Tag Archives: Gollum

Purposes and Implosions of Evil

“I will stir up Egyptian against Egyptian—
    brother will fight against brother,
    neighbor against neighbor,
    city against city,
    kingdom against kingdom.”
Isaiah 19:2 (NIV)

‘Yes, they quarreled, seemingly,’ said Sam. ‘There must have been a couple of hundred of the dirty creatures in this place. A bit of a tall order for Sam Gamgee, as you might say. But they’ve done all the killing of themselves.’
The Lord of the Rings, Book 6, Chapter 1

Evil falls prey to its own nature. That’s one of the themes that Tolkien threaded through his epic stories. Left to its own devices, evil implodes from its self-seeking appetites:

  • Several characters relented from killing Gollum and Gandalf even believed that Gollum had a part to play in the fate of the ring. Gollum’s insatiable lust for the One Ring was what ultimately saved Frodo and everyone else, while destroying both the Ring and himself.
  • In the Tower of Cirith Ungol Sam is able to find Frodo and rescue him because all of the orcs fought and destroyed each other. (see quoted passage above)
  • The orcs who took Merry and Pippin quarrel over their captives and their quarrel is leveraged by the hobbits to plot their escape.
  • Gandalf refuses to kill either Saruman or Wormtongue. In the end, Wormtongue finishes Saruman off himself.

I thought about this theme in Tolkien’s stories, and its caused me to think about my responses and reactions to evil that I encounter around me and in others. As a young man I was far more given to the notion of swift and final justice of any perpetrator of evil. The further I get in my journey the more I’ve come to appreciate that life is not always as simply black and white.

Even God, through the word of the prophets, makes it clear that sometimes the agents of evil unwittingly serve the greater design of the Great Story. In Isaiah’s prophetic messages to the nations in the past few chapters there has been a recurring theme of Israel’s enemies accomplishing God’s larger purposes. And, sometimes  implodes and devours itself.

Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement,” Gandalf says to Frodo regarding Gollum’s deserving justice. “For even the very wise cannot see all ends.”

This morning I’m thinking about grand themes of good and evil, of mercy and justice. I would love for things to always be simple in the story telling and to avoid the messiness of the mystery. I would especially appreciate it as I apply these themes to my own life and relationships. Yet, my life journey has taught me that things are rarely that simple. The truth is that I would have quickly dispatched Gollum and considered it a just end, but then how would the larger epic have ended?

I’m left, as I am so often am, praying for wisdom and discernment. I’m trying harder than ever to suppress my natural eagerness to deal out judgement. I’m trying harder than ever to increase love in tangible ways.

 

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Chapter-a-Day Psalm 7

Gollum from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobb...
Gollum from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

[The wicked] dig a deep pit to trap others,    
     then fall into it themselves.
The trouble they make for others backfires on them.
     The violence they plan falls on their own heads.
Psalm 7:15-16 (NLT)

I just finished the unabridged audio version of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings…again. Listening to the epic tale is sort of an annual pilgrimage I make while I spend time on the road. Over the years I’ve come to appreciate the many themes Tolkien developed within this “leaf” he claims to have pulled  “from the tree of tales.”

I was struck once more by the very theme David brings out in the lyrics of today’s Psalm. Evil digs its’ own grave. The trap that the wicked lay for others springs back on themselves. The orcs at Cirith Ungol kill one another, allowing Sam to find and rescue Frodo. Saruman’s indescriminate attitude towards nature brings the unexpected wrath of the Ents which, in turn, brings ruin down on the kingdom he’d created for himself. Even Gollum, driven by his self-seeking addiction to the ring, ends up bringing an end to himself and it.

To that end, Tolkien weaves an interesting change in Frodo towards the end of the story. When the hobbits return back to their beloved homeland, they find it overrun with evil men and ruffians under the influence of the broken wizard, Saruman. While Pippin and Merry raise the Shire, realizing that the ruffians will only be driven out by armed force, Frodo becomes a voice for tolerance in the conflict. He refuses to take up arms. He stops fellow hobbits from indescriminate killing. He refuses to allow Saruman to be killed by a hobbit, choosing to let Saruman go to find his own evil ends (which he quickly does when his own wicked protege slays him).

Over time, Tolkein’s story, along with passages of God’s Message like today’s chapter, have influenced how I view and perceive others in whom I perceive wickedness of thought and action. I still have more questions than answers. Nevertheless, the older I get the more my scales of thought tip towards obedience to Jesus’ command not to judge others “for even the wise cannot see all ends.”

Tom’s 30 Day Blogging Challenge Day 6

Superfriends
Image by Digital_Rampage via Flickr

If you could possess one supernatural ability, what would it be?

When I first read this question I thought to myself that I’d like the ability to become invisible. But, then I thought about Gollum in The Lord of the Rings. He could become invisible when he put on the ring and look how he turned out. It would probably not be a terribly positive supernatural ability. Too many temptations to use the ability for all the wrong reasons.

Then I thought about flying. Which would be really cool and save me time and gas money (in good weather). But, if I’m the only one who could do it, then it doesn’t profit me much. Think about it. If I wanted to go anywhere with Wendy then she’d have to follow me below in the car like she was the chase vehicle for a hot air balloon and what’s the point of that? Just because I could fly wouldn’t give me the strength I’d need to carry anybody with me over long distances like Superman.

So, I think the supernatural ability to heal others would be my pick. I’d love the ability to instantly make a fractured mind, a diseased body and/or broken spirit whole again. It wouldn’t make me comic book cool. “Healing Man” just doesn’t strike me as bright spandex and cape worthy. Nevertheless, it would make a huge difference in the lives of others.

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Chapter-a-Day Luke 8

Gollum in Peter Jackson's live-action version ...
Image via Wikipedia

Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”

“Mob. My name is Mob,” he said, because many demons afflicted him. And they begged Jesus desperately not to order them to the bottomless pit.

A large herd of pigs was browsing and rooting on a nearby hill. The demons begged Jesus to order them into the pigs. He gave the order. It was even worse for the pigs than for the man. Crazed, they stampeded over a cliff into the lake and drowned.

Just the other day I finished a trilogy of books by Brent Weeks [I plan to write a post about them]. They wove an amazing story of good and evil and within there was a character who made conscious choices to embrace evil, yet those choices were ultimately woven into the climactic good of all. Wendy and I ended up in a long discussion about the theme of good and evil in some of our favorite stories.

In the Lord of the Rings, the character of Gollum is a mischeivous, evil character. To the very end he is offered opportunities to turn from his ways, but instead chooses into his lust for the ring. Yet, without that choice, evil would have ultimately have triumphed.

In Harry Potter, the character of Wormtail is a despicable character who has chosen into the darkness, yet his actions ultimately pave the way for good to prevail.

I thought of these literary reflections of the Great Story as I read today’s chapter. I found it interesting that Jesus had the power to cast the mob of demons into the abyss and the demons knew it. Surely they deserved such and end. Yet they pleaded with Jesus not to do so and Jesus acted with compassion.

I’m perplexed at his decision, and challenged.

The further I travel in the journey, the less likely I find myself to render quick judgement on any person. I can’t see all ends, and I find that God weaves His good  purposes through despicable individuals and their acts.

Today, as I mull over these things, my heart whispers the serenity prayer:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the the things (and persons) I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

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