Tuesday, February 24, 2009

My Favorite Politician

Believe it or not, there's one politician that I REALLY LOVE!!!!!!! Can you guess who? This politician never intended to be one, but she certainly is one. When the next presidential election comes around, I will vote for:

That's right, my cute, cuddly, CAT!!!!!!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Another LOTR Dream from my Sister

Moria's wealth was not in gold or jewels, but in oil, and when the Balrog arrived, he went to school, where all the children, except the ones with swords, ran away in fright (is that a case for or against weapons in school?). Then, the Balrog ran away from his own orcs.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Yet Another Wonderful Poll Has Closed

Yes, another day and another poll. It seems more people in our small group of readers prefer Phantom of The Opera to Les Miserables (speaking of that, I still need to finish my lengthy analysis). However, Les Miserables is currently at the number one spot last I checked. But Phantom of The Opera is still playing while Les Mis is not. Figure that one out.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Day of The Polls

Another day has passed, and another poll hath closed it's doors.

Well, that's not exactly poetry, but the poll is closed, and Tolkien
won by a CLEAR majority. Sorry all of you Chesterton fans. :-)


All of you who wanted more poetry from me, try this

Lessons from the Valaquenta

I. On Humility

One slight oddity in the Valentaqua is Tolkien’s treatment of the Four Elements, earth, air, fire, and water. He does NOT associate one with each temperament. The oddity consists in who is associated with what element. Obviously, Manwe is the angel of the air, Ulmo the angel of the water, and Aule the angel of the earth. Under this system, air, not the traditional fire, is treated as the highest element. What could be the significance of this?
The closest there is to being a spirit of fire in the Valentaqua is Melkior, the devil. Described by Tolkien as the greatest of the Ainur, Melkior is also the spirit of the highest element, fire, the element associated with creation, existence, and God in the Ainuirnidale. He, the highest angel, is the fallen one, and his very height is that by which he fell (remember: he searched for the secret fire in the Ainuirindale, and, failing to find it, tried to create his own things and fell from grace).
This is a good explanation for why Melkior fears Elbereth, not Manwe, most of all the Valar. Elbereth, the woman of the stars, is the closest to a fire-angel of all the Valar. Yet she does not make things with her fire in the same way that Melkior aspired to do; her things are real and natural, not the evil parodies that are orcs and trolls. By staying within the bounds of God’s creativity and goodness, Elbereth, though a firey spirit, humbly escaped Melkior’s self-inflicted doom.
Sauron, the greatest of Melkior’s servants, is falls in much the same way as Melkior. Sauron, it is said, was a maia of Aule, and thus would have been skilled in the art of making, Through this, the desire for making is portrayed as a great temptation to pride and evil from its height that comes with affinity with Creation, a fact that is reinforced throughout the whole book (Feanor is the greatest example) and even in the Lord of the Rings proper. Such an idea is consistent with Maritain’s evaluation of the art of making: he gives it a dignity approaching the art of thinking and warns that he who would aspire to the highest and most creative form of making, abstract art, must beware of the extreme temptation to pride.
The crucial difference between Sauron and Aule is obedience and humility: Sauron’s ring is something that anyone is loth to give up, (including himself), but Aule obeys Iluvitar when he is caught making the Dwarves out of season. Aule is also uninterested in using what he makes, but makes for the joy of making, a humble activity. One last parallel is that Aule’s creative work would have used fire to achieve its ends.

II. On the priorities of the Valar

From this furious dichotomy of angelic good and angelic evil, the task of the Valar and their opposites emerged. The Valar are precisely those Ainur who loved the material world so much that they wished to enter it, the evil versions entered it to twist it.
From this love of the world, the Valar became spirits of protection. Their society-structure reflects in one significant way the most marital society the human world has ever known: Dark Ages Northern Europe.
In the company of the Valar, the feminine characters do the productive work of growing plants and tending animals. Most of the masculine characters are limited to functions of war and worship: Orome and Tulkas are warriors, Manwe and Ulmo are wise councilors, Mandos tends the dead souls, and Lorien…inspires? This is exactly the structure in the Dark Ages society mentioned above. Aule makes, of course, but his skill in making is strangely out of place sometimes: it causes the elves to make the tragic silmarils, it makes the Dwarves out of turn, and it does not provide anything of use to the war. In some places, Aule is the only Valar that comes of looking in any way foolish. Doubtless, he has a magnificent aeon of glory while in Valinor, but in summary, making, unlike military virtue or practical productiveness, is not something that is always a wise indulgence.
This allusion to the Dark Ages society illustrates the grand peril in which Middle-earth is caught: it prevents even the Angels from forming a society bases primarily on the arts of peace.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Welcome to one of MY favorite topics.


