#73—“The Steward and the King”

#73—“The Steward and the King”

This chapter abounds in pervasive uncertainty, biblical symbolism, and some creepy (in the opinion of this Head) romantic advances on the part of the eponymous Steward.

Our lectio divina section contemplates the transition from the Third to the Fourth Age, and what that means for Gandalf and the Elves. We ask ourselves whether the Fourth Age isn’t a kind of anthropocene.

RANDOM-ASS THEME: Metal straws

#72—“The Field of Cormallen”

#72—“The Field of Cormallen”

Laudatory, pathetic, elegy, eulogy, panegyric, ethos … the Tolkien Heads appear to have stumbled into an SAT-prep course! We learn a lot about the different kinds of acknowledgements and respects that are being paid to the quartet of Hobbits who, having been plucked from the edge of destruction, are now suddenly the center of more attention than they would probably like.

The lectio passage this week is Sam and Gandalf’s curious exchange on what the Hobbits are supposed to wear as they plan on meeting the King of Gondor and Lord of the Western Lands.

RANDOM-ASS THEME: Cat allergies

#71—“Mount Doom”

#71—“Mount Doom”

Finally, Mount Doom! You can practically hear the bubbling and frothing of lava out of rocky fissures in the distance as we spend a disproportionate fraction of this episode debating whether Mount Doom is a true volcano—and, if so, what kind of volcano it is.

The lectio divina section looks at Sam’s split-second decision not to kill Gollum … and what this means for Gollum, for the story of the Ring, and for Sam.

You can find more information on Karen Wynn Fonstad’s Atlas of Middle-Earth, referred to in the episode, here.

RANDOM-ASS THEME: Beyond Meat’s “Beyond Burger”

#70—“The Land of Shadow”

#70—“The Land of Shadow”

This chapter was not poorly named: it is all description of the landscape of Mordor, with comparably little plot movement. From brambles to ravines to volcanic clouds, these paragraphs pour forth rich descriptions of aspects of the not-quite-barren country.

To help us work through this unforgiving terrain, we are thrilled to welcome as our special guest Asja, who is a researcher in biogeography and ecology in Germany. She selected for the lectio divina section the moment where Sam gazes up in wonder at a star shining through the thick clouds of Mordor.

RANDOM-ASS THEME: Buying CDs

#69—“The Tower of Cirith Ungol”

#69—“The Tower of Cirith Ungol”

We start our first Book Six episode with a philosophical discussion on Orcish language and the possibility of an Orcish or Mordorean culture, some shocking implications of the etymology of the word screw, and—naturally—a version of Sam’s song from the chapter sung to the tune of the Gilligan’s Island theme. The lectio divina section takes a closer look at Sam’s moment of temptation.

RANDOM-ASS THEME: Bluetooth technology

#68—Book Five Recap Episode

#68—Book Five Recap Episode

Having finished Book 5, we’ve made it to another Recap Episode, where anything can happen!

Among other matters, we discuss the following topics, either for the first time or otherwise expanding on previous conversations:

  • The nature of good stewardship: a comparison of Denethor vs. Gandalf;
  • The “faithfulness” of the Woses, and the implied treatment of them as less than;
  • Éowyn as a divinely protected warrior, perhaps the Achilles of LOTR;
  • The “Last Debate” and the questionable decision to march towards Mordor.

RANDOM-ASS THEME: Tinder

#67—“The Black Gate Opens”

#67—“The Black Gate Opens”

We finish up Book Five with a discussion of the frankly epic altercation between Gandalf and the ghastly—yet still human!—Messenger. Host Nathan leads a discussion of the “fairy-tale hellscape” in which the action of the book is now set before we dive into our lectio divina analysis.

This week’s lectio passage takes a look at how our outer ego can suddenly be stripped away when taken by surprise, exposing a confused and panicky animalistic essence underneath. This can be quite unpleasant if you’ve ever bitten down on a tortilla chip the wrong way … but are there social situations where you can use this knowledge to your advantage?

RANDOM-ASS THEME: The “awkward door dance”