• Bilbo Baggins goes on an adventure
    Featured Posts,  Reel Life Journeys

    Bilbo Baggins becomes less comfortable, more helpful

    “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit…” Professor J.R.R. Tolkien scribbled these words unexpectedly on a blank page in a term paper he was grading during the early 1930s. He had no idea where the words came from or where they would lead, but he was determined to find out. He spent the next few years drawing upon his love of languages and mythology to craft the fanciful tale of Bilbo Baggins and his adventures in The Hobbit. Since the book was first published in 1937, millions of copies of The Hobbit have been sold to readers around the world in more than 40 languages. New editions…

  • Featured Posts,  Reel Life Journeys

    A reflective journey through Middle-earth during Lent

    It’s Lent, the forty days before Easter when many people fast, give alms, and reflect on who they are in the sight of God and others. Often during Lent, I will watch the extended editions of the three Lord of the Rings films, for they give me another opportunity to visit Middle-earth and to explore the lives and motivations of the main characters. Each time I watch the films, I see, as Boromir tells Aragorn, that “there is weakness, there is frailty, but there is courage also and honor to be found in men,” and most definitely in hobbits. So join me as we take a Lenten journey of reflection and step…

  • Reel Life Journeys

    The world is changing, but God’s Word is constant and sure

    Changes are everywhere. The New Year approaches. Soon we will change our calendars to 2009. Historic changes are underway in Washington, DC as Barack Obama prepares for his inauguration as the 44th President of the United States. Changes in jobs, retirement funds and consumer confidence levels happen daily across America as unemployment rises. How do we deal with changes in our lives? Do we view changes as opportunities in which to excel or tragedies in which to wallow in doubt and fear? To whom should we turn for comfort and guidance? Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to…

  • Reel Life Journeys

    Celluloid characters embody real life values

    Based upon the Gospel in Matthew 5:1-12a The journeys continue in the new year, looking for Light in all the right places: the quiet corners of prayer, next Sunday’s readings, and the faces of our children. Yet inspiration is also found onscreen in celluloid characters who embody the values we long for, search for, try to emulate. Fictional or factual, they strike a chord that resonates in our lives. Oh, that I could be more like them. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land – like Frodo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Hobbits by nature are quiet, peace loving beings. They shy away from…

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    In My Daughter’s Eyes

    Strolling into the auditorium after the bell, my daughter’s friends and classmates slowly took their seats. Getting out of regular class for a video presentation was a rare event and they were going to savor every minute. “Your dad is going to talk about The Lord of the Rings films?” they asked Kristin. “Yes” she told them, silently praying that I would not embarrass her in front of her friends. I was saying the same prayer myself. The school’s Theology Department had invited me to speak on the religious themes in the three Peter Jackson films. But with just a PowerPoint presentation and a videotape, could I keep her friends…

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    Aragorn’s long, hard journey a lesson for all

    Frodo offers the Ring to Aragorn and asks, “Would you destroy it?” As Aragorn considers the gift, the Ring calls out to him. “Aragorn. Elessar.” He kneels down and closes Frodo’s hand around the Ring. It is time to let the Ringbearer go. – Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (Extended Edition) 2:43 Blessed is the man who perseveres in temptation, for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life. – James 1:12 There are many times when taking a shortcut seems like a good idea. You may want to avoid a traffic jam by taking a different route. You might try to finish…

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    Gollum & Smeagol: The struggle in us all

    Sam believes Gollum shouldn’t be trusted. “There’s naught left in him but lies and deceit.” “I want to help him Sam,” says Frodo, “because I have to believe he could come back.” – The Two Towers 1:28 You shall love your neighbor as yourself. – Leviticus 19:18 There are many obvious examples of good and evil in The Lord of the Rings films, especially in The Two Towers. For one, consider the colors. The goodness of the Elves glows through their clean, white robes, accented with silver and gold threads. The Orcs, on the other hand, wear stinking, muddy black leather apparel with coarse iron battle gear. For another, consider…

  • Featured Posts,  Reel Life Journeys

    Frodo’s choice is a model for Christian life

    Hobbits are an unobtrusive but very ancient people…they love peace and quiet and good tilled earth. – The Fellowship of the Ring 1:2 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. – Matthew 5:8 There are moments in life when you must take action, even if they are beyond what is comfortable and routine. You may be leaving for college, walking into a job interview or buying a new home. You could be faced with forgiving someone you don’t like, or helping someone you don’t know. Despite your inexperience or discomfort with these important events, it’s up to you to act now and accept the outcome, whatever…