Mid-Moot: The Mid-Atlantic Mythgard Meetup

April Neal Kluever, Sørina Higgins, Sara Legard contributing

While circling the skies, the Signum Eagle spotted with his far-seeing eyes some unlikely associates gathering in Virginia in a rather hobbitish sort of way, complete with lots of food and hairy feet. So the Eagle swooped down and pecked at them until they revealed what they were up to.

“We’re trying to have a Mid-Moot!” they cried, shooing the Eagle away with long utensils and condemnatory faces. “Hence and leave us alone!”

“A Mid-Moot?” the Eagle inquired, thinking it must be some new kind of rabbit. “Can I have one?”

They tried to explain that a Mid-Moot was a Mid-Atlantic Mythgard Meetup. But there were too many syllables and alliterations for the Eagle to comprehend, and in mental anguish he flew away. Later, the Eagle found some additional descriptions deposited on his eyrie ledge. Donning his spectacles, the Eagle began reading:

“Midmoot was a great success,” April Neal Kluever wrote. “It was really fun for everyone involved, from what I could tell. Ed Powell and I came up with the idea in the spring—basically, we wanted to invite [Signum President Dr.] Corey [Olsen] to come out to Maryland/Virginia and visit with our Mythgard Meetup group, the Mid-Atlantic local chapter of Mythgard (founded Feb. 2014). We originally envisioned a kind of classroom seminar with Corey presiding. It was our goal to provide a live classroom environment for Mythgard students, since that was something that is lacking from the current online-only classes. We all agreed having Mythmoot once a year was just not often enough!”

So with much hope and encouragement, April booked the Bilbo Baggins restaurant in Alexandria, VA, for dinner, while Ed secured the Hilton for a seminar. Then, they contacted Mythgard Meetup members who presented at Mythmoot II and asked if they would liked to lead some discussion topics. Everyone said yes, and even more surprising, everyone attended. “Most topics ran right up to the time limit, and only rarely were there any early ends to the discussion,” April notes. “Not surprising for our Mythgard classmates—or for Corey!”

The Eagle nodded significantly upon reading this last sentence, remembering all the times Dr. Olsen has dodged a deadline….

“Dinner at the Bilbo Baggins went really well,” April continued. “We were seated in a large room with a mural depicting the Unexpected Party (a la Rankin/Bass). Discussion was animated throughout dinner, and Corey mingled with each table. Overall, our Midmoot was a great success, I’m really happy with the way it turned out.”

April wasn’t the only one pleased, it seems. Presenter Sørina Higgins likewise enjoyed the event, calling it “another of those mini-Edens” where “an eclectic and eccentric group of people gather to share their love of literature, learning, art, music, or God.” (“Eclectic!?” the Eagle sputtered with umbrage before remembering he hadn’t attended.) Sørina provides an overview of the discussions on her blog, The Oddest Inkling. “Then we all reconvened at the Bilbo Baggins pub for good food, drink, and conversation,” Sørina concludes. “Although I didn’t get to talk to everyone, so I probably still don’t know half of them half as well as I should like, yet I like all of them at least as well as they deserve!”

Having read those wise words, the Eagle picked up the final missive in his talons:

“My main take-away was that the topics were generally extremely well-presented and resulted in a lot of discussion,” Sara Legard reported. April had quite a time keeping each presentation-cum-discussion from spilling over time, which is a sure sign of lively interplay. Cross-points in the discussion that linked ideas from an earlier presentation to a later topic were especially exciting. At one point, Dr. Olsen, April Kluever and Neil Ottenstein (if I recall correctly) came up with a brilliant comparison between Col. Graff in Ender’s Game and Prof. Dumbledore in the Harry Potter series, both heads of school withholding critical information from the protagonist to manipulate him deliberately. Connections were made between the Inklings’ philosophies of evil presented by Sørina Higgins and Mike Therway’s enumeration and synthesis of the term ‘doom’ used in The Lord of the Rings. Great stuff!

“The dinner afterward was convivial (and delicious) in the Bilbo Baggins pub, with much table-hopping and cross-chat, continuing the topics from the day session, and broaching new ones, including Tinfang Warble (carry-over from the Book of Lost Tales free Mythgard Academy course), Hobbit movie talk, and the question of why Dune has never seemed to achieve the fandom that other great books and sci-fi/fantasy franchises (Lord of the Rings, Star Trek, Star Wars, even Narnia) have gleaned.”

This being the last report, the Eagle set it down and removed his spectacles. “Ah well,” he said aloud to himself, there being nobody else in the eyrie at that moment, “perhaps I shall make the next one.”