Tomorrow is Good Friday. It's also Tolkien Reading Day. Really. It's a day when the Tolkien Society encourages people to promote the life and works of Tolkien. In the comment section, readers are invited to comment on what they will read.
Since reading day falls on Good Friday this year, I will do my reading today. Tolkien used fiction to illustrate the insidious nature of evil: its lust for power, its betrayal, its ugliness. The Lord of the Rings is filled with it. It's also filled with courage, friendship, faithfulness, sacrifice, and the power of the simple to confound the wise, the proud and the mighty.
I think I'll read the section where Frodo is stabbed by the Nazgul and reflect on the lance thrust into Christ's side. It was sin that made Christ suffer and die. For Frodo, it is the evil of Sauron's minion who inflicts the wound that never completely heals.Fiction like Tolkien's can touch hearts that may resist more overt Christian reading.
Will you join me in praying today that everyone who reads Tolkien will be led to the inspiration behind the work? Frodo is a Christ figure, a flawed one to be sure since, in the end, he succumbs to the evil power of the ring. Ironically, it is the nasty little creature Gollum who falls with the ring into the fire. That reminds me of another truth. God can always bring good out of evil. And it is the compassion of Bilbo sparing Gollum's life that, in the end, helps bring about the destruction of the ring.
Nevertheless, despite his flaws, Frodo is a hero whose journey is a continuous valiant struggle against great odds. The fact that Sam is always there with him reminds me of Jesus sending out his disciples two-by-two. God first gave Moses Aaron to help him fight the power of Pharoah. Frodo has Sam to help him fight the power of Sauron. With great courage, they persevere on a saving mission to rescue Middle Earth from the coming darkness.
We need many Frodos today and Sams to help them as we fight the growing darkness of a multitude of Saurons in our midst. And may God raise up many Catholic authors to inspire a new generation to join the battle and engage the evil one with courage and fortitude.
I didn't realize there was such a thing as Tolkien reading day.
Several times a year, I pick up LOTR or Hobbit and read bits and pieces. I read the Silmarillion years ago and didn't like it. I have skipped all of Christophers retreads.
My adult children find it amusing that their Dad knows the words to the song the Dwarves sing while cleaning up Bilbo's dishes. One of the very few enjoyable and authentic scenes in the Hobbit movie that I've seen. I mean, seriously dude, what is Radagast doing in the Hobbit and why is he all yuky?
Anyway. I find Theoden and enormously sympathetic character. A King who never felt he was up to the greatness of his ancestors and who grieves terribly for his deceased son who fell while he was under Wormtongue and Saruman's spell.
And, yet, he is given the grace that we could all hope and pray for. A noble death and redemption serving those we love.
“Where is the horse and the rider? Where is the horn that was blown? They have passed like rain on the mountains; like wind in the meadow. The days have come down on the West, behind the hills, into shadow... How did it come to this?” Theoden
Now that is poetry, my friend!
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