Judeo-Christian Worldview: Lord of the Rings, Character-Building Activities, Patience and Persistence

Judeo-Christian Worldview

Foundation of Faith:

Lord of the Rings, Character-Building Activities, Patience and Persistence

Dinner Topics for Monday

 

See It Through

keyLife demands your part, but with faith you can persevere.

 

taft-tunnel-bikes-lightNear the beginning of Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, Sam Gamgee, friend of hero Frodo, had just returned from an evening with the elves.  Sam had promised the elves that he would never quit Frodo, even if they climbed to the moon.

Frodo explained that the mission would be dangerous, and that neither of them was likely to return.

Sam replied that he felt different.  He now had a sense of mission, a need to leave his home town and do something, though it was not yet clear what that something was.  He only knew he could not turn back.  “I must see it through, sir,” he said.

Sometimes it is a blessing not to know exactly what lies ahead.  If we had fully known the challenges, trials, and tribulations of marriage and child-rearing, we might never have married or had children, and would have missed out on ineffable blessings.  Such is the walk of faith we are called upon to make— a journey through uncharted territory.  But without venturing, we cannot progress.

“Dispute not because ye see not,” said an ancient Israelite, “for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.”

light-endoftunnelHarold B. Lee said, “You must learn to walk a few steps into the darkness, and then the light will turn on and go before you.”

Our Father in Heaven has a mission for each one of us.  If we allow our fears to turn us back, we can lose our purpose.  If we fail to see it through, our mission can be taken from us and given to another more valiant.  As we continue to walk in faith, to the edge of the light, He reveals each day our purpose more clearly, line upon line, and precept upon precept.

As you continue faithfully to see it through, there will come a time when it is easier to keep going than to quit.  You will look back and see the reason for those trials, and how they have strengthened you.  And you will see that, if you stayed faithful, the light of Christ was always there for you, and the Spirit of the Lord never failed you.

knightladyKnights and Ladies at the Round Table

 

Dinner Topic: Perseverance, Teaching Follow Through, Responsibility, Patience, Dedication

1.  How can study, prayer, and keeping the commandments help you discover your purpose in life?

2.  How can the above steps help you prepare for the inevitable trials of life?

3.  How can assurance that what you are doing is right give you strength to persevere in the tough times?

4. What does it mean to “endure to the end”?

Advertisements

Christian Themes: Lord of the Rings

Christian Themes, Tolkien, and Lord of the Rings

Dinner Topics for Thursday

keyThe world Tolkien constructed is a world of providence, with purpose for life, and it mirrors our Christian world.

Classic Tolkien fiction conveys Christian faith

tolkeinBy Stacy Long
On December 14, a long-awaited event comes to pass, as Americans fill theaters on the opening night of The Hobbit, the first installment of another movie trilogy based on the novels of J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973). For those who are neither moviegoers nor Tolkien fans, discussing his work means exploring the Christian worldview Tolkien articulated in his stories. With that discussion comes a reminder of how worldviews are expressed in film and literature. It also reminds Christians of the need to be aware and discerning in their entertainment choices.

Built on a Christian worldview

One may ask how Tolkien’s books are Christian, since they never mention Christ, God or religion. Quite simply, it is because the author was a Christian and wrote from a Christian understanding. As Tolkien said, “I am a Christian and what I write will come from that essential viewpoint.”

Dr. Devin Brown, Tolkien scholar and literature professor at Kentucky’s Asbury University, described Tolkien’s works as indirectly Christian.

“They were written by a Christian author with a Christian worldview,” Brown explained in an interview with AFA Journal. “Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit are not evangelistic books. People don’t read those and decide to become Christians, but they work as pre-evangelism for people who were pre-disposed to be anti-Christian. When they read those books, they say, ‘I love this story; I love this world that has purpose and meaning and morality.’ The world Tolkien constructed is a world of providence, with purpose for life, and it mirrors our Christian world.”

Brown said that Tolkien’s books mirror the Christian world by exhibiting two central Christian truths: God is a Creator, and man is created in His image and reflects that creativity.

“As we function in God’s image, we will also be creators,” Brown said. “Tolkien as a writer created a world of his own, and he called Middle-earth [the setting for the books] the ‘sub-creation.’”

Even while he set his story in pre-Christian times, Tolkien filled it with Christian truth. Yet, Tolkien intentionally distanced readers from Christianity, and in doing so makes them see it anew.

Brown explained, “Tolkien was influenced by G.K. Chesterton, who said, ‘The best way to understand Christianity is from being inside it; the second best way is to be very far away from it so you can really see it for what it is.’ And so Tolkien created an earlier version of our world. Middle-earth is really our earth, ages and ages ago.”

Also, Tolkien demonstrated the coherence of Christian truth, which transcends time in light of the eternal existence of the triune God. As Brown pointed out, “[Christian truth] didn’t just start in the first century when Jesus came, but it has been a part of this world since the Creation of the world.”

Full of Christian truth

Another Tolkien scholar, Dr. Louis Markos of Houston Baptist University in Texas, joined Brown in pointing out Christian themes in Tolkien’s work.
The most obvious evidence of Christian worldview in the books is in the providence and purpose ascribed to Middle-earth and the lives of the characters.

Markos told AFAJ, “There is a trusting to providence, trusting that there is an overarching plan to history and you’re a part of it. One line from the book says, ‘The great stories never end.’ There is this idea that the characters are part of a story that started thousands of years ago and is slowly working its way out.”

Another noticeably Christian theme in Tolkien’s fiction is a strongly defined morality.

“Although moral decisions are often complex and difficult, there is always a choice that is right – in a universal sense – and a choice that is wrong. In his portrait of absolute truth, Tolkien presents a world that will feel familiar to Christian readers,” Brown wrote in an article titled “Five faith lessons from The Hobbit.”

