Sunday, June 10, 2007

Friendship and Encouragement (Don't fear the Atheist)

That's a cheezy title for a blog but we are talking about Tolkien and Lewis so they have enough weight in the genius of their legacy to make up for my lack of creativity.

I was reading Reading Fancy's blog, and I was taken back to the first time I read that Tolkien and Lewis were friends. It is now pretty common knowledge but maybe some of you didn't know that. I am a big Tolkien and Lewis nut so I never get tired of hearing about it.

The neatest thing about their friendship lies in two things for me. First, In the beginning Tolkien befriended an Atheist (Lewis) and was most instrumental in his conversion.

Second, that Lewis, with the gift of encouragement, spurred Tolkien on to complete his Lord of the Rings books and convinced him that other people would like it.

So there you have it. A man that 30 years ago, no one would have ever known was a Christian, Tolkien, influencing an Atheist colleague to Christ, a man everyone now and everywhere identifies with Christianity. Then Lewis goes on to influence an old Devout Catholic that his Mythical world needed to be developed, completed, and shared with the world.

It is no wonder that Lewis described friendship as one of God most precious gifts. I think Americans, specifically males, in some ways have lost touch with true friendships. A great friendship can inspire you to be more than you ever thought or dreamed you could be. At the core of it is the same kind of Love that Christ had for his disciples.

Tolkien wrote this about Lewis: "The unpayable debt I owe to him was not "influence" as it is ordinarily understood, but sheer encouragement. He was for long my only audience. Only from him did I ever get the idea that my "stuff" could be more than a private hobby. But for the encouragement of C.S. Lewis, I don't think I should ever have completed, or offered for publication The Lord of the Rings."

Later, Lewis owed his turning point towards Christianity to this conversation that he had one night with Lewis waking casually by the river after dinner. This came from a letter from Dyson, later confirmed by Tolkien and Lewis.

"After dinner Lewis and Tolkien began discussing the nature of myth. Lewis explained that he felt the power of myths, but that they were ultimately untrue. As he expressed it to Tolkien, myths were 'lies, even though lies breathed through silver.'

"No," Tolkien replied emphatically. "They are not."

Tolkien resumed, arguing that myths, far from being lies, were the best way of conveying truths which would otherwise be inexpressible. He said, "We have come from God, and inevitably the myths woven by us, though they contain error, will also reflect a splintered fragment of the true light, the eternal truth that is with God. Since we are made in the image of God, and since God is the Creator, part of the imageness of God in us is the gift of creativity. The creation- or more correctly, the sub-creation- of stories or myths is merely a reflection of the image of the Creator in us. The story of Christ was the True Myth, a myth that works in the same way as the others, but a myth that really happened- a myth that existed in the realm of fact as well as in the realm of truth. In the same way that men unraveled the truth through the weaving of story, God revealed the Truth through the weaving of history."

Can you imagine Tolkien would have shunned a true friendship because of a religious disagreement? And furthermore, aside from the conversion, can you imagine if both of the talented and gifted men would have kept their mutual admiration to themselves, seeing a rival instead of a friend?

6 comments:

Kay the Encourager said...

Thank you for your article on encouragement. Our world needs encouragement and because I have experienced first hand how important it is, I have dedicated my life to that end! Please see and review www.howtoencourage.com.

May I use the quote from Lewis on my site/blog?

Chaotic Hammer said...

"I think Americans, specifically males, in some ways have lost touch with true friendships. A great friendship can inspire you to be more than you ever thought or dreamed you could be. At the core of it is the same kind of Love that Christ had for his disciples."

You so nailed it here, Seth. The attacks on various aspects of manhood, brotherly love, deeply devoted friendship, etc have been so numerous, and gone on for so long now -- I think it's almost beyond description just how far away from the mark we really are, and just how much has been stolen from us.

Jessica said...

Hi Seth!It was great to read about Tolkien and Lewis, both stalwarts in their own way.Such friendships are rare these days.Could you let me know some more celebrated author friends, which are famous in history?

MamasBoy said...

"Tolkien resumed, arguing that myths, far from being lies, were the best way of conveying truths which would otherwise be inexpressible."

I love that line. Thanks for sharing it.

Seth Ward said...

Kay, Feel free to use whatever you want!

C-hammer, Yes, it is a shame that two buddies can't goe to the movies without everyone thinking that they are doing it. (yes I just said "doing it.")

I reject these things. Men need each other for strength. Period. If you isolate yourself you will find that you can become pretty darn weird.

Jessica, I couldn't name any more off hand that shared this kind of friendship without doing the research. I remember hearing quite a few good freindships but again... the old memory ain't what she used to be. I could name you a bunch of famous composers though! Mozart-Haydn, Liszt-Chopin, Bach-Handel, Copeland-Bernstein...


MB, That is one of my favorites as well.

Frank Martens said...

Can you imagine Tolkien would have shunned a true friendship because of a religious disagreement?

And that my friend, is 90% of the battle between fellow Christians. Is to not allow theological differences separate friendship... EVEN if that person isn't saved because that friendship could spur on salvation.