#61—“The Siege of Gondor”

#61—“The Siege of Gondor”

What burdens do we place on ourselves? Are they always necessary, or do we sometimes wear the metaphorical chainmail around under our clothes just to impress ourselves? In this chapter we discuss, among other things, Denethor’s paradoxical hypervigilance at home and unwillingness to go to war himself—and what might have inspired him to such a position.

This chapter juxtaposes many characters and realms that we are eager to compare and contrast: Gondor/Denethor vs. Rohan/Théoden, foremost, but also Gondor vs. Mordor, as well as Denethor vs. Gandalf. We reflect in particular on the presence of hope and despair in this chapter, and in our lives.

RANDOM-ASS THEME: Oranges

#60—“The Muster of Rohan”

#60—“The Muster of Rohan”

Our discussion in this chapter begins with a deeper analysis of the desires, limitations, and motivations of Éowyn, especially in relation to both Aragorn and her uncle, Théoden. After that, we dive into the topic that occupies most of this episode: the enigmatic Púkel-men.

We are accompanied by Sara, a PhD student in Art History, who puzzles through our lectio divina section on the Púkel-men and Merry’s reaction to them. What was the intended purpose of these humanoid stone monuments? What is the purpose of preserving our own names and stories into posterity?

RANDOM-ASS THEME: Millennials

#59—“The Passing of the Grey Company”

#59—“The Passing of the Grey Company”

After contemplating the ambiguous chapter title, we analyze Aragorn’s choice (if a true choice it is) to take the “paths of the Dead.”

Other themes are the tension between Éowyn and Aragorn (and the second-person pronouns they use), the oath-breaker’s “worship” of Sauron in days past that led to their curse, and the solemn ritual that the Dúnedain perform before departing on their mission.

RANDOM-ASS THEME: Speed-dating.

#58—“Minas Tirith”

#58—“Minas Tirith”

The Tolkien Heads are back in the swing of things as we follow Pippin on a tour of the breathtaking city of Minas Tirith. We break down the meeting between Gandalf and Denethor and discuss the similarities and differences between lordship and stewardship—and their etymologies, of course.

Special guest Charlotte, a PhD student in History, accompanies us as we look at Denethor’s relationship with his two sons, the problematic notions of blood purity in this chapter, and the history of the word book.

RANDOM-ASS THEME: The Apollonian and Dionysian drives

#57—Interview: Markus Davidsen, Fiction-Based Religions Researcher

#57—Interview: Markus Davidsen, Fiction-Based Religions Researcher

In this fascinating special episode we interview Markus Davidsen, whose PhD research is centered on religious traditions based in fictional works such as Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings. We discuss what the practices and origins of Jedi- and Elf-identifying groups are, what aspects of them typically draw in new practitioners, and to what extent practitioners consider these religions or spiritual paths to be integral in their lives. Markus even shares with us his experience on a Skype-facilitated shamanic journey to the Blessed Realm.

Click here to go to Markus’s site where you can find more information on his latest works.

#56—Movie Review: The Two Towers

#56—Movie Review: The Two Towers

We watched Peter Jackson’s Two Towers (2002) … and we have some thoughts!

Our goal with this “review” is not to identify all the differences between the book and the film, which has been done plenty of times already by more diligent note-takers than ourselves. Rather, in this special episode we focus on some particular themes of the Two Towers book and film, including

  • Sam’s purported simplicity (as characterized by Tolkien himself), and whether this is fair;
  • Gríma and his super-creepy movie scene with Éowyn, and the interesting source of some of his poetic dialogue;
  • the age-disparate celebrity couple Ara-wen and the might-have-been celebrity couple Éo-gorn;
  • and Rich’s unshakable suspicion that Gandalf the Grey and Gandalf the White are two different people.

RANDOM-ASS THEME: Anti-vaxxers