Rolfing Unshelved

Books, news, and events from TIU's Rolfing Library


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Book Displays: November e-Books

For the month of November, Rolfing Library is highlighting resources on St. Augustine, Media, and Food Justice. A number of books and media items have been selected out and put on display on the red shelves in the front of the lobby. But there are also a number of electronic resources that we’d like to share with you. Here are a few e-books which I found to be interesting and there are a good deal more available.

Food Justice

9781442214460_p0_v1_s260x420   Buyinf into Fair Trade   9781107617896   FairTrade-Linton

Media

online edu    future minds    google and search    media frontier

St. Augustine

augustine incarnation word    augustine nature   augustine stricken     theology of augustine

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CS Lewis: Beyond the Wardrobe

lewis_time

CS Lewis on the cover of Time Magazine
Sept. 8, 1947

At the end of this month, we’ll be commemorating the 50th anniversary of the death of a man who, I’m willing to argue, had a more substantial role in the shaping of Western Christianity in the 20th century than any other writer: Clive Staples (CS) Lewis.

For many Christians, myself included, tales of a giant tawny lion and the children who accompany him through his many adventures have captured a special place in our minds and hearts. On many an occasion, I’ve found myself fighting imaginary battles alongside the heroic mouse Reepicheep or plodding through the (melting!) snow with the stalwart Beavers. And I’m not alone — Aslan and his friends have helped millions of people, both young in age and young at heart, get to know in a new and creative way the God who loves them enough to send His son to die for them.

But what many readers may not know is that “Jack,” as his friends knew him, was much more prolific in publishing and wider in reach than merely these seven Chronicles of Narnia. Case in point: if you run a simple author search on “CS Lewis” in TrinCat, you’ll come up with over 100 results. So, what are these books? Of course, I’m not going to list them all here — I would like to keep from running off the blog fans we currently have — but I’ll give you a general idea of the kinds of genres he camped out in:

Fiction

  • Fantasy. No surprise here. Obviously, the Narnia books are in this category; if you like them, you may also want to check out The Great Divorce, in which Lewis describes what might just happen if the inhabitants of hell were allowed to take a field trip up beyond the pearly gates.
  • Science Fiction. Lewis’ Space Trilogy details the exploits of Elwin Ransom, an earthling philologist (language scholar), as he travels to various planets in our solar system. Perelandra, the second book in the series, is arguably the best — it’s a masterful retelling of the biblical Garden of Eden account.
  • Allegorical/Theological. Never one to separate his faith from his creativity, Lewis also wrote fiction with a decidedly “Christian Development” flavor. Notable among these are The Pilgrim’s Regress (a new spin on John Bunyan’s classic describing his own faith journey) and The Screwtape Letters (the correspondence of a high-ranking demon to his rookie nephew, who has just taken on a new “patient”).

Non-Fiction

  • Theology. Although Lewis claimed to be an “avowed atheist” at age 15, his conversion later in life led to arguably some of the most anointed writing on the person and character of God produced in the 20th century. One of his best-known works in this area is God in the Dock, a series of essays in which he argues that rather than be judged by God as we ought (the “dock” is where a British defendant stands in the courtroom), we all too often put God there and cross-examine Him ourselves.
  • Apologetics. As a celebrated orator and educator (he taught literature at the University of Cambridge), Lewis definitely knew how to make an argument. His mastery in defending the faith simply and compellingly is probably the biggest key to his huge influence. And it’s in this area that you can find the book that, if you read no other work of his in your life, you have to read: Mere Christianity. Within these pages Lewis takes a series of radio talks he gave across BBC Radio during the darkest days of World War II and molds them into one of the most straightforward, down-to-earth defenses of the existence of God and the primacy of the Christian faith that you’ll ever read. And once Mere Christianity whets your appetite for Lewis’ style, you’ll want to continue by reading The Four Loves, in which he explains the different ways that we humans can love (and which way is appropriate for which circumstance).
  • Everything Else but the Kitchen Sink. I could go on and describe countless others of Lewis’ books, but you’re probably going on recommendation overload at this point. So I’ll quickly wrap up by mentioning that he wrote multiple autobiographies (Surprised by Joy is especially good), poetry anthologies, treatises on literary criticism and educational theory, studies on other authors… I think you get the picture.

So, hopefully by this point you realize that there’s more to CS Lewis than four British children stumbling through a magical wardrobe. There’s a reason why he’s one of the most celebrated authors of our time — and there’s no better way to celebrate his memory than by checking out one of his many volumes. Happy reading!


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Pirates of Penzance: The Very Model of a Modern Major Musical

penzance

Drawing of the final of Act I of The Pirates of Penzance from The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News, 1880.

Tomorrow evening the “curtain” will rise at ATO for this year’s fall musical, Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of PenzancePirates tells the story of Frederic, a duty-bound young man who has been apprenticed to the Tarantula and the band of pirates who sail her. This crew of scalawags isn’t quite what you would expect out of marine marauders, however; as orphans themselves, they are conscience-bound to release any orphans they capture. (A noble plan, to be sure — but word gets out and their fortunes take a downward turn as they encounter ship after ship of “orphans.”) With Frederic’s twenty-first birthday comes his first breath of freedom; his contract expires and he is given an opportunity to see the real world. Having sailed the seas for his entire life up to this point, Frederic has only ever set eyes on his former nursemaid Ruth (now the “maid of all work” aboard the Tarantula), and thus believes her to be the most beautiful woman on earth. The rest of the crew, however, knows better — and convinces him to take her along as he begins his new life. Frederic bids a fond adieu to his former crewmates, but alerts them to the fact that, as one who is driven by duty, he will now make it his life’s goal to see these piratical vermin exterminated.

