Saturday, October 11, 2014

Byron and Jane

A 5,000 word SHORT STORY entitled "A CHANGED HEART" written by Barbara Alley was submitted in the Austen Fan 2011 contest. A selection of JANE photos found on the web signify how Jane continues to mystify. Centuries shall pass away as will this original fictional tale. This created web of words puts Jane and Byron in Bath during a period that both were known to have visited. Jane visits for her health, and Byron for his renewal. In 1812 Bath was the place to be. It takes place when Jane is 36 ~ she was diagonsed with Addisons disease. With the low energy of failing health she returns to Bath. Jane died at the age of 41, but not without a chance fictional encounter with Sir Byron the rebel! My intent of heart is to feather the foam of a squawking society that cannot be satiated with the mere facts of Jane’s quiet existence. Be ye edified by how God continues to confound the wise and change even the most hardened hearts.

A CHANGED HEART ~ It was the twenty second day of 1812 and sisters Jane and Cass were set upon celebrating a fresh year of promise. Together these exuberant siblings enjoyed a carriage ride through the woods from Chawton House, across the Avon gorge on a bridge that would fail all mathematical principals yet supported the weight of thundering horses. In a great measure their merriment was increased by their grand expectancy to reunite with sister Lydia. The sun piercing the crisp cold of January simply added to their delight in this long awaited return to Bath. With deliberate pursuit of what news, good or bad they would gather, the horses clopped down Lilliput Alley to arrive at their chosen destination. After departing Bath in 1805 when their father George, the retired Rector of Stevenson passed, the surviving family of mother and two spinster daughters moved into Brother Edward’s country estate near Canterbury. Both sisters were absolutely ravenous for any sort of interesting conversation. It had been ten elongated years since Jane refused to accept the unbearable and unsuitable affections of her rejected neighbor Harris Bigg-Wither. Sense and Sensibility was recently published and with that an extra portion of income. Gossip bloomed regarding her unknown pen. Her chosen anonymity produced a scandal among growing fans and a bit of notoriety in the Austen manor. It was a welcomed temporary lift to the entire family spirit as Jane's all consuming passion of the written word had turned into such sweet fruit for all. However reclusive and miserable Jane had become, she rebounded this day from being vertically flattened by her comfortable, yet stifling country existence. She was abnormally happy to greet this day with hope for the years spawning ahead. Today was not going to be another stupid party with a limit of six people. “No indeed”, Jane declared “we shall not need to utter a single word of nonsense, and for this I am motivated beyond the acute disorder of boredom.” The famous Spring Gardens drew a fashionable throng across the river. The Bath Chronicle had advertised hot buttered buns and public readings at Sally Lunn’s House, the very place of great attraction to which they had reserved to be. With explicit purpose these Austen sisters had planned and twittered about what to wear ever since Christmas Eve. They arrived just before noon and were quickly engulfed in Lydia’s embrace! The reception of the three sisters by the proprietor was exuberant and Jane dreaded any recognition that may result from his great felicity. They were seated among the visiting aristocrats at a requested back table. The atmosphere chosen for this reunion was done without a thought for economy as Jane delighted in the opportunity of being generous towards her sisters. In December Jane had written a note to the proprietor and asked him to pay particular attention to the elegance of the table in which she and her sisters would sit. This would provoke an apt expression of exceeding joy for Lydia especially. Even in her maturity, Lydia was yet unabashedly Lydia and prone to notice all accoutrement's added in honor of her visit. A moistened cluster of Pansies and Camellias tied together with purple ribbon was the centerpiece atop a white embroidered table cloth. The decor accentuated the rare joy of benefiting from Lydia's way of abounding in vigor. For this particular New Year outing, the rich use of color, the aroma and warmth from the baking ovens wasted nothing on the elevated hopes for this memory making occasion. Jane was recently released from her doctors restrictions, and so delighted to be out and wearing Cassandra’s Christmas gift. A hand stiched white lace scarf that brightened the grey long sleeved satin dress that fitted Jane's thin shoulders. Lydia had received a letter from Cass that gave voice to her dire concern for Jane’s frail health. Lydia’s discovery of such news gave priority to her certain attendance. The provocation that led to this celebratory moment was unbeknownst to Jane. With such extreme happiness over this New Year reunion, Cass was pleased that Jane’s countenance had notably improved. From the hand painted menu, Jane ordered a selection of sweets for the reunion; tea, three hot buns, lemon curd, Devonshire cream and strawberries. After the customary etiquette of time, the tea was poured by attending staff into the beautifully ornate tea cups. With spoons quietly swirling, Jane’s eyes widened with a shock. Her confounded expression led Lydia and Cassandra to join in Jane’s directed gaze. A pin drop would have sliced the silence that enraptured all three sisters. Suddenly the group focus was on whose voice they were hearing. Could they trust their ears? What was being publicly read was from Sense and Sensibility. A portion had been reproduced and circulated in the Bath Chronicle. But it was not just that Jane was the author of this enlightened novel, but rather who was reading it! To Jane it was indeed a rather disturbing misfortune to be so honored by such an undesirable reader. Simultaneously the Austen sisters recognized the one reading as England's very own Lord Byron! Jane would have hoped to find a noted scholar giving voice to her articulated large truths, but as it is, she was completely vexed by the audacity of the infamously impetuous Lord Byron! He read while brandishing his arms and with a chuckle he read what Edward Ferrars spoke to the impressionable young Marrianne. Jane was instantly filled with illegitimate thoughts as her words slithered through the lips of this most offensive