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    • How Gunpowder Ended the Middle Ages
      Some time back I read a book called The Foundations of Early Modern Europe, 1460-1559. One thread I picked out as particularly clear was their explanation of the effects of gunpowder. The first bit is what as known as pike and shot. Early gunpowder weapons were slow and inaccurate. But late medieval pike units had already changed warfare: not only could they […]
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Happy Birthday, JRR Tolkien

There’s a reason why his books are always at the top of the lists. Those of us who discovered them as children find hope in them.

Tolkien in his famous essay On Fairy Stories wrote:

“Why should a man be scorned, if, finding himself in prison, he tries to get out and go home? Or if, when he cannot do so, he thinks and talks about other topics than jailers and prison-walls? The world outside has not become less real because the prisoner cannot see it. In using Escape in this way the critics have chosen the wrong word, and, what is more, they are confusing, not always by sincere error, the Escape of the Prisoner with the Flight of the Deserter. Just so a Party-spokesman might have labeled departure from the misery of the Fuhrer’s or any other Reich and even criticism of it as treachery …. Not only do they confound the escape of the prisoner with the flight of the deserter; but they would seem to prefer the acquiescence of the “quisling” to the resistance of the patriot.”

My guess is you won’t find too many Tolkien fans with a deep understanding of his works amongst the MAGA crowd. They flee from Hope, with all its uncertainty, into the arms of the treacherous with its guarantee of misery for all but a few.

One last quote. This is from Bilbo Baggins on his eleventy-first birthday party to his invited guests and family:

“I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.”

Say that at your next birthday party and leave them all scratching their heads.