Ashore, Frederic professes his love for Ruth, and she finally reveals her long-held secret: she made a mistake. Frederic’s parents intended him to be apprenticed to a pilot (a naval captain), but Ruth’s deafness caused her to mistake the command and to seek out a band of pirates. Realizing her error, she couldn’t show her face to Frederic’s parents, and so instead stayed on board the Tarantula. At that point, Frederic and Ruth are overtaken by a group of young women enjoying the beach on a sunny day. At his first glance of these beautiful ladies, Frederic realizes that he has been sorely misguided in his love for Ruth, and banishes her from his sight. Frederic reveals his presence to the young women and asks them to help him reform his ways; only one, Mabel, volunteers her services. Not surprisingly, she and Frederic quickly fall in love. Frederic warns the girls of the nearby pirates, but the crew returns and captures the young girls, intending to marry them. The girls’ father (Major General Stanley) arrives, and knowing the pirates’ reputation, claims to be an orphan in order to reclaim his daughters. The ruse works, but his conscience starts to plague him. He and his daughters gather at a ruined chapel on their estate to pray, and are met by the Sergeant of Police and his corps, who intend to arrest the crew of the Tarantula. They go to seek out the pirates, and Frederic, who is left behind, is met by the Pirate King and Ruth, who come with startling news: the contract for Frederic’s apprenticeship states that he would be indentured to the pirates until his twenty-first birthday. The only problem, however, is that Frederic was born on February 29th. Thus, his 21st birthday, and the end of his indentured servitude, is now over 60 years away… and only time will tell how these knots will get untangled. (Come to ATO this weekend to see how.)

Pirates of Penzance made its debut on New Year’s Eve in 1879 at the Fifth Avenue Theater in New York City to overwhelming popular and critical acclaim. Three months later marked its London premier. This was the fifth collaboration between Arthur Sullivan and W.S. Gilbert; still riding on the commercial and critical success of their comic opera HMS Pinafore (which opened the year previous), they decided to continue the pattern of poking fun both at the British Navy and the conventions of “grand opera.” For Pirates, they expanded and revised elements of Gilbert’s one-act play Our Island Home, which also included a duty-bound pirate mistakenly apprenticed. Most notable within this work, however, is the role of Major General Stanley; easily the most famous (and parodied) of the songs within the operetta is his self-introduction, “I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major General.” (It’s been “borrowed” everywhere from GEICO commercials to Veggie Tales.) On the whole, Pirates is largely considered to be Gilbert and Sullivan’s best work; it’s easily their most popular, and is still regularly performed by professional and amateur theatrical companies alike.

If what you see this weekend piques your interest, or if you can’t make it out to the show, check out the Rolfing holdings on Pirates of Penzance

See you at the show!


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NaNoWriMo… huh?

nanowrimo2Do you consider yourself a wordsmith? Have a great idea for a story, but need a little push to get yourself moving on it? Then November’s the month for you. Why November, you ask? Because it’s National Novel Writing Month. In 30 days, contributors from all over the world log onto the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) website and track their progress as they aspire to write a 50,000-word novel.

NaNoWriMo actually got its start in July of 1999, when freelance writer Chris Baty and 21 of his friends in the San Francisco Bay area launched their ambitious goal — and many of them achieved it. The following year, Baty moved the project to November (to take better advantage of the not-so-exciting weather) and saw 140 participants on his newly-created website. In 2001, 5,000 people registered; 2002 saw a roll of 14,000; and by 2010, over 200,000 aspiring novelists joined in the fun. Last year, according to the website, “341,375 participants started the month as auto mechanics, out-of-work actors, and middle school English teachers. They walked away novelists.”

So, how exactly does NaNoWriMo play out? There aren’t necessarily “rules” per se, but the general idea is this:

  • Go to NaNoWriMo.org and sign up. On the site, you can find encouraging stories and messages, networking opportunities with other aspiring novelists, the daily “NaNoToons” comic, and other resources to help you as you trek through your novel.
  • Beginning at midnight on November 1, start writing a story. (I know that this post is coming out a few days late, but you can make up that time.) Your work can be in any fictional genre you want, talking about anybody or anything that piques your interest. Fanfiction (using characters and/or settings from other stories) is acceptable — since, as the website says, “If you believe you’re writing a novel, we believe you’re writing a novel too.” The only stipulation is that you have to do it by yourself. This is a solo marathon, not a relay race.
  • Write whenever and wherever you want. If the muse strikes at 2:37 in the morning, go for it. If you get a great idea as you’re having lunch at Panera, work it through.
  • Keep track of your progress on some sort of platform that provides a word count — MS Word, Pages for Mac, and Open Office Write all have this functionality. Remember, you’re aiming for 50,000 words in 30 days, which comes out to roughly 1,700 words a day. (Just as a point of reference, this blog post contains 614 words.) The NaNoWriMo site also gives you the opportunity to update your word count progress, so that you can celebrate your success and hold yourself accountable.
  • Starting on November 25, you can copy and paste the text of your story into their word validator. If your total count is over 50,000, you’ll be declared a winner and will have access to “a few prime novelist goodies.”

Now, if you’ll notice, nowhere in any of the descriptions of this novel is word one mentioned about actual quality. That’s not what’s important here. There’s plenty of time to edit afterwards — what matters here is that you actually get those words out in front of you. But does that mean that everything that comes out of this November authorial marathon is junk? Not at all. Case in point: Water for Elephants — yes, THAT Water for Elephants (the one that got turned into a movie starring Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon), was a 2005 NaNoWriMo contribution.

So, are you ready? We here at Rolfing would love to hear about any of you folks that feel so inclined to take on this challenge; we can cheer you on, and celebrate with you when you’ve crossed the finish line. Plus, who knows? Maybe your story can find its way onto our shelves!