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updated 2:34 PM UTC, May 20, 2019


C.S. Lewis forum packs Shivers Library

Allan Shivers Library hosted Carolyn Curtis, author of Women and C.S. Lewis, to a sold-out forum Thursday evening, Mar. 7. Pictured are (L-R) Fr. Frank Rossi of Our Lady of the Pines Catholic Church, Curtis, Library Board Member Col. Eddie Boxx, and Dr. Collin Bullard of Woodville’s First Baptist Church. (MICHAEL G. MANESS | TCB PHOTO)


by Michael G. Maness

WOODVILLE – A sold-out crowd at the Allan Shivers Library welcomed Carolyn Curtis, author of Women and C.S. Lewis, to a forum last Thursday evening.

Father Frank Rossi of Our Lady of the Pines Catholic Church, Dr. Collin Bullard of Woodville’s First Baptist Church and Curtis intrigued all with views on Lewis’ classic written works.

Lewis (1898-1963) made a phenomenal impact upon the followers of Christ with his books explaining the life of faith. Even 56 years after his death, Lewis’ writings still inspire the lives of young and old, scholar and laborer, Christians in every denomination, and a few agnostics and atheists.

His legacy made this forum’s panelists all the more apropos. Curtis, an award-winning journalist with a master’s degree and experience on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C., collaborated with authorities ranging from professors, song writers, and others sharing the jewels found in Lewis in her seventh book, Women and C.S. Lewis.

Fort Worth-based Curtis told the Booster, “Women and C.S. Lewis was written in the ‘popular’ voice, rather than the ‘scholarly,’ to be an easy read by people other than scholars, like fans of The Chronicles Narnia who are excited to learn Netflix is producing the series. I’m honored to join the esteemed panelists here in Woodville.”

Rossi, a scholar with advanced degrees and study in Rome, the pinnacle of Catholic scholarship, gave superb illustrations from J.R.R. Tolkien, author of the Lord of the Rings, and author G.K. Chesterton, both mighty influences on Lewis—and, Rossi noted, both Catholics.

Bullard, who holds a Ph.D. from Cambridge where Lewis taught, brought the Protestant perspective. Library board member Col. Eddie Boxx organized the event and welcomed all and gathered audience questions.

One question to Curtis asked why her book focuses on “women and Lewis,” instead of both women and men. Curtis lit up as she told her story of hearing allegations that Lewis had a low view of women, maybe even being a misogynist. One critic was Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, who has offered unfair Lewis criticism.

Curtis said “People like Rowling, and others named in the book, can negatively influence how the public perceives all people of faith with unjust hearsay about one of its most trusted icons, C.S. Lewis.”

Curtis said she felt the need to investigate—to set the record straight—and her book of esteemed contributors confirms that Lewis was no chauvinist. “In fact,” she said, “Lewis was ahead of his time in his treatment of women in his life and literature.”

Her fellow panelists agreed.

For those unfamiliar with Lewis’ treasures, several classics were quoted, like Mere Christianity, Screwtape Letters, The Great Divorce, The Problem of Pain, A Grief Observed, The Chronicles of Narnia, and Surprised by Joy: the Shape of My Early Life. Curtis encouraged first-time readers to start with Surprised by Joy, his autobiography. More than settling the issue on Lewis’ views on women, Curtis’ book adds a pivotal contribution to the literature about Lewis.

Each panelist brought out surprising, enlightening depths to Lewis. As an “apologist”—a term meaning “explainer of the faith”—Lewis, the former atheist, became a champion of Christianity’s truths and more. His power and precision in writing were uniquely penetrating and often peerless, and his creativity let loose Christian and moral truths people could appreciate. He wasted no words.

Rossi reflected upon Lewis’ rejection of God as a youngster when his mother died. After coming to Christ later in life and marrying his beloved wife, Joy, who suffered and died from cancer, Lewis came to see God clearer.

Lewis’ revelation was, Rossi explained, “If he loved his wife more than he loved God, then that made his wife a god. Lewis could not love her ‘well,’ if he put her above God. Lewis understood that you can only love people well, if you love God first. That love of people must flow from a love of God, or it is based in pride. For C.S. Lewis, pride was the greatest sin.”

About Lewis’ view of pride, Bullard added, “Humility then, for Lewis, becomes the chief virtue.” Bullard touched on A Grief Observed, which Lewis wrote using a pseudonym after his wife died. Because of humility, Lewis was careful about what others might think of his grieving. Ironically, friends shared with Lewis his own book to aid his consolation.

The audience enjoyed anecdotes about Lewis, such as what Curtis described as “his suffering from workplace discrimination. As his fame grew because of his writings explaining the Christian faith, some in Oxford University’s management became embarrassed and passed him over for promotions. But Cambridge University was more enlightened, so they offered Lewis the chairmanship of their Medieval and Renaissance Literature Department.”
Curtis has stayed in Lewis’ home in Oxford, England, and Bullard studied at Lewis’ beloved Cambridge.

Lewis’ concept of “longing for the Divine,” which he described with the word “joy,” was mentioned by panelists as a bit unattainable until we reach the New Jerusalem.

Bullard said the theme of joy runs throughout Lewis’ fantasy and non-fiction. His autobiography, Surprised by Joy, joins his other writing in pointing to heaven.

Ironically, Lewis married a woman late in his life with the first name of Joy.

Rossi noted how G.K. Chesterton influenced both Lewis and his best friend, Tolkien. “As an atheist, C.S. Lewis had no sense of humor and no joy. How can one find joy in the midst of a world war?” Rossi added that Lewis’ eventual acceptance of the Christian faith developed in Lewis his famous joy and his great wit.

Rossi noted how Dante Alighieri’s 14th-century Divine Comedy influenced Lewis.

