Sauron: Control Freak
Sauron is a pretty plain character: Evil, unadulterated and cunning and powerful evil.
But it's the nature of his evil that's interesting. Tolkien told his publisher, Stanley Unwin, that Sauron's evil stemmed from his obsession with power. Sauron, the “reincarnation of Evil,” is “a thing lusting for Complete Power–and so consumed ever more fiercely with hate.” (Letters, 151)
Interesting take for us, in these days of power obsession. We desire control over our lives, and control is just another name for power. Sauron was a control freak; so our we.
Our lust for control takes many forms. In our culture, it is most blatantly manifested by the quest for money. Money, Simone Weil said, is power's master key. We undertake all sorts of efforts to get it. Some sad: career obsession. Some illegal: insider trading. Some violent: armed robbery. The lust for control takes many other forms, reaching its highest deformed cultural levels in euthanasia and abortion.
The lust for control always reach deformed levels because the lust for control is a spiritual disease. It emanates from the soul's choice of pride and self. The term “soul” is not merely an artistic word with vague meanings. It means a spiritual agent that operates by spiritual rules. The spiritual rule at work here is the rule that the spiritual cannot be satisfied by the material, and a spiritual disease cannot be cured by material methods. Consequently, no amount of power or control seems like enough to the control-crazed Leader. The man with everything wants more because he has nothing for his soul. As he gets more but fails to nurture a soul, he becomes a deformity. As the deformity grows, it becomes malignant.
Created a deity, Sauron was immortal. Consequently, unlike men whose earthly lust for power is extinguished by death, his lust for Complete Power continued and was visible on earth (i.e., Middle Earth) for thousands of years. His lust for power was the centerpiece of The Lords of the Rings–the One Ring being the greatest of the “Rings of Power,” and his lust created the ugliness and evil that has understandably captivated the minds of youth for decades. The malignant deformity emanating from the lust for power is, of course, not limited to the fictional Middle Earth. It has saturated the 20th century in the form of (thankfully) mortal Saurons like Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, and their ugly proteges and minions. Although everyone is prepared to condemn these men's actions, it is first necessary to condemn their spiritual state–the power-obsessed soul that polluted them.
How many of us can do this without condemning ourselves?