person. Her eyes froze upon Byron’s smiling mouth as he read. With growing consternation brewing she thought "Fate has been unkind that this man, of all men should read my heartfelt works with such a grinning smirk!" Lydia was lit up with such pride that she was ready to applaud had Jane not constrained her. Byron’s eyes glanced over at their table. Jane shifted in her chair and lowered her eyes to dissuade any polite conversation. Byron ended his animated reading and sat down with a crowded table of mostly female admirers. Cassandra and Lydia both acknowledged verbally how lovely of Lord Byron to choose to not read any of the many verses he had written, but to select Jane's. The two chortled on with hilarity mixed in their volume and soon resumed in reminiscent conversation. Jane bowed out of their silly theories of why Lord Byron had chosen Sense and Sensibility out of all the books ever published. Jane was understood by family to resist any extroverted nonsense and was left undisturbed by her company to sit silently musing about the history of Bath. The name came about from the legend of Prince Bladud. The tale is that the Prince caught leprosy and was banned from the court and forced to look after pigs. Like the pigs, Prince Bladud was instructed to wallow in hot mud and was then found to be cured of his decaying skin. After being crowned King, he founded the city and named it Bath. Jane’s mind was steeped in poor opinion, she judged Lord Byron entirely on what others had said. Her mortifications erupted with a selfish wish that Lord Byron's skin would suddenly crawl as if diseased and cause him to cease reading. That he might wallow in remorse for his degrading illicit affairs. Cassandra was attentive to Jane and acutely aware of her sister’s anguished look as Lord Byron gave animated voice to her writing. With resignation and a lowered tone, Jane turned and bitterly complained in a whisper
"He may pen verses that cause women to faint at his feet, but his good looks cannot recover his unrepentant reputation. It grieves me to think of how his opinion of my work clashes against the blemish of his undone moral character!" Cassandra quietly pleaded "Oh Jane, I agree he is not the 'Byronic hero' that his accusers claim. I perceive him to be a melancholy man who broods about perhaps a misery of some unknown unforgivable event in his past. His heart shows pure in his poetry, and his music. His delight in your wit brings him a measure of joy, and for this we must see that your pen has fulfilled its purpose in him." Jane could barely be attentive to her sister's supposition when Lord Byron approached their table. It was Jane’s forthright intention to remain unapproachable. She began to fidget uncontrollably whispering to Lydia's ear "Oh what shall I do, I simply cannot speak to this man whose reputation is ruined by his confirmed promiscuity!” Byron was a hero to many women, but not Jane! His romantic poetry was in a style that she could not fully comprehend as such passion for another had not been her friend. The fame of his scandalous private life was described by one contemporary as “mad, bad and dangerous to know”. Lydia retorted "Oh Jane, calm yourself and take pleasure in the moment." Byron had recently published the first two cantos of Childe Harold's Pilgrimage and Jane was not one of his adoring socialites! She gave him due credit for speaking effectively in the House of Lords on important liberal themes, however, his hectic love-affair with his half sister Augusta was disgusting! Jane’s brother Henry did not lead Jane away from the truth, but with great affection and respect for her intellect, he wisely chose to simply empower her with the facts of what was noteworthy in England. Jane had the priviledge to read about the romantic style now in demand, however, a plunder of gushing words to describe gothic architecture and nature's perfect landscape was a bore to Jane. She refused to write to please the latest fashionable obsession to read paragrahss filled with adverbs to depict a simple fallen leaf. The fascination of England over Byron's life and style of pen was indeed not shared by Jane. With his worthless character so widely in print, how is it that her text would be so tarnished by his tongue! Jane had procured a quiver of dark facts about a man named Lord Byron from a Lady Beckham, wife of the local magistrate. No mercy was seen through the eyes of the law, but Byron was seen by His Creator with through the eyes of grace. From a house filled with the discussion of law, Lady Beckham felt obliged to share love less words that drifted in from England. Jane held this one opinion of man above Gods and in so doing she could not conceive that any good could be held in the person of Lord Byron. Having ascertained steadfast knowledge of his affairs, Jane was absolutely incensed that this tragedy should land on her happiest day! Lord Byron unaware of Jane's personal rebellion against him, stood at their table, bowed, clicked his heels and with a wave of a gentleman’s arm said "Miss Austen, your appearance is far lovelier than a flower in bloom. It is indeed my genuine honor to meet the woman that shall most certainly cause any man of intelligence to open the contents of his heart." Altogether astonished at his grace and manner, Jane felt a flush of conviction spreading to her cheeks. The spirit of repulsion had been suddenly banished. Humbled by his sincerity, she questioned "What brings one as notable as you to Bath when London brims with praise for your work?" Byron then spoke "It would have been bold of me to suppose that on my birthday I should be gifted with the presence of such an accomplished woman. Therefore I must advance to request your forgiveness for my lack of social reserve in my cavalier approach. As destiny happens to surprise us with occasional sweetness, I am compelled to reveal this genuine truth. Having just refreshed myself with the wit and content of your heart, and having hoped that I would someday meet the humble writer who wishes to remain anonymous, without presumption of course, that you are indeed that very artist ~ I am compelled to agree with the whispers in England that a woman, indeed a brilliant poetess penned Sensibly the Sense found in the verses I just read. If you are indeed the author, your secret is safe with me and I am further bold to ask that if we are contemporaries, might we enjoy a literary conversation over tea whilst I am in town?" Jane hesitated as Lydia inserted “Yes, yes Jane wrote what you have read and