Tuesday, December 15, 2015

LOTR Read-Along: The Return of the King {Book VI, Ch. I-V}


Sorry I was behind this week. I actually had everything read but my Sunday ended up being busier than expected. I was done with this section of reading on Wednesday because I could not put it down. We have finally reached the climax — 900 pages in — and it was everything I hoped it would be. I feel a bit like Sam with his double vision as I was reading the scene with Frodo, Sam, and Gollum in Mount Doom - the movie was superimposed over the writing and I was visualizing both simultaneously. My favorite part, though, was the Faramir/Eowyn storyline. It is so tiny but it really stood out to me. Eowyn's feelings for Aragorn are wrapped up in hero worship, idealization, and stubbornness. He is able to heal wounds of the body but it is Faramir who heals the wounds on her soul. I think that there is a lot to be said here about modern perceptions of love but I will refrain. I merely wanted to point them out to you so you could mull it over for yourself :)

1. Sam's time of testing has finally come. What does the Ring show him? How is it different from what others were shown?

2. What do you make of Sam's double vision? What is he seeing superimposed over mortal vision?

3. After the Company is reunited in Minas Tirith there is a feast at which a minstrel tells the tale of the Ring and Frodo. Tolkien writes, "And he sang to them, now in the Elven-tongue, now in the speech of the West, until their hearts, wounded with sweet words, overflowed, and their joy was like swords, and they passed in thought out to regions where pain and delight flow together and tears are the very wine of blessedness". What does he mean by this? What connection between pain and delight, sorrow and joy is he making?

4. Why was Eowyn so insistent on being a shield maiden?

WE ARE ON THE LAST WEEK. Only 5 more chapters and we are done. Time has flown. The world has changed. Savor these last moments with these unforgettable characters who live in the world we all wished we lived in. Have a great (rest) of the week :)

Sunday, December 6, 2015

LOTR Read-Along - The Return of the King {Book V, Ch. VI-X}

The most recent issue of Time magazine has a wonderful article about the new Star Wars movie and what drives the magic of that universe. Care to take a guess as to what it is? Hope. To quote the article, "Hope: it's the keystone concept in the Star Wars legendarium. One of the eternal mysteries of Star Wars is that it looks like science fiction, with robots and lasers and such, but at the same time it's set far in the past and has the dustiness and feel of ancient history. It catches you up in a double-reverse, a temporal anomaly subtler than anything in Star Trek, that leaves you with a strange nostalgic longing for the future. And what is hope but a longing for the future?" Y'all. If this does not sum up the magic of The Lord of the Rings as well then I do not know what does. Especially at this point, where now there is but the faintest of hopes. What do you have but to go on, to cling to that hope with all you have?

I have been thinking of hope a lot this past week, with it being the start of Advent. I do not think I have been more aware of how much I need the hope of Christ. Indeed, I almost believe that the Church in America has forgotten in Whom our hope resides. Refugees, terrorism, Syria, France, the political races — all of it serves to cloud our vision, to draw our attention away from the hope we have in Christ, the hope that our world is in such desperate need of. In LOTR the hope is that the Ring will be destroyed, that Sauron will not be able to conquer Middle Earth and usher in unending pain, death, and destruction. Even now, with the armies of Men making a last stand at the Black Gate, there is little hope to be had. It is better, though, to give their lives in a last desperate attempt than to live in the world that will come if they fail. There is no room for apathy or despair or cynicism. The hope of victory is too small to allow room for any of these attitudes because they will overpower hope. One must push aside these and cling to hope, to do the hard things even with only the slightest promise of victory because life under Sauron would be too intolerable to sustain. How different would our own world be if we grabbed onto hope and did not let cynicism or apathy rule our actions, thoughts, and words?

1. Why can Eowyn defeat the King of the Ringwraiths? Is she a likable character?

2. Gandalf tells Denethor that "Authority is not given to you, Steward of Gondor, to order the hour of your death... and only heathen kings, under the domination of the Dark Power, did thus, slaying themselves in pride and despair, murdering their kin to ease their own death". Compare Denethor's actions with Aragorn's. Why are Denethor's actions anathema to some one like Aragorn?

3. Why does Aragorn not come into Minas Tirith as king? Why does he want to wait to claim that title?

4. What is Sauron waiting for? Why does Gandalf want to keep his focus on Minas Tirith and the armies gathered there?

We are starting the last book this week :( Book VI, Ch. I-V. HOPE y'all have a wonderful week!!