Wednesday, June 12, 2024

misquoting Clive Staples, grief and anger



I ran across the meme lately with the quote about anger and grief attributed to C.S. Lewis.

Is it much exaggeration to say that most quotes attributed to Lewis on the internet are not really Lewis?

I have anger and grief about how often this happens!

I loved the quote, but immediately guessed (correctly ) that it was not him. 

 That is so annoying. There are even whole  websites...even an entire book!... to debunk fake Lewis quotes.

Here are the most frequent  misquoted or fake Lewis quotes that Lewis  Foundation is asked about. Maybe if I post them here, it will help stop the madness....yeah, right! (:

Quotes NOT by C.S. Lewis

  1. “You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.” – paraphrase of a George McDonald quote in Annals of a Quiet Neighbourhood
  2. “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” – Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life OR This Was Your LIfe! Preparing to Meet God Face to Face by Rich Howard and Jamie Lash
  3. “You are never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream.” – Les Brown
  4. “Children are not a distraction from more important work. They are the most important work.” – Dr. John Trainer
  5. “Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.” – paraphrase of a Charles Marshall quote in Shattering the Glass Slipper
  6. “We read to know/discover that we are not alone.” William Nicholson, screenwriter, in Shadowlands (1993)
  7. “Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.” – from the film Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010); the screenwriters are Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely, and Michael Petroni
  8. “Experience, that most brutal of teachers, but you learn, my God do you learn.” – slight misquote from a quote in the film Shadowlands (1993), William Nicholson, screenwriter  -      -LINK

Anyway on to the 'misundertaken" quote at hand.

I like it, and would credit it correctly if I could.

It reminds me of this :

"My own experience with recovering addicts is that two tasks seem to help them the most:
mourning losses, and getting aggressions out front."
-Dr. Jerome Levin-Dr. Jerome Levin

 I was glad to find this from Christopher Brady;

“I sat with my anger long enough until she told me her real name was grief.” This quote, with the accompanying picture, came up in my FB feed and was attributed, as you can see, to C.S. Lewis and, more specifically, to A Grief Observed. Except Lewis did not write this. I reshared on FB both acknowledging the truth of the quote and questioning the attribution.

First, the sentiment. It is powerful and it rings true to the experience of so many of us in grief. When a loved one has died, it can be fairly obvious. Our emotions and feelings well up and anger is chief among them, especially when it is someone who has died well before their time. Elizabeth Kübler-Ross even famously placed it #2 on her list of five stages of grief in her book On Death and Dying. (It is worth noting that most now acknowledge that we will go through these stages, and other feelings, in any order, often circling back again. A key to emotional health is to try not to get stuck in any one moment and not beat ourselves up when we come back to a “prior” stage. Feel the feels.) Anger and grief do, indeed, go hand in hand. Recognizing that can be a very important part of coping with anger, since sometimes we might struggle to pinpoint its origin.

Grief comes from many directions, however, and I define grief as those emotions that come from the loss of something we hoped or expected to continue in our life. It is not just about someone dying. For example, our institution is going through a change of governing structure, moving towards a model that many (perhaps even most) other universities have. It is not a small matter and it has caused a lot of upheaval and dissent within the community. People describe their anger, frustration, and anxiety in various ways, but they all are a part of grief. There are, of course, layers and complications to all feelings and many will point to this or that specific thing that has angered them, but grief is a key and unspoken component of this experience. What they had expected as a certainty, the structure and way of doing things, was now changing and they weren’t ready for it. Many don’t like it. It is disorienting and unsettling. 

Anger is real. It is a part of grief. That needs to be said and acknowledged so that we can process our feelings and emotions accordingly. It is a good quote, “I sat with my anger long enough until she told me her real name was grief.”

It just isn’t from C.S. Lewis. A mutual friend connected me with William O’Flaherty who runs Essential C.S. Lewis, a great site for all things CSL. He also published The Misquotable C.S. Lewis, a look at various and sundry quotes and near-quotes attributed to Lewis. He confirmed what I and others on my FB discussion had surmised, Lewis didn’t write this.1 At least not that we can find. That is a shame, not because it should be from Lewis, but that the original author is not getting the credit they deserve. Conceptually, it is a worthy sentiment and I would want to credit them, so if you are the original author, please do come forward!

Proving a negative is difficult, so how do we know that Lewis didn’t write this? Well, William and I both happen to have almost all of Lewis’ works electronically and we both, independently searched for this phrase and could not find it in his corpus. It is always possible we missed something. An interesting note from my research is that in A Grief Observed, the book that this quote was attributed to in one post, opens, “No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing.” That actually describes very well the feelings I have had in grief. Yet a search for the word “anger” in the book, brings up “danger” and “stranger” but never “anger.” So Lewis equates the emotion with fear but not anger, at least in that work.

