Wednesday, September 28, 2011

C.S. Lewis's Debunkers

Cindy is leading a discussion of C.S. Lewis’s book The Abolition of Man, and what “debunking” means is being discussed.

This is the Oxford American Dictionary’s definition of debunk: to expose the falseness or hollowness of (a myth, idea, or belief); to reduce the inflated reputation of (someone), esp. by ridicule.

C.S. Lewis’s stories are full of debunkers and I’ve pulled a number of quotes to give you an idea of what he means by that term as he uses it in The Abolition of Man.

From The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
“You can’t always believe what Fauns say,” said Edmund, trying to sound as if he knew far more about them than Lucy.

“Who said so?” asked Lucy.

“Everyone knows it,” said Edmund; “ask anybody you like.”

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

“Probably,” he thought, “this is the great Lion Aslan that they were all talking about. She’s caught him already and turned him into stone. So that’s the end of all their fine ideas about him! Pooh! Who’s afraid of Aslan?”

And he stood there gloating over the stone lion, and presently he did something very silly and childish. He took a stump of lead pencil out of his pocket and scribbled a moustache on the lion’s upper lip and then a pair of spectacles on its eyes. Then he said, “Yah! Silly old Aslan! You thought yourself mighty fine, didn’t you?”

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

“Why, he’s only a great cat after all!” cried one.

“Is that what we were afraid of?” said another.

And they surged around Aslan, jeering at him, saying things like, “Puss, Puss! Poor Pussy,” and “How many mice have you caught today, Cat?” and “Would you like a saucer of milk, Pussums?”

From Prince Caspian
“Eh? What’s that?” he said. “What old days do you mean?”

“Oh, don’t you know, Uncle?” said Caspian. “When everything was quite different. When all the animals could talk, and there were nice people who lived in the streams and the trees. Naiads and Dryads they were called. And there were Dwarfs. And there were lovely little Fauns in all the woods. They had feet like goats. And—”

“That’s all nonsense, for babies,” said the King sternly. “Only fit for babies, do you hear? You’re getting too old for that sort of stuff…. And never let me catch you talking—or thinking either—about all those silly stories again. There never were those Kings and Queens. How could there be two Kings at the same time? And there’s no such person as Aslan. And there are no such things as lions. And there never was a time when animals could talk. Do you hear?”

From The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
“I am Ramandu. But I see that you stare at one another and have not heard this name. And no wonder, for the days when I was a star had ceased long before any of you knew this world, and all the constellations have changed.”

“Golly,” said Edmund, under his breath. “He’s a retired star.”

“Aren’t you a star any longer?” asked Lucy.

“I am a star at rest, my daughter,” answered Ramandu….

“In our world,” said Eustace, “a star is a huge ball of flaming gas.”

“Even in your world, my son, that is not what a star is but only what it is made of.”

From The Silver Chair
“What is this sun that you all speak of? Do you mean anything by the word?” …

“Please it your Grace,” said the Prince, very coldly and politely. “You see that lamp. It is round and yellow and gives light to the whole room; and hangeth moreover from the roof. Now that thing which we call the sun is like the lamp, only far greater and brighter. It giveth light to the whole Overworld and hangeth in the sky.”

“Hangeth from what, my lord?” asked the Witch; and then, while they were all still thinking how to answer her, she added, with another of her soft, silver laughs: “You see? When you try to think out clearly what this sun must be, you cannot tell me. You can only tell me it is like the lamp. Your sun is a dream; and there is nothing in that dream that was not copied from the lamp. The lamp is the real thing; the sun is but a tale, a children’s story.”

From The Horse and His Boy
“What’s it got to do with you if she is [a Talking Horse]?” said the strange rider fiercely, laying hand on sword-hilt. But the voice in which the words were spoken had already told Shasta something.

“Why, it’s only a girl!” he exclaimed.

“And what business is it of yours if I am only a girl?” snapped the stranger. “You’re probably only a boy: a rude, common little boy—a slave probably, who’s stolen his master’s horse.”

“That’s all you know,” said Shasta.

From The Magician’s Nephew
[W]hat you see and hear depends a great deal on where you are standing: it also depends on what sort of person you are.

…When the Lion had first begun singing, long ago when it was still quite dark, he had realized that the noise was a song. And he had disliked the song very much. It made him think and feel things he did not want to think and feel. Then, when the sun rose and he saw that the singer was a lion (“only a lion,” as he said to himself) he tried his hardest to make believe that it wasn’t singing and never had been singing—only roaring as any lion might in a zoo in our own world. “Of course it can’t really have been singing,” he thought, “I must have imagined it. I’ve been letting my nerves get out of order. Who ever heard of a lion singing?” And the longer and more beautiful the Lion sang, the harder Uncle Andrew tried to make himself believe that he could hear nothing but roaring. Now the trouble with trying to make yourself stupider than you really are is that you very often succeed. Uncle Andrew did. He soon did hear nothing but roaring in Aslan’s song. Soon he couldn’t have heard anything else even if he had wanted to.

From The Last Battle
“You must think we’re blooming soft in the head, that you must,” said Griffle. “We’ve been taken in once and now you expect us to be taken in again the next minute. We’ve no more use for stories about Aslan, see!... No thanks. We’ve been fooled once and we’re not going to be fooled again.”

… “Do you mean you don’t believe in the real Aslan?” said Jill. “But I’ve seen him. And he has sent us two here out of a different world.”

“Ah,” said Griffle with a broad smile. “So you say. They’ve taught you your stuff all right. Saying your lessons, ain’t you?”

