The sting of allegory: Lord of the Rings

lord of the ringsThe Lord of the Rings is an epic loaded with allegories laced with the strains of truth which men reject from man’s institutional religions.  In my own spiritual struggles over the last 20 years of my life, I’ve grown closer to unraveling those fibers of fiction in order to peer into my own soul.  Yet, I’m afraid that those poignant messages are lost when the uneducated masses sit before this masterpiece of film.

the shireThe first simple message is that those who seek power are crushed by it.  The hobbits, of course, want to live simple lives, not venture from their hobbit holes in the shire http://gusgo.webs.com/theshirefarm.htm , and to basically enjoy the pleasures of life, like hearth and home, the pipe, the potato and carrots.  The ring is for those who want to yield power.  The ring draws the ambitious.  Those tempted to use it, which includes even Gandalf, either succumb to it, bringing out of them their own personal darkness, or spurring them to fight off madness.

That message is the most readily visible part of the story .  It percolates throughout the whole of the three books.  Yet, in the writing, the analogy I’m more interested in is Frodo getting lost away from Sam, and caught in the webbings of the Shelob.   This relates to the spiritual condition of those who have separated from the fellowship of men.  The more people are disconnected with the body of believers, the more easily they are to become prey by the wicked.  The sicker the mind, the more one stumbles, like Froto in the lair Cirith Ungol .

spider There are whole classes of leeches in the world.  They are known by their own markings: Get rich schemes, pleasure purveyors, selling sex, drugs, alcohol, what will make you cool and fit in.  The tares of these temptations are venomous.  Add to that the tangles such as video games  , television shows , porn    and other entertainments that waste the productive souls of men, and you have a whole web of things to secure men from the light of truth.

The webbings aren’t deadly for Frodo, but in the story he has ventured too far into the dark to be safe.  He nearly perishes due to the perversity of Gollum  , who has tasted of and been consumed by the power of the ring.   Frodo is like us once we have wandered from friends and family who care for us.  Actually the true fellowship would be more akin to those connected to the members of a Christian body who live the commandments to love one another.  I think J. R.R. Tolkien would agree with the assumption.

frodo in webThe wages of sin are death, and just like the poisoned spider sting the Frodo encounters, that is how people who have given in to the darkness cause themselves harm.  The meth addict consumes their own flesh in pursuit of the pleasure of their drug.  The crack addict   too.  Each addict is not intending their own demise.  They have lost command of themselves.  The emotional turmoil inside is so painful that the willfully wash their minds with chemicals to block out the hurt.

Most of the world is so hedonistic or nihilistic that they turn their back on these warped beings.  They need to recover, but that takes the true and unquantifiable force of love – that is the picture Tolkien paints with Sam recovering Frodo, and later when he carries him up the steep slopes of mount doom.

fellowship of the ringDeeper within my psych, I have realized that the first step for people away from the love of God is for them to step outside the fellowship.  Breaking fellowship removes the unsuspected to a world of pain.  I see that in families, like my own, that once love is lost and obligation is the only tread holding a family together, that family members often hurt each other, and care little if their members wander from the path.  It is worst when the family has turned their back on faith, or with a greater fatalism have curse religion, faith and God – like the atheists do.  Where they have been wronged is that what should have been a loving center becomes a place of pain.  Everyone wants to avoid dens of inequity.

mount doomWhat is most amazing is that even in those dark arenas of despair God’s love can still penetrate.  But those sapped of their will power, left without true friends, for no friend feeds off another, only need to reach back to the fellowship to find comfort.  Families are often entirely inadequate for this purpose.  They are often so concerned about their resources, that they cut off the hand that reaches from within  the darkness.  Unlike the father who has the prodigal son mentioned in the bible, these families say that they will give their own sons shelter for a week, and then if they haven’t gotten a means of supporting themselves, they are out.  I heard a motherly hypocrite  recently talking about that on my bus.  My wife also spoke with a guy who had come back to visit family when he had lost his job, and they turned him out on the street, changing the locks.

Healthy families don’t kick their own when they are down.  But I suspect that before their rebellion started that their homes lacked the love necessary to help the children grow up feeling safe.  I certainly understand that personally.

samSo the point I’m making here is that Frodo is like anyone who has lost touch with the family of God – which is the true family.  That he needs to connect with those who love and support him.  For all of those out there who have families who only give love if the child meets some level of adequate behavior, you need to realize that that type of love is only a starvation diet.  God’s love is expressed better when people are from the fellowship.  But it takes for some to hit the bottom, to take the venom to their soul, until they are helpless, paralyzed and without support, as if they were stuck in the web, before they can realize their need, face their own shame, and give themselves to the true loving father for whom we are starving.  Everyone needs a Sam.



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