Monday, May 01, 2006

Blog post # 10 My Fairy Tale Experience

Well here we are at the last week… papers, stories, and peer reviews are due tomorrow. The end is almost here. It has been a wonderful class as I said in my last post, and I will miss it. Thanks to everyone in the class for making it fun, and especially our Professor Dale Sullivan.

For my last post on this blog, I will tell you a story about a guy who took on the challenge of writing one small “lost” chapter from The Chronicles of Narnia. Well when our classmate Jasmin brought up this idea of writing a fairy tale, she made it sound very easy. As a matter of fact she sat down the next day and wrote eight pages in a few hours. Well, I thought, maybe I should try it as well. I mean after all for years people have told me that I have a wild imagination. So, I decided to give it a go.

I sat down at the computer and wrote at a blazing speed (one finger at a time may not qualify for a blaze, but you get the idea) for about the first two hundred words and then it hit me. I had no idea where this was going or how to get there. What was I going to do now! All I could think was “thanks a lot Jasmin!…English majors, they all love to write, but I’m NOT an English major.” Anyway, I decided to take a different approach and actually think of what I wanted to do with the story before I tried to write it. I know, novel approach, but after all I am a graphics major.

So I finally decided that I wanted to use something from the Bible and try to work it into my story somehow. Now I know that Lewis would not approve of my method, but he isn’t here, so I decided that would work best for me.

In the long run it was much more difficult to do than I had ever imagined and I now have a much bigger respect for anyone who writes for a living. I did however enjoy the experience very much and would not be opposed to trying it again in the future. I will be posting my story later so that my friends may read it. I hope it makes sense and that everyone enjoys it. I am certainly no CS Lewis or Madeleine L’Engle, but I had fun pretending for a few days.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Blog post # 9 Coming to the End

Well as we come to the end of our reading for this class, I have decided that this class has been my most enjoyable while studying here in Maastricht. It has been fun reading so much in such a short time. For me that was something I worried about going into this class, but was very pleasantly surprised when it became a joy and not a burden.

Our first few days were a bit scary because I don’t think any of us really wanted to read out loud, but everyone did a wonderful job and the fact that we didn’t do it nearly as much as we first thought we would was an added benefit.

Of all the books we read I must say I liked The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe the most. I think that is because I have read much more about the author, C.S. Lewis. I can feel his presents in the book and many times pretend that he is reading it to me with his British accent. There is something special about that to me, it makes the story more inviting and gives me some kind of connection.

I am quite sorry to see the end of this class. I am not sure as I finish my undergrad studies and move on to grad school and whatever else God has planned for me, that I will have so much time to enjoy this genre of literature. I will however, make time to read it at every opportunity to my children and now I will do so with a much better understanding of the works myself.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Blog Post # 8 A Wind in the Door

This second book in the series started out slow, but mid-way through picked up steam. The one thing that I feel L’Engle seems to carry through these first two books is the idea of selflessness. In A Wrinkle in Time we saw how Meg gave of herself without knowing the outcome. We see this same idea in A Wind in the Door as Meg and Mr. Jenkins throw themselves into the swirling vortex of death to save the farandolae and Charles Wallace. However, we also see it in the Naming I think. Turning your attention to others and saying good things about them. When Meg is forced to think of the good in Mr. Jenkins she has turned away from any selfish feelings and to the outward expression of finding something positive about someone who earlier she could find nothing good to say.

Another good example is when Proginoskes states in Chapter 10, “When we seek our own pleasure as the ultimate good we place ourselves as the center of the universe.” God teaches us to think of others not ourselves. This is one of those great lessons to teach children in these books.

One thing that started out an interesting idea was the kything. This whole idea of entering someone else’s mind and communicating with them is great and fun to think about, especially as a child, but it seem to go on way to long for me. I was getting tired of the back and forth jumping around after a while and just wanted everyone to die so it would stop. Ok, not really, but it could have ended a bit earlier I think.

All in all I think the book was pretty good and well worth adding to the stories I want to read to my children.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Blog Post # 7 Communication in the World Beyond but a Quick Goodbye

As I was finishing A Wrinkle in Time I was thinking of how difficult it was for Meg when she was trying to explain to Aunt Beast what things looked like. Aunt Beast’s replied, “we do not know what things look like, as you say.” “We know what things are like. It must be a very limiting thing, this seeing.” I suppose if you really think about that statement, it is so very true. Our sight does limit what we see in things.

I felt like chapter 11 offered a big lesson in communication. Verbal communication becomes a real problem for our trio, as the tentacled beings don’t understand our primitive language, or the fact that we must use word descriptions to describe someone.

When a person loses their site, they must adjust by seeing with the other senses. Taste, touch, hearing, and feeling all become more important, just as we would become more aware of what a gift they are. These are all forms of communication, ways of describing something that we can’t see. I like the way L’Engle uses this lack of communication skills to show us how to become more aware.

