Maps by Holly Ordway

map-of-the-southern-sky-with-representations-of-constellations-decorated-with-the-crest-of-1515.jpg!Large

Antique maps, with curlicues of ink
As borders, framing what we know, like pages
From a book of travelers’ tales: look,
Here in the margin, tiny ships at sail.
No-nonsense maps from family trips: each state
Traced out in color-coded numbered highways,
A web of roads with labeled city-dots
Punctuating the route and its slow stories.
Now GPS puts me right at the centre,
A Ptolemaic shift in my perspective.
Pinned where I am, right now, somewhere, I turn
And turn to orient myself. I have
Directions calculated, maps at hand:
Hopelessly lost till I look up at last.

Hear Malcolm Guite read today’s poem


In many ways, our digital world has robbed us of context. A glace at an analog timepiece yields more than the time of day.  The minute and hour hands remind you that you have 20 minutes until your noon appointment, and twice that time as passed since you began your journey at 11:00.  The digital clock simply says 11:40.

In today’s poem, Holly Ordway likens our dependence on GPS devices to a worldview which fixed man as the center of the universe.  Along with our attention span, our perspective has become short and tactical.

In his book The Word in the Wilderness, Malcom Guite says this:

We are accustomed to the sight of people whose eyes are fixed and pinned down on their smartphones as they walk, bumping into others and missing both the beauty and the clear landmarks of the world around them, and this is where the final ‘turn’ or ‘volta’ of the poem comes:

I have
Directions calculated, maps at hand:
Hopelessly lost till I look up at last.

In what way does your life need reorientation?

John 14:6

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

Dig Deeper: Literature & Liturgy

Holly Ordway

Holly Ordway

Holly Ordway is Professor of English and faculty in the M.A. in Apologetics at Houston Baptist University.  She teachs in the Online MAA program and specialize in cultural and imaginative literary apologetics.

Her forthcoming new book is Imaginative Apologetics, due out in Spring 2017 from Emmaus Road Publishing.

Holly’s academic work focuses on J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and Charles Williams; she is the Charles Williams Subject Editor for the Journal of Inklings Studies. More details on her academic writings can be found on her “Writing” page.

Holly’s current project is a literary-critical study, Tolkien’s Modern Sources: Middle-earth Beyond the Middle Ages, to be published by Kent State University Press. You can get a glimpse of some of her findings (an intriguing connection between Tolkien and William Morris) here.

She is also the author of a memoir,  Not God’s Type: An Atheist Academic Lays Down Her Arms.

If you’re interested in having Holly give a talk to your organization, take a look at her speaking schedule and she will be in touch!

Malcolm Guite

Malcolm Guite
Malcolm Guite

Malcolm Guite is poet-priest and Chaplain of Girton College Cambridge, but he often travels round Great Britain, and to North America, to give lectures, concerts and poetry readings.  For more details of these and other engagements go to his Events Page

Photo courtesy Lancia E. Smith

 

51vg-xoskvl-_sy346_For every day from Shrove Tuesday to Easter Day, the bestselling poet Malcolm Guite chooses a favourite poem from across the Christian spiritual and English literary traditions and offers incisive seasonal reflections on it.

Lent is a time to reorient ourselves, clarify our minds, slow down, recover from distraction and focus on the values of God’s kingdom. Poetry, with its power to awaken the mind, is an ideal companion for such a time. This collection enables us to turn aside from everyday routine and experience moments of transfigured vision as we journey through the desert landscape of Lent and find refreshment along the way.
Following each poem with a helpful prose reflection, Malcolm Guite has selected from classical and contemporary poets, from Dante, John Donne and George Herbert to Seamus Heaney, Rowan Williams and Gillian Clarke, and his own acclaimed poetry.
ART:Map of the Southern Sky, with representations of constellations, decorated with the crest of Cardinal Lang von Wellenburg, and a dedication to him with his coats of arms and the Imperial copyright
Albrecht Durer
Date: 1515 

Paradigm Shift: Angelus by Holly Ordway

18740379_1632128180160159_1003481258552073526_nWithin the deepest silence is a sound:
Ordered, graceful, the music of the spheres
Reverberates in every atom, bounds
From star to star: a song we cannot hear,
Except in hints and glimpses: in the hush
Of twilight, crickets with their tiny words;
A smile upon a sleeping face; a rush
Of love within the heart; high circling birds
Against the burning blue of heaven; sparrows
Darting quick into the hedge; the air before
The rain and after; mossy bridges, furrows
At harvest: woven, a vast cosmic score
In secret sung. And we beneath the moon
Can add our prayers: sunset, sunrise, noon.


We need both propositional argument and imaginative engagement, continually shaped and re-shaped to show the truth in fresh ways. The Faith can never be reduced to a single knockout argument that will be convincing for all who hear it, or a single knockout work of art that will be transformative for all who see it—nor should we wish for such a thing, for it would be tantamount to saying that we don’t need the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who  brings conviction. Though we should labor with all our might to develop both abstract and the concrete presentations of the Faith, we must remember that, however much we may plant and water, it is God who gives the growth.

