Category Archives: Current affairs

CS Lewis and The Inklings ‘Ideas’ with CBC Part 2

lewis-inklings-featuredAs part of the commemorations for Cs Lewis’s ‘Jubilee’ year the Canadian Broadcasting Company have commissioned two in depth programmes on CS Lewis and the Inklings for their Flagship ‘Ideas’ series. I was happy to be involved with Frank Faulk in this endeavour and did an extensive interview with himwhich has been used in both programmes. I was impressed by the research he has done for this programme and the range of people he has speaking on it. Two good results of that research are first that he is not content with second hand cliches about Lewis but goes out of his way to scotch falsehoods, and secondly that he gives due weight to the neglected ‘other inklings’ beyond Lewis and Tolkien, and particularly gives the much-neglected Owen Barfield who is allowed at last to come into hi own. Finally, Faulk has, in my view rightly, identified Imagination, and the truth of Imagination as the key to the whole ‘Inklings endeavour. Here is my post on the first programme. Here us what CBC say to introduce the second program on their website:

C.S. Lewis, JRR Tolkien, Owen Barfield and Charles Williams were the core of the legendary literary group The Inklings at Oxford University. They were united by a love of myth and the belief that it is through the imagination that reality is illuminated. In Part 2 of this series,  producer Frank Faulk looks at C.S. Lewis’s conversion from atheism to Christianity, and his deep friendship with Tolkien, Barfield and Williams. Together Lewis and his three friends would forge a radical critique of modernity’s reductionist, mechanistic and materialistic understanding of reality. It is a critique that today remains more relevant than ever.

And here is the link to both the first and second programmes:

Lewis and the Inklings Part one

Lewis and the Inklings Part two

I hope you enjoy them.

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CS Lewis and The Inklings ‘Ideas’ with CBC

lewis-inklings-featuredAs part of the commemorations for Cs Lewis’s ‘Jubilee’ year the Canadian Broadcasting Company have commissioned two in depth programmes on CS Lewis and the Inklings for their Flagship ‘Ideas’ series. I was happy to be involved with Frank Faulk in this endeavour and did an extensive interview with him, some of which is used in this first programme and most of which will be in the second one, to be broadcast on the 17th to which I will post a link next week. I was impressed by the research he has done for this programme and the range of people he has speaking on it. Two good results of that research are first that he is not content with second hand cliches about Lewis but goes out of his way to scotch falsehoods, and secondly that he gives due weight to the neglected ‘other inklings’ beyond Lewis and Tolkien, and particularly gives the much-neglected Owen Barfield who is allowed at last to come into hi own. Finally, Faulk has, in my view rightly, identified Imagination, and the truth of Imagination as the key to the whole ‘Inklings endeavour. Here us what CBC say to introduce the program on their website:

C.S. LewisJRR TolkienOwen Barfield and Charles Williams were the core of the legendary literary group The Inklings at Oxford University. They were united by a love of myth and the belief that it is through the imagination that reality is illuminated. In this two-part series producer Frank Faulk first explores the early life of C.S. Lewis, and the experiences that would shape him on his journey to becoming one of the 20th century’s greatest thinkers and writers on Christianity. Part 2 airs Thursday, October 17.

And here is the link to the page from which you can listen to and download the program:

Lewis and the Inklings Part one

 

I hope you enjoy it.

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A Sonnet for St. Francis

st-francis-of-assisiIn honour of the great saint, whose feast day falls on October 4th, and as a reflection on the new Pope who has chosen that saint’s name, and so affirmed their common task, in Christ, to rebuild his Church, I thought I would post this sonnet which reflects the way Francis responded to Christ’s call by casting away the rich trappings he had inherited and embracing holy poverty.The sonnet, composed since his election, is also a prayer that Pope Francis the 1st will enable the wider church to do the same! As always you can hear the sonnet by clicking on the ‘play’ button or the title

My sonnets for the Christian Year are available from Canterbury Press Here and on Kindle here

This sonnet for Francis will appear in my new book The Singing Bowl, published on October 25th by Canterbury Press. come to the launch at St. Edwards Church at 7:30pm on 6th November


‘Francis, Rebuild My Church’; a sonnet for the Saint and for the new Pope

‘Francis rebuild my church which, as you see
Is falling into ruin.’ From the cross
Your saviour spoke to you and speaks to us
Again through you. Undoing set you free,
Loosened the traps of trappings, cast away
The trammelling of all that costly cloth
We wind our saviour in. At break of day
He set aside his grave-clothes. Your new birth
Came like a daybreak too, naked and true
To poverty and to the gospel call,
You woke to Christ and Christ awoke in you
And set to work through all your love and skill
To make our ruin good, to bless and heal
To wake the Christ in us and make us whole.
Pope Francis

