Writing from prison (part B: Paul, CS Lewis and cyberspace)
(Edison & Dixia翻译)

I like to joke that the best place to write well is actually from prison. In between beatings from the guards, there is often a lot of “free time,” unless you’re in labor camp, I would guess….. Continued from part A….

In our new condo home in “liquid sunshine” Seattle, I can really hide in my little room, surrounded by my books (or what is left after most were given away before leaving Cincinnati) and pictures that I have accumulated over the years (I have kept all my lifelong pictures), so that I can start to write, write, and write. To be fair, Seattle is lovely in July and August, when the weather is temperate and sunny, with snowcapped mountains in the background. Over many decades, we visited Seattle nearly bi- annually, but only during those great months, so we know. That is probably too beautiful a time to hide and write, so maybe I will take a break? Or maybe it will provide another kind of inspiration? But for the rest of the time, definitely, it would be great to go back to “prison,” and be a serious writer!

And from “prison,” it is quite amazing that modern technology allows a vastly different impact from the “good old days.” Remember that the great writer Paul wrote his letters a long time before printing was available, let alone electronic communication. His co-workers and friends had to hand carry his letters through rain and storm, harassments and dangers. Today I can just do this from my laptop and smartphone.

The fun of WeChat bilingual postings on Moments; friendly respondents pictured. Are you in the list?

And I have the privilege of a wonderful team of co-conspirators, that help me disseminate the writings. Felicity uploads the articles I write into the worldwide web, see Reggietales.org, started originally by Kevin and Jenny. Who knows what happens from there? Peter, Amy and Dixia upload the articles onto various outlets on wechat, from which I can often get feedback and reactions, especially from China connections, which is just great. I try to upload onto Facebook, and send off currently 2000 “uncle Reggie stories club members through Gmail. These generate quite a bit of quick responses and direct communication. A growing team of translators produce the Chinese versions, since my written Chinese is rudimentary. This allows an instant connection to another world of language and culture, since translators are all native Chinese language friends. Xulon, the publisher helped create the first book version (Coffee with Uncle Reggie), which seems at the moment to be most useful as souvenir gifts of encouragement, particularly by Peter, especially for visiting scholars from China. Though I used to write many pediatric medical and science specialty articles and books, all this is indeed a new experience, so I am learning “the system” step by step, quite a fun thing at age 78.
我很荣幸的有一群志同道合的同工们帮我发送我的文字。Felicity帮我把文章上传到互联网上(Kevin和Jenny帮我设置的Reggietales.org)。Peter, Amy,和Dixia又把我的文章传到不同的微信群里。我常常从那里得到特别是来自中国的读者的反馈。我自己则试着把文章上传到脸书上并寄出给两千多个与曾叔叔故事会会友的电邮里。从这里我可以看到许多读者的及时评论也可以和读者们一对一直接对话。因为我的中文文笔水平很低,我们人数越来越多的翻译团队帮我把文章翻成中文。因为我们的翻译母语都是中文,他们的翻译直接把我的文章植入了中文语境。。出版者Xulon帮我们制作了第一版的 “Coffee with Uncle Reggie”出版书。当时Peter把此书送给来自中国的访问学者,这纪念礼物最合适不过了。虽然我曾经写过许多小儿科医学及科学的文章和书,这些新型的写作以及分享模式对我来讲很新鲜。因此七十八岁的我正兴致勃勃一步步的学习这个“新的系统。”

My great hero of literature is CS Lewis. I got to know his writings when I was in college, especially from reading his classic “Mere Christianity.” At that time, I was living in a British Commonwealth colony, and CS Lewis’s books were quite popular in British circles. But when I came to America, I discovered that nobody really knew him, and it was really maybe 20 years later, that Americans realized there was such a person and his writings. However, after discovery, he became so popular, that he became recognized as one of the giants of 20th century Christianity, and even today, every week I can read something he wrote, or something about him, in any Christian journal.

But the most interesting thing about him, I personally think, is that CS Lewis did not travel much beyond his Oxford, Cambridge, and London sphere. He did not fly around the world lecturing, nor explore the world in all the continents. He wrote his stories, his philosophy, and his Christian theology all from his little abode on the Oxford campus. You could say that he was writing from prison, in a sense, since he was separated physically from the world at large, and certainly from Asia, Africa, South America, and North America. His knowledge came from books, and interacting with learned professors and common people, without the help of Wikipedia, Google, or WeChat.

CS Lewis, my hero and inspiration for many, wrote the top selling Chronicles of Narnia, a series of touching stories of youthful trials and challenges, involving profound moral decisions. Great stories, regardless of religious background, but implicitly biblical. 100 million copies in 47 languages!

Lewis did not know that his writings would have a worldwide impact, and much of the time there was no real feedback, certainly not like today when we can get an electronic response of some kind quite easily, and we can even count the number of “clicks” that one article can get on the internet, as it goes viral. One of my uncle Reggie stories sent to Wechat groups, went “viral,” supposedly resulting in 20,000 “clicks,” which sounded amazing to me; but of course, I then realized that a click does not mean someone actually read the story; he or she only needs to acknowledge seeing the title. Smile. For CS Lewis, his initial responses were from his circle of literary friends, called the Inklings. One of the main responses to his work, from this small club of writers, included those from J.R. Tolkien, who wrote the wildly famous “Lords of the Rings,” and who helped bring Lewis to his Christian faith. Tolkien actually was critical of, and did not like some of his writings, such as his Chronicles of Narnia!
路易斯并不知道日后他的文字会影响全世界。当时他并没有得到多少读者真正的反馈。那时候不像现在我们很轻而易举地可以看到电子传递的反馈,更可以追踪一个爆红文章在网上的点击次数。有一篇“与曾叔叔闲聊”故事在微信里就曾爆红有过两万次点击。我一开始感到很吃惊。我后来想想,点击并不代表阅读。点击只代表点击的人看到过文章的标题。哈。路易斯一开始是从他在”迹象文学社, Inklings” 里的朋友们那里得到对于他的作品的评论。其中一个主要的反馈来自家喻户晓的“魔戒Lords of the Rings”的作者J·R·托爾金 Tolkien。托爾金是把路易斯带进基督信仰的人之一。事实上托爾金不喜欢且批评过路易斯的一些作品包括納尼亞傳奇Chronicles of Narnia。

Chinese version

As you may know, in spite of JR Tolkien’s concerns, Chronicles of Narnia has become one of the historic bestsellers of all time, stories of children who had fascinating experiences in the imaginary world of Narnia. Not a “Christian story” as one might define it, but certainly extremely exciting and interesting, in a setting of difficult moral decisions. Such is the beauty of his writings that many have loved his writings, even non-Christians knowing that he writes from a Christian perspective, since they are truly appreciative of his literary skills and storytelling charm. These are obviously traits that I am trying to follow, consciously or unconsciously, and I hope that in some strange way, as I’m writing from this rather secluded environment, it might have some useful impact on people that I may never really see or know. And all of this can be done quietly now in my little prison cell, mercifully without any jailors beating me up.

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