But even more than that, the Faith can never be reduced to a single argument, or a single image, because it is a living thing. When we invite people to enter into the Church, we are inviting them to come home and, in so doing, also to explore a glorious new country, where there is always more to discover. We are inviting them to be made truly whole, as unique individuals, and also to discover the joyous fellowship of the communion of the saints, living and dead.

This is the vision we must try, as best we can, to share: that the universe is profoundly meaningful, that all things are interconnected in and through Christ, and that to be a Christian is to be fully alive, now and eternally. God is the ultimate Artist, and Author, and Composer: in his work, all creation sings, and each of us is called to join in the cosmic harmony.

From  Apologetics and the Christian Imagination , by Holly Ordway


John 1: 1-5

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

Meet The Author


Holly Ordway

Ordway author photo

Dr Holly Ordway is Professor of English and faculty in the M.A. in Apologetics at Houston Baptist University; she holds a PhD in English from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

She is the author of Apologetics and the Christian Imagination: An Integrated Approach to Defending the Faith (Emmaus Road, 2017) and Not God’s Type: An Atheist Academic Lays Down Her Arms (Ignatius, 2014), and she has contributed chapters to C.S. Lewis at Poets’ Corner (edited by Michael Ward and Peter S. Williams), C.S. Lewis’s List: The Ten Books that Influenced Him Most (edited by David Werther) among other volumes; she is also a published poet, with poems in Word in the Wilderness and Love, Remember (edited by Malcolm Guite).

Her academic work focuses on the writings of the Inklings, especially C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. Her current book project is Tolkien’s Modern Sources: Middle-earth Beyond the Middle Ages (forthcoming from Kent State University Press, 2019).

She lives in La Crosse, Wisconsin, and travels regularly to speak on Tolkien, Lewis, and imaginative apologetics.

Dig Deeper at HollyOrdway.com and buy the book HERE.

Photo of Holly Ordway by Lancia E Smith

Seeing by Holly Ordway

Summer wanes. The heavy-headed roses
Nodding by the river path, the scent
Of sun-warmed earth and hay all mark the closing
Of the year. The warmth was only lent,
And does not last. One morning all is changed:
The hedge is silvered with a sudden frost,
The very paving-stones are furred and strange.
My steps show dark on white where I have crossed
As I set out to walk along the hill.
The winter wind cuts through the leafless trees,
A sharp and sudden cold; my eyes are filled
With water, dazzle-brightning all I see,
In earth and sky: all’s silver, gold, and blue,
A sign that spring and summer will come true.


We are our own worst enemy. We know that we don’t know everything, yet we refuse to accept that which we don’t understand. If it doesn’t square with our rational mind, we reject it as unrealistic and therefore irrelevant. The only question we allow ourselves to pray is “Why?” when we should be asking “What?”  God’s answer might require action or stillness, but it invariably calls us closer to His embrace:  Father, what is your will for me now?

In her book,  Apologetics and the Christian Imagination, Holly Ordway says:

The idea of an ultimate Authority is deeply abhorrent to the modern mind—even more so, I dare say, than the principle of original sin. Here, I do not mean simply an ultimate moral authority; it’s not necessarily unpalatable to recognize that God, in an abstract sense at least, is the ultimate moral arbiter. I mean something more subtle: that there is an authority for doctrine, and for the content of our faith as it applies to our daily lives, and that this authority does not belong to the individual. The idea of individual, personal judgment as the (hidden) final arbiter for the living out of our moral code is deep- ly ingrained into modern culture, even among Christians. We are too easily tempted into thinking that “I agree (or disagree) with this doctrine” is the last word on the sub- ject, as if our agreement or disagreement was what deter- mined its truth or falsity. Even the language of conversion can be problematic in this regard, as I discovered when I wrote my own spiritual memoir; it is all too easy to de- scribe one’s coming to the Faith in egocentric terms. Jesus Christ is Lord of all; this is a fact. My acceptance of him as Lord does not grant him any authority that he does not already have, but rather is a recognition on my part of his existing sovereignty.

 

Join the discussion on Facebook HERE


John 1: 1-5

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

Meet The Author


Holly Ordway

Ordway author photo

Dr Holly Ordway is Professor of English and faculty in the M.A. in Apologetics at Houston Baptist University; she holds a PhD in English from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

She is the author of Apologetics and the Christian Imagination: An Integrated Approach to Defending the Faith (Emmaus Road, 2017) and Not God’s Type: An Atheist Academic Lays Down Her Arms (Ignatius, 2014), and she has contributed chapters to C.S. Lewis at Poets’ Corner (edited by Michael Ward and Peter S. Williams), C.S. Lewis’s List: The Ten Books that Influenced Him Most (edited by David Werther) among other volumes; she is also a published poet, with poems in Word in the Wilderness and Love, Remember (edited by Malcolm Guite).

