Lenten Bible Study for 2023

Can you believe we will be starting Lent at the end of this month? I was really embracing the “Christmas till Candlemas” mindset this year and wasn’t thinking about it a whole lot, but with this past Sunday being Septuagesima, I suppose it’s time to start figuring out what to do.

Fortunately, the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology is having another free Bible study this year. The theme for 2023 is “Holy is His Name”, a study focusing on how holiness is defined in the Bible and how we can incorporate holiness into our everyday lives. I’ve done their free Bible studies in the past, and there’s always something interesting to learn. So if you’re trying to start gearing up for Lent, registering for a free Bible study seems like a good place to start.

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The Doctor and Barbara: An Unlikely Friendship

A few days ago, I was watching some classic Doctor Who with none other than William Hartnell as the First Doctor, and I came to the conclusion that the Doctor’s relationship with Barbara Wright was crucial in his “humanization”, so to speak, but it often gets overlooked. This isn’t to minimize Ian Chesterton’s influence on the Doctor, but Ian’s influence was more mental. Barbara’s influence was more based on morality.

From the beginning, she wasn’t afraid to call the Doctor out on his callousness. She wouldn’t hold back on challenging his thoughtless and selfish behavior, and she even argued that they should use their travels to improve history instead of just being observers. The Doctor and Barbara had very different viewpoints, and their clashes were often volatile.  But they would both be the better for it afterwards. I really do believe that the Doctor became so warm and caring in his future incarnations because that one history teacher from 1963 showed him how important it was to care about people.

I really liked how the early function of the companions was to act as the Doctor’s conscience. It emphasized his alien nature in a way that nothing else ever really has. But at the same time, it’s a nice little tribute to Ian and Barbara that the Doctor became kinder and more understanding. If it weren’t for them, I doubt the Doctor would be the Time Lord we all know and love.

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Aliens and the Middle Ages

It sounds like a ridiculous combination, right? But it works beautifully in Eifelheim by Michael Flynn. While a historian tries to piece together what happened to a small German village that shouldn’t even be on the map, the story itself goes back in time to explore what happened when the Krenken, visitors from another world, accidentally crashed in the village of Oberhochwald. The village pastor, Dietrich, is the central focus of the action as he tries to keep the villagers calm while extending help to the unfamiliar travelers.

It’s not an easy task. Most of the villagers are convinced the Krenken are demons, and the Krenken themselves are so different from humans that finding common ground seems almost impossible. But unexpectedly–or maybe not so unexpectedly–Faith begins to play a part in how everyone interacts with each other. Maybe at the end of the day, the humans and the Krenken aren’t so different after all.

Whenever I come across a story involving the Middle Ages, it’s always a roll of the dice to see how things will be handled. Will it be respectful, or will the story run down the Middle Ages and Catholicism any chance it gets? For Eifelheim, the answer is happily the former. Every aspect of medieval history is treated with such detail and respect that the characters will feel like real people themselves. By the end of the story, you’ll be convinced that an alien race really did land in a German village in the 1300s.

Eifelheim is not an easy book to find, but if you are able to dig up a copy, I would definitely recommend reading it. It’s a story that won’t leave you anytime soon.

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The Lost Epilogue of “The Lord of the Rings”

One of my Christmas presents was Sauron Defeated, the second part of the draft version of The Return of the King. One of the surprising things I found about this early draft of the finale was that The Lord of the Rings originally contained an epilogue that focused on Sam and his children.

Now there were a couple of different versions of the epilogue that Tolkien wrote. One version focused on Sam reading from the Red Book to all (or nearly all) of his children with the little Gamgees asking a variety of questions about what happened to the Fellowship after the War of the Ring. Sam also informs his children that King Elessar and Queen Arwen will be visiting the borders of the Shire, and the whole family is invited to see them. As the children get ready for bed, Sam reflects with Rosie about how full and happy their lives are, but in spite of this, Sam can still hear the Sea calling to him.

In another version, it’s just Sam and Elanor talking about the aftermath of the War, and Sam is adding a Q&A section to the back of the Red Book to answer some of his children’s most-asked questions, things like “What happened to the Rohirrim’s horses?” and “Will we ever get to see Elves?” Sam also says that he expects a day will come when he will sail West like Frodo and Bilbo, and Elanor declares that she will go with him so they do not have to part like Elrond and Arwen. Sam gently advises her not to make so important a decision so early in her life as she may want to change her mind later. In the end, they decide instead to focus on the upcoming visit of King Elessar and Queen Arwen.

It was a very interesting read, but I can kind of see why Tolkien decided to eliminate it. The idea that Sam can still hear the call of the Sea and is already planning to sail West one day seems to contradict Frodo’s declaration that Sam will be “one and whole”. To think that Sam wasn’t really happy after all is kind of disappointing, so I think that Tolkien ended things in a good place.

And speaking of Tolkien…happy birthday to the Professor!

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Welcome, 2023!

It’s a brand new year, and there’s quite a bit to look forward to! It’s Doctor Who‘s 60th anniversary year (which is still a bit difficult to comprehend–feels just like yesterday I was talking about the 50th anniversary), and we’re scheduled for Dune Part 2 and a new Japanese Godzilla movie.

2023 will also mark 11 years of My Turn to Talk, which I am delighted to report is still going strong all these years later. I haven’t run out of things to talk about just yet!

Let’s make 2023 a great year!

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Rest in Peace, Benedict XVI

This was a post I did not expect to make on the last day of the year, but here we are. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has passed away at the age of 95. He had been ill for a while, so it wasn’t a particular shock, but it is still a sad day. To countless Catholics around the world, myself included, he is remembered as a champion of the Traditional Latin Mass, and for that we will always be grateful.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace.

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Farewell, 2022

We’ve made it to the final day of 2022. It was an interesting year that saw a lot of big announcements and surprises, and it makes me wonder what could be waiting for us in 2023 if 2022 was this exciting.

The Patron Saint Name Generator is always a fun custom for the New Year. My patron saint for 2023 is St. Hubert of Liege. St. Hubert is best known as the patron saint of hunters, but he is also the patron saint of dogs, archers, mathematicians, forest workers, machinists, opticians, and precise instrument makers.

As always, let us remember to thank God for the past year and ask His blessings on the year to come.

See you in 2023!

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Doctor Who 60th Anniversary Trailer!

We may not have a Christmas or New Year’s special for Doctor Who this year, but we have a Christmas surprise, nonetheless. A trailer for the 60th anniversary was released yesterday!

What a Christmas present! There is no denying that Whovians are in for a big celebration in 2023.

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Christmas 2022

Christ is born! Glorify Him!

Having Christ in our lives is a tremendous gift that we should never take for granted. May the true joy of Christmas–the joy of Christ’s birth–live in our hearts this day and every day.

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Christmas Eve 2022

Christmas is tomorrow! We made it through Advent! Let us always be thankful for the gift of God Himself in our lives.

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