It’s not often that I turn to a work of fiction to address a spiritual concern. But from time to time an author’s work of fiction can say more in a few sentences than I could in an hour of preaching. That is the case here in this blog. Now we all know some of the bad guys in the realm of fiction. Without stretching my brain in the least, I could rattle off names like Darth Vader, Lex Luthor, the Joker, President Snow, General Zod, Commodus, and the Voturi to give us a snap shot of some pretty mean folks. But JRR Tolkien’s creation of the dark lord “Sauron” in the Lord of the Rings trilogy might just be the crème de la crème. To call Sauron “bad” would probably offend him (and Tolkien). He is much worse than bad…he is evil personified. The Lord of the Rings would have never gotten off the ground as classic literature (or classic movies) if the lead villain had merely been a mean person. He needed to be more than that…much more. Tolkien delivered in spades.
It is not possible for me to tell you “everything” about a story this deep in a blog of this size. But there are a few things you need to understand in order to appreciate the point I am trying to make. The narration at the beginning of The Fellowship of the Ring is most helpful in giving you the scoop behind the story. We learn from that narration the great history of Middle Earth and the forging of “the great rings.” The elves are described as immortal, the wisest, and fairest of all the beings. They were given 3 rings. The dwarves were great miners and craftsmen of the mountain halls. They were given 7 rings. The race of men makes up the 3rd group and they are described as desiring power above all else…not a small point in the story to be sure. They were given 9 rings. We are told that all the rings contained the strength and will to govern each of the 3 races. But then the narrator utters the haunting words, “But they were all deceived.” We are then told there was another ring…formed in secret by Sauron the dark lord. This ring would be a master ring…to control all others. In creating the ring, Sauron poured his own cruelty, malice, and the desire to dominate all of life into this “ring of power”…one ring to rule them all…everything…everyone.
The narration tells of how Sauron and his ring of power conquered kingdom after kingdom and spread its evil influence over much of Middle Earth. The ring made Sauron invincible. With this ring it was only a matter of time before the whole of Middle Earth would either die or become slaves of Sauron. But at a critical point in history, the elves and the race of men teamed up in a last ditch effort to save Middle Earth from evil. They gathered their armies and marched into Mordor to face Sauron on the hills of Mt Doom…the dark lord’s territory and proverbial back yard. In that battle the king of the army of men was killed by Sauron. The king’s son, Isildur, takes a section of his father’s shattered sword and strikes the hand of Sauron in a moment of desperation…cutting it off…separating Sauron from his ring. The elves and men take advantage of the opportunity and win the battle as a result. Isildur now has the ring…and has the chance to destroy it…by casting it into the fires of Mt Doom–the only place it could be destroyed. This is a key moment in the story. Isildur could have destroyed the ring…and evil…in the process. In short, the destruction of the ring would have brought peace to all the races. But as a human who desires power above all else…he keeps the ring. The story tells us “his strength failed.” He wanted the ring and the power that came with it. He failed to realize the ring had a will all of its own. In time, the ring betrays Isildur and he dies. The ring of power comes to rest in the bottom of a stream where it would stay for the next 2,500 years.
It is here we are told something that is both ironic and hard to believe. The narrator says, “And some things that should not have been forgotten were lost. History became legend. Legend become myth. And for two and a half thousand years, the ring passed out of all knowledge.” Somehow…in the passing of time…the unthinkable happened. The great evil of Sauron and his ring are forgotten. The narrator’s words are not only bizarre…they are also scary. If Sauron was to ever possess the ring of power again, the fate of Middle Earth would be sealed. Critically important things that should never have been forgotten…were lost. In time, no one talked about them anymore…at all. Out of sight was indeed out of mind…and something very terrible had been forgotten.
As I sit here typing I find myself thinking that the narrator who described all that happened could actually be describing the Christian realm in today’s world. Watching the movies and reading the books, you realize just how important Sauron and his ring are…and the danger associated with both. Once you get into the storyline, it becomes all the more unforgivable that something so important and costly could be forgotten. I know it’s fiction…but what a point it makes about “the race of men.” We have a nasty habit of forgetting important things as we diligently pursue less-important matters. Without question, Tolkien’s description of humanity was spot on. Consider the current view of “sin” in today’s world. Much of humanity has adopted the “nobody is perfect” approach and the word “sin” has all but died. Note the progression…with sin no longer viewed as important…Satan, his evil impact, and our fallen natures are now relegated to legend and myth in the eyes of many…if not most. Of course, the progression doesn’t stop here…if Satan, sin, and evil are no longer taken seriously, then what God has done through Christ on the cross and His resurrection also get thrown into the legend and myth pile as well…along with our Bibles.
Many of our older folks remember the sermons of old which were filled with warnings concerning Satan and his quest to destroy the race of men…eternally. Heaven, along with hell, were mentioned almost weekly and just about every single time the doors of the church were open. Sadly, those days and concerns have been seemingly shelved or forgotten. Modern Christians are for more concerned about blessings they get out of the deal, how to increase their self-esteem, and how to become better versions of themselves so they can get what they want out of life. Sadly, our spiritual enemy and his agenda have seemingly passed from all knowledge as these lesser matters have become more important. Sin, Satan, and spiritual warfare almost sound like fables and stories.
Tolkien’s efforts successfully highlight perhaps our greatest weakness–forgetting what is most important. We must remember as we are trying to achieve the many things we feel like we deserve, other forces are constantly at work and they never take breaks or days off. Could it be we have become to busy to notice? Could it be we have come to believe the hype about the race of men and no longer feel the world needs a savior? As we are reaching for our own stars, we must be ever-so-careful not to forget our spiritual enemy. He hates God. He hates Christ. He hate Christ’s followers. He hates everyone. May God help us to not forget…to do so would indeed be unforgivable.
Blessings to you and your families! Thanks again for taking the time to read my blog. Hope and pray you found it helpful.