Skip to comments.From "Fr. Binky": "Like Flint, Not Jello"
Posted on 03/19/2006 5:55:33 PM PST by sionnsar
As part of the Lent and Beyond Anglican Bloggers' Collaborative Lenten Meditations series, "Fr. Binky" of Classical Anglican Net News has written Like Flint, Not Jello. This is definitely one of the more unusually titled Lenten mediations I've ever seen--but it is also most worth reading for the substance of what the Web-Elf has to say.
CaNN Webhamster, Lent 3
Like fellow Tolkienophile Christopher Lee (who acted the part of Saruman in the recent movie-trilogy), your humble author has read The Lord of the Rings rather too many times. That makes watching the movies a mixed experience.
&Anthony Esolen further observes that a real joy in goodness is also missing from the celluloid Lord of the Rings. Digital amazements cannot cover the defects.
The trouble is that neither the director nor his fellow screenplay writers understood the joy of goodness. I dont mean happiness exactly, or the perky buffoonery of Merry and Pippin, but the simple and abiding joy that one feels, almost unconsciously, when one is doing a good thing, like planting out a garden of fine potatoes, or drinking excellent ale with old friends, or following ones master into Mordor, come what may. Its a kind of spiritual health, a brightness that you dont always notice until it is seared or spoiled .
Jackson & his writers impose a lot of realistic semi-fatal flaws and waffle on the film-characters. Perhaps it was thought this would make the characters more nuanced or accessible not so goody-two-shoes; or, perhaps, just not so good. Frodo, Aragorn, Theoden, and Treebeard suffer the most noticably from it in the movies: their goodness and capacity to discern and to adhere to the right path is seriously impaired.
Thus, in the rewrite of Fangorn Forest, the giant Ents (walking, talking tree-people) decide to leave the world and its problems alone, although it may be in their power in time of war to do some good, and to defend their own and other good folk. Treebeard has to be tricked by the hobbits into doing the right thing. The Ents in the book know good from evil, and how to judge aright, and must only decide and discuss how best to act mustnt be too hasty and when.
In Flanders Fields
We have to remember, in our modern mush over good and evil, that J.R.R. Tolkien was a WWI veteran who saw most of his university-friends die in the fields of France. His response to such evil and chaos and suffering was not to throw up his hands, but afterwards to continue to fight to build up Western civilization, teach, write, pray, and to be a good father and husband. As the medieval poet Dante put it, The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who, in times of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality.
As we continue in our Lenten journey, we travel with our Saviour through the wilderness; tested by the Spirit, seeking the Face of the Father.
The resolve of Jesus Christ to boldly confront evil, help the suffering, and preach good news to the lost is all part of his working out our salvation. Every step, he seeks to be obedient; to seek only the will of the Father; to discern the guiding of the Spirit in short, to be a true and faithful son THE Son, who brings the Kingdom of God into the neighbourhood of men.
Sometimes in our modern way we can forget the winsomeness of moral seriousness united with true goodness; we project images of our own bent and wavering selves on everything else, and imagine it is like us, because we are.. well.. like ourselves, and cant easily (or comfortably) imagine or want anything truer or better.
Trimming the Shruggery
Jesus comes to restore the image of God in man; to show us what a true man, a full humanity is like; and by his grace to begin that transformation in us. On the cross he offers forth his own life, to straighten our bentness, and to remake us into his better image, our truest selves. This is, he tells us, the purpose of his coming (St. John, 6:38-40):
And this is the Fathers will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.
Our Lord resisted temptations to turn aside every step of the way; where we sometimes shrug off obedience or unpleasant duty, or even pave the way for temptation to come marching through, he shoulders his burden, bearing it with love, and serious joy. He will not be turned aside by lesser good things, nor by opposition, persecution, and the rise and fall of public opinion.
Jesus knows the hardness of sinful hearts:
As an adamant harder than flint have I made thy forehead: fear them not, neither be dismayed at their looks, though they be a rebellious house. (Ezekiel 3:9)
..and that the work of the Messiah was a road of joy-in-suffering, and final vindication and victory:
For the Lord GOD will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed. (Isaiah 50:7)
So as he journeys onwards to the cross through all his ministry, St. Luke tells us
And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem. (Luke 9:51)
The Fair Beauty of The Lord
Jesus the incarnate Son of God was obedient, but not cheerless; full of brightness and holy delight and and courage and the fullness of life and spiritual health; the Holy Spirit gladly imparts these gifts to those who call upon Christs saving name; and these good gifts in us can shine forth to others as a light to the world, that others may see it, and give glory to our Heavenly Father.
May the disciplines of this Lent renew our hearts, our obedience, our love of goodness, our serious joy, our determination to be good and do good, through Him alone who can make us good, even Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom with the Father and the Holy Spirit we give glory now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.
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