Who Owns the One Ring?: A Legal Inquiry

the-one-ringOne day a few months back, I was scrolling through Tumblr, and I came across this delightful post by user simaethae:

so on the subject of stolen property, i’ve seen various arguments on this point but it is in fact true that inheriting something from a relative, when you know full well that it was stolen, does not make it yours.

this clearly goes doubly so for powerful magical artifacts, and especially for artifacts which are strongly implied to contain part of their creator’s soul!

you can talk about consequences – maybe the artifact in question has benefits for you, maybe you’re not convinced its rightful owners would use it responsibly – but talking about the consequences doesn’t erase the fact that whatever benefits you think you’re getting are achieved through wrongful means.

which is why i, too, think Frodo should have given the One Ring back to Sauron. thief.


Sucks to be you, dude.

Which prompted me, a law student and Lord of the Rings fanatic preparing for a Property exam, to ask myself…does Sauron even own that Ring anymore?

The short answer: No.

Here is my pedantic and completely unasked-for analysis (cross-posted from my Tumblr blog) — Continue reading


The Winter’s Tale: A Paradox of a Play


winter's tale.jpg


“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant.” – Anne Bradstreet

“I don’t want life to imitate art. I want life to be art.” – Ernst Fischer

Shakespeare wrote some really bizarre stuff in his lifetime, but The Winter’s Tale out-weirds most of the roster.


Did Shakespeare even have a map?

Like, for one thing, it’s somehow a bleak and snowy winter in the normally sunny-central, Mediterranean island of Sicily. Meanwhile nestled far to the north between Germany and Poland is the unexpected land of sunshine, flowers, and summery-silliness…Bohemia.


Which apparently has a coastline no one knew about…because all maps clearly indicate how unfortunately landlocked the country is.

As if manipulated geography and climate zones weren’t enough, a statue comes to life, a man is eaten by a bear, and a people rise from the dead.

What in the world is going on here?

In the vernacular, a “winter’s tale” is an absurd story of enchantment and faraway places told to fight off cold and dark days of snow and ice. A fairy tale. So in calling his play by such a title, Shakespeare was signaling to all of us that this was a story not to be taken seriously in details; but the greater themes of the story aim at something larger, and act to stave off the darkness and cold. Continue reading

“The Devil’s Advocate”: A History

So I’m in Law School now, which means that I pay more attention to lawyery things than usual. And with the recent canonization of Mother Teresa this last Sunday, I got to thinking about one of the more interesting, law-related Catholic expressions that has slipped into everyday usage.

I’m talking about being “the devil’s advocate” – you know, like when you argue for a different side of an issue just because, or when you don’t agree with something but you speak for it anyway: that’s being the devil’s advocate.

It’s one of those marvelously clear expressions: you don’t like the devil, but you’ll advocate for him. Straight-forward. Makes sense.

What does this have to do with Mother Teresa, you say? Well, did you know that “the Devil’s Advocate” was originally (and still is) a title used in the process of Catholic canonization, of making saints? Continue reading

Trunkiness: A Treatise

5cde4e85b6d2e00cb8694c0c1340b5beSo my workaholic sister Lauren, the excellent missionary (whom I affectionately call “Leaux” since she is serving in France), recently became concerned that, with the end of her mission looming large and thoughts of home working their way through her brain, she would become every missionary’s worst nightmare – *dun dun dun* – TRUNKY.

She expressed her worries to me in one of her emails home and asked for advice. I decided to get a little creative with my response…. Continue reading

Chocolate Made Me Cry

“Life is like a box of chocolates – you never know what you are going to get.”
– Forrest Gump

Last month was super stressful, I’m not going to lie.

I had been working on paper after paper, assignment after assignment with no downtime for 3 weeks straight. I was losing sleep over all that I had to do – the whole thing was a nightmare.


I feel ya Ophelia.

All the strain culminated on a particular Wednesday when I had my big Shakespeare presentation – a presentation that was freaking me out on for the several days preceding (it was on Hamlet, which I am sure was half the problem right there: not a happy play).

