The Weight of Glory – C.S. Lewis

the weight of glory cs lewis book cover

A collection of essays, lectures, and sermons from C.S. Lewis

Most readers of this blog will be familiar with the work of C.S. Lewis via his children’s fantasy series “The Chronicles of Naria.” Lewis was also a prolific nonfiction writer. “Mere Christianity” is probably his most well-known work in this category. The Oxford and Cambridge professor was frequently invited to give public lectures, radio addresses, and sermons. “The Weight of Glory” is largely a collection of these various talks and includes some things not previously published.

Note: If you are a Lewis fan and decide to check this book out, make sure you get the one titled “The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses” which is a revised and expanded edition. It also includes four additional essays and an introduction from Walter Hooper, a man who lived with and assisted Lewis for a few months prior to his death.


The book’s title is taken from the first chapter/selection in this collection, which was a sermon given at Oxford University Church. It is a surprisingly deep and moving address that I revisit often. Other talks and essays include topics such as:

  • A critique of pacifism
  • The importance of learning, even in times of chaos/world war/upheaval
  • Inner circles
  • Forgiveness


Even with this very brief write-up, I know you’ll have picked up by now if this book is for you or not. Some won’t be interested (based on the spiritual/Christian themes) while others will greatly enjoy this eclectic collection. Lewis was an interesting figure, thinker, and persuader. If you have read and enjoyed his other more eclectic books – “The Screwtape Letters” and “The Great Divorce” – then I’m certain you will enjoy this collection.


God: A Human History – Reza Aslan

god human history reza aslan

A book to challenge the way you think about the divine and its role in your life

Where does belief in God come from? How has the concept of God, or gods, evolved throughout human history? Why are we so prone to make God in our own image? Author and religion scholar Reza Aslan addresses these questions and more in this book.


The quest for the divine – Where does the impulse to seek the divine come from? The author explores what we know about the beginnings of human history, what our ancestors must have been like, and their hunter-gatherer lifestyle. He concludes that animism “is very likely humanity’s earliest expression of anything that could be termed religion.” Aslan makes a case for cave paintings largely being an expression of seeking the divine, as well as stone pillars and alters.

What are the origins of religion? – Can the development of religion be explained by Darwinism, experiences of awe and transcendence, the search for meaning, cultural/social developments, biological/psychological adaptation? The author explores each of these lines of thinking and the faults with each.

The agricultural revolution – Did the change from hunter-gatherer to agriculture based society bring about religion, or is the opposite true? Aslan describes the oldest known temple site of any kind at Gobekli Tepe, going back at least 12,000 years, which predates the rise of agriculture (and writing as we know it).

Humanized gods – Why is anthropomorphism so dominant in the majority of religions, especially ancient religions and mythology? We have a natural urge to explain the divine using the same emotions, motivations, and needs that we have as humans.

Polytheism to monotheism and beyond – Aslan traces the history of polytheism in Mesopotamia and the various forms of this to the development of monotheism practiced in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. He also explores other views of theism, dualism, and spiritual practices that aren’t based on a traditional notion of God.


This is a very well documented book that will likely make many uncomfortable – theists and atheists, believers and non-believers alike. Though scholarly, it is still very readable and avoids the excessive antagonistic and/or condescending tone that many contemporary critics of religion use. I really appreciate the perspective Reza Aslan brings to the discussion about religion and spirituality. He will also likely surprise you with his own admission of belief. I definitely recommend this book.

Find out more about the author on his website here. That is also where you can find info about his other books and projects.

Author Profile: Emily Dickinson

portrait photo emily dickinson

A genius poet who was never recognized in her time

There’s nothing that I can say about Emily Dickinson that hasn’t already been said. She was a prolific writer who only had a handful of poems published during her lifetime. She was a mysterious person, described by some as a recluse and eccentric, and her mystique has only grown over the years. Emily made her sister promise to burn all of her writings after she died, but, thankfully for us, while she did burn most of her letters and correspondence, she didn’t burn her poems. Somewhere around 1800 poems (partial and complete) were found after her death.

After her death, the earliest published volumes of her poetry were heavily edited. Some of the reason for this was that her style conflicted with the conventional rules of popular and accepted poetry at the time. Some of it also was likely because of tension between the Dickinson family and the editors. This quote from the Wiki page on Dickinson is a nice summary of her style and themes.

“Her poems were unique to her era. They contain short lines, typically lack titles, and often use slant rhyme as well as unconventional capitalization and punctuation. Many of her poems deal with themes of death and immortality, two recurring topics in letters to her friends.”

Other Interesting Notes

  • The first volume of her poems (which was highly edited) was published in 1890, four years after her death.
  • The first (almost completely) unedited version of her poems was published in 1955.
  • Her most prolific and creative period was from 1861-1865, with estimates that she wrote 366 poems in 1862.
  • The most common themes and topics in her poetry are mortality, nature, and spirituality.
  • She is often classified as a Transcendentalist and is thought to have been an avid reader of Emerson.

Most Popular Poems

I did a quick Google search for “most popular Emily Dickinson poems” and the 7 poems listed below seem to be on just about every list that people put together in articles and blogs on the topic. “There’s a certain Slant of light” is possibly (probably?) my favorite. One not listed below but that I especially enjoy is “This World is not Conclusion.”

  • “Hope” is the thing with feathers
  • Because I could not stop for Death
  • There’s a certain Slant of light
  • After great pain, a formal feeling comes
  • I’m nobody! Who are you?
  • I felt a Funeral, in my Brain
  • My Life has stood – a Loaded Gun


I have tried many, many times to get into poetry. I’ve read several books to learn more about the art of poetry and to develop a greater appreciation for this artistic medium. With all that as background, I have to be honest that Dickinson is the only poet I consistently enjoy. And not just enjoy, I love her poetry. There are plenty of poems out there by other poets that I enjoy, but nothing and no one comes close to Emily Dickinson. I highly recommend reading her poems, as long as you make sure to get her unedited works. This is important because there are many books of her poetry that only contain the early, highly edited versions. This is a shame because I really enjoy her quirky, unconventional style.

You can learn more about Emily Dickinson on this Wiki page. Here’s a link to the Emily Dickinson Museum in her hometown of Amherst. Lastly, here’s a link to the Emily Dickinson Archive, where you can view high-resolution images of her surviving writings/manuscripts.