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Francis, Rebuild My Church!

st-francis-of-assisiIn honour of the great saint, and as a reflection on the new Pope who has chosen that saint’s name, and so affirmed their common task, in Christ, to rebuild his Church, I thought I would post this sonnet which reflects the way Francis responded to Christ’s call by casting away the rich trappings he had inherited and embracing holy poverty.The sonnet, composed since his election, is also a prayer that Pope Francis the 1st will enable the wider church to do the same! As always you can hear the sonnet by clicking on the ‘play’ button or the title

My sonnets for the Christian Year are available from Canterbury Press Here and on Kindle here


‘Francis, Rebuild My Church’; a sonnet for the Saint and for the new Pope

‘Francis rebuild my church which, as you see
Is falling into ruin.’ From the cross
Your saviour spoke to you and speaks to us
Again through you. Undoing set you free,
Loosened the traps of trappings, cast away
The trammelling of all that costly cloth
We wind our saviour in. At break of day
He set aside his grave-clothes. Your new birth
Came like a daybreak too, naked and true
To poverty and to the gospel call,
You woke to Christ and Christ awoke in you
And set to work through all your love and skill
To make our ruin good, to bless and heal
To wake the Christ in us and make us whole.
Pope Francis

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Fahrenheit 451 and the opposite of Ebooks

The Folio edition of Fahrenheit 451

The Folio edition of Fahrenheit 451

A few posts back I mentioned that I had “been reminded recently in three very concrete ways of how precious and irreplaceable real books are with their tang, tinge, smudge and wear, and most of all their tangible personal history.” Well the first reminder was that Family Bible, here’s the second. I recently received a beautiful book, in its own slip case from the Folio Society. If you know the Folio Society you’ll know they produce beautiful editions of books the way they used to be, the way they should be, beautifully bound and printed on good paper with pleasing typefaces, a pleasure to handle and made to last and hand down the generations. Well I have a few of their editions but so far they’d all been classics from an earlier age; Shakespeare’s Sonnets, The Canterbury Tales, the poems of Coleridge. But the other day I got a modern classic. It was Fahrenheit 451.

Now I can remember vividly the first time I picked up and read that book. It was a cheap ‘pulp-fiction style paperback with a lurid green cover and already-yellowed paper which I picked up as a teenager from a charity shop in downtown Hamilton. I couldn’t tell you where it is now, maybe I lost it or gave it away, but I never forgot the story.Indeed as so many of its predictions began to come true (the interactive entertainments, the dwindling attention spans, the ubiquitous ear-pieces and flat-screen TVs, the persistent dumbing down of the public sphere, the distress of others made a spectacle to titivate the jaded, the concerted attack on memory and learning) I began to realise how deeply that cheap disposable paperback had shaped me and sharpened my take on modern life.

But the deepest influence of all was the terrible image of burning books, burning books as part of an orchestrated assault on the past, a collective amnesia. And memories of that book came back when I first got involved in the current debate on the merits of ebooks versus paper books.

Now I have lots of ebooks and I find their searchability and portability very helpful, but alarm bells rang when I discovered that they could be centrally altered or even deleted whenever I logged in, that the e-medium was essentially transient and manipulable. Ever since then I’ve made sure I have a real, hardbound paper copy of every book that matters to me.

Which is why, when my beautiful folio society edition of Farenheit 451 dropped through the door it made such an impact. Of all the books they could have chosen to print in such a sumptuous and beautiful way surely this was the most appropriate. To present the book which was itself a defence of the power and permanence of the printed page, in such a beautiful and permanent form was itself to validate and amplify the meaning of its contents.

If in some future dystopia the cyber-firemen of a totalitarian state delete every e-copy of Fahrenheit 451 I’ll be reading and sharing this copy in secret with the other die-hard old-age survivors!