she has been writing many wondrous works since before she attended the Abbey School in reading.” With that horrifying thrust of truth, Jane could not offer any ignorance to who wrote what Byron just read and her eyes blazed across the table at Lydia! Silence hovered like a thick blanket of fog and Lord Byron was correct in his perception that Lydia’s innocent enthusiasm had caused Jane to fluster with a visible chagrin. The kismet of their meeting had quickly dissolved and with the fastidious aplomb of a gentleman, Byron said “I stutter in the presence of such humility for it is a lesson that I am hard learning. Might you be assured that your anonymity shall be reverently respected Miss Austen. My time in Bath will be short as I have been invited to Lake Geneva with Percy Shelley. So if I should be so fortunate to cross your path again, it would be considered my full portion to speak more completely of your inspirations. Thank you for giving me the gift of your time on my birthday. Miss Austen and ladies I bid you good day.” Byron left their table yet his stunning words swarmed through each lady in attendance. Lydia burst into tears at the thought of having vexed Jane when the afternoon had been so full of promise. “Dearest Jane, I am miserably sorry for having ruined our day with my impetuous behavior. I acknowledge that I disrespected your desire to remain anonymous, and I admit that my pride for your accomplishment simply erased any ability to control my tongue. I beg for your pardon my sweet Jane.” Jane remained quiet in a state of violent shock by what had just occurred. She usually was quick to recover with a bit of wicked wit, but somehow she sat unready to speak a word. Lydia became excessively more distraught in Jane's hushed state. Compassionately Cassandra quietly offered her sister a look of encouragement. It was a nod of approval for her surprising maturity in the admission of her uncontrolled tottering. Jane seemed to suddenly come back to a dimension of consciousness from the distant place her mind had wondered. With a warmth in her tone, the elder sister Jane looked at Lydia and proclaimed "The afternoon is yet young and it need not be cut short on a sour note. I shall seek no excuse for your bold assertion of truth, and it is I that must seek your merciful forgiveness. Let us return to joy and dismiss any further conjectures regarding Lord Byron knowing that I wrote Sense and Sensibility. " Ahhh, Whom is leading who? Jane possessed a winsome nature which allowed her to devote her observations and responses to any witnessed social guffaws as merely a source of inspiration to be noted with fanciful embellishment and either etched or scratched from a page. With a renewed light filled heart Jane continued "Let us delight in the fact that we have met Lord Byron and rest assured Lydia that your exuberant personality is something that I have always and will continue to admire. We shall all gain valuable insights from what has transpired this day. My spirit was forthrightly admonished most accurately for the rage I held towards Lord Byron without a single idea of how much my judgment must have grieved God as my witness. Are we not all called to forgive and we have been forgiven? Come then let us amuse ourselves with what else is worthy of our attention and accept that not one of us is above needing a bit of coaching away from any gloating or thought of superiority. My personal lesson this day is to offer more grace instead of disdain. Oh my dear ever radiant Lydia, may the ever present joy you carry ~ be instantly contagious as we are obliged to enjoy this glorious day! We came together to spoil ourselves with the fruits of our lessons in labor. I am the proud sister of two amazing women of such grace that it doth far surpass my capacity to grasp the love God has lavished upon one so unworthy! " A more noble recitation of the value contained in a self reproof could not have been better stated. Cass gushed with glee for the end of the tension at the table and each one served themselves a heaping spoon of berries and cream. An unequalled magitude of happiness was the joint lullaby that rocked all to sleep. As they did when they were young, all three slept together tucked between luxurious silk sheets in their shared garden suite at the Apsley House Hotel. Awakened by Lydia's giggling, it was a shared bliss to explore Bath's exquisite gardens. Cass, Lydia and Jane engaged in a joyful frolic of ring around the Posey, just as they once did as little girls. Jane began to sing as she brushed her hair and Cass played the piano while the fire crackled. Before getting dressed and assuming proper composure for breakfast, the three spent time delighting in the coincidence of Lord Byron's personal introduction and earnest praise of Jane's pen. Such providence was a sure sign that 1812 would continue to be a year of tremendous surprise. Raised in the country the ladies insisted on a brisk morning walk before tea. Bundled up in jackets and bonnets they took a jaunt across the green to the camellia garden. Jane let loose with a fanciful bird call and indulged her imagination that this pleasure would have wings that would take her through the entire winter. The ever demure Cass also afforded herself a skip in her walk and a tune in her hum while Lydia shrieked over the finery of each new blossom that seized her gaze. As Jane turned the corner around a carved hedge she came face to face with none other than Lord Byron. Her nose red and running from the bitter cold was quickly wiped with an embroidered hanky tucked in her sleeve. "Good morning Miss Austen" His greeting was chipper and again she felt that her tongue had been swallowed. Jane was absolutely exasperated by her inability to hide her annoyance of being rendered utterly speechless in this mans presence. As if she were a school girl, her eyes darted away from his as they sought another focus that would not give the one onlooking a chance to peer into her soul. Time seemed to have been suspended as her troubled mind tumbled over what words would become sensible in response to his obvious delight in having encountered her again. Peering round the hedge to see if her sisters were coming, her gaze then settled on his face as she greeted "Good morning Lord Byron, and what a surprise to happen upon you so early in the morning. My sisters and I found our chambers at Apsley House most agreeable and I so hope that your stay has been equally congenial." Just then Cassandra and Lydia approached from behind the immense