That hopeful trusting badger in Prince Caspian.
He really inspires me. When
all hope is gone for most he trusts that “help will come,” that “it may be
even now at the door.”
In Lord of the Rings there seems to be little hope left for any of the characters—in Return of the King especially. Hope seems to have failed in every possible way. Yet despite this the characters keep going, till the bitter end. What made them keep going? I think Sam’s little speech in the Two Towers film sums it up nicely. “Folk in those stories, they were holding onto something.” And then when he goes on to say, “There's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo, and its worth fighting for.”
remember the characters in all those bible stories you have heard all your life.
Joseph, Moses, Abraham, Joshua, David…They hoped against hope—just
like the characters in Middle Earth and Naria.
What were they holding onto? Two things I think—the goodness of God and
the thought that they could make a difference.
little bit of hope was all they needed.
Their response is like Sam’s, who, against all hope says to himself,
"I'll get there if I leave everything but my bones behind. And I'll
carry Mr. Frodo up myself, if it breaks my back and heart."
am really moved by the character of Aragorn in the Fellowship of the Ring.
Not just because he had wisdom, power and was a great warrior but because
he was also so tender and self-sacrificing. These are things that I so admire in
him and I believe draw him up to the full stature of a man.
Here are a couple examples of this from FotR that I love a lot—one in
Lothlorien and the other as Boromir was dying.
When I read them they always touched me deeply.
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the hill’s foot Frodo found Aragorn, standing still and silent as a tree; but
in his hand was a small gold bloom of elanor, and a light was in his eyes. He
was wrapped in some fair memory: and as Frodo looked at him he knew that he
beheld things as they once had been in this same place. For the grim years were
removed from the face of Aragorn, and he seemed clothed in white, a young lord
tall and fair; and he spoke words in the Elvish tongue to one whom Frodo could
not see. ‘Arwen vanimela, namarie!’
he said, and then he drew a breath, and returning out of his thought he
looked at Frodo and smiled.
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Aragorn! Go to Minas Tirith and save my people! I have failed.'
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was a tender warrior…a servant king. How
did Aragorn become such a man? How
does he end up reminding us so much of Jesus?
I think he was able to balance the 4 pillars of manhood in his life. The hard part is to get them in balance.
S. Lewis wrote that “the disparate (contrasting or diverse) strands of
manhood-- fierceness and gentleness--can find healthy synthesis in the person of
the knight and in the code of chivalry. Here these competing impulses--normally
found in different individuals--find their union.”
one of these two strands given full rein, the balance required for authentic
manhood would be lost. Strength and power, without tenderness, forbearance and
humility, give us a brute. Tenderness and compassion without masculine firmness
and aggressiveness produce a male without the fire to lead or inspire others.
had that balance. Do you think it
is a hard balance to get in life? What
do you think is the secret to getting it? How
did Jesus get it? How will you get
When I read about great men like Aragorn I am challenged to be a real man too. I bet you are too.
talked to you in the last letter about Aragorn being a tender warrior.
I think one of the reasons he became a man like that is because of the
way he faced and responded to the wound he had received in life.
Aragorn a wounded warrior? Yes! Then where
was his wound? Remember his great,
great, great (who knows how many greats!) grandfather, Isildur—who cut the
ring off of Sauron and then refused to destroy it in the fires of mount doom?
Isildur’s weakness hung over all his heirs—including Aragorn.
His birthright was the curse of his life.
At the request of his mother,
his identity was kept secret, as she feared he would be slain like his father
and grandfather if his true identity as the Heir of Isildur became known. Many
in Gondor felt that the Line of Isildur no longer had enough dignity to claim
kingship over Gondor.
is a formidable wound! Painful and
hard to face.
young Estel (that was what the elves called Aragorn—he was raised by them)
would have heard eyewitness accounts of the Army of the Last Alliance, the
Battle of Dagorlad, the siege of Barad-dur, death of Gil-Galad, Elendil and
Anarion and the defeat of Sauron at the hand of Isildur.
would have heard first-hand of the utmost dismay and despair Elrond must have
suffered when Isildur refused to cast the One Ring into the fires of Mount Doom
thus ridding Middle-earth of the dreadful presence of Sauron forever.
