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Love, Teri

Posted By on August 1, 2011

by Teri Ong

I have a new favorite author at the moment– Harry Blamires. My husband appreciates his writing as well, and we have ordered a slew of wonderful books ranging from philology, grammar and literature topics to philosophy and theology, with a handful of fantastic fiction stories as well.

I was first introduced to Blamires a few years ago by a librarian and the Evangelical Library in London. The librarian asked me what I was working on. I replied, “I’m looking at Christian aesthetics, culture, worldview…”

Oh! You’ll be reading Schaeffer and Rookemaaker and Blamires then.”

The first two I was well acquainted with, but I had not heard of Blamires. I quickly located his best known work, The Christian Mind, on the shelf and dug in. It was wonderful. I took copious notes for digestion later. Then, that summer or the next, I found a used copy of The Christian Mind at an academic conference and bought it for myself. But that was the end of my pursuit for a time.

This summer I was perusing the shelves of one of our favorite used book vendors– Books Bloom– at the Christian Home Educators of Colorado conference. There I saw a companion volume to The Christian Mind called The Secularist Heresy. I also picked up His Will and His Way. Mrs. Bloom ran over and pulled a copy of Highway to Heaven from the fiction shelf. I was hooked. “Throw it on the pile too,” I said.

In an evening I finished off His Will and His Way. Then I started in on The Secularist Heresy. It all rang true in my spirit. I didn’t start Highway to Heaven because it was book three of a trilogy. When we got home, Steve looked him up on the internet and found out a little about him. Blamires is in his 90’s and was still publishing into the early 2000’s. He taught English in U.K. universities and took early retirement in order to devote time to writing. He was a student and friend of C. S. Lewis, an influence that shows richly in his theological and fiction writing.

Like Lewis, he sought to flesh out his theological ideas through his imaginative fiction. Like Lewis, he pictures the seamlessness of the material and spiritual realms. He has the same keen mind and cogent way of expressing Biblical truth. He is also appreciated and endorsed by folks like J. I Packer, R. C. Sproul, Richard Halverson, and Clyde Kilby.

Blamires’ writing challenges my thinking at every step of the way, but at the same time affirms my faith by helping me see afresh many things I had let slip into a “taken for granted” category. But most of all, I love him because he knows me. Like Jesus with the wicked woman at the well, he tells me “all the things that I have done.”

In The Devil’s Hunting Grounds, which bears the influence of Lewis’s The Great Divorce, the main character is being interviewed by an angelic tribunal to determine his suitable employment in the blessed realm after death. The character admits, “I suddenly felt horribly useless.” He tells the angel that he was a teacher.

The angel goes on, “Ah, yes. A particularly useless qualification up here, where there is nothing that you can teach and everything for you to learn.”

I have always continued to study, sir.”

Of course you did. Chiefly in order to make your teaching more impressive. The learning was mere personal equipment. You didn’t really want to know: you merely wanted to be known as one who knew… What hobbies did you cultivate?”

I wrote books, sir… I had been purposely vague, hoping that this question would not come. Indeed I cherished the expectation that my work had become known above. To be honest, this idea was a kind of compensation for my comparative failure down below, where sales were miserably small…” (P. 43-4)

OUCH! He got me!

In Cold War in Hell, the main character (the stories are told in first person) describes an artist who painted water colours “which occasionally sold to London stores, and oil paintings which never sold to anyone. Moreover, he was a musician too. He played the flute and composed. I think he gave more time to this than he did either to his writing or his painting. Nor was he content to fashion little trios for flute, violin and piano: he also wrote elaborately fully-scored cantatas to words by outlandish poets. The wide range of his talents and interests probably prevented him from achieving distinction in any one direction.” The artist Julian “had published short stories and poems. The reviewers found the former “too slight” and the latter “too indisciplined”; and I suppose they were right, for Julian was cursed with a range of talents and a diversity of interests which unfitted him for success…” (P. 30-1)

I’M EXPOSED!

In Cold War in Hell, the main character ends up in Hell quite unexpectedly. He has heard that there is a way out, but it turns out to be a bureaucratic nightmare. He doesn’t know what to put on the forms. “I could put ‘as God wills’ or something to that effect. That might do the trick. A moment later I was laughing bitterly for my stupidity and self-centeredness. What was the use of putting ‘as God wills’ when it was not a true profession of submission, but a mere device, a trick exploited in the single hope of getting myself what I desired?” (P. 118)

I’M DEAD!

In His Will and His Way, Blamires says that when we pray “Lead us not into temptation” we are asking that God will not give us stunning success or failure leading to overwhelming despair. He says that very few people can handle either extreme without falling into the sin of selfishness.

I’M NAILED!

But I know that good old-fashioned conviction is very good for the soul. I’ve been a Christian for over 50 years and I’ve been a “godly” wife of a pastor for 33 years. I easily become dulled to the extent of my sinfulness. I come away from reading Blamires with a renewed sense of my own selfishness, pride and general sinfulness. Then I remember Christ’s teaching that the ones who are forgiven little, love little, but the ones who are forgiven much, love much.

The ones who are forgiven little haven’t done less that needs forgiveness; they just have less recognition of their need. I come away from Blamires with a renewed sense of how much there is in me that needs forgiveness. I come away loving Jesus more.

THERE’S STILL HOPE FOR ME!

References:

Blamires, Harry. Cold War in Hell. New York: Thomas Nelson, 1984.

__________ The Devil’s Hunting Grounds. New York: Thomas Nelson, 1984.


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