Month: July 2004

“Work and leisure are complementary parts of the same living process and cannot be separated without destroying the joy of work and the bless of leisure.” E.F. Schumacher… Read the rest

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 … Read the rest

Elven Sleep
 
            After the defeat of Sauron and celebration, Gimli the Dwarf, Aragorn, the Hobbits and everyone else bedded down. But not Legolas the Elf. He said he would rather walk in the woods and dream of crossing the Sea.

            Elves are immortal, saving violent death. They weren’t meant by Illuvatar to sleep the sleep of death; as a corollary, neither do they sleep the sleep of mortal night. Instead they walk in the forests, looking at the stars. That is their sleep.

            It’s a type of dream. It’s the dream of the Undying Lands. The Elves were meant from their coming to travel over the sea, to leave Middle Earth and go to the Undying Lands. But some refused the journey; others returned to make war on Morgoth and remained on Middle Earth after Mortgoth was vanquished. The desire to go to the Undying Lands burned in every elf and in Legolas, a green elf whose ancestors had never seeing the Undying Lands, was awakened when he came to the shore of the sea as a member of the fellowship of the Ring.

            And their children would always dream of returning to the Undying Lands. For that is where their souls were meant to be. And of that they dreamed, in their stroll-substitutes for human sleep. Their dreams were evidence of Immortal Lands. Likewise maybe our dreams, where time and space blur and get lost in an eternal-like frame of reference, may signal our eventual return to Undying Lands as well. … Read the rest

Giant on Giant
 
In January, 1910, H.L. Mencken wrote of Chesterton’s George Bernard Shaw: “The cleverest man in all the world, with the second cleverest as his subject, is here doing his cleverest writing. . . Not since St. Augustine have the gods sent us a man who could make the incredible so fascinatingly probable.” 

But the next year (1911) Mencken excoriated GKC’s What’s Wrong with the World, writing that Chesterton had grown tiresome and redundant, saying Chesterton “needs a holiday, a chance to catch his breath, a rest in some philosophical sanitarium, a course of intellectual wet nursing. Let him put aside his pen for a year or so and renew his stock of ideas.” In 1912, Mencken’s opinion hadn’t changed much, writing in a letter to Louis Untermeyer that he has grown tired of Chesterton’s prose. “He has said all he has to say,” Mencken wrote. “Of late his stuff has been mere repetition.” Mencken did concede, however, that he thought Untermeyer’s good opinion of The Ballad of the White Horse was “right.” 
 … Read the rest

Every unkind thought reflects a defect in my soul, which is connected to my mind, which is connected to my brain. Therefore, how can I ever be sure that my unkind thought is accurate? And if I’m not sure it’s accurate, shouldn’t I keep quiet, rather than take the risk of saying something false? And if it may not be accurate, isn’t it foolish to entertain the thought in the first place? … Read the rest

Ents

Ents
The lovable Ents. The most ancient of peoples of Middle Earth. They were the shepherd of the trees, and, like their wards, they were trees—but mobile and with the gift of speech. They were slow to jump to conclusions or to judge, a trait we’d expect of an intelligent tree. But when they reached a conclusion—like they concluded that Saruman’s Isengard must be crushed—the results were like an earthquake. Gentle and loving giants, but with a sure sense of right and wrong.
It’s no coincidence that Tolkien gave Ents such a lovable place in Middle Earth lore. Tolkien loved trees and loathed those who destroyed them with no good reason—like Saruman’s evil servants had been destroying the trees around Isengard. Tolkien once told a friend about a childhood incident: “There was a willow hanging over the millpool and I learned to climb it. It belonged to a butcher on the Stratford Road, I think. One day they cut it down. They didn’t do anything with it: the log just lay there. I never forgot that.”
You wonder whether Tolkien’s account of the Ents destroying Isengard in payment for the wanton destruction of their wards stems directly from that childhood incident. It doesn’t really matter because the lesson is clear: Nature is a gift, a high gift of God. If we wantonly destroy nature, we violate our fiduciary duty—our duty as stewards of God’s creation—and re-payment is sure to come.
Read the rest