Hearing these stories first hand would made his wound even harder to
wound unfelt is a wound unhealed. He
must enter it—face it.
trouble with steeling yourself against the harshness of reality is that the same
steel that secures your life against being destroyed secures your life also
against being opened up and transformed.”
we see Aragorn’s tenderness, self-sacrifice and romance, we realize that he
hasn’t “steeled himself up”.
His wound, which was given him right where his true strength was as an
effort to take him out, was healing. In
the brokenness and healing that came from facing his wound he discovered who he
really was and what he had to offer the world.
helped to heal his wound?
Friendship—he came to know intimately all three bearers of the Elven rings of Power. Indeed, Elrond and Galadriel were members of his foster-family.
in his travails, Gandalf the Grey, bearer of Narya, befriended him and
strengthened his heart and his resolve to put right the troubles of
Middle-earth. And what of Arwen,
the elf he loved?
Times of grieving the wound—it was not his fault and it did matter.
toward Isildur and the men of Gondor.
this process he learned who he really was—his true name.
That is why I feel the power of what Frodo saw as they were going down
the river after they left Lothlorien:
not!’ said a strange voice behind him. Frodo turned around and saw Strider,
and yet not Strider; for the weatherworn Ranger was no longer there. In the
stern sat Aragorn son of Arathorn, proud and erect, guiding the boat with
skilful strokes; his hood was cast back, and his dark hair was blowing in the
wind, a light was in his eyes: a king returning from exile to his own land.”
Robert Bly said could be said of Aragorn, “Where
a man’s wound is, that is where his genius will be.”
All men are wounded and it is only when we enter our wound that we
discover our true glory. Only in suffering this can we become powerful,
I love Lord of the Rings! It is so rich and full of the truth of life! I know it will encourage you through the years to be the best you can be too.
It is through
sacrifice and loyalty that love is demonstrated in LotR.
Arwen and Aragorn give us a breathtaking example of these elements that
Tolkien believes to be bonded so strongly to the human experience.
be beside Aragorn, Arwen not only gave up her family but chose the crushing
death of a broken heart in exchange for her immortality!
But what would love have been to them if she had not?
Aragorn would have never been more than a distraction—an experiment to
while away just a fraction of her spectacular lifespan.
It is not so much that she chose or “decided” to die as it was that
death, Arwen was heart broken. She
lay down and died on Cerin Amroth in Lothlorien where her family once lived.
love for him was so great that she died of grief.
It was only the outcome of the decision she had made years before to love
Aragorn. She just responded
the way that true love always does.
Aragorn? He remains loyal to Arwen
despite the temptation of the capable, adoring Èowyn (who we haven’t read
about yet), even though Arwen is so far away.
And how patient he is! He
falls in love with Arwen at 20 but she does not return his love until 29 years
later when he has become a warrior and a leader.
His love never falters in 3 decades of waiting!!!
Tolkien gives us an awesome picture of love—a picture consistently shown in
the relationship between Arwen and Aragorn.
It is the reality of love as an ultimately triumphant force that must
endure many trials in order to realize bliss.
Tolkien’s belief that love can stand against all odds is materialized
in the hardships and suffering that Aragorn and Arwen experience.
are attracted and driven to LotR because of the intriguing fantasy and adventure
of it but I believe that it is this intrinsic theme of love that makes it so
compelling and believable.
There is no better way to help us understand the great truths of love and God and life than with a story. Certainly Jesus proved that and JRR Tolkien was just an excellent student. Don’t you think?
I am intrigued by Boromir’s struggle with the ring. It was fear that Frodo struggled with. He said to Boromir, “For I know what I should do, but I am afraid of doing it, Boromir: afraid.” But it was not fear that Boromir struggled with like Frodo. It was hope.
All, except Boromir trusted in the fools hope that destroying the Ring was the only way to thwart the evil at hand; even though the other paths seemed easier. Boromir didn’t see their course as a hopeful one.
“If you wish to
destroy the armed might of the Dark Lord, then it is folly to go without force
into his domain.” he said. He
believed to try to destroy the ring was “walking openly into the arms of
death.” And speaking of
Galadriel’s words, he expressed his final feeling.
said, even now there is hope left. But I can't see it.”