For starters, my sister dreamed that Merry and Pippin, while on the way to a secret "How to kill a Balrog" council, killed the balrog.

Do You Like Obama? NO!!!!!!!!

It's official: nobody likes Obama!!!! Well, at least no one of the six
people that voted. :-) Maybe I should put up a poll about Bush
next. I'm really going to get thrown in jail someday (if I get lucky).

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Okay, I though I would try using these reaction thingys. Since we've
been coming up with pretty much anything (which we can still do of
course), I thought it would be good to know exactly what people are
reading and not reading. So here they are! Take a quick look after each
of your posts to see who's reading and who's not!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Appendix to the Dracula article

In house of mirrors, where shining bloody knives
Kaleidoscopically dance on eyes edge
Swift-bearing madness while women’s sharp kiss
Threatens to deaden high madness’s ledge
The bearer of death, the holder of knife
Stands keenly intent on murder within,
With blood perfuming, raining, his like-life
Mouth-piece, in, (ugh), within, a wooden coffin.
Of all within the thin, thin shell of man’s
Veneer of city, house, and manners’ ways
There’s naught that saves from such a demon bland,
The mold of his body in his own grave.
There’s naught of man’s, but God, the God Who died
Gives life by blood; as Bread He does reside.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

A Bit Concerning Dracula, Evil Fellow.

When I told our Ancient Greek Philosopher that I was reading Dracula (this was last summer) he thought I might be going insane. Thank goodness AGP's not a real psychologist yet. Besides being an engrossing suspense/supernatural story, Dracula is also filled with worthwhile elements that make it more than just recreational reading. By putting his characters in the presence of the threat of a vampire, Bram Stoker, the Irish author of Dracula, edifies us by implanting in us a horrific and true vision of evil, by giving us a respect for the aids God gives us to combat it, and by presenting to us a marvelous work of character artistry.

Count Dracula of Transylvania first presents himself as a cultured aristocrat, the world-wise descendant of proud (and sometimes cruel) kings of the bleak Hungarian wilderness. He hides, of course, his trademark secret: he is a vampire.

Now, what exactly is a vampire? Intending all the horror the name implies, Stoker calls them "undead," a term clarified in greater degrees of horror as the novel progresses. Dracula, and later his female victim, have, in short, already died, but their bodies remain horribly incorrupt, doomed to involuntarily wander the world in search of bloody humans to devour until the vampires themselves are killed. They are empty and corrupt, dissolving into dust as soon as the evil powers stop sustaining them, just as evil itself is a frightful nothingness, an absence of the goods proper to a thing. The vampires do not need blood to live, they merely cannot resist it; this compares with addiction to sin: the addict does not need to continue to sin to live, but he cannot stop. Dracula can only sleep on cemetery soil blessed by a Catholic priest, and some of his actions are twisted allegories of the life of Jesus (such as the fact that he sleeps on a boat for three days before rising again in England); such parodies of the sacramental system are common in the occult, a faith of which the pre-dead Dracula was a definite and voluntary member. And of course, there is the drinking of human blood, both in the blatantly sickening scene in Transylvania where one of the characters finds the ruby blood of a small baby coloring the count's lips during a vampiric sleeping period and in the subtle fear in the scenes as the vampire's first English victim gradually has her life drained from her by an unseen intruder. As if this was not enough, Stoker directs our horror not only at evil in general, but the particular evil of sensual vice by having Dracula behave in a seductive matter toward his victims. Dracula embodies both evil's fascination and its emptiness.

Fortunately, Stoker places God himself in dramatic contrast to the evil of Dracula. While the use of the somewhat random, spiritually meritless objects like garlic seems to be reminiscent of the simple superstition of the Hungarian peasants, other objects carry God's power and anti-demonic wrath. As long as the dead victim has the crucifix on her chest, for example, she is unable to rise to become a vampire, a precaution that is voided when an unknowing beggar steals the crucifix. The most powerful weapon against the vampires, however, is Jesus himself in the Holy Eucharist. Whenever Dr. Van Huelsing holds the envelope containing the "Sacred Wafer," neither Dracula nor his victims can approach, and one of his victims is actually burned when the Eucharist touches her skin. (Dr. Van Huelsing does commit the a Eucharistic sacrilege at one point, but he had good intentions and may very well have not known that what he was doing was wrong.) Stoker sees the solution to such great evil in the redemptive power of God and the avenues of His power.

