Monday, June 4, 2007

The Children of Hurin

Today I finished reading The Children of Húrin by J. R. R. Tolkien. I think the next time I read it (and there will be a next time) I will make an enlarged copy of the map and then try to trace the route of Túrin on it, so I can follow the story better. What also might be helpful is to take a huge piece of paper and try to map out just who all the characters are and how they are interrelated! There might be a market for something like that.

Other folks have done much more in-depth reviews of this book than I ever could, so I don’t have much to add, except to say that the more you read, the more you read that there is more to read.

Tolkien had an amazing imagination. Recently I watched all the movies again, and so I’ll probably try to find time to pick up LOTR (in print) again. I just never get tired of the story.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Awaiting Book 7

If you are not a fan of the Harry Potter series, you don’t have July 21 circled on your calendar and you haven’t pre-ordered your copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the final novel in the series about a young wizard’s coming-of-age and his fight against the evil Voldemort. You don’t plan on mobbing Barnes and Noble at midnight and you haven’t cleared out your calendar so you can read all weekend long.

It’s likely you won’t be able to escape the media hype, however, as the release date of this world-wide pop phenomenon draws near. Will Harry Potter die? Is Snape on the side of good or evil? What will happen to Ron and Hermione? These are just some of the questions I’m predicting will start getting tossed around in the media as mid-July draws nearer.

I must confess that I’m one of the millions who have pre-ordered a copy, and I’ll be one of those making time that weekend to find out how author J. K. Rowling resolves her tale of the love of power vs. the power of love.

How about you? Do you have a favorite story? Will you be making time this summer to re-read an old favorite or dive in to the next-in-line of a series? Maybe you’re more of a movie type and have a couple of “must-sees” coming from NetFlicks, or you have a book on CD lined up to play on an upcoming road trip.

Whether you prefer to read, listen or watch, stories have a powerful impact on us. In fact, stories are what we use to make sense of our lives. Think of the power a story like “the American Dream” has had on our country. People from other nations will risk great dangers to come to America in hopes of an opportunity for living out that story of a rags-to-riches better life.

Or think of how many ways our culture likes to tell the story of “Survivor.” The story of a group of people matching their wits and abilities against each other, forming and breaking alliances, and voting each other off the island (or off the stage as in American Idol). Only the best can be the winner, and everyone else gets to hear, “You’re fired!”

If you see yourself as a character in the American Dream story or in the Survivor story, how will that shape your life? How will that cause you to view your fellow characters, and how will that influence what kinds of risks you might take? How will that define what your goals might be, and how will you react if it seems you won’t reach those goals?

I wonder if one of the reasons the Harry Potter series is so popular is that people are hungry for something other than Survivor-type stories. Survivor, American Idol, The Apprentice and others are really all variations on that “love of power” theme. Maybe there are millions of people out there who secretly hope that there is another story, a “power of love” story, that could define what is worth living for.

As Christians, we soak ourselves in the most powerful “power of love” story every told. It’s a story that frees us from the chains of the love of power, in whatever form those chains take. Along with Book 7 or whatever other stories you plan to read this summer, I encourage you to spend some time reading or listening to the Bible, and live out that story.