Gandalf Cometh!

So, this morning I awoke full of excitement and hope for the first time in a very, very long time. If you’ve read my recent posts on this blog, you know our sojourn here in NE Ohio has been long and difficult. We’ve struggled to make connections with folks with whom we could build genuine community in the way of Jesus, with just a handful of exceptions. We came here for all kinds of wrong reasons, and even the few good ones proved to be illusions. So, especially lately, it’s been nearly unbearable to get up and face each new day while feeling so terribly “stuck” here and having no hope for the future. Last night, that all changed, and now I think it will continue to be nearly intolerable to get up and face each new day here, though now because I do have hope for the future and I’ve located the kind of community we want to be a part of. We just have to move across the country (again) in order to be a part of it, and I’m eager for that to happen ASAP. So what am I so excited about? Well- this, and this, and most especially this (click the links). The fact that all this happens to be in my hometown that I mostly have avoided at all costs for the past 16 years is a serendipitous, perhaps even providential, turn of events that I’m extremely grateful for, especially given the fact that in those 16 years and in the 12 of them that we’ve been married we’ve mostly ignored my family of origin that is still there. That family includes my dad, who is getting on in years and doesn’t have the greatest health history, and my much older siblings, some of whom also have significant health issues, plus my niece and her twin boys. So, in quite rare fashion I’m excited, and hopeful, and eager to get to work to make this change. I only pray that God will speed our way.

Oh, and Gandalf? You may know him as the (eventual) white wizard in Lord of the Rings, one of the truly wise and inspiring heroic characters in all of literature. There’s a pivotal scene in The Battle of Helm’s Deep in The Two Towers in which all seems lost for the forces of good, until Gandalf appears on horseback, in blazing white, charging down a hill with reinforcements (at least as it’s pictured in the film). You might call this moment a “Eucatastrophe,” a term coined by Tolkien to describe “the sudden turn of events at the end of a story which result in the protagonist‘s well-being.”

(Tolkien) …formed the word by affixing the Greek prefix eu, meaning good, to catastrophe, the word traditionally used in classically-inspired literary criticism to refer to the “unraveling” or conclusion of a drama’s plot. For Tolkien, the term appears to have had a thematic meaning that went beyond its implied meaning in terms of form. In his definition as outlined in his 1947 essay On Fairy-Stories, eucatastrophe is a fundamental part of his conception of mythopoeia. Though Tolkien’s interest is in myth, it is also connected to the gospels; Tolkien calls the Incarnation the eucatastrophe of “human history” and the Resurrection the eucatastrophe of the Incarnation (from wikipedia).

Anyway, I came across the term while exploring the faith community in Ft. Worth by the same name, and though I hope my story is not at an end, I’m finding the hope engendered by all the radical Christian community I’m finding in TX to be quite eucatastrophic in my own life. Speaking of literary revelations, I’m probably most excited about Tolstoy House, the neo-monastic community I found in Ft. Worth that is linked above. I know a fair bit about neo-monasticism from my days in Philly with Circle of Hope, out of which Shane Claiborne, founder of The Simple Way, has recently arisen as a signifcant voice for such communities and for a “radical, but ordinary” way of life with Jesus. Anyway, curious about why Tolstoy House would have named themselves after the famous Russian author, I did some research and was pleasantly shocked and surprised. It turns out Tolstoy was a bit of an “ordinary radical” himself and it was his writing and influence that started Gandhi down the path of nonviolent resistance, and it was of course Gandhi’s nonviolent resistance that influenced Dr. King to adopt it here in the U.S. It’s pretty cool, inspiring stuff.

2 thoughts on “Gandalf Cometh!

  1. hey! thanks for the shout out, and I can’t wait to meet you. let us know how we can help in your transition… we don’t have a white horse, but i had a dream last night where I really wanted an alpaca.


  2. Thanks, James! I really look forward to connecting with you all too and am excited about all the possibilities. I hear white horses are overrated anyway. In any case, I know we’ll be in touch and look forward to it!


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