Boxx offered a question on “love” to Bullard, who pointed to Lewis’ classic book, The Four Loves. Lewis, Bullard said, makes “observations about different kinds of love that we find in everyday life. The chapter on friendship, Bullard noted, included the affection of a child may have for an old gardener that frequents one’s home. Such affection called friendship often comes as a realization of shared mutual interests. Quoting Lewis, Bullard added, “We picture lovers face to face, but friends side by side, their eyes looking ahead.”

Bullard noted how Lewis criticized natural love—eros, another of the four loves—because “often our culture places eros in the first position. Eros is a good thing, says Lewis, when it holds second place. When eros is placed in the first position, above love of God, it becomes an idol.”

Bullard added that Lewis also articulated love—agape—in The Great Divorce, which is about a fantastical bus ride to hell and to heaven.

There was much more, as the panelists “bused” international insights on C.S. Lewis’ inimitable treasures to Woodville’s beloved Allan Shivers Library and a packed house of literature lovers.
At the end, Boxx asked Woodville Mayor Paula Jones to draw for a free copy of Curtis’ book, and Maureen Peltier was the lucky winner.

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Toast to Texas Independence

Toast to Texas 03072019

Toast to Texas Independence - Tyler County Judge Jacques Blanchette and wife Leeza led the annual Toast to Texas held out at Heritage Village Museum on Saturday. Fred Sullivan shared some history with those gathered in the church, and the S.E. Texas Dulcimer Friends shared a number of Texas themed tunes. (JIM POWERS | TCB PHOTO)

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Moved to serve: Colmesneil elementary student helps homeless veterans

Michelle Scuito, Veterans Career Adivsor for the VA and Sergeant-at-Arms of the American Legion, Lufkin Post #113, accepts a clothing donation from Elysabeth Bryan.Michelle Scuito, Veterans Career Adivsor for the VA and Sergeant-at-Arms of the American Legion, Lufkin Post #113, accepts a clothing donation from Elysabeth Bryan.


By Chris Edwards
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COLMESNEIL – Elysabeth Bryan is a precocious fifth grade student at Colmesneil Elementary.

She is, as her great aunt Susan Mingle says, a bit shy, but when one gets her talking about one of her favorite subjects, like video games, she comes to life and will rattle off specifics of certain gaming systems as well as the intricate details of her favorite games.

She has a grasp of details and a drive to learn new things that comes across as uncanny for someone of her age, and that drive leads her into directions that could serve as an inspiration for folks much older than her.

Bryan, who is almost 11, is “an adult in many ways,” Mingle said.

Before last Christmas, she saw a need that she felt she could help fulfill. It all began with something she noticed when she accompanied her great uncle on a VA appointment. She saw a cardboard fort of housing for the homeless, and among the makeshift shelters was a box of clothing.

“I just saw it and I thought ‘We should help the homeless veterans,’” she said.

Mingle noted that it bothered the socially conscious youngster. “That triggered the idea,” she said. “She likes doing and giving.”

Bryan was able to put a large box for donations inside the Texas Star Cafe in Colmesneil. Mingle noted that the box is almost as tall as Bryan and was full of donations not long after it was placed.

Bryan said they’ve personally distributed the clothing to those who need it. She recently made a donation of clothing and warm winter items to Michelle Scuito, the Sergeant-at-Arms for American Legion Post #113 in Lufkin and Career Adviser for the Lufkin VA.

“It’s really sweet how, out of the blue, she’ll come up with something,” Mingle said. “I help coordinate things, but it’s all her ideas she comes up with.”

“If it’s something that could help the world, I’ll just do it,” Bryan said. She equated the ability and desire to help others to “being like serving God.”

The clothing donations are not the first, or certainly the last, way the bright-eyed girl aims to better the world around her. Two years ago she put her craft skills to work and made bracelets from rubber bands, which she and a friend sold in order to raise money for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.

She said she hopes to begin gathering stuffed animals (some from her own collection) to donate to law enforcement in order to give to children as comfort for those who have been involved in a wreck or have been removed from their parents.

Her extracurricular activities also point in the direction of service to others. She has participated in Girl Scouts and her church youth group in Bible drill activities. Additionally, she said “I have a gaming addiction,” but her knowledge of video games and their respective platforms is impressive enough to floor many gaming enthusiasts twice her age.

She rapidly rattled off a list of games she enjoys playing, including the popular “Minecraft”. Reading and music are also interests of hers. Her passion for technology has parlayed itself into another way to help out, as she is the tech helper in her class.

The problem of homelessness among veterans of the armed forces, according to figures from the Department of Veterans Affairs, is in decline, but still an issue facing many veterans.

The most recent numbers, from January 2018, show that more than 37,800 veterans were experiencing homelessness on a single night, with more than 23,300 of them unsheltered or living on the street.

The VA has made it a priority of ending homelessness among veterans, but the work of kindhearted volunteers go a long way to helping out.

To paraphrase a quote attributed to Mahatma Gandhi, the idea of changing oneself brings about the tendencies in the world to also change. “As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world…toward him…We need not wait to see what others do,” the quote reads. At her young age, Elysabeth Bryan realizes this; to be the change she wants to see. Her drive and willingness to serve and help wherever she can is something that Mingle said the adults have noticed and supported even more than her peer group has.

“I’m very proud of her,” Mingle said. “I like the person who she is.”

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Emily Eddins crowned Miss Tyler County 2019

Miss Tyler County 2019


Emily Eddins crowned Miss Tyler County 2019 - The votes are in and Emily Eddins is the new Miss Tyler County. She was crowned Saturday night during the Annual Miss Tyler County Pageant at the Summit in Woodville. Congratulations Emily! (JIM POWERS | TCB PHOTO)

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