Middle-earth v. the Middle East

Mostly I write about the Middle East/Islamic world on this blog. But every so often my inner Tolkien fanatic emerges. Last fall I had published, in the Sonder magazine, an essay entitled “The Value of Family in Middle-earth” (pp. 45-51). You can find it here. It’s a bit of a departure from my usual geopolitical analysis of both real and fictional worlds.

Moi with my book on Middle-earth political history beneath Tolkien’s

portrait at The Eagle and Child Pub, Oxford, 2018.

The U.S. Invasion of Iraq, 20 Years On

It was twenty years ago today, George Bush said conquest is the way. The second President Bush followed in his father’s footsteps and did him one better–or perhaps worse. Adducing Saddam’s alleged WMDs and support for terrorism, as well as the need to spread democracy in the Islamic Middle East, Bush sent our military in to take out Saddam and remake the Iraqi political system. Then he claimed “Mission Accomplished.” Well, was that true?

I wrote a long article over at The Stream on this topic today.

American tanks in front of Baghdad’s “Victory Arch.” Wikipedia Public Domain.

Of Sunnis and Shi`is and Soccer Games/Of Calumnies and Kings….

Once again, I’ve dropped the ball on my blog–this time, for just over three months. Since last December, however, I have published 10 articles over at The Stream, on topics to include Iran’s nuclear ambitions, the World Cup, the national reparations movement, the war in Ukraine, Vladimir Putin’s worldview, Chinese spy balloons, and aliens. In fact, I am just three articles away from my 100th at that site.

But now for something completely different. Driving home from Divine Liturgy this morning, I caught part of the excellent “Millennium of Music” show on Sirius XM channel 76, hosted by Robert Aubry Davis. Today he was playing the latest album by Alexander Lingas and Cappella Romana: A Byzantine Emperor at King Henry’s Court: Christmas 1400, London (Available here, as well as on Amazon Music.) The group performs music written for the visit of Byzantine ruler Manuel II Palaiologos to England for several months in the winter of 1400-01, seeking aid against the encroaching Ottomans from King Henry IV. The chants are of course in both Greek and Latin, and simply wonderful. (Cappella Romana also did the equally mesmerizing Lost Voices of Hagia Sophia.)

By the way, I did a long post on Henry IV last May, as I’ve always found him fascinating. And I was fortunate enough to be cast as Henry in a local community college production of Henry IV Part 1 last summer–about which I wrote an article.

Yours truly as Henry IV, July 2022. No rebels were actually harmed in the making of this play.