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Happy Birthday Bob

As Bob Dylan celebrates his seventieth birthday I’ve been reflecting all day on how much I owe the man; more than I can say, more than I can pay. Even though sometimes buying his albums almost beggared me as a poor student, I have been repayed for my teenage scrimping and saving a thousand fold. What I’ve been given is a sound-track, a commentary, a critique of my life, but also an invitation to step beyond it, again and again into ways of being, seeing, and knowing I could never have otherwise imagined. Thanks Bob. By way of small tribute I am posting here a cover of Slow Train I recorded with my Band Mystery Train and an article on Dylan, the bible and poetry I wrote for the Tablet in december 2008. So here goes. Click on the tablet link at the bottom of this page to go to a pdf of the article: “Think Twice, It’s Alright”

tablet2646[1]

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The Old Revolution

Three days of peace and music

In my last post I was reflecting a little on Joni Mitchell’s Woodstock. continuing in that vein I thought I’d post a little reflection in Ottava Rima about what went wrong with those dreams, prompted partly by a sense of hope and ferment in the air again. I think the real problem was that consciousness-changing insight somehow crumbled into consumerism. People felt that they could deal in and purchase bliss and joy, chemically manufactured, rather than letting it flower and fruit from deeply planted spiritual roots, but maybe next time it will be different. Anyway what follows is a kind of  ‘confession’ for a generation (not enirely and privately my own confession you understand, I was a little too young at the time for some of that stuff) but a confession of failure which can, I believe, be put right and begun again, but this time with prayer and meditation rather than easier and more delusory substances. Here it is ‘for what it’s worth’ (As Stephen stills would say)

As always you can hear it by clicking on the title or the play button.

Revolution

I fought in the old revolution” Leonard Cohen

When I turned teen in nineteen-sixty-nine
I heard of revolution in the air,
Or on the air, in fact on ‘Caroline’.
Lennon and Lenin had so much to share
A change would come and change would be benign,
A fairer world, and all the world a fair.
‘Here comes the sun’ we sang to blissed-out skies
And thought the bomber jets were butterflies.

We conjured faeries out of every flower
But something wicked slipped out with the weed
Stoned circles never yet spoke truth to power
And groovers were grasped soon enough by greed.
For, after Altamonte, our world turned sour
And self-consuming souls turned onto speed.
The times were out of joint,oh cursed spite!
We thought that one more joint would set them right!

Now revolution’s once more in the air
Will we repeat mistakes we made back then?
We took a lot of everything but care
And we were just consumers in the end.
My counsel is no counsel of despair
It may not be too late to try again!
Our trips could never switch an institution
But just one crank can start a revolution.

someone started this

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The Stations; a postscript-The Wedding; a prelude

Willows by Alexandra Drysdale

Easter Monday is a day for looking back and looking forward; back to the drama of Holy Week and Easter, Forward to the new life, in the coming spring and summer, that those events make posssible. Here in England the focus will suddenly swing from the festivities of Easter to the Royal Wedding on Friday, more of that shortly.
First I’d like to thank my readers, and especially my new readers who have been following me through my sonnet sequence on the stations. I hope you found them helpful and will feel free to return to them, even outside this ‘holy season’. If you wish to use them in liturgy or church events please feel free to do so, though if you could put a link to this site that would be great. Many people have asked me if they will be printed and the answer is yes. I am planning a book together with the artist Alexandra Drysdale who has done a moving series of pastel drawings of the stations. We did a joint event on Saturday here in Cambridge and the plan for a book with her pastels and my sonnets was born there, as soon as we have a publisher and publication date sorted I will let everyone know. I am lucky to know a group of very fine visual artists here in Cambridge and I also have another collaboration planned with the artist Rebecca Merry, centred on a series of poems I am writing on the four elements, so watch this space. I have been thinking alot about the visual arts recently, partly in preparation for a conference of CIVA, (Christians in the visual arts) at which I will be speaking in LA this June. For the first of my reflections on this theme see their blog here.

May by Rebecca Merry

Manwhile in England our thoughts are turning to the Royal Wedding. There is of course some sneering and cynicism in our media as there always is about anything that still has some grace and beauty about it or echoes of a more ancient and numinous world view. In my view marriage is more than just a social bond or convention, it is also a sacrament, a touching-place where the risen Lord Jesus breathes his being and his renewing power into our ordinary lives, and I look forward to seeing Rowan Williams enact that sacrament and give us all as a nation a chance to renew our vision of what marriage is about, another glimpse of George Herbert’s ‘heaven in ordinary’. By way of prelude and run up to the event I am going to post, (with Maggie’s permission!) some of the poems I have written for her over the twenty seven years of our marriage, chosen because they are also poems about marriage itself. So we will start tomorrow with a poem I wrote for our wedding day and conclude on Friday with a poem about renewing Marriage vows. I hope you enjoy them.

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A Wound in the Waters of the Gulf

“Earth felt the wound, and nature from her seat
Sighing through all her works gave signs of woe,
That all was lost.”

