Friday, January 4

In honor of Joseph's 9-month birthday, I just added another page of photos.
Finally "saw" The Lord of the Rings.. I use the quotation marks because I spent the second hour of the film in the walkway leading to the theater (but still inside the theater - it's stadium seating, so maybe you get the picture) trying to convince Joseph that the people on the screen were not, indeed speaking to him and certainly did not require an answer everytime they spoke. So I heard more than saw that part.

And how was it? My reaction is exactly the same as my reaction to the books. I am quite moved by the fundamental theme of the work: the humble little hobbit Frodo being given, and accepting the terrifying yet essential task of returning the Ring to fire from which it was made, and thus destroying the source of the evil that seeks to dominate the world with darkness. I like all of that: the echoes of the Christian story, themes of loyalty, promises, and self-sacrifice. All the actors were wonderful and the film certainly moved along. Even with the added stress of Joseph, it didn't seem like a three-hour experience.

But I can't be enraptured and swept away, unfortunately. Maybe it's because I've read the books. Maybe it's because fantasy is not my genre. I can see how some people (like my middle son) could love it. I can see how some people (like my oldest son) could be bored by it. Me- I'm grateful that it's there, as a piece of high-quality entertainment with nothing objectionable in it and with an important, resonant theme. I hope it sets a standard that others might try to follow. But if you've no patience with massive battles and solemn elves and ugly old orcs, this might not be the movie for you!

An amusing essay on "Untitled" as a title for works of art and what it says about the art for which no one can think of a title.
Today is the feastday of Elizabeth Ann Seton. Hers is quite a story, and one which shows quite clearly the unexpected nature of life . Isn't it strange that those who don't understand the life of faith think that it's all about conformity and lack of freedom. It doesn't take much serious examination to see that this just isn't so, and the life of Elizabeth Ann Seton is a great example: it reads like an Edith Wharton novel with ye olde papist twist. Bright New York socialite marries well and happily, produces many bright and happy children. On a trip to Italy, husband dies (after they've been quarantined offshore for several weeks), and socialite gives in to her restlessness, curiosity and yearning and opens her heart to Catholicism. Returning to New York, she converts and is promptly exiled from New York society and even her family distances themselves. True to her values, she begins teaching, and ends her life in the wilds of Maryland and the foundress of a religoius order. One of her sons becomes a bishop.

The only conformity in this story is Mother Seton's conformity to the voice of God in her conscience and the love of God in her heart of hearts.

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