaginary and not so imaginative.
Imagination is the most vulnerable and it serves reason and together serve the will. The will itself can be turned and converted when the realm of apologetics is annulled and we can go into the Evangelical realm- the Word of God.
The session ended and we then had panel discussion where we could ask questions to Michael Ward, Till Kinzel, Dănuț Mănăstireanu, Mrs. Laura Cuțitaru and Rodica Albu. This was the end of the symposium, but not yet the end of the evening.
It was a great honour to attend to a concert at the Arts University played by tenor Ruben Mureșan, Ken Tucker(piano) and Luminița Ciobanu (viola) in “Four Hymns for Tenor, Viola and Piano” by Ralph Vaughan Williams.
After the concert, those who missed the Evening with C.S. Lewis by the Searchlight Theatre Company in the previous night, could attend to it now.
To conclude, this symposium was a feast for the mind and soul that I really enjoyed! Many thanks to those who organised it [ see here ] and looking forward to next years event . I hear it is very promising.
*Apologetics= a reasoned defence
**Doctrine= translations into our concepts and ideas of something that God already said.
The second day brought to us the feeling that this was going to get more interesting by the minute.
The first one to open the session was Dr.Mircea Păduraru,Associate Professor of Ethnology and Folklore in the Department of Romanian Language and Literature and Comparative Literature & the Department of Journalism and Communication Sciences at the University*. He had an extensive presentation on the author’s well known “Screwtape Letters” in a paper titled as “C.S. Lewis & the Devil .About the strategy of predicting the unpredictable “. The Letters were published for the first time in the Guardian(a British Newspaper) during the year of 1942 although they were written in the 40’es. It was a thorough analysis on how this work was an apologetic discourse . The Devil was part of a comparative study in the work of C.S. Lewis and those of the orthodox priests/monks that were later considered to be sanctified by the Orthodox Church [the classic literature in the Eastern Europe].
Next, I must say I enjoyed listening to Dr. Teodora Ghiviriga, Assist. Professor of English language and linguistics at the Faculty of Letters at the University.Her Session was on “Deep magic and modern magic: the contemporary reader’s choice”.
We listened to the next essay”Lewis, reluctant Convert and (Not So) Ordinary Anglican” presented to us by Dr. Danuț Mănăstireanu, Director of Faith and Development in the region of Eastern Europe and the Near East of World Vision International, associate professor at the Faculty of Evangelical Theology in Osijjek/Croatia & the International Theological Seminary, Prague. To what extent did Anglicanism helped Lewis’s conversion from atheism? We know that he submitted with great reluctance. He became an atheist in his early 20’es strongly believing that God was a fiction of the human mind and thus adopting an idealism. “If He exists, He doesn’t seem to care, which make things worse!” Anglicanism contributed very little to his reconversion. Lewis decided to reconnect with his roots** but he didn’t care for the differences between denomination, because he thought that in doing so, his purpose- for people to see the truth in the Christian Faith- would not be fulfilled. He was not a typical Anglican- I should say, not a typical anything, but he was Anglican enough (whatever that means). The question for the younger generation is not “was Lewis an Anglican?” but “why isn’t Anglicanism more like Lewis?”
The session that most people were eager to attend to finally came and we were introduced to Michael Ward, Senior Research Fellow Blackfriars Hall at the University of Oxford,England & Professor of Apologetics at Houston Baptist University, Texas. He led us into a “magical” world, where “the Heavens are telling the glory of God”.
The Narnia books are sold into 3 million copies each year, and probably not just because they are written for children. As Lewis himself was saying ” if a book is worth reading only when you are ten, then it’s not worth reading at all”. But his friends, those he met with for long talks at The Eagle and Child agreed that the Narnia books contained peculiar elements put together. A book that had English children, a White Witch (Christian Andersen character), Greek mythology (unicorns, giants, dragons, dwarves, dryads, centaurs, naiads, fauns), Father Christmas and talking animals can’t be too good, can it? It doesn’t correspond with what we know of Lewis, he wouldn’t put books together and be done with it without much care. He is not a careless writer. His poetry is fantastic and as a Christian he believed that the universe was fantastically made and that there is a purpose for everything. He had love for intricate medieval literature. The Christ like image is very concludent in all of the books and Lewis is interested in complexity and intricacy. M.Ward continues by stating five background reasons for the way that he wrote the Narnia books the way he did.