So Milton describes the moment of the fall in Paradise Lost, the moment a single human action breaks and wounds both the relation between humanity and God, and the relation between ourselves and our world. Milton sees the deep link between our spiritual state and the state we keep and leave the world in. But these harrowing lines might well describe the tragedy unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico. The oil welling up uncontrollably through a hole that we have made and cannot cap is a sign, to many o us, of our wounded planet, a sign of the damage we have done and are doing, and of our seeming inability to put it right. And it’s no good blaming BP. They are deep-water drilling to meet our demands, and the real cause of this tragedy is our collective addiction to oil itself. We have a lifestyle, an economy, even an agriculture, entirely based on burning oil; a way of life that is not only unsustainable but invisibly toxic. But this wound in the earth’s surface, this oil welling up through the waters, has also brought the toxins of our whole way of life to the surface and made them visible. For those recovering from addiction it has sometimes taken a crisis to make a change, it has needed a break-down for a break-through, and it maybe that this crisis in the gulf, an environmental disaster on an unparalleled scale, is th world’s wake-up call, our Kairos moment. If we can face it at its worst we can also have hope. Though Milton wrote ‘all was lost’, his poem is alive with the promise of ‘one greater man’ who would ‘restore us and regain the blissful seat.’ Christians, who know that the wounds in our world stem from those same wounds in us that Jesus came to heal, have a special calling to speak both judgement and hope into the present crisis. I leave you with the words of another poet, Wendell Berry, from an interview about the oil spill in the gulf, in which he names the values we need to espouse in order to have hope:

‘diversity, versatility, recognition, and acceptance of appropriate limits or getting the scale right, and local adaptation — those ideas, it seems to me, put us in reach of work that we can do. To assume that all experiences like that oil well can only be handled by experts at great expense is a mistake.’

heres a link to that interview

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The Green Man gigs for the Greens!April 21st Bathhouse Cambridge

Sometimes a song writes itself.  My song the Green Man was like that. It came very swiftly after a walk through Granchester Meadows with a friend, a walk during which we wondered what the Gospels might have been like if Christ had been tramping the edges of English Hedgerows as well as the Judean Wilderness, we also talked about how these very hedgerows and meadows were threatened by developers and pesticides and at the end of the walk I felt that wild foliate face carved in the old cathedral choirs had something to say to me, something to say through me, and I felt some of my Lord’s lost ‘I am ‘ sayings tripping from, my tongue.

Well the Green Man has taken me to some extraordinary places and of late I have felt strongly that if I am going to sing about the Green Man I’d better put some of his principles into action and I have found, on reading their manifesto that the Green Party have good plans to turn the heart of my song into practical action. so this Wednesday, 21st of April I will be playing a benefit gig for the Cambridge Greens in the Bath House in Bennet street and I am delighted that Tony Juniper the Greens excellent candidate for election in the Cambridge constituence will be there to introduce it. I’m also really pleased that so many of my fellow musicians are showing up to share their talent. Mystery Train will be there together with Mojo Triangle, George Breakfast, Lizi foan and Sophie Davies, it should be a wonderful night. You don’t need to be convinced of the ecological cause or even in the least bit political to come along, it’ll be a night of great music, with a chance, for those who want it, to meet and talk to Tony and to find out a little more about The Green Party  and its potential impact on our national life.

You can listen to the Green Man here

As a taster here are the lyrics of The Green Man

The Green Man

Em

My face in the foliage, you’ve seen that face before

It was carved in the Choir by your fathers back in days of yore

I’m the power in the pulse I’m the song underneath the soil

I’m the unseen King of the ditches, ragged and royal

I’m the Green Man, don’t take my name in vain

I’m the Green Man, and its time to break my chain

If you cut me down I’ll spring back green again

I’m the roots on the stock I’m the tender shoots on the vine

I’m the goodness in the bread I’m the wildness in the wine

There’s power in the place where my smallest tendrils are curled

And my softest touch is the strongest thing in the world

I’m the Green Man, don’t take my name in vain

I’m the Green Man, I’m bound to break my chain

If you cut me down I’ll spring back green again

I’m the grass at your feet and the leaves that shade your head

I’ll be your bower of love, I’l be your green grass bed

I’m in the finest flower, I’m the power in the wickedest weed

And I’ll plough your furrow with pleasure and plant my seed

I’m the Green Man, and I make love with the rain

I’m the Green Man, and I feel like breaking my chain

You might think I’m finished but I’ll spring back up again

You can cover me in concrete, staple me down with steel

Spread your houses and your car parks over my fields

But I’ll still be there keeping everything alive

And I’ll spring back green but you might not survive

I’m the Green Man, don’t take my name in vain

I’m the Green Man, Its time to break my chain

You can cut me down but I’ll spring back green again

©Malcolm Guite 2002

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