I admit that I may have ignored Advent for years because I didn’t like the idea of waiting for Christmas. As soon as the sun set on Thanksgiving I wanted immediate immersion in all things Christmas. Instant gratification. Get me the tree and the music and the happy feelings! This year, I decided to try waiting for Christmas. And waiting isn’t just sitting around and twiddling my thumbs. It’s preparing. It’s longing and yearning. It’s daring to hope that in the midst of darkness, Christmas is coming . . ."Guatamala 1" and "Guatamala 2":
It was like this all day. Case after case, often found in a house full of barefoot children and poultry, of children with bad complications of relatively simple conditions. Congenital herpes infection. Ocular herpes. Blindness from a congenital cataract. So many things I had only read about– or, in the case of the fistulas, that I had to reason out based on my knowledge of anatomy, since I had neither encountered it before nor read it."Elevenses And Then Some: How To Prepare A Feast Fit For A Hobbit":
Each year, I swear I will never do this again.
And yet, for the third year in a row, I am preparing to host a day-long Lord of the Rings movie marathon – and cooking up a seven-course hobbit-themed feast, plus dessert, to serve my guests. Maybe it's because, like Tolkien, I too would like the world to be a merrier place."14 Ways to Tick Off a Writer":
7) Read ten pages of the author’s book. Realize that it’s absolutely not for you: you thought it was a zombie story, and it’s actually historical fiction about Alexander Graham Bell. Go on Goodreads anyway, and give it one star for not being a zombie story."Seeking Abortion's Middle Ground" (note, this one's old, but still very good):
A few years ago, quite by accident, I discovered an important piece of common ground. Something I wrote in a conservative think-tank journal was picked up and quoted widely. I had written: "There is a tremendous sadness and loneliness in the cry ‘A woman’s right to choose.’ No one wants an abortion as she wants an ice-cream cone or a Porsche. She wants an abortion as an animal, caught in a trap, wants to gnaw off its own leg.""'The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug' Review: 'Pirates of the Caribbean' with Orcs":
Tolkien was a man who was deeply personally scarred by the world wars, and while his novels are not anything so pedantic as allegory, that world view of the miracle of democracies and their common men tearing down the great edifices of tyranny is embedded in every word of his stories.
The single most symbolic event in the failure of Jackson’s films to understand what the point of the story is, is the excising of The Scouring of the Shire. Citing budgets (on these billion dollar films) and time constraints (with extended editions several weeks long) is smokescreen for the reality that Jackson simply doesn’t know what the hell the point of that final chapter is. It drives home the decisions to invent hours of battle scenes at the expense of what was actually on the page.