And just a couple of quick personal notes:
* I now have my tentative speaking schedule for ORC:
SATURDAY, January 21
4:30 p.m. The Middle-earth – Hogwarts connection: How J.R.R. Tolkien answers the Harry Potter question – (Amy H. Sturgis)
The popular media today shows confusion about whether the Harry Potter series is actually for adults or children; likewise for The Lord of the Rings. The answer rests in Tolkien’s own definition of fairy-stories, so eloquently expressed in his essay, “On Fairy Stories.” Explore how Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings fulfills his definition and how the Harry Potter series fits into its tradition.
5:30 p.m. “The Stewardship of the Valar” – (Panel: Mike Foster, Amy H. Sturgis, Katrelya Angus, Lynnette Porter)
Eru created Middle-earth from the breathtaking music of the Valar, entrusted it to their keeping, and everything went downhill from there! Join our panel in discussing what the Valar did right and what they did wrong in guiding the fates of the people of Middle-earth.
SUNDAY, January 22
1:00 p.m. The ‘Gift of Men’: A blessing or curse? How the various people of Middle-earth view and handle death - (Panel: Greg Wright, Amy H. Sturgis, Anne Petty, Alison Baird)
In his letters, Tolkien described ‘death’ as one of the primary themes of The Lord of the Rings. Immortality, faith, reincarnation and mysticism are interwoven throughout Tolkien’s mythology as part of this theme. This in-depth discussion looks at why Tolkien portrayed death as a gift, and how it was viewed by the various mortal and immortal races of Middle-earth.
3:00 p.m. Tolkien and the Fates: A discussion of Free-will and pre-destination in Lord of the Rings – (Panel: Greg Wright, Mike Foster, Amy Sturgis, Lynnette Porter)
Did “The Precious” really make Gollum do it? Was Bilbo really “meant to find the Ring?” How much did free will vs. pre-destination guide the events that shaped the outcome of the War of the Ring? Join our panel in discussing this fun and interesting topic and see what side of the issue you end up on.
* Also, my latest "Attack of the 5'2" Woman" column, "Nun of Your Business," is now up at Pop Thought.
And last, a quote for the day:
"Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy."