Sunday, July 26, 2009

Puddleglum Theology Launched

Today I spent over seven hours doing something I've wanted to do for a while. With the help of google sites, I've created a central website for what I'm lovingly calling Puddleglum Theology.

What is Puddleglum Theology? If you've ever read The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, and especially the fourth book in the series The Silver Chair, you might have a clue. If you're completely in the dark about all of this, here's an excerpt from The Silver Chair and the introduction to the Puddleglum Theology website to shed some light:

"I'm a chap who always liked to know the worst and then put the best face I can on it. So I won't deny any of what you said. But there's one thing more to be said, even so. Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things--trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that's a funny thing when you come to think of it. We're just babies making up a game, if you're right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That's why I'm going to stand by the play-world. I'm on Aslan's side even if there isn't any Aslan to lead it. I'm going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn't any Narnia."
- Puddleglum, from The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis

Welcome to Puddleglum Theology! The underlying ethos behind this website is contained in the above quote. I enjoy mystery and myth, beauty and brightness. I would rather take a stand for the world of story than suffer under the burden of mere fact. Not that facts are not useful, or reason an integral part of living and knowing. But, as Madeleine L'Engle expresses, "if we limit ourselves to the possible and provable...we render ourselves incapable of change and growth, and that is something that should never end." (The Rock That Is Higher, 100) She continues: "perhaps it is the child within us who is able to recognize the truth of story--the mysterious, the numinous, the unexplainable--and the grown-up within us who accepts these qualities with joy but understands that we also have responsibilities, that a promise is to be kept, homework is to be done, that we ow other people courtesy and consideration, and that we need help to care for our planet because it's the only one we've got." (TRTIH, 100) Perhaps my outlook on life can be more accurately portrayed by another quote from C.S. Lewis, this time from an essay on "Three Ways of Writing for Children," "When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up." (On Stories, 34)

I sincerely believe that there is more to life than we can accurately portray with mere facts, more to truth than statistics and analytical thinking can produce. I do not always live like a child, but I deeply desire that way of life. I want to wonder again, to be in awe more often, to wrestle with the unknown under a dark moon and somehow end up with both a blessing and a new name. I want to celebrate mystery, all the while seeking to understand. I want to be joyful, knowing full well how grim things truly are. I want to love indiscriminately, and fight injustice passionately. I hope that you'll join me.

On this website you'll find a page that reproduces my blog: There Is No Fear In Love, a growing compendium of quotes from my favorite authors and a discussion page where I'll post questions/thoughts for discussion. And, hopefully, more things in the future. So, again, welcome to Puddleglum Theology!

So, there you have it! Puddleglum Theology has been launched. If you are interested in Puddleglum Theology and would like to submit quotes relevant to the themes presented, e-mail them to me at and I'll try to add them to our growing list of Wiggle Wisdom in the Wigwam Word Archive. Or, if you've written an article or blogpost relating to Puddleglum Theology, I can add that to Respectobiggle Research. Make sure to check out other quotes and articles on the Puddleglum Theology website. Here's the address:

Or you can just click on any of the times I've listed Puddleglum Theology in this post.

Thanks for sticking with me, faithful reader!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Loving A Place

I have lived in and called home three places: Salt Lake City, UT; Alma, MI; and now Princeton, NJ. Until this afternoon, at 1:00PM, I had been reticent to call Princeton my home. For, you see, I need to fall in love with a place and hear it speak to me before I can call it home. I have fallen in love with the people in a particular place and, in so doing, have been able to be comfortable living there (Charlotte, NC, for instance, where my mother, father, sister and nephews live), but I have not yet been able to call a location HOME, unless I have fallen in love with it.

Falling in love with something on a map is not exactly like falling in love with people. I knew I loved my eldest nephew from the first minute I saw him, mere moments after he had been born, his small, rumpled form held in my sister’s tired arms. I cannot remember the transformative moment when wide-eyed dependency upon my parents for sustenance became affection for the lovingly imperfect humans that they are, but I can recall the moments in my young adulthood when I made a conscious decision to love them, disregarding the monstrous angst that threatened to overwhelm me. I can pinpoint each step in loving my wife so far, from acquaintance to interest to romantic possibility all the way to a still blossoming love. In each of these relationships are the seeds of loving a place, but with one great difference. In my experience, places don’t begin to speak to you until you love them.

Similar to my experience with my parents, my love of Salt Lake City, the home of my birth and my upbringing, is dim and hazy at the beginning, but full of decisions to love despite its flaws. Likewise, my love for Alma, my second home, parallels my love for my wife, a step-by-step process. But in the human relationships, while I was still learning about my love for them, the people spoke to me, gave me reasons, inspiration. I interacted with them, pondered them, held them. I do not do this with places until I already love them; they do not speak to me until I do.

Today, at 1:00PM, with no forewarning, I understood that I loved Princeton, NJ. I realized that I could love this place, this geographical oddity, this garden stop on the road between Philadelphia and New York City, and Princeton began to speak to me. It was as if scales dropped from my eyes, my ears popped and I shed my winter coat. Until this afternoon, I might have been watching a silent movie, but no longer. Princeton began to speak to me. As I walked out of our campus dining center, I was overcome by warm sun-glow on the flowers, birds softly weaving their melodies, and people walking by in conversation. Held back by the winds of a gentle affection, I stood on the cafeteria porch, unable to move, or perhaps unwilling, filling my senses with a new home. Princeton began to speak to me. Or perhaps I finally listened. And now I can call it home.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Testing, Testing

Testing, Testing. *taps the microphone* Is anyone out there?

Despite all appearances to the contrary, I have not abandoned this blog, though I could be charged with severe neglect. Unfortunately, time (and life) have gotten away from me in the past few months. Consider this post, however, my triumphal return (or my slow walk of shame, tail between my legs).

I hope only this, that I can improve my blogging to at least once a week (a feasible goal, and a definite improvement over once every three months!).

So, here's to blogging!

Thanks for sticking with me (if you have, and even if you haven't) faithful readers!