Sunday Summary #34: What’s on the Internet


1| The Toast (may it rest in peace) knocks it out of the park with their list “How to Tell If You Are In A J.R.R. Tolkien Book.”

“You’ve come into possession of a magical object of world-imperiling demonic power, which you use primarily to avoid awkward small talk with your neighbors.”

2|  I love the Marvel movies for their humor, but especially because they manage to make movies with humor AND serious investigations of trauma via the characters of Steve Rogers, Bucky Barnes, and Tony Stark.  Check out “I Can’t Trust My Own Mind”: How the Marvel Cinematic Universe Engages with Trauma if you also find this interesting!

3|  Barack Obama and Justin Trudeau are the CUTEST BFFS on the planet.

4|  Hilary Clinton recognized the closing of The Toast with this amazing piece about women’s spaces and AHHHH I already supported her, but this solidifies it.


1|  This is such a beautiful story of a Syrian family moving to the

Sunday Summary: What’s on the Internet (1)

I’m trying something different!  Instead of my StumbleUpon Sunday series, I’m going to branch out and talk about anything that has caught my attention on the Internet over the previous week.  If anyone else wants to do it, grab the picture and link back to ItIsTrish.


1|  Harry Potter Post-It Notes

#PotterItForward Fans of Harry Potter are leaving post-it notes in the HP books to future generations, briefly sharing the impact of the series on their lives and wishing new readers well.  This is…so cute.  My heart hurts.

2| Review of Ryan Adams’ 1989 Cover 

The Atlantic helped me sort through my feelings about Ryan Adams’ cover of Taylor Swift’s 1989.  I like his album, I’m glad it gives me an excuse to listen to her songs for ANOTHER year without stopping, but it’s missing some of Taylor’s magic.

The general trend on the album is for tracks that once communicated confidence in the face of uncertainty—Swift’s big, brash pep rallies for the soul—to become tentative and sad and wistful….

Another example: “Out of the Woods,” stretched here to six minutes and adorned in REM-ish guitar chiming. It presents the lyrics’ desire for stability as passive pining—moving and relatable, yes, but the kind of emotion we’ve heard in rock ballads for decades. The original, though, was truly weird: booming gated drums, stentorian backup chanting, Swift’s jumbled, repetitious chorus, all of which conveyed a blend of hope and neuroticism—the feeling that bliss is so close yet so elusive that you can’t stop thinking about it. Next to that, Adam’s campfire profundity feels generic. Maybe that’s why she left the likes of it behind.

3|  A Spiritual Discussion of Busyness

Sometimes being an American Christian feels like a whirlwind life busy with ministry, service, and no free time.  Relevant’s article insists that this is a wrong way of living, and encourages us to imitate Jesus’s slower pace, because

Jesus was never rushed. He wasn’t overwhelmed by life, even though He had an enormous mission to complete in a very short period of time.

4|  The Silmarillion Recaps

The Mary Sue is doing a series recapping The Silmarillion in the most delightfully informative way.  So far they’ve shared the stories of Jerk Elves and Really Shiny Jewels, Beren & Luthien, Werewolves, and Half-Godesses, and Dragons, Curses, and Incest Oh My! with gems like:

Fëanor is now High King and, more because his jewels were stolen than that his father was killed, he goes into a rage. He blames the Valar for Morgoth’s deeds, which is convenient since one could just as easily argue that if he hadn’t been such a paranoid, covetous douchecanoe, it would have been a lot harder for Morgoth to manipulate him and get his hands on them jewels. In any case, Fëanor rallies a great deal of the Noldorian elves to go to Middle Earth to get back three rocks he refuses to share with anyone. So it had to have been some speech.

If you don’t want to read The Silmarillion after these recaps, you’re a lost cause.


This music video from Lady Gaga and director Catherine Hardwicke is SO IMPORTANT.  It’s hard to watch, not shying away from college sexual violence, but internalized messages (made external with markered messages scrawled on their bodies) transforming from damning to empowering is so beautiful.  Kudos to Gaga for taking on such a hard topic, addressing it with sensitivity, and offering hope in a dark situation.

I am an Apple girl, but this Windows 10 commercial (as seen repeatedly on Hulu) is perfection.  The inclusiveness of this video astounding, both in showing children from all over the world and in showing talents from a wide range of skills.  I am in love with the scene of the girl deciding not to jump off the diving board while the narrator talks about future leaders, reminding us that bravery doesn’t come all at once.  And I LOVE the deliberate choice to have the narrator say, “We just need to make sure she has what she needs.”  Male pronouns as the default are subtly limiting, and I love that little girls might see the commerical and imagine themselves as “the ones who will do great things.”

(Picture from Wikipedia)

Theodicy and The Silmarillion

Theodicy is the theological term for “the problem of evil.”  It is, essentially, a defense of God when someone asks, “How could a good God allow evil to exist?”

When I studied theodicy in church and in seminary, I often felt disconnected from the reality of the discussion.  Sitting at a table, it’s easy to defend God’s goodness.  There are graphs and outlines and quotations.  Everything is sanitized, kind of like this video describing Augustine’s famous solution to the problem of evil.