I was somewhat disappointed with the ending of the story. I felt the ending would be much more exciting. The dark demon “Thing” didn’t put much of a fight and that was strange to me. I know he was no match for Love, but come on; he could have given it the old college try! He gave up and that was the end. With that said, I really enjoyed A Wrinkle in Time…it was a fun read and something that I hope to read to my son when I return home.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Blog Post # 6 Good vs. Evil and a second look at details!

Wow…you can really feel the forces of good and evil at work in the latest reading of A Wrinkle in Time. I take back everything I said in my last post about not being drawn into the story. The demonic possession of Charles Wallace is pretty scary stuff. He is warned earlier by Mrs. Whatsit that he will be the most vulnerable but can’t resist trying to save his father when the time comes. We are however reminded that Charles Wallace is merely a child after Mrs. Whatsit gave him the dire warning before sending the children off to save dad and the world. “Charles Wallace butted up against Mrs. Whatsit in the way that he often did with his mother, whispering; “Now I think I know what you meant about being afraid.”” (WiT 102) Of course I dare say, I would have been running fast in the other direction long before that.

Another scene that was pretty weird was when they arrived in the town and all the houses were exactly alike and the children were all skipping rope and bouncing balls to the same rhythm. This identical and rhythmic pattern made Charles Wallace and Calvin want to turn back, but interestingly enough it was one of Meg’s faults, that of impatience, which made them stay the course…remember Mrs. Whatsit had told her that her faults would come in handy…smart lady!

After reading my classmates’ blogs after class today, I decided that maybe I was not paying enough attention to the details imparted by L’Engle. As I statedin my last post, I felt Lewis wrote with more detail than I had found in my first reading of L’Engle. Well today I went back and tried to figure out what made me feel that way, and I discovered that perhaps it wasn’t less detail but maybe the descriptions themselves. I think I find Lewis’ details more vivid, and perhaps richer. This could also be because of the difference in the amount of dialogue in L’Engle’s book verses the scene setting in Lewis’ work. I say “I think’ because I am not really sure that is what it is. If I sound confused, it’s because I am. I have never done comparisons of authors before and I find it quite challenging, but enjoyable none the less. I look forward to figuring out more about what I like or find different about our two authors.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Blog Post # 5 The Interestingly Odd Characters of... A Wrinkle in Time

I found when I started our new reading assignment, Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, that I had a different feeling…one of curiosity. I think the reason is that I have never read any of her works, and I didn’t know anything of the characters or the story like I did for LWW. This I found was a nice surprise. I also found the story thus far very entertaining. I, like many who read this, was drawn immediately to the character of Charles Wallace, the young genius who plays dumb. His kindness and willing to please attitude reminds me of my young son, and it made me smile when he insisted on fixing his mother a sandwich…something that my Justin also enjoys doing for anyone who will trust his culinary skills. It is very hard however, to imagine a boy so young having a mind with such wonderful capacity, but L’Engle convinces you that he is special from the very beginning, and this makes it work.

The other characters in the story are quite interesting as well... Meg, the sister who thinks of herself as odd and unattractive: Calvin, the sports star that can’t be himself to his friends, but loves being with Meg and Charles Wallace: The intelligent and beautiful mother Mrs. Murry, who has had to endure the gossip of the town’s people. And of course the odd ladies in the haunted house…Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which. This odd mix of characters promises some interesting situations…I can just feel it.

As for the story itself, I found it easier to read than LWW, perhaps this is simply the difference between British and American English. I also noticed that I was not absorbed into the story as much as those from Lewis. I think this is because of the lack of detail in the surroundings and characters as compared to that of the LWW for instance. It will be interesting to see if L’Engle’s style of writing pulls me into the story as we get more into the action. I am looking forward to comparing these two wonderful writers.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Blog Post # 4 The wisdom of the Marsh-wiggle

As I finished the tale of The Silver Chair I began to think about who in this story was the real hero. Who had done the most to help save Prince Rilian? Well, I came to the conclusion that Puddleglum was my hero.

Puddleglum decided to help the children as much for his own well being as that of Prince Rilian. He was considered by other wiggles as flighty and one who did not take life serious enough, so he found the opportunity as very self serving. However, his character made all the difference throughout the story. Let me give a few examples.

In chapter 6, he argued that the giants’ bridge was more likely the work of a sorcerer than that of the giants, who didn’t seem to have the brains to build such a structure. He warned the children to beware of enchantments in a place like this. Later he warned of going to stay with the giants because Aslan’s signs has said nothing of the sort.

In chapter 7, when Jill and Scrubb had gone down into the narrow trenches to try and find the way, he asked Jill if she was sure they were on the right sign and not out of order…Jill and Scrubb of course ignored his warning.

Jumping ahead to chapter 12, when all hope of resisting the witch’s enchantment was about lost, he had the wherewithal and bravery to stamp out the fire with his foot and break the spell. This of course led to the destruction of the witch and the saving of Narnia and Prince Rilian.

I find it very interesting that Lewis gave this unsightly character such a heroic place in The Silver Chair, however, maybe one lesson here is that we sometimes look for heroes in the wrong people. In today’s society we look all too often at the outside when maybe we should pay more attention to where the real person lives...the heart.