1. Lewis himself & his own temperament. He can be a very secretive person. Jack never ceased to be secretive. He kept his marriage secret for one year.
2. An influence which cannot evade our contemplative consciousness will not go very deep. What does he mean by that? IF you are sat in a shed somewhere, and the roof had a hole in it, and the sunlight would come gently in throught that hole, just by looking at the beam from afar, would mean contemplating at it. If you sit down on a crate in front of the beam and you look along it, stepping into it, the beam will vanish. The light is not something we see, but something we see by. In that moment you experience the enjoyment and on that new level you can start seeing things differently. Through the roof you can see the birds, the leaves joyfully playing in the wind, a kite maybe, the Sun itself.
3. Colossians 1.16-17 : “For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”
If all things are created in Him, we can’t step outside of Him to have a perspective on things. We can’t overlook the Divine, because it’s everywhere. You can’t step outside of it, he’s invisible to us because he’s omnipresent. In conclusion, we don’t just contemplate Him, we enjoy Him.
4. The Kappa Element in Romance, which means the hidden element in the story. There is MORE to Narnia than meets the eye. It’s not just the plot that matters , you don’t look at it, you look along it, you move about, not just contemplate. The plot is really only a net whereby to catch something that has no sequence to it.
5. Transferred classicism – Paganism is the religion of Art. By taking mythical deities and ‘putting’ them in poetry, it depicts the Christian ideas behind a veil, kind of like hiding God behind a pagan veil.
Based on his studies, Michael Ward [who also wrote a book as part of his doctoral thesis called Planet Narnia: The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C.S. Lewis] brings out the incredible concept that each book of the Narnia album is based on the seven planets and the mythical sense that corresponded to each one.
The Lion,the Witch and the Wardrobe, for example, has a theme similar to one of his poems, Jupiter is about “Winter past and guilt forgiving”- the end of Winter, Edmund’s guilt (because he betrayed Peter and Narnia). Also, the red spot on Jupiter is “a wound & the redness is that of blood, which reminds us of the king and the Calvary. In the same way, He portrays the Christ Character, the children becoming kings and queens, and as the winter passes, the summer comes in”.
Prince Caspian’s theme is on Mars. Who was the God Mars? As well as being the God of War he was also Mars Silvanus, the God of Vegetation. The month of March is when the nature comes back to life after the winter. Aslan is the true Mars, the one who can make the trees come back to life.
The Voyage of the Dawntreader is all about the Sun.Gold and the Sun is present in the story, as well as the Dragon. Why the Dragon? In mythology, Apollo is the God of Light that sleighs the Dragon. In the same way, Aslan slays the dragon by ripping the skin off and making Eustace become a boy again.
The Horse and His boy – Mercury
The Magician’s Nephew – Venus
The Last Battle – Saturn (The 20’es and the 30’es were based -with reference to both the political and the social plan- on the Planet Saturn symbolic on Death, Despair and Pessimism).
In an early edition of the books, Father Christmas is also called Saturn.
Why did C.S. Lewis did that?
1.For FUN. It was “just like Jack” to do something like that.
2.Literary reason- the kappa element in Romance. Lewis was interested in the total feel of the story.
3. Theological reason- Not just Aslan, the Christ character but the whole of Narnia comes to relate to the divine character. The children become more like Him, they become kings and queens, they feed with Light.
Michael ward concluded his first session . C.S. Lewis didn’t want to tell us what he is up to. Narnia is a world aglow with the Divine. It’s a story to enjoy, not contemplate on.
