The Theology of Ents (Lord of the Rings)

Where did all these armies of trees--Tolkien's Ents and Huorns, Shakespeare's Birnam Wood, even Kurosawa's Throne of Blood--come from? The Bible. In The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers , the Ents march on Saruman's fortress of Orthanc in Isengard and are an unstoppable force and just plain cool. Also, the Huorns, who are either Ents who have turned treeish or trees that have grown wild and grumpy, march from Fangorn forest. They consume the retreating Uruk-hai from the Battle of the Hornburg at Helm's Deep. What was Tolkien's inspiration for the Ents? In a letter to the Anglo-American poet, W. H. Auden, Tolkien explains his inspiration for the Ents: "Their part in the story is due, I think, to my bitter disappointment and disgust from schooldays with the shabby use made in Shakespeare of the coming of 'Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane hill': I longed to devise a setting in which the trees might really march to war. And into this h Read More December 30, 2009

The Theology of Avatar

Much has been written about James Cameron's new epic Avatar ...  about it stunning 3D visual effects, big budget,  etc., but I haven't seen much written about the theology or mythology behind it. There seems to be a subtle, maybe even sophisticated, theology behind the story. I noticed a few things, and I wanted to jot down a few ideas: How does Pandora represent an prelapsarian (before the Fall) world in which Nature and Grace have not yet been divorced from each other? How does the god Eywa represent the unbroken bond between Nature and Grace? (and the Holy Spirit?) Are the Two Sacred Trees, the Tree of Voices (or Souls) and the Hometree, an allusion to the two trees of the Garden of Eden, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and the Tree of Life? Is Sigourney Weaver's character name, Dr. Grace Augustine, an allusion to Saint Augustine's Doctrine of Grace? What does the Second Birth of the Na'vi race say about Baptism? The 7th day of Creation, the Sa Read More December 27, 2009

Catholics and Idolatry

This post is in response to a question my aunt asked me. She asked, why is all the iconoclasty (or iconophilia) in Catholicism not considered idolatry? Okay, first off. What's the commandment say? Exodus 20:2-6 from the New American Bible (NAB): "I, the LORD, am your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery. You shall not have other gods besides me. You shall not carve idols for yourselves in the shape of anything in the sky above or on the earth below or in the waters beneath the earth; you shall not bow down before them or worship them. For I, the LORD, your God, am a jealous God, inflicting punishment for their fathers' wickedness on the children of those who hate me, down to the third and fourth generation; but bestowing mercy down to the thousandth generation, on the children of those who love me and keep my commandments." Different religions number their Commandments differently, which leads to a different placement of "You Read More December 22, 2009

The Virgin Birth of Star Wars

Okay! This is my favorite connection in Sci-Fi. Anakin Skywalker (Darth Vader) was a virgin birth!! I'm pretty sure I saw Star Wards in the womb. I'm pretty sure that the first time I heard the trumpet blast of the score of A New Hope, I was encased in amniotic fluid. I have loved Star Wars for almost as long as I've known God. It is such sweet satisfaction to know that Star Wars, too, knew God from the beginning. The Jedis speak of the ancient prophesy that is fulfilled by the birth and life of Anakin Skywalker. Clearly, this guy represents a Messiah figure. This is made blatantly obvious when we discover that he is the seed of woman (Gen 3:15) alone, that he was conceived by the Force, that Shmi gave birth as a virgin. Hello, McFly! This is one of the most obvious connections in all the galaxies of Sci-Fi. Why isn't every Star Wars fan a martyr-bleeding Christian??? Why do we love the movie so much? Because we love God. There's more, though. I'm not Read More December 22, 2009

Thesis: The Native Theology of Storytellers

I love Sci-Fi movies! AND, I love the Christ story! I've been making notes in my head for eons about all the theology I've found in Sci-Fi movies. I've got to get this stuff out of my head, so I'm gonna try. I'm not sure whether George Lucas intended for Shmi Skywalker to resemble the Virgin Mary and the virgin birth. I'm just not interested at this point in doing that kind of research on Asimov, James Cameron, Stan Lee, Orson Scott Card, etc., though in some cases--like Tolkien and C. S. Lewis--the intent is explicit. The point is, though, whether or not the writer intended to model his story on The Story, the resemblance occurred. It may be that the Christ story has so permeated the consciousness of the world as to be nearly impossible NOT to model or allude to, but there may be something more to it, as well. It could be something written into each one of us--a primordial theology that all of us, especially the best storytellers, are at some level aware Read More December 22, 2009

The ObamaCare Vote

Story developing ... It looks like Landrieu's vote has already been bought. The language giving $100 million to "major disaster" states [read: Louisiana] has already been adopted into the bill. The Louisiana Purchase: $100 Million Payoff to Buy Sen. Landrieu's Vote... Is it 49 Republicans + Lieberman + Landrieu = 51 that oppose ObamaCare? Is there some reason that Obama wouldn't be content with a 50-50 split vote with Biden deciding and Landrieu crumpling? Hey, Biden, aren't you Catholic? Not for long ... No. Correction: it's 58 Senate Democrats + 2 Senate Independents = 60 votes to move the bill to full debate. But I thought Lieberman would fight the debate motion with a philibuster ...? Wow ... this is getting really interesting. Can Reid get the 60 votes to take ObamaCare to full debate? Here's the (Far) Left's take on the Landrieu buyout, from the Daily Kos:  Right spreads false rumor that Reid "buying" Landrieu's vote Read More November 20, 2009

Like a Bad Penny ...