I had good stuff, I was just worried about pulling it all together. Working on it late into the night for a few nights in a row, I could hardly do anything else without dread following me everywhere like an attention-starved puppydog. I even prayed to Heavenly Father that if only ONE THING were to work out the next day, please let it be the presentation. Everything else could go wrong, but please let the presentation go well. Continue reading

In Response to a Question


Sometimes evil is a little overwhelming

(I recently received a comment on my post Tuor, Gondolin, and Our Life Mission that said the following:)

Hi there!
An interesting application to our life..I am christian as well and I have been quite big fan of Tolkien earlier when I was younger..than I just thought..all these stories are really great and well written and catchy but somehow dark or tragic..dont you think? I mean the life of Tuor is an exception i guess but …

– Sam

(My reply got a little long…so here is my open response to Sam – )

Hey Sam, thanks for the comment! I have been thinking about the question you posed, and here are some of my thoughts:

It’s true that Tolkien wrote many stories that contain lots of tragedy. I mean, he really puts his characters through the ringer:

  • Frodo never really recovers
  • Theoden’s son dies (and then he dies)
  • Turin’s life is basically a study of how much one dude can suffer
  • And literally everything bad happens to Elrond (ask me about it sometime)

Grander events in Middle Earth are also tragic: the elves are in decline and leaving Middle Earth, the great stories of the past are being forgotten, grand cities and nations and peoples are destroyed. Evil empires wage war against peace-loving peoples.

Evil seems to win a lot.


This guy…

I don’t think this was just Tolkien being ~dark~ and ~brooding~. I think he did this on purpose. Life is often very tragic, no matter how you look at it. Sam, you’re a Christian – just look at the lives of Christ and His Apostles! Bad things happen all the time to good and bad people. This is no secret. This is something humanity has been dealing with since before Day 1.

BUT (and this is a big but) – that’s not all that is going on. Evil is not the only force at work. Continue reading

Yet Another Star Wars Rant


I’m finishing up my degree here at BYU, in my third week of classes now, and I have to say my studies are pretty eclectic at the moment. Italian grammar, Welsh grave inscriptions that reference King Arthur, Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essays, the bombing of Hiroshima, and Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. My brain is a funny place right now. Not least because every day this last week was a Star Wars day. Good mix.

Every day this week, I went to the fourth floor of the BYU library where they have “Media Viewing Rooms.” I remembered these rooms from before my mission. I remembered them being kind of low tech, with only about 5 chairs total, but you could reserve a room to watch a movie in them for a small group. Before I left, they had dvd players, but no blu ray. Upon remembering this magical little place, I looked up to see if they had blu ray.

The website said they did.

I reserved a room.

Upon my arrival, Monday afternoon, I step into the room and what do my wondering eyes behold? A GIANT SCREEN TV. IT’S BEAUTIFUL. IT’S AT LEAST 3 TIMES THE SIZE OF THE ONE WE HAD AT HOME. IT NEARLY COVERED THE WHOLE WALL.

Needless to say, I was a little excited. I reserved the same room every day of the week (you can only reserve it for a maximum of 4 hours per day, so I was limited to watching one Star Wars film each day).

But then, on Friday, I couldn’t reserve that particular room. No problem, I thought. One of the other rooms will do just fine. So I reserved a different one.

Well, Friday I found out that room doesn’t have a blu ray player, neither can it have one at all because the TV has no HDMI hookup.

“Well,” said the very helpful attendant trying to assist me. “It looks like this won’t work out….You could just use the small theater next door. The person who reserved it didn’t show up, so it’s available if it won’t make you feel weird.”

“Is there anything wrong with it?”

“Oh no,” she said. “It’s just usually for 40+ people, but it should work fine.”



So I watched The Empire Strikes Back in a private theatrical viewing all to myself. “The only improvement would have been if a hunky guy showed up with a large popcorn,” said Mom.

She speaks truth. It was one of the coolest movie-viewing experiences of my life (even without popcorn or a hunky guy). 

Watching the entire series from beginning to end (again), a lot more things jumped out. Like Vader’s sly dealings with the Emperor. Continue reading