Tolkien’s Hope for the Modern World

From an article at The Imaginative Conservative:

Perhaps no where in his myriad of writing, did Tolkien better explain this than in a brief scene in The Lord of the Rings. Deep in Mordor, Tolkien’s mythological equivalent of an earthly hell, “Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty forever beyond its reach.”[2] Sam saw beauty; the beauty of the white star demonstrated for him the permanence of goodness, and he fought for the truth of the One, the One who created all things and allows us the privilege of being actors in His Story.

Sam’s hope is the hope that springs forth from the Grace imparted by the Incarnation, the Death, and the Resurrection of Christ. It is the hope that reminds us that the baptized must sanctify the world and “redeem the time,” as St. Paul commanded. It is the hope that reminds us that God makes nothing in vain, and that Grace–and Grace alone–perfects fallen nature. It is the hope that each one of us is born in a certain time, and a certain place, for a certain purpose, or purposes. It is the hope that reminds us that we mean something, that God loves us so much that He blessed us by making us a part of His Story: the story that began when the Blessed Trinity spoke the Universe into Existence, when The Father sent His only Son to live with us for thirty-three years, fully God and fully man, to teach, and then to suffer, and then to die on a piece of wood, betrayed by even his closest friends. But St. John remained. And from the cross, Jesus turned to His Mother, and said, “Behold your son.” It is the hope that Mary and St. John held in their hearts. It is the hope that comes after three days of anxiety, gripping frustration, and utter despair, as the women at the tomb understand that Christ conquered death, ransoming us from sin for no other reason than love. Indeed, it is the hope that all things are created and animated by the love of the Holy Spirit. Love, not the Ring of Tolkien’s mythology—not worldly power—is the greatest force in the universe. Even Samwise Gamgee, the mythical Hobbit living in a pre-Christian world, the land between heaven and hell, this Middle-earth, understood that. And, so should we.


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