Friday, January 3, 2014

Seven Quick Takes: Not About Last Year

*Trigger warning: rape victim blaming in #4

I'm pretending that last year didn't happen. 

One thing I'm not doing this year is watching the new Hobbit installment. The last one made me want to write a formal apology to his heirs on behalf of humanity. And I've heard this one has an obligatory and therefore dreadful love triangle. 

One thing I am doing is re-reading The Lord of the Rings. I hadn't read it all the way through since I saw the movies, and boy is it different. I keep seeing the scenes as I read, only the scenes are all mixed up in the interest of narrative constraints. As a bibliophile I hate to say this, but the movie made some improvements. Namely by removing Tom Bombadil and his boots of yellow. (I actually hate the character Tom Bombadil and how he could actually fix the problems if he JUST GAVE A FUCK). On the other hand, the language is so delightful, and I find myself reading out loud to myself just to savor the words.

And then there are books that you get so psyched up to read, and then the let-down is all the crueler for it. I had picked up the Kristen Lavransdatter trilogy in a second-hand bookstore years ago because they had cloth covers and smelled nice (what, you don't select your books based on smell?) The beginning is delightful: I love the scene where Lavrans molds the bread into the shape of a reindeer before feeding it to Kristin. The journey in her childhood tells us so much about Kristin's relationship with her father (and with other men), but without much exposition. However, as Kristin grew up I found myself less than thrilled. I had read all these bloggers talk about how wonderful the books were and how inspired they were by the story, how Catholic it was. So it was a nasty shock when the book dove head-first into rape culture and victim blaming. Kristin is almost raped in the dead of night and narrowly escapes by sheer force of will and guts. The problem wasn't in that scene but later, when Kristin and a girl friend are assailed by bandits chapters later. Kristin prays to the Virgin and is delivered, and then she remembers that she did not think to pray in her earlier peril. She wonders "if that was where she was at fault." And I just had to close the book there. I am quite capable of reading things I disagree with, but it was so unexpected in a book that I thought was so "Christian" that it turned my stomach. Dear readers, what am I missing? Do the books get better? 

My husband is taking GOE's, which is kind of like OWLs for seminarians. Seriously, they have about two exams a day, each a long essay that takes a few hours to write, and the essays are graded by outside graders. There are several topics (ethics, church history, systematic theology, etc), and the essays are meant to be reflective of what they've learned in seminary. And just like OWLs, everyone hyperventilates about it, and the professors make it sound like the End of All Things. I almost expected one of them to be Defense Against the Dark Arts.

No way I could be a student right now. I can't even write 7 quick takes. 

The ground is covered with sparkling white snow, and as a Southerner I am enchanted. I hate being cold, but the beauty of the snow makes me want to squeal like a 5 year old. 


  1. The love triangle thing in The Hobbit 2 made me want to claw my eyes out. Soooo. Wroooong.

    I have "read" The Lord of the Rings at least once a year for the last several. I "read" the audiobooks, and oh my goodness, they are fantastic! You are so right about how lovely the language of the story is, and the narrator makes the story come absolutely alive. If you are ever interested in giving it a chance, they are put out by Recorded Books, and the narrator is Rob Inglis.

    I also would like to pretend at least parts of last year didn't happen. :S

    1. Ooo I will have to look that up. I have trouble listening to audio books unless I'm driving because I get impatient because I can read faster silently. However, it is nice to listen to a good reader while driving long distances.