hedge and were equally startled to look upon the ever captivating Lord Byron. Lydia never pinched for clever words quickly exerted "My Lord what a lovely jolt of good fortune to chance upon seeing you twice within so short of hours. Is not this morning a bounty of benefit to have the favor of your presence while strolling in the garden! Come Cassandra, since we have all been formally introduced, it is certainly socially acceptable to allow these contemporaries to engage in a conversation that would literally be above our heads. Jane we will not be far ahead, and do not worry Lord Byron, we shall also keep this accidental meeting treasured as a family secret." Jane stood confounded by her sisters offering that she would be available for such a extemporaneous meeting. Lord Byron noted Jane's surprise and accepted the option with grace as he offered "Jane if you find it within your schedule, and if it is not too objectionable, might we sit briefly and enjoy a fortuitous exchange?" With consideration for her recent lesson on grace, with the utmost elegance she extended her gloved hand to accept the arm he most handsomely extended. They walked together in silence at a dignified pace towards the garden bench. Feeling ever so slightly pained by the obligation thrust upon her repentant heart, she was hesitant to admit that Byron's charm was having its impact and she simply chose to acquiesce. Byron placed his woolen scarf to soak the dew from the bench. He then assisted Jane as she descended to sit. Sitting aside her he gave careful respect for a ladies requirement for a decent distance. After a lush moment of silence they both began to speak at the same time. Giggling softly Jane composed "You have delivered me unsolicited appreciation for what has been anonymously published of my writing. Coming from a man of such magnified influence on society, it took me a bit of time to receive the full measure of your most genuine manner. I therefore must acknowledge your professional recognition with a rather delayed and reflected honor. Your evaluation was extremely favorable and with that said I must confess that though your style differs, in your poetic verses, I am fairly charged to accept perceptions that would not be mine." Byron's gaze upon her while she spoke was fixed upon her particularly honest and refreshing pure candor. In his fame he has known many a person who would struggle to flank him with praise for works that he himself believed to be unworthy. His earnest fascination for her plain speaking encouraged him to be likewise. "May I consider you a friend Miss Jane?" She looked at him quizzically "I would be honored to name you among my small orchestra of friends. I shall consider you the sweet violin that accompanies the delicate keys of my sister's piano" Byron was smiling wide when he professed " Then Jane it is with unsurpassed respect that I feel compelled to now speak apt words that would encourage you to continue to write as a mirror of great value for the generations to come. My poetry is to be figured out, to be interpreted by some as folly, and others as romance, but your insights within relationships has been a grand lesson for me. Your brightness and humor holds in it great promise as a writer of important substance." Jane sat blushing as she had not been so encouraged by anyone quite so eloquently. She was accustomed to her beloved Cassandra's partial praise, but this was from a person who had no association or occasion to gain. Lord Byron halted his desire to further persuade Jane of the tremendous clout with which her words had impaled upon him. He leveraged the moment by adding "I have much more to say to you, more than you can now seem to bear." It was wise to hold his words to a few as he was certain by her expressions that she grappled with the minimum of what he so ardently desired to confess. "Until the spirit of revelation is fully surrendered to, none of us can comprehend how deeply the written word can minister to the hidden brokenness of a human heart." Jane was struck with the duplicity of his public persona and the words he was now speaking to her. It was as if God Himself had introduced him to her for such a time as this. In her fragile state of health, the family excursions to the seaside of Sidmouth, Dawlish and Lyme Regis were intentional to refresh Jane's weakened condition. She concluded that God had a ripping sense of humor that He would use Lord Byron to teach and uplift her to a height that was precisely heavenly. His gallantry with her erased all previous inclinations regarding his character. She was reminded in their silent walk through the garden of a conversation she had enjoyed with her father, a member of the clergy, charged to pray for all people, the saved and especially the lost. Her sister Cassandra had readily perceived that Lord Byron’s lack of parenting and disconnect from the faith caused him to write from his darkness. It was curious to Jane that the wit of her pen had been so meaningful that he would pour out such praise of something she did not write with the intention of converting a soul. Feeling a freedom to speak with honesty she confessed "Among my few friends and shrinking family it would be considered an indecent crush between us if it were known that we are sitting alone sharing such transparent words. Ashamed as I should be to admit that my first impression of you was rather severe and unjust, I now perceive you with a worthy extraordinary esteem. Not entirely based on your kindness shown towards me, but having more to do with my own conviction for having judged you at all" Byron was tested to also recite his compulsory penchant to discover who wrote the stirring words that he had chosen to read publicly in several places before Bath. “Miss Austen it was my choice to unmercifully badger my publisher to research and reveal just who was the lady genius behind what my heart believes to be a legacy, a gift to all who at some point find themselves questioning the meaning of life. The content of Sense and Sensibility is profound as it does not ridicule, but it was written to enlighten. My initial shock was to learn that it was written by a woman, and the most astonishing revelation was that she is a woman who is the daughter of a clergyman. I read about love, emptiness and pain that is laced with forbearance. My depraved self-indulgence has never been delayed or as controlled as your words. My attempts to fill the emptiness of my souls cry for love, fame or money has not met with contentment or sensibility. My