Her academic work focuses on the writings of the Inklings, especially C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. Her current book project is Tolkien’s Modern Sources: Middle-earth Beyond the Middle Ages (forthcoming from Kent State University Press, 2019).

She lives in La Crosse, Wisconsin, and travels regularly to speak on Tolkien, Lewis, and imaginative apologetics.

Dig Deeper at HollyOrdway.com and buy the book HERE.

Photo of Holly Ordway by Lancia E Smith

Longing

18740379_1632128180160159_1003481258552073526_nGRACE
On the Memorial Service to C.S Lewis
Poet’s Corner, Westminster Abbey, 22 November 2013
Holly Ordway

Noon-tide on Saint Cecilia’s day, and here
In England’s royal church, I sit and watch
The winter sunlight streaming in, gold, clear,
Silent, pure, almost solid to the touch.
Nor is it fairy-gold; it does not fade.
For though that glorious beam of autumn light
Sank down to dusk, to darkness, died that day,
In living memory it still shines bright.
Within that golden light, the choir sings –
The notes resound in blood and bone, as if
I breathed the music in like air; it brings
Me to the point of tears, this time-bound gift
So unexpected, undeserved: a grace
To hold with joy through all my dying days.


In his Confessions, St. Augustine wrote “Thou movest us to delight in praising Thee; for Thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee.” We all understand the restless heart. In younger days, we dreamt of adventure and pursued visions which were compelling if not clear. The so-called midlife crisis is often a season of disappointment when the evaluation of one’s life falls short of its earlier aspirations. The imago Dei – the image of God in which we are created longs for the eternal, and we finally find our footing on that fulfilling path when we turn and return to our Creator. His calling is specific and He knows us by name.

In her book,  Apologetics and the Christian Imagination, Holly Ordway wrote:

In the previous chapter, we considered the problem of suffering and noted that we recognize evil precisely be- cause we have a deep underlying sense of what goodness is. No matter how pervasive or inescapable suffering is, we somehow recognize that it does not, or should not, have the last word. This ‘problem of good’ opens up the possi- bility of our intuitions and desires pointing us toward the truth. The value of building on our deep-seated longing for the good and the beautiful is so great that it is worth taking the time to develop a well-rounded imaginative apologetics approach to it.

We do not merely prefer what is good, beautiful, and meaningful if we can get it. We deeply desire and are al- ways restlessly searching for it, even if we aren’t quite sure exactly what we seek or where we can find it. Although it is possible (and unfortunately all too common) to have one’s longings for goodness, beauty, and meaning dulled and misdirected, it is part of our common human nature to experience longing for something more than what we experience in the here-and-now. C. S. Lewis called it “Sehnsucht” and observed that it could not be identified with any particular experience or pleasure, but was something beyond all of those. This longing can be felt in personal terms—as a desire for meaning and beauty in one’s own life—and also as a profound desire for justice, peace, reconciliation, and love in one’s society, over against the daily injustices, conflict, hatred, and instability that we see in the news and in our own families and neighborhoods.

 

 

Join the discussion on Facebook HERE


John 1: 1-5

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

Meet The Author


Holly Ordway

Ordway author photo

Dr Holly Ordway is Professor of English and faculty in the M.A. in Apologetics at Houston Baptist University; she holds a PhD in English from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

She is the author of Apologetics and the Christian Imagination: An Integrated Approach to Defending the Faith (Emmaus Road, 2017) and Not God’s Type: An Atheist Academic Lays Down Her Arms (Ignatius, 2014), and she has contributed chapters to C.S. Lewis at Poets’ Corner (edited by Michael Ward and Peter S. Williams), C.S. Lewis’s List: The Ten Books that Influenced Him Most (edited by David Werther) among other volumes; she is also a published poet, with poems in Word in the Wilderness and Love, Remember (edited by Malcolm Guite).

Her academic work focuses on the writings of the Inklings, especially C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. Her current book project is Tolkien’s Modern Sources: Middle-earth Beyond the Middle Ages (forthcoming from Kent State University Press, 2019).

She lives in La Crosse, Wisconsin, and travels regularly to speak on Tolkien, Lewis, and imaginative apologetics.

Dig Deeper at HollyOrdway.com and buy the book HERE.

Photo of Holly Ordway by Lancia E Smith

Pain And Doubt

GRANDMOTHER’S HOUSE
Holly Ordway

Three hundred years and more this house has stood
Along the gravelled road to Heald Pond,
Its lawns and gardens neighbored by the woods.
I knew it well. But decades now have gone
And I have not returned. Till now.
It seems To be an empty shell, a skeleton
Just like the trees beside: three mighty elms
Struck by disease, but strangely, not cut down;
Limb-lopped in years long past, left to decay.
In childhood I did not find them grim;
They simply were, these sentinels in gray,
Who gave no warning as the rot set in. . .
I turn away. I am a stranger here;
The past is gone, is lost, just as I feared.