And finally, by putting his characters in such difficult situations, Bram Stoker is able to show off his own skills as a writer and use them to further accentuate his theme. Dracula, unlike some villains, is appropriately one of the least interesting characters in the story. Much more fascinating are the American cowboy, brilliant and sensitive Dr. Van Huelsing, and the conversion experience of the local psychologist. Stoker even has the style to make believeable in writing one of the most difficult sorts of scenes to pull off, that of grown men breaking into tears under their stress.

In short, Bram Stoker is an excellent author and Dracula is an excellent book.

Political Poll

You all knew it would come. I am referring to the recent poll I put
up. So if I should disappear suddenly, you'll all know why. :-)

Quick Question

Just wanted to know your thoughts on the Inheritance series, especially compared to The Lord of the Rings. Put the words that represent your thoughts in the comments box.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Thomistic Metaphysics of Ainulindale

0.5 Intro to Ainulindale

Ainulindale is Tolkien's version of the creation story, in which Iluvitar, (God), creates the Ainur (angels), and then, through them, creates Middle-earth using something analogous to music. In it, Melkior, (the devil), falls through his pride and desire to make things of his own.

1. God, Angels, Knowledge, and the Residence of Essences

“There was Eru, the One, Who in Arda is called Iluvatar, and He made first the Ainur, the Holy Ones, that were the offspring of His thought, and they were with
Him before all else was made. And He spoke to them, propounding to them themes
of music, and they sang before Him, and He was glad.”

“Iluvitar said to them: ‘Behold your music!’ And He showed to them a vision, giving to them sight where before was only hearing; and they saw a new World
made visible before them.”

“No theme may be played that hath not its uttermost source in Me, nor can any alter the music in my despite.”

“’I know the desire of your minds that what ye have seen should verily be, not only in your thought, but even as ye yourselves are, and yet other. Therefore I
say: Ea! Let these things be!”

Obviously, Iluvitar represents God, and the Ainur His angelic creatures. This ought to be, and probably is, common knowledge among Tolkien’s followers. What
is probably less known is the incredible combination of relatively obscure
Thomistic metaphysics with the obvious drama of the text.

First, it can be inferred that Iluvitar and the Ainur are spiritual, not
material, beings. Obviously, this is the first impulse of the reader. Second,
Tolkien calls the Ainur the offspring of “His thought.” If Tolkien intended the
Ainur to be material beings, why would he specify the “thought?” And if the
Ainur are spiritual, Iluvitar must be as well.

When constructing his philosophy, St. Thomas faced a problem concerning
spiritual beings: how they know things. They obviously do not perceive, as
humans do, for they have no bodies and thus no senses, yet God knows all things,
and the angels are obviously quite intelligent. St. Thomas states that
(1) God knows all things, even the contingencies of free human wills, as author,
not as perceiver, and
(2) communicates this knowledge to His Angels. (Existing and performing the act
of creation continuously, for God is outside of time, God holds even our wills
in existence, even when they make evil choices.) This knowledge (3) further
constitutes the essences of all things that are or are yet to be, even the free
creations of human art, thus making all artistic creation a form of discovery,
for God knows all things, even essences, and his knowledge of these essences
would play a role in the things that possess these essences. (1) and (3) are
supported by the statement “No theme may be played that hath not its uttermost
source in Me [the themes are the things by which things are made, and God would
of course know those things from all eternity}, nor can any alter the music in
my despite.” (2) is supported by the fact that He communicated the themes to
his Angels, and then revealed to them that the things were real; they did not
perceive the world without His specially granting it to them. These things, of
course, were made real, as Iluvitar so gloriously states when He decrees “Ea! Le
these things be!”

2. What is “The Flame Imperishable?”

“I have kindled you with the Flame Imperishable, ye shall show forth your
powers in adorning this theme, each with his own thoughts and devices, if he
“He [Melkor] had gone often alone into the void places seeking the Imperishable Flame; for desire grew hot within him to bring into being things of his own, and it seemed to him that Iluvatar took no thought of the Void, and he was impatient of its emptiness. Yet he had not found the fire, for it is with Iluvitar. But being alone, he had begun to conceive thoughts of his own unlike those of his brethren.”

