Daily Update: Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

Annunciation by Henry Ossawa Tanner and Destruction of the One Ring at Mount Doom

Today we have the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord. In the world of Middle-Earth, this is the date in 3019 (Third Age), when the One Ring perished after it went into the Cracks of Doom on Mount Doom.

Turning to the Feast of the Annunciation of the Lord, in the first chapter of the book of Luke the Angel Gabriel was sent to a virgin of Nazareth named Mary to announce that she would conceive a son from the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit whom she would name Jesus. Mary told the Angel, ”Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word,” and Jesus was conceived. In the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar the feast is moved if necessary to prevent it from falling during Holy Week or Easter Week or on a Sunday. It is an ancient feast; when the calendar system of Anno Domini was first introduced by Dionysius Exiguus in AD 525, he assigned the beginning of the new year to March 25, since according to Christian theology the era of grace began with the Incarnation of Christ. (There is also some evidence that the Church Fathers believed that the Crucifixion was on the same date, and that the Annunciation was being celebrated before Christmas was celebrated.) The first authentic allusions to the feast are in a canon, of the Council of Toledo (656), and another of the Council of Constantinople “in Trullo” (692), forbidding the celebration of any festivals during Lent, excepting the Lord’s Day (Sunday) and the Feast of the Annunciation. The date was the historic start of the new year (Lady Day) in England, Wales, Ireland, and the future United States until the adoption of the Gregorian Calendar in 1752. In Middle-Earth, when Sauron had made the One Ring to control the rings he had made and given to elves, dwarves, and men (circa 1600, Second Age), he had transferred a great part of his native power to it, and it made its wearer invisible. The ring would also extend life indefinitely, and would eventually corrupt the wearer. When he was defeated (but not destroyed) in 3441 (Second Age), Isildur cut the ring from Sauron’s finger and took it. The Ring betrayed him at the Battle of the Gladden Fields; it slipped off of his finger on its own, and Isildur was slain. The Third Age began with the defeat of Sauron. In Third Age 2463, Déagol and Sméagol (of the ancestors of the Hobbits of the Shire) were fishing in the Gladden Fields when Déagol found the Ring. Sméagol coveted it, and when Déagol refused to give it to him as a birthday-present. Sméagol killed him. Sméagol then was banished by his family, and went to the deep caverns under the Misty Mountains in 2470. By 2941 he was wizened up, and would hold conversations with himself, using his given name of Sméagol and his nickname of Gollum. Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit of the Shire, found the Ring under the Misty Mountains at that time, and unwisely let Gollum know his name. Bilbo carried the Ring back to the Shire, and, after many years, passed it on to his nephew Frodo Baggins in 3001. By this time Gollum had left the Misty Mountains to search for the Ring, his “Precious”. In 3018 Frodo left the Shire with his friends, reached Rivendell, and accepted the charge of being the one to destroy the Ring. Frodo (assisted by his loyal friend Sam) took the Ring through great peril to the Cracks of Doom in Mordor, where the Ring had been forged; however, his will failed at the last moment. Unable to resist the growing power of the Ring, he put it on his finger and claimed it for his own. Even as Sauron became aware of Frodo claiming the ring, Gollum viciously attacked Frodo and bit the Ring from his finger. Ecstatic to finally recover his long-lost “Precious”, Gollum teetered on the edge of the abyss, then lost his footing and fell with the Ring (and Frodo’s finger) into the fire. At the Ring’s destruction, Sauron’s power was immediately broken and his form in Middle-earth was destroyed. (J. R. R. Tolkien was a devout Catholic; it is hard to believe that the date when Jesus became Incarnate in the womb of Mary and the date that Evil was unmade in Middle-Earth are the same date purely through coincidence.) In 2003 Sean Kirst, of the Syracuse, New York Post-Standard newspaper, suggested to the Tolkien Society that March 25th of each year be Tolkien Reading Day, with the aim of encouraging the reading of the works of J. R. R. Tolkien and the use of Tolkien’s works in education and library groups. Since then all subsequent Tolkien Reading Days have been organized by Kirst.

Last night our #1 ranked LSU Baseball team beat Tulane by the score of 13 to 7; our Tigers begin a three-game home series with Kentucky on Mary tomorrow evening.

I set my alarm clock for 7:00 am, then for 8:00 am, then for 9:00 am, and finally got up at 12:00 pm. I was very jangled from waking up so late and my weird dreams. I read the morning paper and ate some cheese, then started the Weekly Computer Maintenance. My contact lenses that I had ordered from 1-800-Contacts were delivered. Richard and I then watched Season One, Episode Three of Bones, “A Boy in a Tree” on NetFlix, and watched Season One, Episode Four of Bones, “A Man in a Bear”. I then finished the Weekly Computer Maintenance.

Richard and I left for Lafayette at 5:00 pm, and on our way I continued reading How The White Trash Zombie Got Her Groove Back by Diana Rowland. At the Lafayette Public Library – Jefferson Street Branch I returned the DVD of Season One of Bones. We ate a very good dinner at Outback Steakhouse, then went to Academy Sports, which did not have Richard’s shoes. (I have found shoes for him on Amazon, and will send him the link in an Email.)

We arrived home a hair after 9:00 pm, and watched CSI: Cyber “Fire Code”. During a commercial I started the Weekly Virus Scan on the computer, and our New Orleans Pelicans lost their game with the Houston Rockets by the score of 93 to 95; our Pelicans next play a home game with the Sacramento Kings on March 27th. When I finish with this Daily Update I will take a bath and do some reading.

Tomorrow we have no Saints to honor (in fact, no Saints until April 2nd, although Palm Sunday is on March 29th). We will note tomorrow the 1979 signing by Anwar al-Sadat, Menachem Begin and Jimmy Carter of the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty in Washington, D.C.. Tomorrow I will write a letter to Matthew and Callie, prepare and mail Liz Ellen’s monthly package to her, get my salad supplies, and make my lunch salads.

Our Parting Quote this Wednesday evening comes to us from Jonathan Edward Schell, American author. Born in 1943 in New York City, he graduated from Harvard University in 1965. His first book, The Village of Ben Suc, was published in 1967. From 1967 until 1987, he was a staff writer at The New Yorker, where he served as the principal writer of the magazine’s Notes and Comment section. In the early 1980s, Schell wrote a series of articles in The New Yorker (subsequently published in 1982 as The Fate of the Earth), which were instrumental in raising public awareness about the dangers of the nuclear arms race. The Fate of the Earth received the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, among other awards, and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the National Critics Award. He became a persistent advocate for disarmament and a world free of nuclear weapons. In 1987 he was a fellow at the Institute of Politics at the John F. Kennedy School of Government. He was a columnist for Newsday from 1990 until 1996. From 1998 to his death he was a Senior Fellow at The Nation Institute and the Peace and Disarmament Correspondent for The Nation magazine. Schell was a fellow at the Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics, and Public Policy in 2002, and the next year, he was a visiting lecturer at Yale Law School. In 2002 and 2003, Schell was a persistent critic of the invasion of Iraq. In 2005 he became a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Yale’s Center for the Study of Globalization. His last book, The Seventh Decade: The New Shape of Nuclear Danger, was published in 2007. At the time of his death he was a Visiting Lecturer at Yale College (died 2014): “Either we will sink into a final coma and end it all or, as I trust and believe, we will awaken to the truth of our peril, a truth as great as life itself, and, like a person who has swallowed a lethal poison but shakes off his stupor at the last moment and vomits the poison up, we will break through the layers of our denials, put aside our fainthearted excuses, and rise up to cleanse the earth of nuclear weapons.”

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