Philosophy’s best answers to pain and doubt only get you so far.  The Cynic’s reaction to hardship was that the life of the wise does not depend on material prosperity. Hence, in contrast to “boasting”, Epictetus writes: “bring on hardships, bring on imprisonment, bring on disrepute, bring on condemnation. This is the proper exhibition …” Likewise as a Stoic thinker contemporary with the Apostle Paul, Seneca wrote of the tortures, burnings, and deaths under Gaius, and of his willingness to die for loyalty. The Stoic stressed the courage of the man under trial and the Cynic emphasized independence from material prosperity, but is spiritual toughness an ultimate goal?

In her book,  Apologetics and the Christian Imagination, Holly Ordway writes:

“How can a good and loving God exist when there is such evil in the world? “Why do innocent people suffer? “Why has this terrible thing happened to me?” Questions like these have always mattered, and people have always asked them—consider the Book of Job—and we must be ready to address them. Pain and doubt, suffering and evil: these are part of the human experience. Difficult as these topics are, we cannot afford to ignore them; these issues are cited, over and over again, as the causes of crises of faith.

We can begin, paradoxically, by turning the ‘problem of evil’ on its head. The very fact that we protest evil means that we recognize the reality and ultimate priority of goodness.

Why, after all, is suffering a problem? We recognize that there is something fundamentally wrong about certain kinds of events that happen to us, which in turn suggests that we have a deep-seated sense of what the right state of affairs is (even if we have never fully experienced it). We do not take suffering simply as a given, as it would have to be taken if, in reality, the material world is all that there is. Recognition that evil is evil points toward the existence of a moral law. Nearly everyone, if asked, will assert that some particular heinous act is wrong (child abuse or racism, for instance), even if they then try to frame their moral response in relativistic or utilitarian terms.

Protesting evil and ugliness means that we instinctively recognize goodness and beauty, and we prefer them— even when the evil, ugly condition is pervasive and persistent. The utter predictability and inevitability of death and disease has not led people to accept them; quite the contrary. A diagnosis of cancer in a friend or loved one alarms and dismays us, no matter how commonplace such an occurrence is. The ‘problem of evil’ is thus also the ‘problem of good’: the very fact that we can distinguish good from evil, and that we value the good and reject the evil, suggests the reality of an underlying moral order.

 

 

Join the discussion on Facebook HERE


John 1: 1-5

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

Meet The Author


Holly Ordway

Ordway author photo

Dr Holly Ordway is Professor of English and faculty in the M.A. in Apologetics at Houston Baptist University; she holds a PhD in English from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

She is the author of Apologetics and the Christian Imagination: An Integrated Approach to Defending the Faith (Emmaus Road, 2017) and Not God’s Type: An Atheist Academic Lays Down Her Arms (Ignatius, 2014), and she has contributed chapters to C.S. Lewis at Poets’ Corner (edited by Michael Ward and Peter S. Williams), C.S. Lewis’s List: The Ten Books that Influenced Him Most (edited by David Werther) among other volumes; she is also a published poet, with poems in Word in the Wilderness and Love, Remember (edited by Malcolm Guite).

Her academic work focuses on the writings of the Inklings, especially C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. Her current book project is Tolkien’s Modern Sources: Middle-earth Beyond the Middle Ages (forthcoming from Kent State University Press, 2019).

She lives in La Crosse, Wisconsin, and travels regularly to speak on Tolkien, Lewis, and imaginative apologetics.

Dig Deeper at HollyOrdway.com and buy the book HERE.

Photo of Holly Ordway by Lancia E Smith

The Incarnation

ON DAILY MASS
Holly Ordway

Sunlight gilds the pine boughs at my window,
Each needle haloed, dark against the light,
As if this evanescent brightness shows
The good this day may hold. The time is tight,
To catch my breath before the press of all
I have to do; the minutes slip away,
The fading sunlight moves along the wall
And I have done so little yet this day.
But still I turn aside, set down my pen,
And heed the deeper call that bids me here.
Agnus Dei, dona nobis pacem.
Time out of time: eternity comes near,
And in the hour I thought I could not spare,
I kneel, and, halting, ask the saints for prayer.


The Apostle John opens his gospel with a description of Jesus as “the Word.”  This was especially meaningful to his original readers who understood the complexity of the “logos” as an expression of the inexplicable. The Chinese language contains a similar term, “tao“, which means both “thinking” and “speaking.”  As creatures made in His image, God has set eternity in our hearts yet, as the writer of Ecclesiastes says, we “cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to the end” (Ecc 3:11).  Fortunately, God graced us with the ability to gain understanding.

In her book,  Apologetics and the Christian Imagination, Holly Ordway writes:

Literature is extremely helpful in this regard for both deepening and broadening one’s theory of mind. To begin with, reading imaginative fiction that focuses on character development and interaction, such as the fiction of Jane Austen or Anthony Trollope, helps us hone the skills of observing others, drawing conclusions about their character, reactions, and intentions, and then testing those conclusions.