“And I will send forth into the Void the Flame Imperishable, and it shall be at the heart of the World, and the World shall be; and those of you that will may
go down into it.”

A school of the philosophers called the Stoics also spoke of a airy flame, the logos, the source of reason, a pantheistic deity that performed the function of
being the soul of the universe. (The Logos that St. John speaks of in the
gospels is a variant on this concept, The Word as the source of reason, but not
a pantheistic deity, of course.) Souls, the stoics stated, were material, made
of air and fire, and by moving throughout a substance, they gave the substance
its cohesion and its proper level of life: nonliving, plant, animal, rational,
and logos. Is the Flame Imperishable the same as the Stoic logos? No, for two

Melkior was not stupid, just proud and impatient. The logos would not be found in void places, for the Stoics believed that place was not material and did not exist, so therefore it could not possess logos. In Thomistic metaphysics,
however, God is present in all places by His power that gives places their
existence and power of having things placed within them.

If this doesn’t convince you (and it shouldn’t, for one could believe in logos but not the stoic theory of void places), it must be remembered that Iluvitar is not a pantheistic deity, as the Ainur are the offspring of His thought, not His
thoughts themselves, and Arda is itself separate from them. (If they are
separate, they cannot both be part of God, for God is entirely simple and has no
parts.) How then to explain the remarks of “Yet he had not found the fire, for
it is with Iluvitar,” and “I will send forth into the Void the Flame
Imperishable, and it shall be at the heart of the World, and the World shall
be,” remarks that seem to imply that whatever this thing is, it is part of the
world, and of God as well.

In Thomistic metaphysics, God is perfect Existence (but existence is not God). By His power, all things participate in His existence without actually being
Him. Hence, the Flame Imperishable, which seems to represent existence, is “At
the heart of the world” not “Is the world” and “Is kindled within the Ainur” not
“is the Ainur,” but is “with” Iluvitar.

One ending note: Melkor seeks for the Imperishable Flame, but everywhere else, Existence is called the Flame Imperishable. Why the change of order? By
putting Imperishable first, Tolkien accentuates the imperishableness of the
flame. The Flame, like the Ring, grants imperishability, yet imperishability is
not its prime function, just as one who seeks the ring for immortality becomes a
parody of a human, just as Melkor is elsewhere said only to mock, not create.

So ends my post on The Ainulindale.

Monday, February 2, 2009

A New Quote!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

As you can see, I finally got around to putting up a new quote. I
didn't actually go through and pick one though: Carmen suggested
it. So as you can see, I'm still getting settled here.

Another quick note. The poll is over. It was a tie between the
Fellowship and both the Fellowship and The Return of The King
(I changed my mind by the way).


Who was the other person who voted for Chesterton besides me?

By the way, I voted for Chesterton because his writings cover a wider array of topics and his style is better. That being said, in terms of a single achievement, he has nothing that comes even close to Tolkien.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Music Of The Night

I won't post an article on the temperaments just yet, so you can all
relax. :-) One or two more articles, and I'll post one. However, this
article won't be an LOTR article, but similar lessons can be learned.
In this post, I want to explore all of the lessons from a certain novel
that can be applied to our present day (whether or not the author
was aware of them. Don't you just love it when the author writes
something that has moral benefits and doesn't realize it? It's much
more hilarious when they're intending to cause moral harm, although
I don't think that is the case here). After this post, you can do the
same with "Dracula", Old Fashioned Liberal. :-)

The novel I wish to examine is "Le Fantome De L 'Opera' ", or more
commonly known in English as: The Phantom of the Opera. Well, I
fibbed actually. I've never read the book :-), so I'm judging it off of
the interpretation of the famous musical.

I assume you all know the tale of the hideous figure that hides below
the opera house. But have you ever thought of the spiritual themes?
I will extract two particular ideas:

One: the frequently appearing struggle between good and evil.

Two: the practice of perfect Christian charity.

Of the two, the most obvious idea that is present the second. But
because of the overall evil nature of the Phantom and the somewhat
sinister and dark themes that occasionally occur, as well as the
seductive elements, the struggle between good and evil is also
present (Raoul is often looked on as "the good side"), but this is not
as obvious as . This theme might be harder to follow, because you
have to look at it from a supernatural point of view. The second is
easy to follow, because it is on the natural level. It is present in
Christine's practice of charity toward the Phantom, who has had
an unhappy life after all (I will discuss this in another psychology
post sometime).