questions to why was I born, or why I was chosen to live out the title as Lord Byron have yet to be answered. Having met many statesmen, and after many debates with esteemed writers, I was moved to take steps to meet and speak to Jane Austen before I depart this plane. Escaping my past is impossible; however, I do have hope in a future that includes people of your dignity and character. My confession to you Miss Austen is that I came to Bath in hopes that we would somehow come to this very open and honest communication." Jane was surprised by the clarity he gleaned from something she wrote to simply entertain, but she was not surprised at how God could use anything to draw the lost back to Himself. After soothing him with a look of sincere compassion Jane smiled and shared “My dear brother Byron it has been remarkable to witness my own transformation during our brief yet divine interface. My lessons have been great last night and again today. What I am not is a saint. I therefore must encourage you to trust that God has a plan for you just as He planned that you would read something and seek comfort from something new. Indeed our lifestyles may differ, however my lifelong lesson is to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. Without my Father talking to me about God, left to myself, my life would be full of what the world would perceive as unforgivable. When I heard you reading my words last evening I was filled with pride and prejudice. We each seek to know that somehow our work, our life, our being alive has in some measure benefited someone, somewhere in some small way. Sitting here now with the man known to the world as the bad, mad and dangerous boy has been a treasure I shall remember forever. Not because you protest that my words have inspired you, but because you Lord Byron have inspired me to write more truly about poor judgment and the worst of all, write out as transparently as you about my pride, and its desperate need to be broken and thoroughly undone. For all the friends that I have had while alive, for all the silly parties that I have attended, this conversation we are now engaged in has been the most fulfilling of my lifetime. Might I call you simply brother Byron?” His response was immediate “Yes, sister Jane, I would like that very much.” Lydia came into view and waved them towards the lake where Cassandra was engaged in teasing the geese. Jane then was prompted to inquire “Brother Byron, please accept this most wonderful invitation to join the Austen sisters for some frivolity this afternoon! Also, I was wondering if you would be so kind as to grace us with your fame for a surprise birthday lunch for our beloved brother? If delighting your poor sister is something that brings you joy, then might I also request that you would read to your adoring family some of your prose?” Byron beamed “It is indeed a dreadful sin to have such an indecent crush on your sister!” They both laughed and soon stood beside the lake skipping rocks across the still water. Lydia’s childlike laughter and Cassandra’s sweet humming added the distinct sense that 1812 was bound to be a great year filled with a joy that will surpass every understanding. After a time they raced back to the hotel where Jane would tell eager ears that the conclusion of her titillating odyssey this afternoon was that the Austen family had acquired a rather dashing new brother in Lord Byron! (END OF STORY) The Republic of Pemberley website posted this short story on Valentines Day 2011. THANK YOU GOD for giving me the talent, the desire, and the words to write! You cannot imagine the pressures within the week of landing on paper all that whirled through my spirit about Lord Byron and Jane Austen. My car broke down in a village far from home on furlough Friday ~ the very day that I had set aside to construct my imaginings. On Valentines Day I returned to the establishment of my work to find that my entry has been published. Many best wishes have inspired me to continue the sentiments between Lord Byron and Jane. The whole of 5002 words – regarding Jane’s alluring delight in mischief and lore ~ was constructed within a total of four days. The tale began on a whimsical Sunday, January 22, 2010 the day was also Lord Byrons birthday. The photos of Jane's home below is from the AUSTEN MUSEUM in Chawton. Jane was humble, she lived simply and wrote all those novels on the tiny table in the corner. The Republic of Pemberley is a community online of fans from around the globe. As a writer Jane Austen had an inauspicious beginning. She started a novel on a most unfavourable subject, and left it unfinished; she tried again, put the manuscript aside, and left it unpublished for about fifteen years; she wrote yet another novel and, having actually sent it to a publisher, accepted his rejection and locked the story away for years. Who inspired her? Who gave her the talent? She was the daughter of a minister, and a woman of the Word.

Thursday, October 2, 2014


Clive Staples ("Jack") Lewis was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland on November 29, 1898. The library in his home seemed as tangible and meaningful to him as anything that transpired outside their doors. As teens, Lewis and his older brother, Warren, were more at home in the world of ideas and books of the past, than with the material, technological world of the 20th Century. When the tranquillity and sanctity of the Lewis home was shattered beyond repair by the death of his mother when he was ten, Lewis sought refuge in composing stories and excelling in scholastics. Soon thereafter he became precociously oriented toward the metaphysical and ultimate questions. A prolific and popular author, Lewis's fiction, and religious essays stay in print, and are continually reprinted. Since his death in 1963, Lewis may eventually be recognized as on of the world's deepest thinkers. Today his fiction and theological writings have been endlessly and hyper-critically explored. The essential viewpoints of Lewis and the facts about his life--are camoflauged and thus discourage even the most diligent student of Lewis. It must be said that Lewis's own works remain the most reliable source and insightful interpreter of his original deep thought. The rest of his saga and the particulars of his writing career might be seen as the melancholy search for the security he had took granted during the peace and grace of his childhood. By Lewis's testimony, this recovery was to be had only in the "joy" he discovered in an adult conversion