Israel displays coins from ancient Jewish revolt  -- News story about recent archaeological discoveries beneath the Temple Mount They are such small things to bear such great scars. The violence which destroyed the Second Temple in AD 70 is legendary. These coins were excavated "from an ancient street below the Temple Mount." Some of these coins were "melted down to unrecognizable chunks of pockmarked and carbonized bronze from the flames that destroyed the Temple."  Jesus foretold this destruction moaning beneath the weight of the cross on the road to Calvary. Luke 23:27-31: A large crowd of people followed Jesus, including many women who mourned and lamented him. Jesus turned to them and said, "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep instead for yourselves and for your children, for indeed, the days are coming when people will say, 'Blessed are the barren, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed.' At that time Read More November 17, 2009

The Heresy of Freemasons

Freemasonry is, I suppose, what it set out to be: the glorification of the construction of unthinking, unmoving walls. But Robert Frost reminds us that something there is, something original and free within man, that doesn't love a wall.  The walls of the freemasons limit reason by excluding Revelation; they limit marriage by denying its life-giving Sacrament; and they forbid for a free society the source of its freedom, the Church's saving truth. As to their reported deviousness, freemasonry is like the long-nosed child catcher of Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang , who roams the world offering lollipops, ice cream, and candy on the condition that you gleefully run into his disguised cage. Freemasonry is a cunning vehicle of anti-Church sentiment, and in their way, a sweet relic of the blunter parts of the Reformation, the Enlightenment, and America's Founding Fathers. We are called to condemn this heresy. The captains of the Church, for their part, have been too long steadfa Read More November 15, 2009

Research: What's the problem with Masons??

One of the seniors in my Morality course keeps interrupting class to ask about the Masons. He asks me, "Why do Catholics have such a problem with the Freemasons?" I've had to admit to him that I honestly don't know. Today, I finally found the answer. I was taught the answer today in my Old Testament Theology course with Dr. Brant Pitre at Notre Dame Seminary. After some dark allusions to the masons in class, Dr. Pitre referred further questions to Pope Leo XIII's encyclical Humanum Genus . Before I tackle that encyclical, I first need to familiarize myself with masonic vocabulary. Like, what's the difference between masons and freemasons? And what's this I remember from American history about the Anti-Masonic Party? I turn to Wikipedia ... Freemasonry is a fraternal organisation that arose from obscure origins in the late 16th to early 17th century. Freemasonry now exists in various forms all over the world, with a membership estimated at around 5 m Read More November 14, 2009

Why don't some churches use musical instruments in worship?

I just finished reading Scott Hahn's entry for the Psalms in the Catholic Bible Dictionary , and--this is an ulcer that never goes away--I was again irritated by practice of some churches refusing to use musical instruments during worship. A few years back I attended some Church of Christ services (never partaking in their communion) out of respect for a friend who was of that church. I noticed that they sang always a capella , so I asked my friend why. My friend told me that the early Church did not use instruments, and so why should the modern church? The following are some online articles making this same point, the first of which could use better sourcing: Why Don't We Use Musical Instruments in Worshop? by Michael S. Cole, M.D. Instrumental Music in the New Testament Worship Service by Elder Zack Guess Church of Christ Doctrine  at Learn the Bible (makes an interesting point concerning harps in Heaven) There is an interesting debate being waged on Wikipedia concern Read More November 11, 2009

Saint of the Day: St. Martin of Tours (11/11/09)

For Veteran's Day, we celebrate our men in uniform, past and present. St. Martin of Tours, the soldier monk whom we also celebrate today, gives us an interesting perspective on the life of a soldier. St. Martin, pray for us! I wish I had started this a couple days back, so Blessed John Duns Scotus could have been the first one for this blog. By my very rough Latin, I've always thought "Duns Scotus" meant the "dumb Scot"--wouldn't that have been the perfect way to begin ... with a good dose of humility? Oh, and I'm pretty sure Duns Scotus was the first one to work out a theological basis for the Immaculate Conception, which is pretty stinkin' cool. Anyway... Today is the feast day of St. Martin of Tours. At first blush, all I know is that Charles Martel must be the hero of Tours if not the saint. Remember how he and the Frankish armies were victorious at the Battle of Tours? Charlie Martel, the Hammer? ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Read More November 11, 2009

D.C. Sniper Set to Be Executed - WSJ.com

D.C. Sniper Set to Be Executed - WSJ.com If you read the comments posted to this article, you can see just how bloodthirsty some people are when it comes to punishing people such as the DC sniper. For example, "He needs to be killed quickly and in the most horrific way possible with no due process." I ask you, is this healthy? Is this a culture of life with people clamoring for the healing of not only the sniper's victims, but the sniper, himself? Or, is this a culture of death seeking death? Can any good come from evil means? Is the death penality evil means? Is the American government's application of capital punishment moral? The article quotes some a child of one of the sniper's victims (see below). What do you think of this? Is it possible for us to move beyond a moral code of retribution (i.e. an eye for an eye) to one of love and beatitude? Cheryll Witz is one of several victims' relatives who were going to watch the execution. Malvo confessed that Read More November 10, 2009

A Trade? We'll Pass ObamaCare If You Ban Abortions ...

Senior Democrat is 'confident' that Stupak amendment will be stripped - The Hill's Blog Briefing Room : The Health Care Bill would not have passed the House without this ammendment banning federal money being used to subsidize abortions: "Sixty-four Democrats voted for Stupak’s amendment, without which the House healthcare bill would not have won final passage in a 220-215 vote." "Stupak’s language not only prohibits abortion coverage in the public insurance option included in the House bill. It would also prevent private plans from offering coverage for abortion services if they accept people who are receiving government subsidies." DANG! Is a practical ban on abortion a high enough ransom for this blasted bill? I want to say yes. Sure! Of course. But I don't want to be rash. Where is the serpent's twist? “'It was extremely painful for me to feel compelled to vote for a bill that contained that kind of restriction on a woman's ability to Read More November 09, 2009