Session #31: September 22nd, 2010

First edition cover
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In this session, we will finish answering the questions about “Out of the Silent Planet”, and begin reading the second book in this science fiction trilogy, Perelandra.  This story deals with several important matters regarding Christianity. Reading this story is a good way to learn about Christian values.

Anyone is welcome. In fact, as we will be starting a new book today, this session would be a good time to join or re-join our informal reading group. I will bring photocopies of the first chapter of Perelandra, for those who do not have their own copy of the book. (I will also bring extra copies of the worksheets for “Out of the Silent Planet“.)

I will bring worksheets for “Perelandra”. You will read the novel at home, in your own time. The worksheets are not compulsory, but I recommend them. The questions will help you

  • focus on the key points of the text,
  • get more out of reading the story.

We will discuss the novel in the next two or three sessions by discussing our answers to the worksheets. To answer some of these questions, you will need a Bible. A Japanese Bible should be sufficient. (The language in the English Bible, although beautiful, is very difficult, and should only be attempted by advanced learners of English.)

As always, the discussions will be in English, and in our sessions I will refer to the English version of the book (I will be using this paperback edition). However, it is perfectly ok to read the book  in Japanese. In fact, I encourage you to do so.

  1. Reading the book in Japanese only is better than not reading the book at all.
  2. Reading the book (any book) in both Japanese AND English is perhaps THE most powerful language-learning method of all.
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12 thoughts on “Session #31: September 22nd, 2010”

  1. “A pleasure is full grown only when it is remembered. You are speaking, Hman, as if the pleasure were one thing and the memory another. It is all one thing. ….. What you call remembering is the last part of the pleasure……….” (p.74)

    This is one of my favorite quotes from “Silent Planet”. This reminds me of the ending words of Shadowlands: “The pain now is part of the happiness then. That’s the deal.”

  2. I pondered about “hnakra”.

    Hnakra is a fierce aqua-creature living by instinct. It seems to be only one danger in the peaceful living of Malacandra. Hyoi says “The hnakra is our enemy, but he is also our beloved. …… I do not think the forest would be so bright, nor the water so warm, nor love so sweet, if there were no danger in the lakes.”(p.76) This might sound exaggerated but it seems to me that the existence of hnakura even makes life worth living.

    How about replacing the word “hnakura” with “suffering” in the quotation above. In our world, there are times when we experience suffering physically and mentally. Any one would like to avoid sufferings, but on a second thought sufferings are part of the richness of life: they could make life experiences so real. We really can appreciate the happy time because we know the bad time.

    I think Lewis didn’t take suffering just as negative thing but the way to real pleasure.

    1. Suffering and sorrowing can not be extinguished but can be overcome. We have to overcome them. And even if we were in shadowlands, we have to find new open future. That is human destiny, I think. We have to cherish today’s life because life is a gift from God.

      1. What is “destiny”? Rational creatures can make choices. The Christian point of view seems to be that people must come to God (become Christian) OF THEIR OWN FREE WILL. In other words, it must be their concsioucs choice. “Destiny” to me suggests there is no choice.

        By the way, Ayn Rand wrote somewhere that rationality is a choice. In other words, although human beings are born as rational creatures (“hnau”, to use C.S. Lewis’ word), they have the choice to use their ability to think or not. It is not destiny. We do not HAVE to think. We can choose not to think, and instead to rely on what other people do or say, rely on our emotions or feelings, or on our intuitions.

        1. Perhaps another way to think about rationality is expressed in the words of my teacher and mentor: “Your ability to think is God’s gift to you. What you think ABOUT is your gift to yourself.”

        2. In the previous sentence, I meant ‘destiny’ as following: Whenever we overcome the suffering and find new open future, we always have to make a choice. We have to choose how to overcome (because there are many ways) and what future we should find (cause many future be thought).
          I think those are choices, too. Anyway, at anytime, always we have to make choices with our will, with accompanied rationality which you mention, “what you think about is your gift to yourself.” Especially when we face serious problem or hardships, choices are very difficult for me.
          Having to choose is itself human destiny. (「どちらかを選択をしなければならない」と言う事,それ自体が人間の宿命である。)
          And so, we should cherish today’s life with many thanks for being able to make good choices.

          1. Destiny

            1. something that is to happen or has happened to a particular person or thing; lot or fortune.
            2. the predetermined, usually inevitable or irresistible, course of events.
            3. the power or agency that determines the course of events.
  3. In the latest session I carelessly said that Weston was a “liar”.
    I take back this word. Weston believed that he was not afraid of dying in order to contribute to scientific progress, but when he had to return to the Earth against his will, and he seemed unreasonably in danger his mind turned out its contradiction, as well as his theory was so in front of Oyarsa.
    So, he did not intend to tell a lie, but he did not realise his own contradiction, I think.

    1. It would help if you would quote from the book. Where (which page, which line) is the part that you describe as “his mind turned out its contradiction”? During the journey home, Weston collapsed. Is this what you are referring to? If so, I don’t think it proves that Weston was a coward, does it? I thought he was in despair because his mind had been unable to find a solution to the technical problems.

      Actually, both Weston and Devine appear in quite a good light in this episode. Perhaps when faced with death, they finally admit that they love life, in spite of themselves?

      1. My reference to Weston’s desperation was to his journey home as Marc pointed out (p.148). He wasn’t a coward and was trying to do his best to control the space-ship, though I took his desperation as for his own life rather than for his mind to endeavor. It was my assumption, and it came from my association to the conversation of him and Oyarsa (p.137).

        Humans are easily influenced by the “Bent One” who dominates the Earth,l according to Lewis. It is necessary not to assume something without pondering, and it seems to be another lesson Lewis gives me through his messages.

        1. Your opinion was a good one. In order for readers to decide whether you are right or not, they need to know which part of the book you are referring to. In other words, readers need to know, what is the basis (in the C.S. Lewis text) for your opinion?

          Now that you have given us this reference, we can make up our own minds whether your opinion is valid or not.

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