It’s all very logical and intellectual, and while safe at my privileged desk, I agree with the theology.  But there has always been a deeper part of me, ruled by emotion, that rebels.  I don’t care that God must allow evil in order to preserve free will.  How can God be powerful and good when animals are killed so that humans might be fashionable, prisoners are raped so that power might be asserted, and wars destroy people, homes, and countries, so that feuds might be settled?  When children are cowering in corners watching Daddy throw Mommy down the stairs in their pretty suburban house?

Theodicy answered my intellectual questions.  But it could not satisfy the horror in my heart.  I knew how a good and powerful God could allow evil, but….how could a good and powerful God allow evil?!

ppXitjzEmotion must be answered by emotion, and emotion is best conveyed with music and with story.  The opening chapter of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Silmarillion gave me both.  Entitled “The Music of the Ainur,” Tolkien presents a creation narrative similar to the one in the Bible, with some noticable differences.  In The Silmarillion, God (here named Eru Ilúvatar) creates the Ainur, who in turn create the world.  These angelic equivalents carry out their task of creation by singing into existence the will of Ilúvatar.  Be forewarned – I will quote from the book extensively. I could explain the plot instead of allowing it to speak for itself, but explaining is intellectual, and the emotional power of story is in its telling.

And it came to pass that Ilúvatar called together all the Ainur and declared to them a mighty theme, unfolding to them things greater and more wonderful than he had yet revealed; and the glory of its beginning and the splendour of its end amazed the Ainur, so that they bowed before Ilúvatar and were silent.

Tolkien’s creation mythology has a perfect God creating a perfect world.  His story also includes free will, since Melkor, the Lucifer equivalent, rebels against the Great Music Ilúvatar created.

But now Ilúvatar sat and hearkened, and for a great while it seemed good to him, for in the music there were no flaws.  But as the theme progressed, it came into the heart of Melkor to interweave matters of his own imagining that were not in accord with the theme of Ilúvatar…straight-away discord arose about him, and many that sang nigh him grew despondent, and their thought was disturbed and their music faltered; but some began to attune their music to his rather than to the thought which they had at first.  Then the discord of Melkor spread ever wider, and the melodies which had been heard before foundered in a sea of turbulent sound.  But Ilúvatar sat and hearkened until it seemed that about his throne there was a raging storm, as of dark waters that made war one upon another in an endless wrath that would not be assuaged.

The chaos of evil is sometimes too much for words to express.  At a certain point, the sheer enormity of it all makes my brain shut down.  But a raging storm of music?  I can perfectly imagine that and feel the dread and confusion and terror it would evoke.  Evil has entered the perfectly created world.  What will God do?  What can God do?  Erase it, or start over, or…something else?  Something more powerful?

ailThen Ilúvatar arose, and the Ainur perceived that he smiled; and he lifted up his left hand, and a new theme began amid the storm, like and yet unlike to the former theme, and it gathered power and had new beauty.  But the discord of Melkor rose in uproar and contended with it, and again there was a war of sound more violent than before, until many of the Ainur were dismayed and sang no longer, and Melkor had the mastery.  Then again Ilúvatar arose, and the Ainur perceived that his countenance was stern; and he lifted up his right hand, and behold! a third theme grew amid the confusion, and it was unlike the others.  For it seemed at first soft and sweet, a mere rippling of gentle sounds in delicate melodies; but it could not be quenched, and it took to itself power and profundity.  And it seemed at last that there were two musics progressing at one time before the seat of Ilúvatar, and they were utterly at variance.  The one was deep and wide and beautiful, but slow and blended with an immeasurable sorrow, from which its beauty chiefly came.  The other had now achieved a unity of its own; but it was loud, and vain, and endlessly repeated; and it had little harmony, but rather a clamorous unison as of many trumpets braying upon a few notes…

Then Ilúvatar spoke, and he said: ‘Mighty are the Ainur, and mightiest among them is Melkor; but that he may know, and all the Ainur, that I am Ilúvatar, those things that ye have sung, I will now show forth, that ye may see that no theme may be played that hath not its uttermost source in me, nor can any alter the music in my despite.  For he that attempteth this shall prove but mine instrument in the devising of things more wonderful, which he himself hath not imagined.

It might be that Tolkien’s stories play exactly into the way my mind and heart are designed, but this story, more than any theodicy, gives me peace about the nature of God and the existence of evil.  Zooming out to the big picture of creation acknowledges that evil consistently clamors for dominance and even seems to win it.  But God is bigger than evil, and somehow the words “he that attempth this [evil] shall prove but mine instrument in the devising of things more wonderful, which he himself hath not imagined” makes my heart sink into the most profound sense of peace.

There is evil in this world, and as Christians, we try to defend God’s honor against those in pain.  While I am thankful for intellectual explanations, I cannot help but feel they are too often inadequate.  Augustine’s powerful and good God who allows for evil in the creation of free will is distant and a little cold.  But Eru Ilúvatar brings the world into existence with song, rises from his seat again and again and calmly assures his created servants that he has everything under control.

No explanation.  Just trust.