The Incarnation and the One Ring

Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Kind of like remembering a messy divorce, only with more epic battles.

Happy Ring Destruction Day!

That’s right, Tolkien fans. Tomorrow, the 25th of March, is the anniversary of the day when, mumbleteen thousand years ago, Frodo, Sam, and Gollum entered Mount Doom to pitch the One Ring into the fire below. I’m posting a day early because we tend not to get as much traffic on a Saturday, and you’d hate to miss such a momentous occasion, right?

“Wait,” some of you are asking, “Why did Tolkien use modern dates in a fantasy world like Middle-earth? I mean, I get that it’s supposed to be our super-duper epic forgotten past, but really.”

Yeah, I get that. But you also have to remember that Tolkien was three things, in this order: a proud Catholic, an expert philologist, and a fascinated medievalist. What does all that have to do with March 25th, also known as the Feast of the Annunciation? I’m glad you asked!

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Netflix’s “Death Note”: A Trailer Analysis

Well. It has come to this. Netflix is finally producing a live-action USA-based adaptation of Death Note, the hit manga/anime where a teenager with a god complex gets a notebook that he can use to magically murder people. It’s better than it sounds, albeit not the greatest thing ever. The show is mostly famous for being a classic “gateway anime” that gets people started on the medium, filled with grandiose ideals, over-the-top battles of wits, and a modern crime drama setting with supernatural elements.

Mostly, the press and hype surrounding the upcoming series has been…pretty negative. But yesterday, the official trailer for the Netflix series dropped, so it’s time to find out: is it that bad, after all? Here goes nothing, my rapid-fire comments on a rapid-fire teaser. Continue reading

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Beauty and the Beast: A Review

Be our guest, be our guest, put our service to the test . . .

Ah, nostalgia.  Beauty and the Beast was my favorite Disney movie as a kid, and we watched a lot of them, back when Disney wasn’t as sick as it is now.  My sister loved The Little Mermaid.  My brother loved Aladdin.  But I was always firmly in the Beauty and the Beast camp.  I even had a bedspread/sheet/pillowcase set with those characters on it.  I still have it packed away somewhere.

I think The Little Mermaid won my mom’s “Please Don’t Ever Make Me Watch This Movie Again” award, but Beauty and the Beast still has a special place in my heart, especially now that I know what GK Chesterton said about it:

This is the great lesson of ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ that a thing must be loved before it is lovable.

So, of course, even with all the drama surrounding the release of the remake, I went to see it on Saturday night; partially because I wanted to see who was right about the inclusion (or lack thereof) of the LGBT agenda, but also because I wanted to love this movie.

And I did.  With a gigantic caveat attached.

Here’s the promised review of the remake, but be warned: it’s more of an in-depth analysis than a review, so the spoiler alert is obvious.  Then again, who doesn’t know the story of Beauty and the Beast?

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Why Is St. Patrick’s Day a Big Deal?

There are a few days of the year based around Catholic holidays that have become heavily secularized. Christmas, of course, is the big offender in many eyes, and every year we have reports from the tinsel-choked and eggnog-spilled trenches of the “War on Christmas.” To a lesser extent, the same is true of Easter, while it seems like fewer and fewer people know who St. Valentine even is. With that, it’s probably no surprise that St. Patrick’s Day is has just become a day to celebrate being Irish.

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But why? Why do we make such a big deal out of this day in the United States, to the point that some bishops offer special Lenten dispensations, even when (as it does this year) it falls on a Friday? St. Patrick’s Day isn’t even a big deal in Ireland, not compared to how we celebrate it in the United States. And corned beef isn’t even an Irish dish!

The answer is both simple and complex, and somewhat contradictory. No, it’s not actually an Irish day; but it’s rooted in being Irish. It’s a day steeped in Catholicism, and yet not in worship. And it’s a day that’s both very American and not at all, at the same time.

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The Irish emigrated all over the world, but the greatest number of them ended up here in the United States. The reason for that is twofold. First, the majority of those emigrants left during an extended era of English Protestant persecutions in Ireland, where to be an Irish Catholic was to be the lowest of the low. Even coming to face further persecution in the United States was better; and the stories of signs saying “No Dogs or Irish Allowed” aren’t exaggerations. If anything, they’re tame. Catholics in Ireland couldn’t be formally educated beyond what we might call a third grade level today; they couldn’t be in government or own certain kinds of property; and for a long time it was even legal to shoot a Catholic priest on sight.

Have you heard of the Irish Potato Famine? The Irish simply call it the Hunger, and it hit poor Irish hard because potatoes were the main part of their diets precisely because the English didn’t care to take it from them the way they taxed grain.

