Guard your imagination!

She was still in her innocence. No evil intention had been formed in her mind. But if her will was uncorrupted, half her imagination was already filled with bright, poisonous shapes.

C.S. Lewis, Perelandra, Chapter 10.

In any sustained battle between the imagination and the will, the imagination eventually wins.

That, too, in almost a direct quote, is Lewis (retrieved from my memory).

Weston’s (actually, the UnMan’s) grinding away at The Lady, which I remembered as tedious from my long-ago reading, brilliantly illustrates both the power of “narrative” and the ingenuity with which the evil one seduces us. Sophistry having failed, the UnMan turned to stories of heroic feminine boldness – dozens, hundreds, thousands of stories.

Ransom saw that they were having their effect, and acted accordingly.

We must, must, must guard our imaginations!

* * * * *

I’d prefer no orchestration, but the striking Georgian harmony comes through (and I’m pretty sure the Church exterior is Samtavra, not the Tblisi Cathedral).

You can read most of my more impromptu stuff at here. It should work in your RSS aggregator, like Feedly, should you want to make a habit of it.

Sumptuous Sunday Banquet

  1. Around the Corner
  2. The Truth of Mary
  3. Math, Reason and Civilization
  4. A Gifted Existence
  5. The Poetry of God
  6. Human Tradition in a Modern World
  7. Excuse Me, You Are Not Rational
  8. Atheism and the Imagination
  9. About Fairy Tales
  10. Making It Up in America
  11. A Faerie Apocalypse
  12. The Elves Have Left the Building
  13. Theology and Faerie – The Modern Tragedy

I have fallen far behind on Fr. Stephen Freeman’s blog by a full baker’s dozen. Laid low by laryngitis, I have caught up. Here’s an uncommonly long Sunday Banquet in addition to my earlier offering. (Note the many tags and few categories; Fr. Stephen thinks outside my box.)
Continue reading “Sumptuous Sunday Banquet”

Calvinist Concessions galore – why not Orthodoxy?

I seldom comment critically on Reformed Christianity – Calvinism, my last waystation before Orthodoxy – but a very telling set of concessions from a Calvinist scholar leaves me wondering what thoughtful Calvinists think they stand to lose by

  • giving up on restoring missing elements of balance to Calvinism and
  • returning to the Church that never abandoned those elements.

Continue reading “Calvinist Concessions galore – why not Orthodoxy?”

Cigarettes, terror, and Barack Obama: Glamour is Serious Stuff

So many insights, so little time!

Virginia Postrel at the Weekly Standard writes of “the deeper meaning of glamour,” opening with an anecdote about a C-Span Booknotes watcher who was disappointed that she was involved with the website “DeepGlamour” instead of something serious.

Boy, what a moron! What could be more serious than Deep Glamour? (C-Span’s founder, Brian Lamb, by the way, is a local boy made good.)

Postrel names and reminds readers of a very important pervasive, perhaps even fundamental, human reality: our ability to be persuaded by a bit of mystery – even taken in as suckers (though she doesn’t say that).

As critics who denounce movies that “glamorize violence” or “glamorize smoking” understand, glamour is much more than style. It is a potent tool of persuasion, a form of nonverbal rhetoric that heightens and focuses desire, particularly the longing for transformation (an ideal self) and escape (in a new setting). Glamour is all about hope and change. It lifts us out of everyday experience and makes our desires seem attainable. …

Glamour can, of course, sell evening gowns, vacation packages, and luxury kitchens. But it can also promote moon shots and “green jobs,” urban renewal schemes and military action. (The “glamour of battle” long preceded the glamour of Hollywood.) Californians once found freeways glamorous; today they thrill to promises of high-speed rail. “Terror is glamour,” said Salman Rushdie in a 2006 interview, identifying the inspiration of jihadi terrorists. New Soviet Man was a glamorous concept. So is the American Dream.

Barack Obama was elected partly because his “campaign’s iconography employed classically glamorous themes, with its stylized portraits of the candidate gazing into the distance and its logo of a road stretching toward the horizon.”

Glamour is Serious Stuff. Serious enough that I’m adding it as a category.

My grandmother used to recoil as we watched circus performers in tight or skimpy (by the day’s standards) outfit on black and white television: “Does your mother let you to look at that?” (That’s not a typo; that was one of her speech mannerisms unless my memory is fooling me and she really did say “allow you to look”.) She probably was dimly aware (she of humble origins, widowed at 29 years and for 65 years beyond, worker of fingers-to-the-bone) that this contraption, popularized after her 50th year on earth, was somehow subversive and potentially transformative by bringing glamour into the home in a new way.

It occurs to me that one of the implications of Postrel’s insight is that parents – if they allow their children to watch television at all – need to begin early and age-appropriately to point out the manipulativeness of so much of it, and not just the commercials. The trouble is, identifying the manipulativeness of the shows themselves requires some real work. When smoking was already accepted, who’d have thought that smoking characters were committing glamourization? When consumerism is already accepted ….

I highly commend the article.