J.R.R. Tolkien on Sex

In 1941, J. R. R. Tolkien did what most fathers tremble to do:  talk to his son about sex.  He did so in a letter filled with wisdom, insight, and a thoroughly Christian sensibility on what he called the devil’s “favorite subject.”  Suggestion to trembling fathers:  get The Letters of J. R.  R. Tolkien and show this particular  letter to your sons.  Al Mohler quotes from the letter and discusses what he had to say. [Read more...]

My take on “The Hobbit” 2

We’re on the road, and Friday we were caught in the ice storm in Oklahoma City, taking shelter in a hotel in Bricktown, OKC’s very cool entertainment district.  It was 9:30 p.m. and I was just settling down for a long winter’s nap, when my wife said, “Let’s go see the Hobbit!”  Showing that we nearly-senior citizens can be just as impulsive, reckless, and irresponsible as the callow young, we walked four blocks through the freezing rain, slip sliding away to the nearly-empty multiplex where we were just in time for the 9:45 p. m. showing.  (It was nearly 1:00 a.m. when we made our way back, way, way past our accustomed bed times.)

As my wife commented, most critics have been saying that the first installment of the Hobbit was kind of slow, with all that atmosphere and exposition, and that the second installment, The Hobbit:  The Desolation of Smaug is much better, with non-stop action from the very beginning.  As often happens, the critics describe something true, but fail in their interpretation and in their assessment.   There is way too much action in this second movie, which is not nearly as good as the first one. [Read more...]

The Eye of Sauron

David Rosen and Aaron Santesso, writing in Slate, no less, says that J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings gives us better insight into “the surveillance state” than George Orwell’s 1984. [Read more...]

Tolkien’s Imagination

Arman J. Partamian has written a fascinating piece entitled “J.R.R. Tolkien and the Catholic Imagination.”  My question:  What is distinctly “Catholic” about what he describes?  Could a Lutheran or an Anglican or Orthodox or other kinds of Christians (at least sacramental Christians) have this kind of imagination as well?  From the post (but read it all):

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was a genius. The Lord of the Rings is a masterpiece of Catholic literature, and in fact was a big factor in my conversion to Catholicism. The books are rich in the “sacramental imagination” – seeing the extraordinary behind the ordinary. In its deep and complex history and its high symbolism, it beautifully tells the story of our Fall and Exile (especially in the Silmarillion, which contains the creation myth and the ancient history of men and elves), and our longing to return to Eden/Heaven. It is a Christian story that powerfully draws non-Christians into its world, and it does this by concealing its Catholicism. In fact, Tolkien’s genius was to re-tell the Christian story in a hidden way. [Read more...]

The eucatastrophe of Man’s history

It’s still Christmas and will be for a total of 12 days.  Jim Denney reminds us of what J. R. R. Tolkien said about it in his classic essay “On Fairy-Stories“:

JRR Tolkien, the creator of “The Hobbit,” once wrote that his goal as an author was to give his readers “the Consolation of the Happy Ending.” That consolation takes place at the point in the story when all hope is lost, when disaster seems certain—then Joy breaks through, catching the reader by surprise. In a 1964 essay, Tolkien called that instant “a fleeting glimpse of Joy, Joy beyond the walls of the world, poignant as grief.”

Tolkien even coined a word for the moment when the light of deliverance breaks through the darkness of despair. He called it “eucatastrophe.” When evil fails and righteousness suddenly triumphs, the reader feels Joy—”a catch of the breath, a beat and lifting of the heart, near to (or indeed accompanied by) tears.”

Is the Joy of eucatastrophe just a literary device for manipulating the reader’s emotions? No. This same sudden glimpse of Joy, Tolkien wrote, can be found in our own world: “In the eucatastrophe we see in a brief vision . . . a far-off gleam or echo of evangelium in the real world.” Evangelium is Latin for “good news,” the message of Jesus Christ.

Tolkien went on to compare the Christian Gospel, the story of Jesus Christ, to “fairy-stories,” the kind of fantasy tales (like “The Hobbit”) that produce the Joy of “eucatastrophe,” the consolation of the happy ending. The difference between the gospel story and fairy-stories, Tolkien said, is that the gospel is true: “This story has entered History and the primary world.”

“The Birth of Christ is the eucatastrophe of Man’s history,” Tolkien explained. “The Resurrection is the eucatastrophe of the story of the Incarnation. This story begins and ends in joy. It has pre-eminently the ‘inner consistency of reality.’ There is no tale ever told that men would rather find was true, and none which so many skeptical men have accepted as true on its own merits.”

via JRR Tolkien, the star of Bethlehem, and the fairy-story that came true | Fox News.

HT:  Paul Veith

How was the Hobbit?

On another, appropriately escapist note, who has seen the Hobbit last weekend?  We plan to take it in later this week in a lull between family Christmas visits.  I’ve heard of people who loved it greatly, who were disappointed, and who were made nauseous by the twice-as-fast photography and rate of projection.  (One can see it without that effect, in the 2-D version.)  I’d like to hear what you thought of it (including your reaction to the special photography in the 3-D version).


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