Here’s how it happened for me. I was sitting in the back seat on the passenger side. I had just asked the driver how long he’d been with Uber, and he said, like he’d answered the question a thousand times, “Six months.” Then I asked how many rides he’d given, and there was a sort of cool pride in his face and I was expecting a big number, when I saw—or really felt—a presence to my right, a buzzing, looming mass. I looked out the window, and there was the wheel of an eighteen-wheeler right beside my door, coming closer. I still don’t know whether it was changing into our lane or we had drifted into its.
I’ve been making video games for about 25 years. I’ve been a gamer since long before that, and a Christian since before that.
Games have changed a lot over the years. Prior to about 2005, there were a very limited number of good games, certainly a very limited number of “big” games that would take hours and hours of play. They tended to cost a lot of money: you didn’t get a lot of good gameplay for free. To be a gamer then meant to binge on a game for 20 or 40 hours, then wait several months for the next big game to come out. Therefore to be a “gamer” meant spending a lot of time not playing games. You’d get addicted to a game for a week or maybe a month, but then your sources would dry up and you’d go back to real life.
I recently completed the quest of reading everything C. S. Lewis ever wrote in chronological order. Now when the moment is fresh, I’d like to clarify, celebrate, and reflect upon that quest. My chief goal in reflection is to make as much good out of the reading as I can as well as to pave the way for the second expedition through his works that I hope to make someday.
J. R. R. Tolkien wrote The Lord of the Rings over a long interval that began well before World War II and ended a few years after. Both Tolkien and his adult son Christopher regularly attended meetings of the Inklings, a literary group of which C. S. Lewis was the guiding star, and the two Tolkiens took turns reading The Lord of the Rings as it came together. Lewis had therefore heard most of The Lord of the Rings before receiving the typescript of the finished novel in October 1949. After reading it he wrote this letter to Tolkien. Continue reading “C. S. Lewis’s Letter to Tolkien upon First Reading The Lord of the Rings”
With a major C. S. Lewis conference getting underway in Houston this weekend, I thought that now would be a good time to publish my chronological bibliography of C. S. Lewis. It is now available as a Google Docs sheet.
I have prepared this bibliography in order to serve my own quest of reading all of Lewis’s writings in chronological order. If you are on this or another, similar quest, you may also find it useful.
I’m on a mission to acquire a copy of everything C. S. Lewis ever published. The standalone books aren’t too difficult but the essays are a different story. They have been published and republished many times in diverse and overlapping collections. Some collections are out of print. Some are available in the UK but not the US. The essays sometimes change titles as they move from editor to editor. The task of deciphering the minimum number (or minimum total cost) of books necessary to own all of Lewis’s essays very nearly requires the help of an artificial intelligence.
I’m writing to those who, like me, would have called themselves Christian as a child but who left aside that faith in the teenage or college years.
My aim will be to show that the reasons—the doubts, the discoveries, the emotions—that led you to set aside faith as you came of age were, although probably reasonable, not ultimately correct. You will see in what I’m about to argue that the reasons that persuaded you then should not persuade you now; that in fact the intellectual insights that moved you away from faith as you came of age were tainted with a kind of naivety, and that the more sophisticated reasoning and greater experience available to a more mature adult not only warrants a return to faith, but compels it.
A sense of foreboding has darkened my skies these last few weeks, fueled in part by what I see in the news and in part by what’s closer to home.
I’ve always been one to assume the best in people. That optimism is no longer sustainable.
I’ve been playing a lot of Minecraft lately. Exploring its complex, primal, randomly-generated environments has helped me to firm up an intuition about games and religion—at least my religion—that I’ve been toying with for years.
When I was eleven I saw the film The Dark Crystal. My mother took me on a Friday during the Christmas holidays. I had looked forward to it for months. I saw it and loved it.
The movie haunted my thoughts all the next day—the long-legged striders, the magic, the music. I went back two days later with a friend.
When I came out the second time something had changed inside me. As we rode home in the car my friend chattered away, but I barked at him and leaned my head on the window and felt something dying in my heart. We didn’t play anymore after that.
I lay on my bed until nightfall, gritting my teeth against a pain I couldn’t describe. One by one, my sisters, mother, and father came in and asked me what was wrong. I tried to put words to feelings deeper than words.
The world disappointed me. I wanted a new world, full of excitement and power and possibility. My father pointed out that our world had wonder and adventure of its own—knights and Indians and canyons and caves. I felt sick as he said it. These wonders were too small, too mundane. Is this all the world had to offer? My family left me alone. I writhed away the night.
Something new moved in that day. I didn’t know what to call it; I still don’t. Was it depression? Depression is too gentle a word. The other day I heard a girl say she felt depressed about her shoes. No, this thing wasn’t depression. This was a dark and ancient god moving into my ribcage, playing with me like a cat plays with a mouse, making a kite from my skin and tendons and bones and flying me from the bottom of the sea.