So, did he die without hope? What could convince him of hope in such a seemingly foolish course—so obviously fraught with danger?
I believe what convinced him and even began to give him hope was his realization of the strange hold and power that the ring had on him causing him to treat Frodo the way he did when he tried to take the ring. He said himself, “A madness took me!” I think that had a very deep impact on Boromir. Because of this I think Boromir began to believe and embrace this hope that his companions clung to.
remember? Gandolf said, "It was not in
vain that the young hobbits came with us, if only for Boromir's sake.” I
think that tells us that Frodo did help him to understand the ring and embrace
Revelations of hope
are all about us and so often we don’t see them.
To every soul, in time, the vision comes that hope may be renewed.
Remember the small white star that Sam saw above the darkness and evil?
No, you can’t remember because we haven’t read yet about them going into
Mordor to Mt. Doom. But
here is just a bit of it…“The beauty of it(the small white star)smote his heart as he looked
up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear
and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small
and passing thing; there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.”
I guess I believe that even to Boromir the vision came and he not only came to see the truth but hope returned to him as well.
When light shines into your dark hour, even if it’s just a small star, will you let it lighten your heart?
Have I said it before? I love the Lord of the Rings!
believe The Lord of the Rings is really a story about every one of us.
This story is read differently in every character in the books but each
must struggle with the inherent weakness and evil within them, which is
symbolized by the Ring of Power. Each
must take the responsibility to throw the Ring into the fires of Mt Doom for
themselves. Like Galadriel
told Frodo, “…to bear a ring of power is to be alone.
This task was appointed to you. And
if you do not find a way….no one will.”
is not just something that Frodo had to do but Boromir, Aragorn, Gandolf,
Galadriel and every living being that crossed paths with the Ring had to
struggle with. Each one of
them had to do it and each one of us must do it in our own lives or it will not
be done. It is not something
others can do for you. In this we
are alone with God.
who was courageous, noble and honorable in many ways, was not originally so.
He, like all of us, was weak but grew into the mighty man he became with
the help of those who mentored him and the things he suffered. But no mortal man has ever reached perfection or is
ever beyond temptation. If you look
at history, it is when a man is strongest that he is the most vulnerable and
weak. Yeah, even Boromir still had
to struggle to rid himself of the entanglement of the evil Ring. But, unless Smeigel had intervened, even dear, innocent
little Frodo wouldn’t have been able to overcome the enchantment of the Ring.
We must find a way! Look at the end of those who weren’t successful in doing this and look at the end of those, like Boromir, who were. There is a BIG difference!
I think the part of the book and the movie where Boromir dies is so sad! It is hard to read and watch. It hangs dark over The Fellowship of the Rings. But I believe that nothing happens in life accidentally. What is life? Why are we here? Is it the length or the quality of a life that really matters. Boromir was born to die as he died. So are all who chose to live their lives valiantly and nobly...with integrity.
He made mistakes in life but his death wasn't payment for those mistakes...all men make mistakes. His end was the end of many in this world who will dare to do what is right and fight for the good. I must take a minute here and describe just what a great man Boromir was. Is that ok? Here we go:
When hearing of the
death of Boromir, Eomer (one of the kings of Rohan which is a country of men
next to Gondor where Boromir lived) cries out in dismay:
That was long but it tells you what kind of man Boromir really was, doesn’t it? Evil hates good and every man who stands and defends a noble cause will be attacked viciously. Laying down our lives for all that is right and honorable is a privelege that gives us a place along side the greatest men in earth's history and aligns us with God.
As horrible and sad as it is to watch, Boromir's death is a fitting end to a life that modeled this so courageously. Don’t you think?
I have to talk to you a bit about Frodo. (And really, the rest of the hobbits too—especially Sam.)
There are many heroic characters—with skill and genius—in Lord of the
Rings. But it touches me
deeply is that the ultimate hero of the story has none of these special
advantages. He breaks the
conventional heroic mould. He’s
not a warrior, he’s not a wizard; he has no special rank, no special
knowledge, no conspicuously heroic credentials at all.
