Read Along,  Show Notes

Episode 133: “The Wind in the Willows” by Kenneth Grahame, Part 3

On The Literary Life podcast this week, our hosts are joined in their discussion of The Wind in the Willows by Kelly Cumbee. Angelina, Cindy, Thomas and Kelly talk about chapters 7-8, focusing special attention on a section of this book that presents a potential problem for some readers. Angelina opens with background on the Enlightenment and Romanticism, the concept of “the Numinous,” and the popularity of the Pan character in Edwardian times. Thomas gives us a classical picture of who Pan was in mythology. Kelly then speaks to the Medieval understanding of the figure of Pan and the pastoral tradition along with their connections with Christ. They also address concerns over neo-paganism in relation to this book. If you want more discussion on mythology in literature, tune in to Episode 60: Why Read Pagan Myths.

Cindy’s 2022 Morning Time for Moms Summer Discipleship group is now open for registration. The theme this year is “Laughter and Lament.” Head over to to find out more and sign up!

Thomas will be teaching an introductory course on Russian Literature in July 2022. Learn more about his classes, as well as Kelly Cumbee’s classes, and register at

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Commonplace Quotes:

Dictionaries are like watches. The worst is better than none, and the best cannot be expected to go quite true.

Samuel Johnson

“Here I am, sitting at a little oak table where in old times possibly some fair lady sat to pen, with much thought and many blushes, her ill-spelt love letter, and writing in my diary in shorthand all that has happened since I closed it last. It is the nineteenth century up-to-date with a vengeance. And yet, unless my senses deceive me, the old centuries had, and have, powers of their own which mere ‘modernity’ cannot kill.”

Bram Stoker

This malady of unbelief, again, is common to serious minds, educated to examine all things before they know the things they criticise by the slow, sure process of assimilating ideas. If we would but receive it, we are not capable of examining that which we do not know; and knowledge is the result of a slow, involuntary process, impossible to a mind in the critical attitude. Let us who teach spend time in the endeavour to lay proper and abundant nutriment before the young, rather than in leading them to criticise and examine every morsel of knowledge that comes their way. Who could live if every mouthful of bodily food were held up on a fork for critical examination before it be eaten?

Charlotte Mason

Suppose you were told that there was a tiger in the next room: you would know that you were in danger and would probably feel fear. But if you were told “There is a ghost in the next room,” and believed it, you would feel, indeed, what is often called fear, but of a different kind. It would not be based on the knowledge of danger, for no one is primarily afraid of what a ghost may do to him, but of the mere fact that it is a ghost. It is “uncanny” rather than dangerous, and the special kind of fear it excites may be called Dread. With the Uncanny one has reached the fringes of the Numinous. Now suppose that you were told simply “There is a might spirit in the room” and believed it. Your feelings would then be even less like the mere fear of danger: but the disturbance would be profound. You would feel wonder and a certain shrinking–described as awe, and the object which excites it is the Numinous.

C. S. Lewis

To Find God

by Robert Herrick

Weigh me the fire; or canst thou find
A way to measure out the wind?
Distinguish all those floods that are
Mixed in that wat’ry theater,
And taste thou them as saltless there,
As in their channel first they were.   
Tell me the people that do keep
Within the kingdoms of the deep;
Or fetch me back that cloud again,
Beshivered into seeds of rain.
Tell me the motes, dust, sands, and spears
Of corn, when summer shakes his ears;
Show me that world of stars, and whence
They noiseless spill their influence.
This if thou canst; then show me Him
That rides the glorious cherubim.

Book List:

Dracula by Bram Stoker

Formation of Character by Charlotte Mason

The Problem of Pain by C. S. Lewis

Letters to Children by C. S. Lewis

The Great God Pan by Arthur Machen

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  • Rachel Bennett

    Angelina is wrong, the Helper is described as having horns! My book doesn’t have an illustration of him either, but the horns are definitely there!
    I love your discussions so much!

  • Tammy Glaser

    I’m okay with the horns because each corner of the altar is described as having a horn. It points to the sacrifice of animals, the ram offered for Isaac, and “the horn of salvation” as a symbol for Jesus in the New Testament (Luke 1:68–69).

    I thought of another example of believers not wanting to leave the high of the mountaintop: when Peter, James, and John went up to the mountain with Jesus and Peter suggested he would set up three tents for Jesus, Elijah, and Moses so they stay longer. After they left, Jesus told them to tell noone until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead.

    Your conversations also remind me of one of my favorite Emily Dickinson poems.

    Tell all the truth but tell it slant —
    Success in Circuit lies
    Too bright for our infirm Delight
    The Truth’s superb surprise
    As Lightning to the Children eased
    With explanation kind
    The Truth must dazzle gradually
    Or every man be blind —

    I’m looking forward to Hard Times (and Dracula — which I read to prep a trip to a nephew’s wedding in Transylvania).

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