Simmering Thoughts on Smaug: Why the Enduring Fascination with Dragons?


I went to see “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” with my children last night. I came away with simmering thoughts on Smaug and his family line. Why such great interest in this dragon and dragons in general?Fascination with dragons is an enduring phenomenon in many quarters. But why? Is it because they personify evil, as in the case of Smaug the “Impenetrable,” the “Tremendous,” the "Chiefest and Greatest of Calamities" (J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, Ballantine Books, 1982, pages 222, 226), o … [Read more...]

New Year Reflections on “Dust in the Wind”

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Last night, family members and I listened to Kansas’ memorable song “Dust in the Wind,” as we drove home from the store in preparation for another New Year’s Eve celebration. The haunting words and beautiful melody led us to converse about the meaning of life: are we only dust in the wind? The song claims the only things that last forever are the earth and the sky. Is that so? Left to themselves and perhaps our own activity, they will not last forever either. Even the sun is supposed to burn out … [Read more...]

We Don’t Need to Be Cave Dwellers Anymore


Have you ever slept in a cave? Years ago, a band of friends and I camped overnight in the bowels of a cave. Talk about darkness! I realized how precious light was that night. May I never take light for granted again. I doubt many people take for granted sunshine during winter months in the Pacific Northwest where I live. The clouds, the mist and the rain can dampen even the most resilient souls and fill their minds with doubts and fears concerning what lies before them.Perhaps such longing … [Read more...]

What Makes Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” a Classic?


What makes Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol a classic?For one, it’s written so well. After all, it’s one of Dickens' own creations.For another, Dickens conjures up an ideal setting for his tale—London at Christmas time in Victorian England.Other reasons include people’s fascination with mystery and ghost stories and the enduring appeal of accounts about second chances.Ebenezer Scrooge’s inner transformation from fixation on things and penny-pinching ways to the celebration of pe … [Read more...]

Advent Justice: Get Messed Up in the Mundane


There was no Christmas wrap other than the swaddling clothes that first Christmas. There was no tinsel. No egg nog. No hand sanitizer after shaking hands and cleaning up messes that holy night. And while that night was by no means silent given baby cries and animal noises, the event and its Bethlehem surroundings were truly obscure. No royal pageantry befitting the emperor. No TV crews. No Royal Albert or Carnegie Hall. Just a bunch of angels performing on a lonely landscape for some shepherds … [Read more...]

Mother Mary and Single Moms

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I wonder if Mary raised Jesus as a single parent during his teenage years. Perhaps Joseph died when Jesus was young. There is no mention of Joseph being with his family after the trip to Jerusalem for the Passover  when Jesus was twelve (Luke 2:41-52). Of course, the culture back then was different. Children grew up very early. Still, children are growing up very early today, though likely in different ways and for very different reasons. I can only imagine how hard it would have been then and h … [Read more...]

Advent Justice: God Embodies Justice


God puts a face to salvation. He names it Jesus. Jesus’ story is not once upon a time; rather, at a particular place and time, God engaged real people through the reality of Mary’s firstborn son. I love how Luke presents Jesus’ advent or coming: In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, … [Read more...]