Earlier this month I fell ill with the horrible flu that is going around and lying abed in misery decided not to pay too much attention to the news for sanity’s sake. Of course, the space between not too much and no attention leaves plenty of room for discouragement and distress. Yet the holiday, for me Christmas, means having to look above and beyond the immediate and natural. I could stand a Facebook level of opinion and analysis, but not a Postmodern Conservative one. That means I have not read anything much here in weeks. Apologies to my fellow bloggers, but I cannot bear a clear vision of the political world at the moment. No looking through the glass grimly right now, but rather seen through the glass smeared through the sweet butter of my holiday baking.
Since being ill, I have been rereading the Lord of the Rings for the umpteenth time. I have not read it in many years. My father bought me The Hobbit when I was thirteen years old and the other books shortly after. I read and reread them in my teens and read them to the children, of course, as did my husband and we would all listen then. If I did get time to read them for myself, that always seems to be at this time of year. My understanding of the Tolkien books changed when I became a Christian, when my understanding of the battles between good and evil also changed. They are good stories when you don’t hear the Biblical echoes, but are literature when you do.
I intended to read The Hobbit before going to see the Peter Jackson movie, but it either wandered off of my shelves of its own accord or was wandered by someone. Jackson takes so many liberties with the plots and themes that not reading the books ahead might make for less criticism. In fact I did like the movie, despite many deviations from the beloved book. But Jackson misunderstands Tolkien. I am not the only one who thinks so. Still, it is a pleasant diversion and Martin Freeman captures the Bilbo Baggins character, mostly.
We are looking forward to seeing Les Miserables this weekend. Years ago, my son took an AP English course that had for summer reading a comparison of the Hugo novel and The Fountainhead. We thought that was brilliant. When my daughter took the course a few years later, the novels for summer reading were four modern things, Life of Pi was one, not bad books, but far more shallow. Not that The Fountainhead is particularly deep. It isn’t, but from the Christian point of view, Rand looks at evil from the wrong way around, as if it were good. The comparison with Les Miserables gave it depth and we could talk about those books as a family that summer, which was a pleasure we rarely got from the public education part of our children’s educations.
I promise to come back from childish things after the holidays and pursue the difficult questions of life in the new year. I began a discussion weeks ago that I could not complete, but will when I can face it.
For now, Merry Christmas to all! May God bless us in the coming year.