to Christianity. Long-time friend and literary executor of the Lewis estate, Owen Barfield has suggested that there were, in fact, three "C. S. Lewises." That is to say, during his lifetime Lewis fulfilled three very different vocations-- and fulfilled them successfully. FIRST: Lewis the brilliant Oxbridge literary scholar and critic; SECOND: Lewis, the highly acclaimed author of science fiction and children's literature; THIRD: Lewis, the popular writer and broadcaster of Christian apologetics. The amazing thing is that those who may have known of Lewis in any single role may not have known that he performed in the other two. In a varied and comprehensive writing career, Lewis carved out a sterling reputation as a scholar, a novelist, and a theologian for three very different audiences. No brief summary can thus do justice to the many and varied works Lewis produced in his lifetime between 1919-1961. Indeed, more Lewis volumes--collection of essays, chiefly--have appeared after his death than during his lifetime. A sampling of the range and depth of his achievements in criticism, fiction, and apologetics might begin, however, with the first books Lewis published, two volumes of poetry: Spirits in Bondage, published in 1919 when Lewis was but 23, and his long narrative poem, Dymer, published in 1926. Neither were critical successes, convincing the classically trained Lewis that he would never become an accomplished poet given the rise of modernism; subsequently he turned his attention to literary history, specifically the field of medieval and renaissance literature. Lewis embraced Christianity, and in 1933, published his first theological work, The Pilgrim's Regress, a parody of John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress, that details Lewis's flight from skepticism to faith in a lively allegory. In 1936, Lewis published the breakthrough work that earned him his reputation as a scholar, The Allegory of Love, a work of high-caliber, original scholarship that revolutionized literary understanding of the function of allegory in medieval literature. Between 1939 and 1954, Lewis continued to publish well-received works in criticism and theory. MIRACLES will challenge any scholar to believe in miracles! With a fading critical reputation of authors he revered, in 1942, his book "A Preface to Paradise Lost" attempted to rehabilitate the reputation of John Milton. In 1954, he offered a comprehensive overview of 16th-century British poetry and narrative in his English Literature in the Sixteenth Century. Lewis is best known, however, for his fiction and his Christian apologetic s. In 1936, Lewis completed the first book in a science-fiction space trilogy, Out of the Silent Planet, that introduced the hero, Edwin Ransom, a philologist modeled roughly on Lewis's friend, J. R. R. Tolkien. Lewis billed as "a fairy tale for adults," treating themes as novel ideas, Lewis had developed in his critique of modern education in The Abolition of Man, published two years earlier. Lewis's most notable critical and commercial success, however, is certainly his seven-volume Chronicles of Narnia, which he published in single volumes from 1950-56. These popular children's fantasies began with the 1950 volume, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, a tale centered around Aslan the lion, a Christ-figure who creates and rules the supernatural land of Narnia, and the improbable adventures of four undaunted British schoolchildren who stumble into Narnia through a clothes closet. Lewis's own favorite fictional work, Till We Have Faces, his last imaginative work, published in 1956, is a retelling of the Cupid/Psyche myth, but has never achieved the critical recognition he hoped it would. Lewis's reputation as a winsome, articulate proponent of Christian beliefs began with the publication of two important theological works: The Problem of Pain, a defense of pain--and the doctrine of hell-- as evidence of an ordered universe, published in 1940; and The Screwtape Letters, a "interception" of a senior devil's correspondence with a junior devil fighting with "the Enemy," Christ, over the soul of an unsuspecting believer, published in 1942. Lewis emerged during the war years as a religious broadcaster who became famous as "the apostle to skeptics," in Britain and abroad, especially in the United States. His wartime radio essays defending and explaining the Christian faith comforted the fearful and wounded, and were eventually collected and published in America as Mere Christianity in 1952. In the midst of this prolific output, Lewis took time to write his spiritual autobiography, Surprised by Joy, published in 1955. In the two decades before his death, Lewis published more than eight books that directly or indirectly served him in the task of apologetics and he is arguably the most important Christian writer of the 20th Century. MIRACLES is one great book to conjure conversations with those that feel secure in their intellect.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014


Jane Austen strolled along the woods with a basket full of treasured visions that she shared with the world by her pen. She was afforded the luxury of time to stream the many delights of perhaps, a 17 year old who incessantly giggles with an imagined situation of a suitor. Without regret she catalogs scenes that go on ~ absent of any poor outcomes. A war is going on during her joyous time spent without a fetter of worry. Jane Austen lived within a space that prevented any sort of un invited worldly distraction. Inspirations beyond the grave condition of a City budget, Jane was therefore enabled to fancy thoughts that created a world that thrived inside a mind never dictated by the unwanted voice of progress or economic decline. She was a woman devoted to her faith, and in the pleasures that such a joy completed. Simplicity was her style and time was her extravagance. She wrote to poke us in a direction of the gaiety that life's bounty affords us. VINTAGE VALUES while increasing Home Values in Stockton: Like the annual AUSTEN FEST in Bath, England ~ Stocktonians rejoice in the simplicity and the diversity of the rich gold rush history within our beloved home town. Imagine Public Works hosting a booth to sell bricks that will replace broken sidewalks in front of City Hall, a grand ole landmark! Why must Bath have all the fun, fame and fortune that such an event brings? Indeed our pooled talents can attract a bubbling crowd of folks that enjoy the Value of this extraordinary Vintage era.