Others suggested reasons why this is not from Lewis include that it simply didn’t “sound like Lewis.” Not an unreasonable argument. We all have a sense of how an author “sounds” (or reads). We are talking about style. Would Lewis personify anger and grief? Would he assign a gender to grief? (And I have found myself wondering what it means that the author did assign the female gender to grief.) It is possible that this was attributed to Lewis in some sort of dramatization, such as Shadowlands or The Most Reluctant Convert. I have not checked those sources. I also noted Michael Ward’s very good chapter “On Suffering” and cannot find it mentioned there either. I would think, if it existed as a Lewis quote, Ward would have cited it.2  -Christopher Brady, Link


The quote sometimes shows up as part of a  longer section; see this commentary by Lauenarve:

Yes, we are here, once again, revisiting the topic of the ability words have to allow us to feel and experience things we didn’t know were possible.

I’m an English major, and I’m a sucker for beautiful writing. Forgive me.

As I’ve stated in the past, if I read something that resonates with me deeply, I’m going to remember it; additionally, I’m more than likely going to save whatever piece of writing it is that has snagged my attention to avoid losing it.

I viewed an Instagram reel a few days ago that I’ve been thinking about, on and off, ever since. I don’t follow the account that posted the reel, although perhaps I should, but I am delighted it decided to appear in my algorithm because of how powerful the language used in it is. The caption states that the reel is a compilation of quotes from C.S. Lewis, Laura Eden and Nagata Kabi.

“I sat with anger long enough until it told me its real name was Grief.

“I’m not a whole person and I don’t think I will ever be. Parts of me died in the house I grew up in and I visit them in dreams.

“When you are not fed love on a silver spoon, you learn to lick it off knives.

“Loving you became just a different way to hate myself.

“I guess it’s okay to grieve about the child you could have been. How can something be there and not be there?

“How do we forgive ourselves for all the things we did not become?

“Up until then I never understood how people could just keep on living. But maybe I have a place to belong, but it wasn’t something definite, like a seat. It was flowing and formless. Perhaps inside of me. Perhaps outside of me. A reason to live. The power to live. A place to belong in this world. I think the essence of that sweet nectar varies from person to person.

Love of language or not, if this piece of writing doesn’t make you feel something, I don’t know what will.  Link

Monday, January 15, 2024

God-haunted music: Model Engine/ The World is a Beautiful Place, and I Am No Longer Afraid To Die

 I don't know how I ever missed these two bands:

1)Model Engine

See this from Rhett Smith:

“In 1995 I was standing in the cleared out sanctuary of a church waiting for the headlining Christian band to come up and play. Christian music, at least in the small band, alternative format, was in its prime, and there didn’t seem to be one weekend that went by where there weren’t Christian alternative bands playing in my hometown of Phoenix, AZ. But this night was different. Everyone came out to see the opening band, a local favorite, and between their set and the headlining act, almost everyone went home. Hundreds of kids left, and there were only a handful of us in the room. And I mean, probably 50-60 people.

We were waiting for this band that we had never heard of before, and we figured, well, we might as well stay around. Three guys walk up to the stage, and as they began to play, we knew that we had never heard anything like them before…from the music…and especially to iframe style="border: 0; width: 350px; height: 786px;" src="" seamless>The Lean Years Tradition by Model Engine
the lyrics. It was a transformative show. And who was this band?” Black Eyed Sceva, who went on to become Model Engine" . link

t wasn’t so much a departure in sound but rather an upgrade in sound production, songwriting, and that full band sound complete with different instrumentation and backing features. With the sound of this record there was absolutely no reason this couldn’t have been the biggest release of the late 90’s. I’ve praised this album a lot over the years and I count myself as a big fan of the band. Switchfoot were just starting to take off around this time and I could have seen the two bands touring together in the years that followed but unfortunately that didn’t happen. Although I do remember seeing both bands at some mini-fest in the abandoned department store of an old mall near us that was getting remodeled. I don’t know the whole story regarding the end of the band and one day I will interview Jeremy Post about it but it was always a sad part of our scene to lose a group of guys that were intensely talented and passionate about what they did. They were in terms of lyrics, lightyears ahead of many other bands at that time (except for their label mates FIF who always seemed to pull out an endless supply of witty and thought-provoking words). So, long story short, the fantastic 1997 album by Model Engine is now finally available on all digital networks for the first time. Head over to Spotify and Apple Music right now and check out Model Engine “The Lean Years Tradition”. The band members themselves are responsible for the re-release and all support goes to them. The album has been remixed/Remastered as well. Enjoy! link

    Interview with frontman:

Linda - You never liked religion much.

