The Thinking 
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Thoughts for a New Year

December 29, 2010


IN THIS ENTRY, Sage McLaughlin writes:

It is very encouraging … that there are people who continue to struggle, even though we’re hounded and hated for it. In Tolkien’s mythology, the Men who were loyal to the gods of their fathers were called the Faithful, and they were despised by the King’s Men, who hated the old gods, most especially for their refusal to allow mortal Men into paradise. Eventually the wrath of the gods destroyed their civilization, but some few of the Faithful survived to rise again (Aragorn of the Rings story was of that line). I believe that was Tolkien’s hope for the West. If there was an abiding theme in his work, it was that we are obliged to go forward even in the absence of hope, because none of us knows who bears the seeds of a new beginning, and none of us can see to the end of all things. 

This is all we have, in the end, unless we want to become complicit in the doom of Christendom. So I’m happy that men like Nathan trudge ahead, bearing some ember of the light of Truth with them along the way.


Plucking Ducks

December 29, 2010


Woman Plucking a Duck (1656), Nicholas Maes

I SAW this beautiful painting by the Dutch artist Nicholas Maes yesterday and, to me, it conveyed the dark ambivalence that may afflict anyone who has engaged in many days of Christmas cooking. The spilled fruit, stalking cat and gun propped against the wall might be interpreted as looming death and disorder, repressed sexuality or, to the postmodern critic, stultifying domestic tyranny, but, under the influence of the season, I viewed them as representative of the cook’s state of mind, which might be summed up in the words, “To heck with it, let the cat eat the bird.”   

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