He’s not even, like Harry Potter, secretly empowered.
The one supernatural advantage he has, that famous ring, is not really
his and he must never use it or all will be lost.
think this theme of ordinary, unconventional heroes is at the heart of
Tolkien’s classic work. (It is
also at the heart of Lewis’ Narnia. And isn’t it at the very heart of
Christianity too?) This is what
makes Hobbits so enduringly attractive. They
are not tragic and death-defying warriors but they are frail and comic foot
soldiers like us. The Nine Walkers
-- four hobbits, two men, an elf, a dwarf, and a wizard -- constitute not a
company of the noble but of the ordinary.
They all learn, in a
Christian way, what every mortal must confront: the solemn reality that we no
sooner find our lives than we have to give them up.
Unlike Bilbo, Frodo his nephew is not called to find but to lose, indeed
to destroy, his great gem: the Ring of Total Control.
It is not a task that he eagerly seeks but only reluctantly accepts.
Yet Frodo proves to be a fit bearer of the Ring.
Not only does he possess native powers of courage and resistance; he is
also summoned by a mysterious Providential grace.
The destruction of the Ring is nothing less than Frodo's vocation
(lifework). And the epic's
compelling interest lies in our discovery of how, just barely, Frodo remains
faithful to his calling. For in so
doing, he does far more than save his beloved Shire from ruin.
Frodo learns -- and thus teaches -- what
for Tolkien is the deepest of all Christian truths (and is for us too): how
to surrender one's life, how to lose one's treasure, how to die, and thus how
truly to live.
I really resonate with the idea that the virtues
of courage, integrity and self-sacrifice, when embraced by simple, ordinary
people, can be so important.
That is what really draws me to Frodo and gives him such charisma! What a wonderful, powerful role Frodo has in Lord of the Rings! Even if he is “just a hobbit”.
again guys! Do
you believe that God answers our requests when we ask him for help?
As we have read The Fellowship of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia,
two things in these stories have really hit me hard.
These are so powerful!
The first one is the hobbits in a time of need:
fell forward over Merry and Merry’s face felt cold.
All at once back into his mind, from which it had first disappeared with
the first coming of the fog, came the memory of the house down under the hill,
and of Tom singing.
He remembered the rhyme that Tom had taught them.
In a small desperate voice he began:
Ho! Tom Bombadil! and with that name his voice seemed to grow strong:
it had a full and lively sound, and the dark chamber echoed as if to drum
Ho! Tom Bombadil, Tom Bombadillo!
water, wood and hill, by the reed and willow,
fire, sun and moon, harken now and hear us!
Tom Bombadil, for our need is near us!
was a sudden deep silence in which Frodo could hear his heart beating.
After a long slow moment he heard plain, but far away……an
answering voice singing……”
second is one of Narnia’s darkest hours:
stranger, who had been lying in a huddled heap on the deck, sat up and burst out
into a horrible screaming laugh.
‘Never get out!’ he yelled, ‘that’s it of course.
We shall never get out……no, no, we shall never get out!’
Lucy leant her head on the edge of the fighting top and whispered,
‘Aslan, Aslan, if ever you have loved us at all, send us help now.’
cried Rynelf’s voice hoarsely from the bows.
There was a tiny speck of light ahead, and while they watched, a broad
beam of light fell from it upon the ship……Lucy looked along the beam and
presently saw something in it.
At first it looked like a cross, then it looked like an aeroplane, then
it looked like a kite, and at last with a whirring of wings it was right
love the way that JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis so dramatically portray the power of
was a whiff of true delight I think for all of us.
direful times in our lives or just when we really need help, then is when our
small, desperate voices should cry out in the darkness.
Help WILL come!
Sometimes it is not exactly what we expect but it is always what we
of reminds me of part of one of Dustin’s favorite texts in Joel 2—“And it
will come about that whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be
course, remember Jesus and his disciples in the storm?
“…and they came to Him and awoke Him, saying, ‘Save us, Lord!
We are perishing!’……then He arose, and rebuked the winds and the
Don’t you love it? Makes me want to go read about Tom Bombadil and the Dawn Treader all over again!