Good stories do more than allow us to practice theory of mind: they also give us more material with which to work. Literature, here including both fiction and non-fiction in the form of well-written memoirs and biographies, can help us to see from another’s perspective. We have the opportunity to experience other cultures and times, to learn from other experiences, and to engage the world through a different personality, perhaps even very different values and ideas. As Lewis says in An Experiment in Criticism: “Literary experience heals the wound, without undermining the privilege, of individuality. . . . in reading great literature I become a thousand men and yet remain myself. Like the night sky in the Greek poem, I see with a myriad eyes, but it is still I who see. Here, as in worship, in love, in moral action, and in knowing, I transcend myself; and am never more myself than when I do.”

 

Join the discussion on Facebook HERE


John 1: 1-5

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

Meet The Author


Holly Ordway

Ordway author photo

Dr Holly Ordway is Professor of English and faculty in the M.A. in Apologetics at Houston Baptist University; she holds a PhD in English from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

She is the author of Apologetics and the Christian Imagination: An Integrated Approach to Defending the Faith (Emmaus Road, 2017) and Not God’s Type: An Atheist Academic Lays Down Her Arms (Ignatius, 2014), and she has contributed chapters to C.S. Lewis at Poets’ Corner (edited by Michael Ward and Peter S. Williams), C.S. Lewis’s List: The Ten Books that Influenced Him Most (edited by David Werther) among other volumes; she is also a published poet, with poems in Word in the Wilderness and Love, Remember (edited by Malcolm Guite).

Her academic work focuses on the writings of the Inklings, especially C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. Her current book project is Tolkien’s Modern Sources: Middle-earth Beyond the Middle Ages (forthcoming from Kent State University Press, 2019).

She lives in La Crosse, Wisconsin, and travels regularly to speak on Tolkien, Lewis, and imaginative apologetics.

Dig Deeper at HollyOrdway.com and buy the book HERE.

Photo of Holly Ordway by Lancia E Smith

Recovery

18740379_1632128180160159_1003481258552073526_nA SUDDEN GOLDFINCH
Holly Ordway

The branch is bare and black against the fog;
Cold droplets bead along the twigs, and fall.
The hours are passing, ready to be gone,
And now they’re past, dissolved, beyond recall,
Beyond my reach. A sudden goldfinch clings
And bends the twig so slightly with its weight
It seems as if it’s painted on: its wings
In motion are a glimpse of summer, bright,
Quick, and now already gone. This moment,
So brief but still so clear against the blur
Of unattended time, in memory
Connects the things that are, the things that were.
Fleeting as it is, almost a ghost,
It may be time is never truly lost.


In a paper given to The Oxford Socratic Club entitled, Is Theology Poetry?, C.S. Lewis wrote “I  believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen: not only because I see it but because by it I see everything else.” Achieving a holistic understanding of the cosmos requires revelation, and we know there is more much than our senses can perceive.  Certainly dogs hear sounds we cannot and the eagle’s eye is different from our own.  Intuitively we know there is much more, yet we tilt to arrogance in daily living.

In her book,  Apologetics and the Christian Imagination, Holly Ordway says:

Here, we must take a careful, searching look at our own beliefs and how we act on them. Given the cultural pressures from reductive scientism and naturalism, and the relentless materialism of our consumer culture, it is very easy (and all too common) even for well-discipled Christians to have a somewhat impoverished worldview. Many Christians tend to think of the supernatural realm as including only God and nothing more—and in such a view, ‘God’ often ends up being seen as not particularly supernatural either.

But the full Christian view is of a dynamic cosmos: with the communion of saints, the great “cloud of witnesses,” actively interested in the affairs of their brothers and sisters and interceding for them; angels who are active in God’s service; demons who are active in rebellion; and the network of connections formed by prayer and intercession among Christians.

 

Join the discussion on Facebook HERE


John 1: 1-5

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

Meet The Author


Holly Ordway

Ordway author photo

Dr Holly Ordway is Professor of English and faculty in the M.A. in Apologetics at Houston Baptist University; she holds a PhD in English from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

She is the author of Apologetics and the Christian Imagination: An Integrated Approach to Defending the Faith (Emmaus Road, 2017) and Not God’s Type: An Atheist Academic Lays Down Her Arms (Ignatius, 2014), and she has contributed chapters to C.S. Lewis at Poets’ Corner (edited by Michael Ward and Peter S. Williams), C.S. Lewis’s List: The Ten Books that Influenced Him Most (edited by David Werther) among other volumes; she is also a published poet, with poems in Word in the Wilderness and Love, Remember (edited by Malcolm Guite).

Her academic work focuses on the writings of the Inklings, especially C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. Her current book project is Tolkien’s Modern Sources: Middle-earth Beyond the Middle Ages (forthcoming from Kent State University Press, 2019).

She lives in La Crosse, Wisconsin, and travels regularly to speak on Tolkien, Lewis, and imaginative apologetics.

Dig Deeper at HollyOrdway.com and buy the book HERE.

