Friday, 31 December 2010
Thursday, 30 December 2010
Wednesday, 29 December 2010
I was tagged in this photo on Facebook the other day. It shows us all lined during the singing of Adeste Fidelis after Midnight Mass. Note all the lace and the surplus children (also the '62 Missal on the Altar - used purely because it contained the notation for the Tonus Solemnior of the Preface). Two hours before Mass started I was informed that one of the Ministers couldn't make it, so I offered my services as either Subdeacon, or if not as Tunicled Crucifer. Both were rejected and I, with two others, formed the liturgical choir - alongside a Deacon. Everyone except me seemed to think that the Mass was ''beautiful.'' That's not exactly the word I'd pick. ''Sweet'', perhaps, if you come to Liturgy at Christmas expecting a child's Nativity play, where they all get to dress up in their lace cottas, look pretty and each hold a candle. I don't. I come expecting something solemn and decorous, not puerile.
Those of who have read The Lord of the Rings will remember The Shadow of the Past (Chapter II), in which Gandalf told Frodo his account of Gollum's life, as near the mark as he could guess. Gollum (or Sméagol as he was then) was akin to the distant fathers of the Stoors who still dwelt by the banks of the Anduin near the Gladden Fields, and by a great ''accident'' in the tides of the Ring's fortune he discovered the Ring (no pedantry in the combox please - this is not an exhaustive account of every detail), murdered his friend, was driven from his home into the mountains and gnawed bones in bitterness, cursing both the light and the dark. The Ring galled him and he ''lived'' (although he did not obtain more life) for many times the natural span of his years. When Bilbo came and took the Ring Gollum left the mountains, went in search of Bilbo but was drawn southwards to Mordor, where he was captured, tortured, and commanded to search for the Ring (although Gollum had purposes of his own in spite of Sauron). Eventually the Ranger Aragorn captured him by the Dead Marshes and took him to the Wood Elves of Mirkwood but his escape was contrived by the Orcs and he went off again in search of the Shire. He got lost and being then starved gave up at the West Gate of Moria, where he picked up the trail of the Fellowship and so came upon Frodo and Sam in the Emyn Muil. When he heard Gandalf's tale of Gollum's life in the quiet of the Shire Frodo felt no pity for Gollum, desiring only the creature's death, but upon their eventual meeting in the desolate hills he heard from far off the voice of Gandalf and did pity Gollum (''and that it is my fate to receive help from you, where I least looked for it, and your fate to help me whom you long pursued with evil purpose'' were Frodo's words before the Black Gate). Thus is the tale of the Ring made more meaningful.
Any rational person reading The Lord of the Rings for the first time would know that Gollum would almost certainly have betrayed Frodo, sooner or later. Later because Gollum desired (in so far as he had one single ''purpose'' with Frodo) to keep the Ring safe in spite of Sauron for as long as humanly possible. Sauron was his greatest enemy. I say certainly but perhaps not, but for the clumsiness in fidelity of Sam unto Frodo, which served only to push Gollum over the edge. As I write this I recall that moment in Chapter X of Book IV where Gollum came down from the heights ot Cirith Ungol and beheld Frodo and Sam lying together:
The Lord of the Rings moves me in so many ways. Tolkien can be as familiar and almost rustic as an apple, and you laugh at his jokes, but it is a work which also rends the very will, and tugs at the heart. When I first read this masterpiece of religious literature it was like the very hand of God had entered into my soul and stirred there, even to the very bottom [change that], and I was moved by unaccustomed [something] - and significantly this is a feeling I get only from the Sacred Liturgy...
Tuesday, 28 December 2010
Sunday, 26 December 2010
Friday, 24 December 2010
Monday, 20 December 2010
Tuesday, 14 December 2010
''I entirely accept the general principle. We must realise, as Williams would say, that we live in each other. But in purely practical terms, were we meant to know so much about the sufferings of the rest of the world? It seems to me that modern communications are so fast - with the wireless and newspapers and so on [or these days, of course, the Internet] - that there's a burden imposed on our sympathy for which that sympathy just wasn't designed.''
''Give an example,'' says Tolkien.
''That's easy. Now, supposing the poor Joneses family in your own street are having terrible troubles - sickness and so on - well then, obviously it's your duty to sympathise with them. But what about the morning paper and the evening news broadcasts on the wireless, in which you hear all about the Chinese and the Russians and the Finns and the Poles and the Turks? Are you expected to sympathise with them in the same way? I really don't think it's possible, and I don't think it's your duty to try''
''You certainly can't do them any good by being miserable about them,'' says Warnie.
''Ah, but while that's perfectly true it's not the point. In the case of the Jones family next door, you'd think pretty poorly of the man who felt nothing in the way of sympathy for them because that feeling 'wouldn't do them any good.'''
''Are you saying,'' asks Harvard, ''that when we read the newspapers we shouldn't try to sympathise with the sufferings of people we don't know?''
''Jack is probably saying,'' remarks Warnie, ''that we shouldn't read the newspapers at all. You know he never bothers to look at anything other than the crossword.''
''Perfectly true,'' answers his brother. ''And I have two very good reasons for it. First of all I deplore journalism - I can't abide the journalist's air of being a specialist in everything, and of taking in all points of view and always being on the side of the angels. And I hate the triviality of journalism, you know, the sort of fluttering mentality that fills up the page with one little bit about how an actress has been divorced in California, and another little bit about how a train was derailed in France, and another little bit about the birth of quadruplets in New Zealand.''
Well there you are. I agree with Lewis. While we may rightly deplore moral evils, does it really do to be constantly reminded of suffering? By the way this conversation is conjectural, made up (from sources - I recognise a lot of the stuff Tolkien says from his works) by Carpenter. Does anybody find this reminiscent of Lewis' works? Is it to be found, say, in his apologetics?
Friday, 10 December 2010
Wednesday, 1 December 2010
'Then Ulmo answered: ''Truly, Water is become now fairer than my heart imagined, neither had my secret thought conceived the snowflake, nor in all my music was contained the falling of the rain. I will seek Manwë, that he and I may make melodies for ever to thy delight!'' And Manwë and Ulmo have from the beginning been allied, and in all things have served most faithfully the purpose of Ilúvatar.' (J.R.R Tolkien, The Silmarillion, Ainulindalë).