Skip to comments.A WELL-ROOTED PERSPECTIVE: Lessons from Tolkien Relevant
Posted on 04/03/2020 7:47:00 PM PDT by nickcarraway
If anguish were visible, almost the whole of this benighted planet would be enveloped in a dense dark vapour, shrouded from the amazed vision of the heavens!
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien; Ed. Carpenter and Tolkien; Allen and Unwin (UK);
20 August 1981
On the 30th of April, 1944, just five weeks prior to D-Day, author and scholar J.R.R. Tolkien wrote to his son, Christopher, the ever-faithful guardian of his fathers legacy up until the time of his death recently at the age of 90:
I sometimes feel appalled at the thought of the sum total of human misery all over the world at the present moment: the millions parted, fretting, wasting in unprofitable days quite apart from torture, pain, death, bereavement, injustice. If anguish were visible, almost the whole of this benighted planet would be enveloped in a dense dark vapour, shrouded from the amazed vision of the heavens! [Tolkien, Letters]
The inscription engraved into the One Ring as found in the first book of Tolkiens Lord of the Rings trilogy was written in Black Speech, the Dark Tongue of Mordor, the unholy realm of the evil Sauron, who maniacally sought the utter domination of Middle-earth: One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them. [Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring, Ch.II]
Forged in the fiery bowels of Mount Doom, the One Ring controlled 19 other rings that were unwittingly created by the Elves of Eregion with knowledge obtained from Sauron and with Sauron aiding the creation of several of them: The One Ring, along with the Seven and the Nine, had the ability to tap into the Unseen at different degrees ... However, the Ring corrupted the heart and mind, making its wearer obsessed with it. [TolkienGateway.net]
In Tolkiens epic tale, we hear distinct biblical echoes: Sauron, the archetypal Satan, masquerading as something he was not in order to coax the first human creatures into betrayal of their Master. Out of that betrayal came what Tolkien referred to as the Shadow, that is, the twilight between good and evil, heaven and earth, that we walk through now, an apt metaphor of the viral entity, the coronavirus, inhabiting our own Middle-earth at this very moment. And here is where this work of fiction written in the shadow of two world wars and by a former officer who fought at The Battle of the Somme during WWI may teach us lessons that help today.
We are reminded by Tolkiens 2-foot-tall hobbits that everyone has the capacity to do great things and possesses the potential to be a hero (Britains young infantrymen of WWI being the authors inspirational model), but, and this is an important point, with help from above, not by acting alone. As the wizard Gandalf was the spiritual guide of Tolkiens famous Fellowship, so are Moses, the prophets, and the New Testament writers now for us: they guide, we must follow; they shed Light, we must use it, casting it into the darkness as we move on our own quest, not just to confront this virus, but to spread the kingdom of God beyond the reaches of this darkness.
The One Ring could not be tamed, but must be utterly destroyed at the very source of its creation: Mount Doom. And in Middle-earth it is the least-likely people, hobbits and dwarves ... Frodo, Samwise, Thorin and company ... that accept the quest to do so, guided by powerful emissaries (such as the wizard, Gandalf) sent by the creator of their Middle-earthean universe (Iluvatar), in order to do accomplish the dangerous, frightening task.
This seems a good, and instructive, myth for our time. Like Frodo and Samwise and company, it would behoove us to heed the guidance of our Creator, the God of Heaven and Earth, as transmitted by his emissaries, Moses and company, in order to spiritually and emotionally conquer fear of this viral enemy, the threat of this shadow of Sauron, by putting our trust in Him.
Perhaps in the end, the more we become like hobbits, the better our hearts will receive Divine direction.
Hennessy, of Geneva, has studied the Bible under both Jewish and Christian teachers and received training as a Holocaust educator by staff from the Intl School of Holocaust Studies in Jerusalem, Israel, the Anti-Defamation League and the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. Email him at email@example.com.
I thoroughly enjoyed the LOTR series.
Funny they haven’t compared Trump to Sauron. He’d have to be The Orange, of course, and would use a gold 3-wood as a staff :-)
Not to be picky, but Thorin lived and died without knowing of the ring. He was on a quest with Bilbo to kill a dragon. The ring was found by Bilbo on that quest, but kept hidden. The ring was destroyed on a later quest by Frodo and Sam.
The quests are mixed up here. Thorin and company were on a quest to regain his kingdom under the mountain in The Hobbit.
Frodo, Sam and the other 7 including the dwarf Gimli son if Gloin were on the quest to destroy the ring.
Tolkein adamantly argued that his work not be used as allegory, which seems exactly what this article did.
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