Photo of Holly Ordway by Lancia E Smith

Distortions Of Meaning

UNMAKING LANGUAGE
Holly Ordway

Repentance.’ ‘Virtue.’ ‘Sin’: Words as relics
Of a weird, less sophisticated time,
A time that’s wholly past and derelict,
Which we can only now bring back to mind
Enveloped in protective irony.
We’ve cordoned off our past and its ‘concerns’
In the name of making us feel more free
We must re-phrase – it’s how our freedom’s won.
And so we slice our bodies with no pain;
We grope in loveless sex with no release;
We search for self, though nothing there remains;
We make a ceaseless noise and find no peace
Unmaking language, nothing left to say:
Blind impulse speaks, and wordless we obey.


“‎You’re not the same as you were before,” he said. You were much more… muchier… you’ve lost your muchness.” Ah yes, we are all lost in Wonderland a bit these days.  As with Lewis Carroll’s tale, communication and our collective conversation is handicapped by the discounting and rebranding of words.  When “spiritual” is good but “religious” is bad, we might think it sick or dope, and we might be right. No wait, that’s wrong. What?

In her book,  Apologetics and the Christian Imagination , Holly Ordway says:

As Owen Barfield says in Poetic Diction, “Of all devices for dragooning the human spirit, the least clumsy is to procure its abortion in the womb of language.” It is in the “womb of language” that ideas are conceived, and then can grow and develop. The wider, richer, and more precise our vocabulary is, the more we will be able to use it to express ideas clearly and reflect on them deeply. Unfortunately, our language is subject to verbicide—the ‘murder’ of words through exaggeration or misuse, so that the original meaning is lost. Verbicide can kill words by distortion as well as by watering down their meaning, as in the use of ‘sinful’ to mean ‘enjoyable.’ If a delicious slice of chocolate cake can be ‘sinfully good,’ then the word ‘sin’ has no real meaning at all.

Verbicide can occur through carelessness, but it can also be deliberately cultivated by those who find it in their interests to render certain words empty of meaning. Authentic debate and discussion—like authentic democracy—are messy and discomfiting processes that require confronting ideas that are disagreeable, and accepting that you can’t always have things your own way. To raise an issue for discussion and argument means at least tacitly accepting that you might not be able to convince the other side that you’re right . . . and having to live with that. The alternative to authentic discussion is to manipulate circumstances such that the debate never happens, and the position that you favor becomes entrenched—or to manipulate language so that the other point of view becomes unsayable and eventually unthinkable.

Thus, apologists must be prepared to deal not just with arguments and misunderstandings, but also with the conscious or unconscious manipulation and corruption of language.

 

 

Join the discussion on Facebook HERE


John 1: 1-5

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

Meet The Author


Holly Ordway

Ordway author photo

Dr Holly Ordway is Professor of English and faculty in the M.A. in Apologetics at Houston Baptist University; she holds a PhD in English from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

She is the author of Apologetics and the Christian Imagination: An Integrated Approach to Defending the Faith (Emmaus Road, 2017) and Not God’s Type: An Atheist Academic Lays Down Her Arms (Ignatius, 2014), and she has contributed chapters to C.S. Lewis at Poets’ Corner (edited by Michael Ward and Peter S. Williams), C.S. Lewis’s List: The Ten Books that Influenced Him Most (edited by David Werther) among other volumes; she is also a published poet, with poems in Word in the Wilderness and Love, Remember (edited by Malcolm Guite).

Her academic work focuses on the writings of the Inklings, especially C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. Her current book project is Tolkien’s Modern Sources: Middle-earth Beyond the Middle Ages (forthcoming from Kent State University Press, 2019).

She lives in La Crosse, Wisconsin, and travels regularly to speak on Tolkien, Lewis, and imaginative apologetics.

Dig Deeper at HollyOrdway.com and buy the book HERE.

Photo of Holly Ordway by Lancia E Smith

Language And Metaphor

MAPS
Holly Ordway

Antique maps, with curlicues of ink
As borders, framing what we know, like pages
From a book of travelers’ tales: look,
Here in the margin, tiny ships at sail.
No-nonsense maps from family trips: each state
Traced out in color-coded numbered highways,
A web of roads with labeled city-dots
Punctuating the route and its slow stories.
Now GPS puts me right at the centre,
A Ptolemaic shift in my perspective.
Pinned where I am, right now, somewhere, I turn
And turn to orient myself. I have
Directions calculated, maps at hand:
Hopelessly lost till I look up at last.


Theology is not tidy, nor is it necessarily the truth.  Worse, even when truth is solidly in the mind of an individual, there’s no guarantee that it can be accurately conveyed to another individual.  All we have is words, and words are imperfect vehicles.  Even when spoken with crystal clarity, they invariably fall on subjective ears. Words require a bridge from the known to the unknown.