The two ideas, or themes seem to go back and forth as far as which
one is prominent. So I will give a brief analysis of the musical and
examine each number.

Nothing to see here!!!

Nothing to see here either.

Think of Me:
Still nothing to see. The Phantom has not made his entrance yet,
and the two themes rely on his presence.

Angel of Music:
Here we have Christine talking about the Phantom. She describes
him as "The Angel of Music". This scene strikes me as having
elements of the first theme. It seems to illustrate how easily one
can be fascinated by something evil, and how something evil can
appear to seem like a good part of our lives (although I might be
playing this part up just a little bit). The Phantom is an unseen
force that seems to have brought about great good in Christine's
life, so she naively mistakes him for "The Angel of Music". A perfect
example of "a wolf in sheep's clothing".

Little Lotte/The Mirror:
This scene is much similar to the previous one. The only
difference is that Christine is talking to Raoul now. :-)

The Phantom of The Opera:
This is yet another portrayal of the first idea (theme). However, the
lyrics to this number are very abstract, so it is difficult to explain.
In general, the first half talks about being "called", drawn to
something, which doesn't sound very good does it (don't worry,
it gets better, and "lighter". Maybe...)?

The Music of The Night:
In this number, we the Phantom on a more natural level, but he
speaks (or sings in this case) with a voice that seems to be more
than meets the eye: a certain darkness which has enveloped him,
and he seeks to draw Christine to it with him. So there's definitely
elements of theme one going on here.

I Remember/Stranger Than You Dreamt It:
After all this darkness, we have a change of pace in this number.
There's no trace of the first theme, but instead we have the second.
We have the sad tale of this man whom has been rejected by
society and neglected by his family on account of his disfigured
face. Surely this awakens memories of similar stories, most of
which are true. How many people have been misunderstood or
abused because of mere disabilities which cause them to seem
different to us. Some might believe that they are inferior to the
majority of us who are "normal". And one might make this less
specific. One might compare this to the countless number of people
who grow up to be involved in shootings, drugs, drinking, and other
such vices which can only lead to despair, all because they were
neglected as children due to divorced or excessively working parents
(more specifically the case where the mother works and the small
children end up in daycare). These people have never learned to
respect God's gift of life, because no one ever showed it to them by
example. Why is it any surprise then, that women have no respect
for their unborn children? Of course, if these people had heroic
virtue, they could overcome these terrible circumstances. But how
many of us are perfect? How many of us can say that we would
overcome those conditions if we were in their exact same position?
The only way we can overcome it is with God's grace.

I'm sure you can see the similarities here. I think all of these people
have sang "The Music if The Night" at one time in their lives, and
many will continue to sing it.

Magical Lasso:
Nothing to see here. Just a bunch of old tales about the Phantom.

Prima Donna:
Comic relief!!!!!!!!!

Poor Fool, He Makes Me Laugh:
In this number, we see the truly evil nature that has possessed the
Phantom (for those of you who don't know the story, he hangs a
man during the performance.). Believe it or not, this number still
follows the second theme, because there is nothing to indicate any
supernatural themes.

Why Have You Brought Me Here/Raoul, I've Been There:
This returns to the first theme. Christine talks about having been to
the Phantom's "lair", and is naturally afraid. This is undoubtedly an
evil place, and evil usually brings fear (not like I had to tell you that).
This can be compared to the fear of sin (grievous sin at least). Once
one knows the true evil and consequences of sin, and from where it
comes, one can have a great fear of returning there.

All I Ask Of You:
This is a beautiful number that the rest of the world might picture
as a nice love song, but I see more in it. This number still follows
the first theme. It is a beautiful portrayal of how Christ draws us
away from sin and darkness, and calms our fears if we put our trust
in Him.

All I Ask Of You (reprise):
We return to theme two now. After hearing Christine profess her
love to Raoul, he is grief stricken. Christine was the only light in
his life of terrible darkness, and his grief turns to great rage at her
absence. Perhaps he is obsessed with her because she is the only
ray of light in his dark world. In that case, can you not understand
his plight? It's true, however, that he wants her for the wrong
reasons, and only Christine can make him realize this.

-to be continued-