Emoting the high and lows with hope ~ Jane offers us a retreat from any grim reality. Attending balls while sporting a new ribbon of color in our bonnets, having a mind filled with lace to wrap around the experience of frivolity at its finest. The rich atmosphere of a culture reminiscent of the lush era of a civic gentry is what she gifted this generation. Imagine a gathering of Austen or literary fans at the Civic Auditorium in Stockton. Of families laughing while enjoying a game of croquet across from City Hall on the lawn. The grand entry of the Civic filled with tables that offer old library books and trinkets for sale that would profit the City. Women and men walking around in 1800's costumes ~ indoors and around Webers point. This would catch the attention of a world gone mundane ~ such a sight would refresh a passerby. Women walking along with parasols and men offering their arm for a stroll down the promenade. A Vintage Value Day that turns back the clock to the gentile 1800's wherein people delighted in social gatherings. Regardless of economic status, all are afforded the simple pleasure of a delightful afternoon along the waterfront ~The targeted audience would be history buffs which include minds from each generation ~ this day would grow in its attraction much like the Asparagus festival but without the cost or the crime of alcohol. The annual ball held at the Civic Auditorium would offer the Stockton Symphony a time to also attract new listeners. Local farmers could bring their fruits to sell at stands placed
within Weber's Point. Horse and carriage rides would be a marvelous way to slow things down with Stockton police mounts that cheered the event. Captain Weber himself would be delighted by the atmosphere like Chawton Cottage being reborn upon the stage of his homeland. A regionally hosted event in Stockton for a society of people that attend various vintage events ~ that come together much like our community does on Easter morning, to celebrate the rising of HOPE that each sunrise offers. This would be an event that would be greatly anticipated each September, before kids went back to school. It would send a message to our youth, it could set a refreshed trend of interest in our history as a City, as a community that cares about the generations to come. Stockton is a place of history and such an event would take time to evolve, but I think it would bring a respect to the City of Stockton, and revenues for the hotels and cafes that are visible from the water front. Area merchants are invested in bringing such an event to our great City along the river! Imagine a parade of happy vintage car owners driving down El Dorado to be parked all around City Hall for a car show hosted by the City. Imagine the glorious Stockton Hotel decorated with flags that salute the State of California while the old trolley gave free rides from the Civic to Webers Point. One day of history shared with an audience that includes each generation. This would definetely help to transform the City image to one that supports a
culture of times gone by. The library would also be engaged in educating our youth with authors like Austen and Tolstoy who write of family values. We can build an atmoshere that brings back Captain Weber and his vision for the first planned community in California. Through a "living history" performed along the promenade, picture Captain Weber himself in his meritime costume sharing his vision under the tent at Weber's point with an old schooner anchored in the deep channel. We could effectively connect generational divides through the charm of Vintage Values and our cross generational desire to be a part of a City that is proud of its history. One day, much like Earth Day at Victory Park, the City comes together and celebrates Vintage Values of festive civility which honors past civic leaders while it welcomes future community offcials. Redeveloping our image as a waterfront City with Vintage Values would raise revenues while peaking interest in our waterways. Not a huge three day event with prohibitive set up and clean up costs, but a ONE DAY THEME EVENT that would be something that could not wear out or require hundreds of volunteers. HUBBA HUBBA antiques and other valley shops could supply the Civic Auditorium with a sampling of their collections. Before the ball begins a raffle would generate revenues to benefit the City budget. Galveston, Texas does such an event around Christmas each year, Old Sacramento hosts the jazz festival, and as Stockton is a community born during the gold rush, it would be appropriate and successful with a committee devoted to its rebirth. Unfortunately the City of Stockton had to file bankruptcy.  Bob Deis, the City Manager did so much for Stockton, but alas he was never genuinely appreciated for his honest effort to reveal the truth of the City coffers.  I personally wish Mr Deis and his family all the best in their next adventure!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Queen Victoria

Pour yourself a hot cup of tea and stream "The Young Victoria" a fabulous historical film which documents the happiest time of England's monarchy. A marriage made in heaven, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Available on Netflix, or purchase it for your library from Amazon. The Young Queen followed by the aged Queen performed by England's favorite Judi Dench. Both of these BBC productions are beautifully done with excellent costumes and tremendous acting. I give them both a THUMBS UP and on rainy days, these two are favorites to watch repeatedly.  Hip Hip Hazaaaah for BBC! ( The Other Boylen Girls, Downton Abbey, and Foyles War, are BBC greats!) The BBC production of "Mrs Brown" reveals the grief of Queen Victoria after Albert's death. Judi the Queen dubs John Brown her best friend. This one loyal friend sacrificed his life to lift her up and keep her safe. John Brown was despised by parliament and her palace. When John Brown died his personal journal of their friendship was never recoverd. The wonderful benefit of blogging one's treasured experiences is that the written word will never be lost by the publisher, the fan or friend.

