Confession. I have not actually read any of The Lord of the Rings. Additionally, until recently, whenever I watched any of the movies, I fell asleep. People are horrifed at this, me being a literature teacher and all. And I’m not proud of it. I just can’t help it. As soon as I read the words “troll” or “goblin,” or “middle earth,” something happens inside of me and I check out. I am well aware that this tendency exempts me from a large amount of the world’s beautiful literature, but I can’t help it.
Usually my husband shares this predisposition against fantasy-land, but he has been nagging me for years to watch The Lord of the Rings. Which I didn’t understand, until now.
There are bookstores written about these stories, and I’m not going to attempt to add to the discussion after one skeptical viewing of the movies. But I do get it now…and one thing in particular stood out to me.
They are not scared to die. Not at all. They’re not even scared of pain. In fact, they run to it. You watch it and just baffle. At least I do. I’m trying my darndest to prevent, avoid, predict, and flee every hardship my mind conceives. But to these characters, struggles, death, and pain are – not merely accepted – but chased after.
There’s one scene where Gandoff is encouraging a little dwarf, Pippin, before the big battle. The dwarf is more like me, gulping at the battle, grimacing at death. He says, “I didn’t think it would end this way.” Gandoff responds: “End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take. The grey-rain curtain of this world rolls past, and then we’ll see it.” Pippin: “What? See what?” Gandoff: “White shores, and beyond. A far green country with a swift sunrise.” Pippin: “Well that isn’t quite so bad.” Gandoff: “No, it isn’t.”
There’s one verse I’ve been thinking a lot about. I like to think Tolkien thought about it too:
“Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death, that is, the devil, and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” (Heb. 2:14-15)