What do my thoughts about abundance and Lord of the Rings (LOTR) have in common (See post from 11/14)?
J.R.R. Tolkien explained that although LOTR was published soon after World War II (1954-55), the books were neither a metaphor for the evils of war nor the evils the war was intended to conquer. Instead it was a commentary on industrialism and the damage industrialization did to rural living. So I think of LOTR as a parable about people becoming more preoccupied with industrial or commercial productivity and seeing the value of people, things, and time according to their place in “progress”. It is also about losing touch with nature, community, and all the things in life that aren’t productive. It is about wanting more, thinking we don’t have enough. The ring is the opposite of abundance, the ring makes us lose sight of the value of “unproductive” things like love, compassion, sharing, giving, laughing, playing, resting, spending time in another’s company, just being. The ring is the thoughts or actions that make us tense our muscles in fear and stiffen our bodies so that God’s abundant love can’t keep us afloat.
Like Frodo, we know that justice and our duty to God demand that we destroy the ring that we all bear, as members of a consumer society. Like Sam, we are filled with God-given love and loyalty to our own family and friends and sometimes the wider community. Like Gollum, most of us can’t even contemplate being separated from our house, car and other stuff – our passion and greed have a hold on us.
So which is ultimately more important in getting the ring into the volcano? Duty, justice, love, loyalty, passion or greed?
In Lord of the Rings, all of the characters and all of their qualities were essential to the destruction of the ring. In life, God can use all of us and all of our traits to destroy our addiction to things and the productive and consumer mindset. The ring will be destroyed, one way or another. As we all know, we can’t take “things” with us when we go. The question is whether we will lose our life and soul as Gollum did, a finger and our physical and emotional health like Frodo did, or lose nothing in Sam’s case (although he is burdened with sorrow for those he loves).
Query for prayerful consideration:
How do I want to live my life? Will I fall into Mount Doom holding the ring on a finger I bit off? Will I lose a finger and live a sort of a life? Or will I follow love and loyalty wherever they lead me?