(I thought I’d borrow Serge‘s posting style)

From Fr. Ernesto:

To me hobbits are a wonderful picture of holiness in daily life. No, they are not perfect. But, they are mostly content. They live their lives in simple joy, carrying out their family duties generation after generation, faithful to their families and to the land. They are not worried about massive acts of asceticism, neither do they write long theological tomes. They are not the “great” of the land, nor are they pictured that way. But, they are a people of faithfulness and promise-keeping. They are committed to each other and their community.

But, when the time of testing comes, the hobbit turns out to be much more than what one expects. Their life of quiet family holiness, of consistency and of promise keeping, stand them in good stead when great evil befalls them. It is their actions during the time of great testing that is the proof of their quiet holiness.

If only we could all be Hobbits.

From Arturo:

In my life as a Catholic, it has veritably all been a game of “the more you know, the less you know”. You go through most of your life thinking that such-and-such is traditional, only to find out that it is less than a hundred years old: a drop in the bucket in the vast well of human history. The obsession of the Catholic Church, even prior to Vatican II, was an obsession for novelty, which was often compensation for the shame Catholic scholarship felt before that bitch goddess we know today as “historical scholarship”. Having not paid attention to what was really thought and believed, we found that what we had been doing and saying for centuries was all the fruit of novelty. And the only anecdote for novelty was more novelty. God forbid that we should actually stay the course.

What Arturo goes on to discuss is the evolution of Thomistic thought in the Catholic Church, a discussion that is about five levels above my pay grade, but his initial point certainly rings true, both in the traditional communions and in the lowest of the low church traditions: what we label as traditional Anglicanism is actually the work of 19th century Anglo-Catholic tract writers and the 1928 BCP, and many of those in the Orthodox convert movement are guilty of mistaking pious practices that aren’t that old in the grand scheme of things as dogma; in the low church arena, what is considered traditional Baptist practice is mostly the codification of 1920s and 1930s fundamentalist reaction to modernity and Pentecostalism, with Pentecostalism itself being barely a century old. Old time religion, indeed.

From Peter Leithart:

Marjorie Garber argues that our view of Romeo and Juliet has been altered by contemporary trends and events.  Romeo has become the standard American high school Shakespeare play, and some of its themes and sensibility were taken up by the cultural revolutions of the 1960s and 1970s.

As a result, the play ends up being part of the framework for our interpretation of the play: Romeo affected our conceptions of love, especially young love, and our conceptions of generational differences, and we now read the play in the light of those conceptions.

Literary mores become social mores, creating an interpretive echo chamber; what was tragic and foolhardy (albeit an elegant observation) in the 1600s seems like the obvious end result to kids who would otherwise be reading novels about a teenage girl lusting after an undead centenarian with a glitter problem.