[to be continued…]
** [He became a theist in 1929 “giving in admitting that God was God, and knelt and prayed”. In 1931 he became a Christian. One evening in September, Lewis had a long talk on Christianity with J.R.R. Tolkien (a devout Roman Catholic) and Hugo Dyson.On the events that happened the next day, he writes: ”When we (Warnie and Jack) set out by motorcycle to the Whipsnade Zoo) I did not believe that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, and when we reached the zoo, I did)”.
At the beginning of November, C. S. Lewis’s life and work was celebrated in a beautiful Symposium in Iasi, at the University Alexandru Ioan Cuza, the Faculty of Letters, organized by PhD Student and Teacher of English and Theology Denise Vasiliu and Professor Rodica Albu (who translated The Lion, the Witch and Wardrobe into Romanian for the first time and was co-author & Editor to the volume Inklings). For the course of two days, we had great speakers from Europe presenting different aspects of his vast and wonderful work.
I must admit, some papers were a bit too academic for my taste*[to be read understanding] , which I expected to meet, but even so, I enjoyed it very much and should something similar happen again next year, I’m already on the list !
On the first day we had the British Ambassador to Romania, Martin Harris, open up beautifully, talking about Lewis’s relevance in our modern times and made clear the fact that he had an ability to communicate the essence of Christianity by showing the common and not the difference in the Christian denominations.
Then, the Rector of the University Vasile Ișan had a short message about what little (he admitted) he knew of C.S. Lewis and was really amused of the type of conversation he would have at the Eagle and Child with his friends and fellow men. ” Do the trees ever actually die, or do they live forever? ” was a question that would raise a lot of debate on the matter.The Dean of Faculty of Letters, Codrin Liviu Cuțitaru had also a welcoming message.
Walter Hooper who was the personal secretary to Lewis sent us a recorded message from Oxford University. One of the writer’s quotes from his short interview: “If you continue to love Jesus, nothing much can go wrong with you!”
The organisers of the symposium had too an introductory message, Denise Vasiliu and professor Rodica Albu, both very passionate on his literary work, so and so that made possible this wonderful celebratory conference .
After a well deserved coffee break we had two plenary sessions followed by an amazing play.
Emanuel Conțac, Doctor in Philology, Lecturer at the Pentecostal Theological Institute in Bucharest and translator on the works of C.S. Lewis started off the session with his view on how the Don was received in România after the fall of the Iron Curtain. If during Communism The Lion,the Witch and the Wardrobe and Mere Christianity were forbidden literature and were published underground (the former appeared in România around 1970) after 1989 it became quite popular and were read with a lot of enthusiasm. Even if he was a known Anglican, his entire work doesn’t show exactly what religious denomination he belonged to. C.S. Lewis is not as popular in România as in other countries, but surely, the more books are being translated, the more his image and popularity would be consolidated.
Professor Doctor John Lotz, Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of England and Associate Professor at the University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Iași presented him as a brilliant academic, a great, talented communicator and an imaginative story teller . He was quoting Walter Hooper when presenting the great works and writings and essays that were relevant in his life as an Undergraduate and a Postgraduate : ”Don’t be content with just reading one or two books, you must read all of his books”. John Lotz explained to us why C.S. Lewis was arguably the most influential writer of the 20th century. Some of the works mentioned in his presentation were: “The problem of pain”, “The Trilogy” , “Miracles”, “The great divorce”, “The four loves”, “The Pilgrim’s regress”, “Image and Imagination” .
Then came the end of day 1 . There was a play by the Searchlight Theatre Company from England that took us back in time to an evening where Jack was present, mentoring one of his students, James. Most of the phrases and paragraphs were excerpts from his books. A quote stood out, from one of the few books I read, “Fern-seed and Elephants” in which Lewis was tackling [among other subjects] the problem of those “modern” Biblical Scholars who seem to be doubtful when it comes to believing the message of Salvation that the Bible writes,doubtful to Jesus’s true glory as Son of God , but keep their public face as intellectuals, as people highly respected in society for what they are, people who “claim to see fern-seed and can’t see an elephant ten yards away in broad daylight”.
[to be continued …]