T.S. Eliot as inventor of the Hipster

Literary scholar Karen Swallow Prior is kind enough to credit me for mentoring her through graduate school.  I’m proud to see that she has become a “public intellectual,” writing regularly for both Christianity Today and The Atlantic.  You have got to read her essay about how the whole mindset of the hipster is captured in T. S. Eliot’s “The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock.” [Read more...]

C. S. Lewis on the evils of statism

Statism is the belief that the government should control or dominate all, or much, of life.  C. S. Lewis was against it.  David Theroux, president of the C. S. Lewis Society of California, sent me the video of a talk he gave at the first annual conference of Christians for Liberty entitled “C. S. Lewis on Mere Liberty and the Evils of Statism.”  I’ve posted it after the jump. [Read more...]

Finding the lost texts of classical antiquity?

The writings of the ancient Greeks and Romans helped form our civilization, and their rediscovery sparked the Renaissance.  But many of the writings of the formative thinkers of the classical age have been lost.  We only have one-third of the writings of Aristotle, and they were enough to create Western thought, shaping the very way we reason.  What else did he have to say that has been lost, and what might that do?   The founders of Western drama were the brilliant playwrights Aeschylus and Euripides, both of whom wrote some 90 plays, but only 6 and 19 of their plays, respectively, have survived.  (Go here for what else is missing.)

But archaeologists have discovered a large library from the Roman city of Herculaneum, which was destroyed by the volcano that devastated Pompeii.  The hot volcanic ash both preserved the library’s scrolls but also made them impossible to read.  Attempts to unroll them to see what they contain makes them disintegrate.  But now a technology has been developed that may allow us to read them.  So far, the works that have been deciphered are ones we have already,  but who knows what else the library may contain? [Read more...]

Epiphany as both theological and literary term

Today is Epiphany, a day and a season in the church year that I especially appreciate, old English teacher that I am, since the name is both a theological and a literary term.  I explain that after the jump in a post from four years ago. [Read more...]

The Hobbit movie as “tedious havoc”

I was greatly disappointed in the third part of Peter Jackson’s makeshift trilogy based on The Hobbit.  The Battle of the Five Armies was mostly, to use Milton’s words, tedious havoc.  It was two-and-a-half hours of killing orcs, with little story beyond that.

But here is what artists who aspire to the genre of fantasy need to realize:  a good fantasy evokes a sense of wonder, of the numinous.  Jackson’s version of The Lord of the Rings had that; his version of the Hobbit did not.  Tolkien’s novels have that on virtually every page. [Read more...]

So how is “The Hobbit”?

The final movie of the Hobbit trilogy has already made $350 million world-wide, though the reviews have been somewhat mixed.  I haven’t gotten around to seeing it yet, but it figures in our holiday plans.  So, to those of you who have seen it, how is The Hobbit:  Battle of the Five Armies?


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