That’s without digging deeply, and I was going to type quotes from his other stories that I’ve read: Till We Have Faces, The Pilgrim’s Regress, and That Hideous Strength, but I’m tired of typing. Those books are just full of it. You should read them all, but especially That Hideous Strength, if you want to see what the abolition of man looks like and how men without chests behave.

Follow the discussion at Cindy’s blog.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I would like to do an average day post...

but we don't seem to have any average days right now.

Tuesday is our crazy day. I'm actually having to use Google Calendar because we're so busy this term.

I was up at six (which isn't average for me this time of year -- I tend to get up with the sun and right now the sun isn't up till seven) so I read for a while. I'm re-reading CS Lewis's The Pilgrim's Regress. Then I started breakfast and a load of laundry (usually laundry comes later in the day, but Mike needed a clean undershirt. OOPS! I still haven't gotten used to my new washer. I hate it. It's not simple and obedient like my old one and I'm having to change my laundry habits in order to accommodate it.)

Ate breakfast, sent Hubby off to work (with a clean undershirt that was found at the bottom of a basket of clean clothes on top of the dryer), cleaned a little.

Called family to prayers. We use the 1979 Book of Common Prayer because we're used to it, but we're using the Lectionary from the 1928 since that's the prayer book our current church uses. We have a Psalm every day, plus an Old Testament and a New Testament reading, but we got behind and everyone wants to hear the OT stories (we're in II Samuel reading about David's exploits) so we're skipping the NT readings for now.

The OT reading reminded my 12 year old daughter of the story of Perseus in Charles Kingsley's book The Heroes, which we read last spring, so we talked about it, and that led us to our Wall Chart of World History to find when the Trojan War happened (less than a hundred years before King David).

By then it was ten o'clock and time for the three music students to leave for their lesson. The three remaining children and I went back to the kitchen to finish cleaning it while listening to Beethoven's 7th Symphony, and then a friend dropped by for half an hour or so. I haven't seen her in a few weeks so we had a lot of catching up to do. The younger kids played a few rounds of their Monopoly game in the living room while we chatted in the dining room. I sent her off with a half gallon of goat milk.

Then the music students came back home and I remembered that I hadn't fixed any lunch yet (OOPS! I'm still used to Eldest Daughter being here and taking care of that), so we we cooked a chicken/spinach/ricotta cheese dish, but it wasn't finished before the two older girls had to leave for their drama class, so I gave them some money so they could buy fast food on the way (sigh).

I don't remember what I did after that. I know I spent some time on the computer and then I laid down for a while. I also spent fifteen or twenty minutes with my eleven year old son who's playing baseball for the first time this fall, helping him with his batting. Then I went to doctor my injured finger and decided it really was infected and I should call the real doctor, so I did and the nurse said "Come now." Took my Kindle with me and read a couple of chapters of Thomas Shields' The Making and the Unmaking of a Dullard while waiting for Doctor C.

Got back home at four; #1 Son went to pick up his sisters from drama; I took Baseball Son (along with two of his sisters) to practice, then went to Walmart to get my prescription filled (another round of antibiotics, and this time it's completely my fault; I injured my finger on purpose. That is, I asked #1 Son to do it. Long story, but I have cyst or something under the skin of the middle finger on my right hand -- my pencil-holding finger, you see, and it's right in that spot, which makes it uncomfortable. Well, I had this brilliant idea: instead of wasting time and money going to the doctor about it, why don't I just cut it open myself and let the cyst out? Only I'm not brave enough to cut myself, so I asked Son to do it for me and being a good boy, he did. Only the cyst didn't come out -- it's attached, which I was not expecting at all. That's not the bad part though. I was planning to let it heal up and then go to the doctor and let him remove it properly, only my bandage would get wet from doing housework and I wouldn't get around to putting on a fresh bandage until bedtime... so it got infected. Yes, I took a lot of ribbing from the doctor about DIY surgery. He wasn't best pleased, but he's a grandfatherly sort of man and didn't make me feel like a criminal for doing it.)

Went back to the park for the rest of ball practice, came home, ate supper, listened to Hubby reading The Hobbit to the younger four, and wasted another hour in front of the computer. Where I still am, typing this report of our non-average day.

This wasn't even an average Tuesday, what with the doctor and all.

Somewhere in the midst of all that, the children did their farm chores -- looking for eggs, milking the goats and straining and chilling the milk (twice), walking the dog, bringing the goats home when they escaped over the fence... stuff like that. I noticed my twelve-year-old reading Diana Wynne Jones's Dogsbody. My eighteen year old daughter spent some time singing into the computer so she could analyze her voice and improve it. #1 Son spent at least an hour on his algebra and another reading Clarence Carson's Basic American Government and working on his paper. The youngest two spent a lot of time adding up Monopoly money and figuring rents.

I never meant to be an unschooler, but it seems that we are by default.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Their skills have improved somewhat in the last five years

[From the archives, because I’m taking an antibiotic right now and feel generally lousy, but want to post something cheerful – originally posted April 28, 2006.]

Small children playing 20 questions

Child A: “I’m thinking of something.”
Child B: “Animal, vegetable, or mineral?”
Child A: “Mineral.”
Child C: “What is it?”
Child A: “Our goats! Your turn.”

Child C: “I’m thinking of something.”
Child A: “Animal, vegetable, or mineral?”
Child C: “Mama, is the table mineral?”
Mama: “No, it’s vegetable.”
Child C: “Vegetable.”
Child B: “Is it the table?”
Child C: “Yes!”