Jeremy - (laughs) No, but I think traveling has been the best thing for me. It's nice to see how other Christians serve the Lord. God uses people in so many different areas and walks of life. If I just sit out in my house in California and that's all I see, I get a pretty limited view. So it's nice to go across the states, or go to Europe and see how Christians adapt to their environment, finding the different ways people serve. 

Linda - Your new material has more graphic language. "Reeberbahn," for example, is about your encounter with a prostitute before going on stage in Hamburg, Germany. Why do you choose such harsh subject matter?

Jeremy - That's not something we've tried to do. I've been writing songs for a long time, and a lot of people considered the songs that ended up on our albums abrasive because of the things they talked about. What I thought was pretty nice and mellow, people thought was on the edge of being too graphic. As I've matured, I've come to think that life is graphic and abrasive a lot of times. If you're going to be writing songs about that, you have to bring those elements in or you're not being honest. That's why I appreciate Vigilantes of Love so much because Bill Mallonee writes so poetically about real struggles. 

We definitely are in the Christian market. We end up playing with bands, though, whose thing is writing songs that are more at home in a church--talking about Jesus, praising the Lord with terms that are easy for the Christian community to swallow--whereas I would hope that our music praises God in a way that is real. I see life, I see the down side of it, and I go, "Wow! God's doing a work here?" If I can convey the way that I see God glorified, I think that will glorify God all the more, but it's not going  to be cheerleading other people to praise the Lord. Our job, our calling is to say, "This is my life. This is my experience, and here's how God worked through this experience to change me." Hopefully, that will be reflected in our music. Link

Lyrics to "Reeperbahn":

on a curb with hamburg's dust under my shoe
 things for sale as black as hell in pyrite's golden hue
 there's a ten-foot high window display for something bittersweet
 a book shop sets my backdrop on a busy port town street 

there's a cigarette stuck in the mouth of an overpainted..

on a curb in hamburg watching the junkies 
zigzag breathing something mysterious
 into an otherwise empty bag outside the shops that never close
 on a moonless, starless night across from where the harlots pose
 beneath a block-wide neon light 
there's a cigarette stuck in the mouth of an overpainted whore
 and she comes so close i can smell the smoke and she makes a quote for the price of her wares


2)The World is a Beautiful Place, and I Am No Longer  Afraid To Die

Start with the closing song/suite on "Illusory Walls": "Fewer Afraid". 

Excerpt from Spotify:
Sometimes, the best place to begin is at the end. If you really want to dig deep into Illusory Walls, the fourth album by The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die, it definitely helps to do that. That’s because epic closer “Fewer Afraid”—all 19 minutes, 44 seconds of it—doesn’t just revisit the themes and ideas on the ten songs that precede it, but also offers a self-aware summary of the Connecticut band’s entire history. It’s the conclusion of all the stories within the record as well as a nod to all the lives that helped make them—little glimpses of everything that’s come before, on both a micro, immediate level, and a more universal one.
“That song is a higher level look at my whole life and the whole world,” explains vocalist/guitarist David F. Bello, “as well as the album, our band, and our discography. It places the band in the context of the rest of the world as if we’re listening to everything that came before. It touches on all the themes of the previous songs, but there are also callbacks to songs from earlier in our career. But in this song, they’re the object, not the subject—I’m talking about a world in which these things happen, not talking about these things happening.” -Spotify

This post-rock direction carries forth what is nearly another LP in it of itself—two towering tracks that together total nearly 40 minutes, “Infinite Josh” and “Fewer Afraid”. Both tracks pay compliment to the band’s increasing and expanded fidelity and instrumentation, with compositions that go between serene, delicate and gentle, to spaced out and utterly triumphant, a sense of light amid the dark. At their weakest, these longer explorations can proceed with a certain languor before reaching their zenith. But at that apotheosis is the purpose, and the intent of it to begin with. Between the more traditional songwriting and the exploratory spaces, there’s a consciousness of the material and immaterial, concrete while remaining keenly experimental. It feels like it’s going to break, like it’s going to push into the ether, and that catharsis is resolute throughout the album. 

Illusory Walls is an exploration of darkness, adding definition to the creeping and stalking fears that rattle our ribs and cause us to lose sleep. The anxieties of hearts well worn, sometimes from each other, sometimes from the crushing weight of what feels like a dying planet. In it though, there is a solidarity, a hope, a sense of community that we’re all going through together, as we approach new fears, we put aside old ones to see what’s left. Illusory Walls is a stunning effort of lyrical revelation and sonic rawness in equal measure. While it may chronicle an age of despair in meticulous fashion, it speaks volumes about the potential of who we are, and what we can be. link

Album Review: The World Is a Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid to Die – ‘Illusory Walls’