Thanksgiving Special: The Love of Story Class

One year ago, I opened registration for my first online literature class: The Love of Story. In celebration of this one year anniversary, I’m offering this class again at a 40% discount until December 2.

This class studies the role stories play in shaping us, our work, and our vision of the world. We read and discuss works by Salman Rushdie, Oscar Wilde, and Wendell Berry.

I had a great group of students last year and some incredible discussion in this class. The best outcome of the class, however, was the way it changed the students. Here’s what one student wrote about it:

I really learned a lot from this class. A lot of the application hit me hard and that is good. Change is not a fun thing, but change is often a necessary thing. Working through these books has helped to remind me of the kind of person I need to become. I would be motivated to sign up for another class based on that alone.

The full price of the Love of Story class is $99. But until December 2, the tuition for this class is only $59. That’s a 40% discount!

You can learn more about this great course by visiting the course description page on my new website designed specially for my online students.

This course is self-paced, so it doesn’t led to any “purchased stress.” You can work your way through the books and videos in your free time. You’ll have immediate access to the entire course as soon as you register. You’ll also have lifetime access to the entire course, so even if life gets busy (or is busy now!), you’ll still be able to enjoy all the benefits this course offers.

The holiday time gets busy fast, and it’s easy to turn this meditative season into a time of stress and unrest. This class will give you some structured time this holiday season to read, think, mediate, and learn how to live a better story.

I hope you join me in the Love of Story class! Click here to learn more and register!

Happy Thanksgiving!


C.S. Lewis on a Story’s Most Essential Element

A few weeks ago, I shared a video that discussed C.S. Lewis’s two ways of seeing.  Today, I want to share another video, a sequel to the first.

Closely connected to Lewis’s two ways of looking was his belief that the most essential element of a story was its atmosphere, or its general feel.  More important than character and theme was whether the texture of the story was believable and cohesive enough to draw the reader fully into the story.

Entering the Atmosphere

Flaws in the character could be overlooked (since everyone has quirks), but a fault in the atmosphere would ruin its spell and sink the story.  The ultimate test of a story’s atmosphere was how often the book was reread.  When a reader comes to a book a second time, he or she already knows the plot, so can’t be surprised by it.

So what’s the point in reading it again?

The reader returns to a good story in order to enjoy its atmosphere again.  He wants to be enchanted again by the story’s alluring texture.

Video:  The Most Essential Element of a Story

C.S. Lewis’s Two Ways of Seeing

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know that I just finished teaching a 10-week class on the Chronicles of Narnia.  And what a class it was!  It was such a great experience that I want to share one of the video lessons with you in this post.

Seven incredible novels, 37 videos, and over ten hours of instruction.  Throw in some enthusiastic students and enough time to prepare the lessons, and I found myself in an ideal teaching situation.

This class covered the Chronicles in depth, analyzing the symbolism, themes, and influences of each of the Narnia books.  But we also learned a lot about C.S. Lewis’s remarkable Christian and refreshingly clear vision of the world.

Over the next few weeks, I want to share some different pieces from this class with you.  In this post, I’ve included a video from the first lesson about the structure of the Narniad.  In this video, I discuss C.S. Lewis’s two ways of seeing, or two ways of knowing:  1) contemplation and 2) enjoyment.

Lewis argued that we can come to know a thing by standing outside of it and looking at it.  We can observe it the way a scientist observes a new species of animal—from a disengaged perspective.

We can also come to know a thing by entering into it, by “looking along” it.  We can observe it the way a lover studies the beloved—from a perspective of full engagement.

The first way of disengaged observation is “contemplation.”  The second way of enthralled study is “enjoyment.”  These two ways of seeing/knowing are important because some things can only be known through “enjoyment”.

Some things—the highest, most important things—can be seen best only through the eyes of love.

And the most important of these things is Christ.  Lewis argues that the truest, deepest knowledge of Christ can only be had “from the inside”, by entering fully into Christ’s being and nature through devoted love.

This video explains all of this in much greater detail, so take a few minutes to watch it through to the end.  If you have any questions when you’re done, ask them in the comments section below.

Enjoy the video!

BW4–Fighting the Dragon

Note: This is the fourth post in a series on reading Beowulf. Get all the posts and reading assignments here.

Today we come to our fourth and final reading in Beowulf: the famous fight with the dragon. Here are my thoughts on fighting the dragon and the greater meaning of this poem.

When you finish reading this post, be sure to share your perspectives and questions in the comments section. If you haven’t joined the conversation yet, this is your last chance!

BW3-Fighting Grendel’s Mother

Note:  This is the third post in a series on reading Beowulf.  Get all the posts and reading assignments here.

Today we come to our third reading in Beowulf and our second monster:  Grendel’s mother.  Here are my thoughts on fighting Grendel’s mother and Beowulf’s return home.

When you finish reading this post, be sure to share your perspectives and questions in the comments section.

Fighting Grendel's Mother

BW2–The Fight with Grendel

Note:  This is the second post in a series on reading Beowulf.  Get all the posts and reading assignments here.

Today we come to our second reading in Beowulf, which tells of Beowulf’s fight with Grendel, the monster from the mere.  Here are my thoughts on this section’s ring-givers, peace-weavers, and night-fights with earth-walkers.

When you finish reading this post, be sure to share your perspectives and questions in the comments section.

BW1–The Harrowing of Heorot

Today we begin reading the classics together! Over the next four weeks we’ll be reading and discussing the great medieval poem Beowulf, beginning with the Harrowing of Heorot. Everyone is welcome to join us, even if you start late.

Today’s reading assignment was lines 1-490. From this point forward, we’ll be reading 800-900 lines per week until we finish the poem (get all the reading assignments here). Each week I will write a brief overview of the reading, along with some of my insights, interpretive points, and applications. In the comments section, you can share what you’ve learned, ask any questions you have, and offer any points of application.

Reading Beowulf Together

Reading the classics is something that most of us want to do, but few of us have the motivation to actually make it happen.  We make great starts, but life always seems to get in the way.

Reading the classics with other people provides the motivation and accountability a lot of us need to get started.  And discussing a classic with other readers always brings deeper insight and appreciation for the book.

So let’s read some of these great books together, starting with that great medieval classic, Beowulf.

Celtic Cross