Monday, September 29, 2014


The Last Train Station is a great film starring Helen Mirren, Christopher Plummer, and James McAvoy. This impeccable cast gets 2 Academy Award nominations in 2009.  It is a sweet comedy-drama about the final days of the Russian novelist Tolstoy. The film focuses on the last few months of the writer Leo Tolstoy and his family disputes. The film is set in early 20th century Russia, before the harsh realities of the Russian Revolution occurred in 1917 and thereafter (Tolstoy died in 1910). It was a time in history when Socialism was still an untried idealized conceptual form of government, and Tolstoy in his final years became more "radical" in his political, religious, and social philosophies. It raises 2 universal questions: 1) What do you do when the love of your life is in conflict with your highest priority ideals? And how does your treatment or mistreatment of the people closest to you, who have loved and cared for you the most, reflect on the quality of your ideals? In the final months of Tolstoy's life, he abandoned his wife of 48 years to gain silence. Before Sophya and Leo married, Sophya knew of his many sexual escapades he shared with her in his diaries. She knew he had fathered a child with one of the servant girls in his household. Nevertheless, she loved him and married him, giving him 13 children, 5 of whom died in childhood. The movie implies the question: At what point does your life become more than a solitary pursuit? After how many years of good treatment and co-dependence with those close to you does your life necessarily and deservedly become considerate of more than just your own priorities? Where should your deference be? BIPOIC and riveting truth about LEO TOLSTOY a Christian man who struggles with his wife as he wishes to decline his wealth and help the needy. Nineteenth-century paparazzi lurk outside of Tolstoy's estate, hoping to snatch a picture of the rumored strife between the world-famous writer (Plummer), who's launched an anti materialist movement, and his aristocratic wife. Also lurking is Tolstoy's aide, Chertkov who despises Sophya and pushes to change Tolstoy's will to prevent the wife from inheriting the royalties from Tolstoy's books. Into this nest of conflict comes a young secretary, Valentin (McVoy) who idolizes Tolstoy and strives to live by the principles of abstinence and vegetarianism… only to find his purity tested by sensual temptations and an unexpected sympathy for Sophya. Moments of sly comedy keep The Last Station from becoming overly literary. The movie as a whole lacks the emotional punch it reaches for, but every scene is a polished jewel, expertly and passionately crafted by the actors this classic is rich with social detail. Mirren, of course, is superb, with a wonderful portrayal of a woman who can't help turning her genuine passions into a performance that repels her husband. The film "The Last Station" focuses on the last few months of the novelist and writer Leo Tolstoy's family and social life. Christopher Plummer as Tolstoy, Helen Mirren as his wife Sophya, James McAvoy as Tolstoy's new personal secretary Valentin, Kerry Condon as Valentin's charming and aggressive love interest, and Paul Giamatti as the leader of a group of "Tolstoyans" who wish to widely promote Tolstoy's ideals.

Friday, September 19, 2014


IF a movie could be nominated for an OSCAR based on a message of TRUTH, or IF a movie was nominated for it's VALUE in society, then the MOVIE entitled "The Gospel of John" would win the BEST MOVIE for the century! The script was written by God. This 3 hour EPIC does not add one word to the Gospel of John. Enjoy perfection on screen. Purchase on AMAZON with commentary by the producers. Hear the Word and watch Father, Son, Holy Spirit love us --- even in our doubt, denial, rejection of the truth, He tells the truth, but do we listen? Do we accept that God is God and we are not? Allow His word to sink deep, be riveted, be undone....He is in pursuit, just surrender and REJOICE for He is glad and He runs to hug us and love us! Mary poured out all she had because she loved Jesus, He had just raised her brother Lazurus from the dead! VISUALIZE Jesus, the Holy Spirit telling us the Truth, and yet some still do NOT believe? Must we also see miracles in order to believe? "Sir they said, 'we would like to see Jesus'." John 12:21 Excitedly Andrew and Phillip raced to tell Jesus that even Greeks wished to see Him. Without restraint of their internal jubilation about their close friend Who would soon rule the world --- Jesus knew the motive of their hearts and He had already rebuked them for their pride --- Knowing all things, compassionately He said "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified." John 12:23 --- He knew that they just did not get the agony He was about to suffer. In love Jesus then explains "I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds." John 12:24 --- One life changing lesson in this scripture: ONLY when we die to our selfish desires, can our life increase the harvest of souls for His kingdom. "His heart was touched and He was deeply moved. Where have you buried him. Jesus wept." For one seed to produce more grain, it MUST fall to the ground and die. The blessing of a broken heart, a broken pride, a demolished dream --- is death to ourself, to a life's meaning ~ as the world teaches is meaningless. In that moment we realize what Jesus demonstrated to us. On this side of the cross, His lesson is clear --- the TRUTH will set us free to love as we are loved. Like a grain of wheat, the mission of God complete, Jesus came down into the pit, into the world to be seen, die and rise that we might believe. His death and resurrection gives us hope as He returned as He promised, in the Person of the Holy Spirit to be within us forever. Jesus knew that He would send the Holy Spirit in His absence, and that in the future, generations of people would understand through the Counselor. So without explaining what was meant in words, Jesus said "The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life." John 12:25 What did this mean? Disciples then and today are baffled because to choose to die to our ways---when in our education, in our world, this makes no SENSE ---the cross, the life and death of Jesus confounds the wise! Because it takes FAITH in the purpose of Jesus to crucify our desires for recognition and importance. To fully YIELD our lives to the purpose of God, is to understand what Paul said "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." The power in a single seed, a single life... is in the portion we allow the Holy Spirit to rule. It is ONLY in our full surrender that He is glorified through us. That is when one is willing to hate this life on earth, to die to it's own: will, goals, dreams, desires, wants, needs, plans, rights and personal reputation. Jesus said "If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me." Whose approval do we seek? Approval and blessings from the world or from Jesus, the Son of God? Who do we listen to? What voice calling out in the desert? "I am the Good Shepherd -- I know My sheep. The hired man runs away because he does not care about the sheep. I am willing to die for them. They will listen to My voice and become one flock" One church, one body united in Jesus Christ. Are we afraid of speaking about our faith in public because we will be laughed at? "Those who speak on their own authority are trying to gain glory for themselves. But He who wants glory for the One Who sent Him is honest. There is nothing false in Him." Then Jesus told the Pharisees, the highly regarded teachers of the law of Moses "Stop judging by external standards, and judge by true standards." Today, on this side of the cross, as per His promise, the Holy Spirit resides in our body which is the temple of God. As Jesus taught in the temple, He said in a loud voice "Do you really know Me, and know where I am from?" "A branch can only bear fruit if it remains in the Vine."