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During the Hunger, Ireland was actually exporting food, because many English didn’t want to waste it on the Irish. Some Protestants would actually go so far as to set up big soup cauldrons in villages, offering free food to any Catholics who would renounce their faith. Many would rather die. Others gave in.

Irish Catholics who came to the United States were entering another heavily Protestant country; in fact, Ireland was and is the only English-speaking Catholic nation in the world. But they were entering a nation that gave them far more opportunity, dirt-poor as they were, to succeed and better themselves and their families. Because as bad as it might have been to be Irish in the United States at the time, the United States still respected hard work. Ultimately, it didn’t matter your origins, as long as you pulled your weight. Factories, docks, and early police forces — jobs few others wanted — were all heavily dominated by Irish immigrants, and that in turn shaped the United States as a whole.

And most importantly, the second reason. They left a country where a priest could be shot on sight to live in a place where they could worship openly. They could go so far as to have great parades in the street, and even if some would get upset, no one tried shooting them.

Can you imagine how different that must have felt?

And that, too, shaped the United States. Dioceses were rapidly created by the Vatican throughout the young nation, in order to keep up with the explosion of Catholicism here. We’ve never been close to a majority, but as in most other nations we were responsible for a similar expansion of schools and medicine; there’s a reason why one in six hospitals in the United States are either outright owned by the Church or are officially affiliated with the Holy See, and why so many of the oldest universities in the nation have a similar history. Both teaching and tending to the sick benefit greatly from a religious tradition of redemptive suffering!

And all of that started with Irish immigrants celebrating the feast day of the patron saint of Ireland. They had given up the land of their ancestors, but kept the faith of their fathers. They could stand tall and proud and proclaim themselves not only Irish, but Catholic, and no one could tell them otherwise.

That is why St. Patrick’s Day is so important in the United States. That is why so many bishops give special dispensations from Lenten observances, even on a Friday. It isn’t an excuse to eat meat; it’s a recognition that even though this isn’t a solemnity like St. Joseph’s Day (the 19th of March), it nonetheless has massive cultural importance for Catholics in this nation, regardless of their own ethnic origins.

And I hope the symbolism of it being the feast day of a man who shook off bondage to return to minister to those who mistreated him isn’t lost on anyone. St. Patrick converted Ireland without any persecutions on either side. We could all use some of that today.

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St. Patrick, pray for us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It’s a Booknado!

Conservative-Libertarian Fiction Alliance

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The March 2017 CLFA Booknado blasts into town on the wings of an epic nation-wide tempest! Howling winds of freedom sweep away the dull, the didactic, and the formulaic offerings from Big Publishing. Read freely! Click on any book cover image below to learn about new releases and special low-price and free promotions*:

NEW RELEASES

Lost Children (The Minivandians Book 3) by Tom Rogneby
Ruarin and DaddyBear continue their journey home after surviving the dark of winter in the North. Old friends are there to help them, but tragedy and mystery await them in an ancient city.

Recon: A War to the Knife by Rick Partlow
Tyler Callas is the pampered heir of a high-level Corporate Council executive, groomed from birth to take a seat beside her as a member of the ruling class of the Commonwealth society. But the bloody war with the alien Tahni has hit close to home and Tyler wants to join…

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Legendary: Deadpool Expansion

The rapidly growing popularity of Marvel’s most famous mercenary, capped by a highly
successful solo film in 2016, inspired Upper Deck to base an entire small box expansion around the mouthy anti-hero. Featuring characters from box Lgd Deadpool_UD304_HiResDeadpool’s more recent adventures, and employing frequent use of his iconic fourth wall breaking throughout, Legendary Deadpool takes the crown as the most deliberately humorous Legendary expansion to date.

 

What’s in this set – 5 heroes with one new team (two if you haven’t played Legendary Villains), 2 Masterminds, 2 Villain Groups, and 4 Schemes.

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Quick Anime Review: Mob Psycho 100

Screenshot of the main character in Mob Psycho 100

It’s been a while, folks! And I’m a good deal late on this review (blame the part-time work I’ve picked up in the meantime–a small blessing, but it does interfere with my blogging), but I’m determined to get it through anyhow! I’m excited, because Mob Psycho 100 has been a big reason that I kept coming back to watch anime this season. It’s a story from the creator of One Punch Man, and this time, it’s a tight show about a powerful adolescent psychic who’s coming of age and coming to grips with the incredible ability that he possesses. It’s short (only 12 episodes), sometimes gritty, sometimes funny, and packed with psychedelic psychic battles. Continue reading

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