Quick Hits: a 700-year-old tattoo parlor, voting for Jesus, the Tolkien Professor

By Thomas V. Mirus (bio - articles - email) | Aug 27, 2016

  • In this country, tattoos have always been associated with alternative lifestyles of various kinds. But you should know that for a a lot longer than that, getting some ink has traditionally denoted the alternativest of lifestyles: that of the medieval pilgrim. If you don't believe me, read the story of a Coptic Christian family which has been tattooing pilgrims in Jerusalem for seven hundred years and counting.

  • Br. Jordan Zajac, O.P., doesn't so much want to convince you not to vote for either major candidate this year as he wants to show you how political disaffectation can be fruitful soil for the theological virtue of hope. Writing in the official publication of the St. Joseph Province of the Dominican Order, Br. Jordan adds one for the list of beatitudes: "Blessed are those without a candidate to get behind, for the Kingdom of Heaven emerges as the real frontrunner." (If you do want to read a good argument about the vote itself, you can always read a short blog post by our greatest natural law philosopher, J. Budziszewski.)

  • Over the past few months I've been devouring the lectures of Dr. Corey Olsen, better known as the Tolkien Professor. In 2009 Dr. Olsen, a professor at Washington College, began releasing his lectures on his website and in podcast form, in order to serve the countless Tolkien fans who would like to study his work as closely as one would study other great works of literature at a college or post-graduate level. These lectures and seminars, which cover just about everything by Tolkien from The Hobbit to The Silmarillion to the lesser-known short stories and poems, are entertaining and sure to increase one's appreciation of the depth, profundity and beauty of Tolkien's invention. Olsen is also the founder of both the Mythgard Institute, where you can listen to and participate in free, in-depth online seminars on Tolkien's works and other classics of fantasy and science fiction, and Signum University, an innovative, accredited online institution through which one can obtain a master's degree in language and literature, with courses focusing on the works of authors like Tolkien and Lewis as well as subjects like Anglo-Saxon and medieval literature.

Thomas V. Mirus is an administrative assistant and writer at CatholicCulture.org. A jazz pianist with a music degree, he often takes the lead in our commentary on the arts. See full bio.

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  • Posted by: Thomas Van - Aug. 31, 2016 6:08 PM ET USA

    mary_cones3421: The Lovecraft thing is a course taught by Dr. Amy Sturgis at Signum University, which Dr. Olsen founded. For better or for worse, Lovecraft was a highly influential writer of imaginative fiction and that alone qualifies him for scholarly study. I wouldn't let it scare you off. Dr. Olsen is himself a Christian (it's possible that he is Catholic, but I don't know specifically).

  • Posted by: mary_conces3421 - Aug. 30, 2016 6:38 PM ET USA

    The Tolkien Professor site sounded good, but when I linked to it the first thing that hit the eye was about H. P. Lovecraft--off-putting, at least to me. I guess I'll go back when I have more time, but I'm a little leery.