Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Review of Rainer Walde's "Blessing Europe" and "My Journey to Life"

Rainer Walde’s “Blessing Europe: The Legacy of the Celtic Saints” and “My Journey to Life: On the Trail of the Celtic Saints” provide excellent introductions to Celtic Christianity and spirituality. Walde is a German author and filmmaker and also someone whose life has been deeply touched by Celtic Christianity.

Originally filmed in German-and this should tell you something of the worldwide appeal of Celtic spirituality-these elegant and visually attractive documentaries provide over two hours of material on the major Celtic saints, and key Celtic sites all the way from Bangor, to Luxeuil, to Babbio.

 Walde weaves his story around Columbanus, his strict religious rule, and missionary journeys which are seen as a prototype that many other of the Celtic saints would emulate. And as Columbanus carried the gospel message across the Irish Sea and also across Europe, he left numerous monasteries and places of learning which attracted people from all social classes, and altered the face of Europe. It was in this way that the Celtic monks saved civilization.

The documentaries also provide insightful introductions to other key Celtic saints such as Columba, Bridget, Aidan, Patrick, Kevin, and others. One of the best features of this series is the combination of hagiography, use of key literary texts, and music selections. All these factors contribute to provide the viewer with the sense that Celtic Christianity was a powerful and significant spiritual movement which produced beautiful things such as the Book of Kells and stone crosses, but also people of the highest caliber imaginable.

These productions are of the highest quality and I recommend them to anyone who is interested in learning more about the Celtic saints and spirituality. Viewing these DVDs is time well spent.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Rev. Dr. Michael Ward: Discoveror of Narnia

I had the pleasure of hosting the Revd. Dr. Michael Ward this past December. He was here in Honolulu giving some lectures on C.S. Lewis. Dr. Ward, a St. Andrian like myself, is the world's foremost scholar on C.S. Lewis, author of The Narnia Code, and editor of  The Cambridge Companion to C.S. Lewis.

Dr. Ward's recent research in Lewis has created a storm in scholarly circles. Upto recently, Lewis's  Narnia books-which most people probably know Lewis by-have never been viewed as more than  lighter works- as something he did in his spare time. In sharp contrast, most English students (including myself) have focused on Lewis's scholarly works such as English Literature in the Sixteenth Century (1954) Volume III of the Oxford History of English Literature and other books such as Mere Christianity, or The Screwtape Letters.

Now that view has all changed. The books in Narnia are now seen as deftly created and more sophisticated than ever imagined. Narnia will never be the same!

Best of all Dr. Ward is a humble, gentle person, who has taken his fame in stride!

To learn more about Dr. Ward, you can click here.