In her book,  Apologetics and the Christian Imagination , Holly Ordway says:

Metaphors are valuable because they build a bridge between the known and the unknown. Or, to put it another way, metaphors serve the same purpose as propositional statements: to orient the reader toward reality. C. S. Lewis makes the point that Christian theology itself is not as directly powerful or exciting as a personal spiritual experience, but it is necessary all the same: “Doctrines are not God: they are only a kind of map . . . [but] if you want to get any further, you must use the map.”  It may be more pleasant to dwell on spiritual feelings without thinking about doctrine, but, Lewis continues, “you will not get eternal life by simply feeling the presence of God in flowers and music. Neither will you get anywhere by looking at maps without going to sea. Nor will you be very safe if you go to sea without a map.”

A metaphor is like a map, as well: one that is drawn in a different style than a doctrinal statement, but a map nonetheless, intended to help the reader arrive at the truth. A beautifully drawn and illustrated map will attract the eye, but not as an end in itself; rather, the map helps readers to discover where they are—perhaps to realize that, in fact, they have gotten lost!—and it helps them get where they want, or need, to go.

 

Join the discussion on Facebook HERE


John 1: 1-5

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

Meet The Author


Holly Ordway

Ordway author photo

Dr Holly Ordway is Professor of English and faculty in the M.A. in Apologetics at Houston Baptist University; she holds a PhD in English from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

She is the author of Apologetics and the Christian Imagination: An Integrated Approach to Defending the Faith (Emmaus Road, 2017) and Not God’s Type: An Atheist Academic Lays Down Her Arms (Ignatius, 2014), and she has contributed chapters to C.S. Lewis at Poets’ Corner (edited by Michael Ward and Peter S. Williams), C.S. Lewis’s List: The Ten Books that Influenced Him Most (edited by David Werther) among other volumes; she is also a published poet, with poems in Word in the Wilderness and Love, Remember (edited by Malcolm Guite).

Her academic work focuses on the writings of the Inklings, especially C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. Her current book project is Tolkien’s Modern Sources: Middle-earth Beyond the Middle Ages (forthcoming from Kent State University Press, 2019).

She lives in La Crosse, Wisconsin, and travels regularly to speak on Tolkien, Lewis, and imaginative apologetics.

Dig Deeper at HollyOrdway.com and buy the book HERE.

Photo of Holly Ordway by Lancia E Smith

The Maid Servant At The Inn by Dorothy Parker

JbWGusfynCw

“It’s queer,” she said; “I see the light
As plain as I beheld it then,
All silver-like and calm and bright-
We’ve not had stars like that again!

“And she was such a gentle thing
To birth a baby in the cold.
The barn was dark and frightening-
This new one’s better than the old.

“I mind my eyes were full of tears,
For I was young, and quick distressed,
But she was less than me in years
That held a son against her breast.

“I never saw a sweeter child-
The little one, the darling one!-
I mind I told her, when he smiled
You’d know he was his mother’s son.

“It’s queer that I should see them so-
The time they came to Bethlehem
Was more than thirty years ago;
I’ve prayed that all is well with them.”


John 1: 1-5

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

 

Creating Meaning

EVENSONG IN OXFORD ON ST. CECILIA’S DAY
Holly Ordway

“My soul doth magnify the Lord,” we sing,
And offer back, in music’s common voice,
The melody He made; the gift we bring
Is wholly His—and so we dare rejoice
With Mary’s words, entrusting her with all
Our hopes and fears, to prism them to praise
Before her Son, her Lord and ours. We call
On her, with nothing of our own, to pray;
And then, still prisoned in our lonely selves,
We hear the piercing note of joy that calls
Us home, with all the saints, to live, and dwell . . .
And so we sing, and let the silence fall,
To be redeemed. On these our broken words,
Miserable and weak, have mercy, Lord.


A phone call from my iPhone in the United States to a coworker in India is a marvel of technical accomplishment.  I might be sitting by the lake in a remote part of rural Texas, but the signal zips through digital and analog circuitry across high speed lines, through perhaps hundreds of routers, into space and back – all in a few seconds.  When she answers the call in Hindi however, though we have certainly accomplished connectivity, no communication has occurred.

In her book,  Apologetics and the Christian Imagination , Holly Ordway says:

Consider this: if I play a game of Monopoly with a friend, and I land on ‘Go to Jail,’ I don’t have to actually go to jail. If we are playing a war-themed video game and I get shot, nobody has to take me to the emergency room. The games use words that point to real-life experiences, but without the substance of them; the players try to win, and may indeed get very emotional in the process, but fundamentally they know it’s a game. If ‘God’ and ‘faith’ and all the other concepts that we want to talk about with skeptics are just words to them, such that our argument is just an intellectual game—well, then we will get exactly nowhere, and we will waste a lot of time talking past each other.

The dangers of using religious language without attention to meaning for the listener are not limited to interactions with skeptics; a disjunction of meaning can (and often does) occur in preaching and catechesis within the Church as well. For instance, a young person raised in the Church may have a fuzzy idea of sin as meaning ‘hurting other people,’ rather than as something objectively wrong in itself that harms one’s relationship with God and injures one’s soul. This young person is thus no hypocrite in agreeing with his parents that sin is wrong, while sleeping with his girlfriend. After all, they’re consenting adults, so nobody is getting hurt. . .and if nobody is getting hurt, there’s no sin! Against this backdrop, arguments about the immorality of his behavior are likely to be met with incomprehension, or result in a conviction that the Church’s teachings are arbitrary and can safely be ignored. The disagreement about meaning can hide beneath the surface, distorting the conversation without the participants realizing it.

 

Join the discussion on Facebook HERE


John 1: 1-5

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

Meet The Author


Holly Ordway

Ordway author photo

Dr Holly Ordway is Professor of English and faculty in the M.A. in Apologetics at Houston Baptist University; she holds a PhD in English from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

She is the author of Apologetics and the Christian Imagination: An Integrated Approach to Defending the Faith (Emmaus Road, 2017) and Not God’s Type: An Atheist Academic Lays Down Her Arms (Ignatius, 2014), and she has contributed chapters to C.S. Lewis at Poets’ Corner (edited by Michael Ward and Peter S. Williams), C.S. Lewis’s List: The Ten Books that Influenced Him Most (edited by David Werther) among other volumes; she is also a published poet, with poems in Word in the Wilderness and Love, Remember (edited by Malcolm Guite).

Her academic work focuses on the writings of the Inklings, especially C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. Her current book project is Tolkien’s Modern Sources: Middle-earth Beyond the Middle Ages (forthcoming from Kent State University Press, 2019).

She lives in La Crosse, Wisconsin, and travels regularly to speak on Tolkien, Lewis, and imaginative apologetics.

Dig Deeper at HollyOrdway.com and buy the book HERE.

Photo of Holly Ordway by Lancia E Smith

What Is Imaginative Apologetics?

CONVERSION
Holly Ordway

A twitch upon the thread, and here I stand,
Pausing at this door. I wish that I
Could look aside, or back away, pretend
I don’t see where this threshold leads, deny
The summons and the sudden urgency
That blows away as so much useless chaff
My nonchalant excuses for delay.
I thought I had control, I was in charge,
Until I followed truth, which led me here,
Where I both want and fear to enter in.
I must lay down my arms, that much is clear;
But this is not the end. Here I begin –
For where else could I go if I retreat?
What better victory win than this defeat?


This week begins our study of Apologetics and the Christian Imagination with author Holly Ordway.  In many ways, we will enjoy a learning experience of gathering and assimilating new information to better inform our heartfelt beliefs.  This, however, is the lowest bar of aspiration.  In fuller context, this study will guide us from data to wisdom and from wisdom to worship where communion with God is both inward and outward.

In the book, Holly writes this:

The Great Commandment tells us to love God with “heart, soul, strength, and mind”—that is, with the whole person: intellect, emotions, will. To be sure, we can love and obey God without knowing much about him (thank God!); the gift of faith is not limited to those who can give explanations for their faith. But if we have the opportunity to learn, we should do so: we are called to childlike, trusting faith, not childish, ignorant faith. After all, anyone who has spent any time around children knows that they are far more inquisitive than most adults. Children by nature want to learn about the world; they fearlessly ask questions, because they trust that their parents and teachers can answer those questions. So, too, with learning about our Faith and sharing what we know. We are all called to evangelize—to share the good news—and also to help people understand that the Gospel really is good news, and that it is true.

Apologetics isn’t the province just of specialist scholars and scholarly saints, but of ordinary men and women in every walk of life: parents and teachers, lay ministry leaders, priests and pastors, to be sure, but also anyone who has a friend or colleague with doubts, or who wants to be able to invite others to the Faith. Indeed, apologetics is for everyone who wants to develop a stronger faith, to really understand why we believe what we believe, to know Our Lord better and love him more fully. However, this essential work of sharing the Faith, and helping others to grow in it, is increasingly difficult to do in the modern day.

 

Join the discussion on Facebook HERE


John 1: 1-5

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

Meet The Author


Holly Ordway

Ordway author photo

Dr Holly Ordway is Professor of English and faculty in the M.A. in Apologetics at Houston Baptist University; she holds a PhD in English from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

She is the author of Apologetics and the Christian Imagination: An Integrated Approach to Defending the Faith (Emmaus Road, 2017) and Not God’s Type: An Atheist Academic Lays Down Her Arms (Ignatius, 2014), and she has contributed chapters to C.S. Lewis at Poets’ Corner (edited by Michael Ward and Peter S. Williams), C.S. Lewis’s List: The Ten Books that Influenced Him Most (edited by David Werther) among other volumes; she is also a published poet, with poems in Word in the Wilderness and Love, Remember (edited by Malcolm Guite).

Her academic work focuses on the writings of the Inklings, especially C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. Her current book project is Tolkien’s Modern Sources: Middle-earth Beyond the Middle Ages (forthcoming from Kent State University Press, 2019).

She lives in La Crosse, Wisconsin, and travels regularly to speak on Tolkien, Lewis, and imaginative apologetics.

Dig Deeper at HollyOrdway.com and buy the book HERE.

Photo of Holly Ordway by Lancia E Smith