A third predominant theme in the books is that ultimately, good always prevails over evil. In fact, Tolkien coined a word to express the idea that disasters can bring about the accomplishment of good.

“Tolkien coins this wonderful term, ‘eucatastrophe,’ which literally means ‘good catastrophe,’ meaning it looks like everything is going to collapse and then good comes out of it,” Markos explained. “The eucatastrophe of the Fall of Man is the birth of Christ and the resurrection. Of course, there are lots of little eucatastrophes in Tolkien’s stories, where a terrible event, when viewed in terms of overall providence, turns out to be a good event.”

For example, in The Hobbit, the main character, Bilbo, gives up what is most precious to him and receives little in return. However, in the end, he finds that the sacrifice was the making of him.

hobbitshire1“Bilbo’s living a narrow, confined, fearful life, and then he’s called to save Middle-earth, and in doing so he saves himself,” Brown said. The Hobbit shows that if you want to find yourself, the real way is to be a servant, to lose yourself.”

The Hobbit tells us a central truth: happiness does not come through material wealth,” Brown added. “There is a line where Bilbo is told, ‘The adventure will be very good and profitable for you.’ In the end, Bilbo does profit, but it is the kind of treasure Jesus talks about that rust and thieves will not corrupt.”

And in the ultimate losing of self – in death – Tolkien describes another eucatastrophe for the Christian.

“In Middle-earth, death is described as the gift of God to man. Tolkien has this incredible vision of understanding that death is good,” Markos said. “Death is still in a way a part of the fall, but death also releases us from our fallen state to heaven.”

Looking at our world

Tolkien’s stories point to the truth of the Christian worldview that they were constructed upon. When a person enters the world of Tolkien’s fantasy, there is an encounter with purpose, Providence, morality, hope – made startlingly and beautifully real.

“There is something insightful about human nature in these books, but Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit also have this underlying spiritual element that believers quickly latch onto,” Brown concluded. “One man described it as ‘a light from an unseen lamp.’ There is a light shining there, and you can’t quite see its source, but the story tells us about what’s important in life, what should be valued, where happiness lies. And that draws non-believers also. Tolkien takes us to Middle-earth and holds a mirror up to us, and what he shows us gains a poignancy in his imaginary world that it might not have had in our world.”

Finally, the popularity of these books, even among nonbelievers, suggests that the truth of Christianity they present is something that the world desires, despite its deep, desperate denial.

Related Post

Christian Fiction Literature: The Hobbit Party

 

_______________________________

What are parents to do?

Movies and books are powerful vehicles for presenting worldviews. Christian parents can train themselves and their children to recognize and analyze the worldviews presented in film and literature:

• Be well acquainted with the Christian worldview and with Scripture.
• Monitor what children read and watch.
• Don’t trust movie ratings. A PG or PG-13 movie may still have an anti-Christian worldview.
• Discuss the ideas presented through entertainment choices.

Sources used for this story:

The Christian World of The Hobbit, Devin Brown
On the Shoulders of Hobbits, Louis Markos
Philosophy of Tolkien, Peter Kreeft

From AFA Journal

Culture Wars: Lord of the Rings Actor fears loss of Moral Compass

‘Lord of the Rings’ Actor Fears Civilization Unwilling to Choose Good over Evil

keyWe have lost our moral compass completely, and, unless we find it, we’re going to lose our civilization. ~John Rhys-Davies

 

He portrayed the character Gimli in “The Lord of the Rings” movie series based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s profound moral tale of the battle between good and evil.

lord-of-rings-gimliAnd like Middle Earth in Tolkien’s novels , actor John Rhys-Davies believes Western civilization’s very existence is threatened by encroaching evil, but its leaders are afraid to even identify the problem for fear of being berated as “judgmental.”

“We have lost our moral compass completely, and, unless we find it, we’re going to lose our civilization,” he told podcaster Adam Carolla, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Rhys-Davies said previous generations have embraced what writer T.S. Eliot called “the common pursuit of true judgment,” the exercise of discerning good from evil and acting accordingly.

“It’s an age when politicians don’t actually say what they believe” because “they are afraid of being judged as being partisan,” he said.

Corolla said that if today’s attitudes prevailed during World War II, the U.S. would not have intervened against Germany for fear of being judgmental toward the Nazis.

But Rhys-Davies observes that very dynamic occurring today as the West struggles to defend itself against radical Islam.

“Heaven forbid we should criticize people who, after all, share a different value system,” he said.

Worldnet Daily, Whistleblower September 2015, 29

Lord of the Rings, Perspective on Life, and Understanding the Bible

Dinner Talk Topics for Friday

Lord of the Rings, Perspective on Life, and Understanding the Bible

keyoldBlessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. ~Matthew 13:16

 

Eyes That Know What to Look For

lord-of-the-rings-wall-elven-wordsScriptures, like life, can be puzzling. In The Lord of the Rings, author Tolkien deliberately places a riddle. Like the characters here, we, too, are often compelled to think before we can progress.

Frodo and his friends come to a set of doors through which they must pass to proceed on their way. In plain sight on the door are the words, “Speak, friend, and enter.” They try to decide what word they are to speak, so that they may enter. Gandalf the wizard assures them they can figure it out, if they only have eyes that know what to look for.

They each bring different approaches to the problem-solving process. Merry seeks further information. Gimli the dwarf draws on previous experience. Frodo reflects on his education. Gandalf exercises his expert training, seeks a more subtle meaning, and pauses to ponder the problem. Boromir complains.

Jesus-bcome-disciple-lds-churchThis is a similitude to unlocking the door to meaning in the scriptures. Because of the perilous times in which He lived, the Savior spoke in parables. Each parable was simple yet masterful, woven with many layers of meaning. The meaning grasped depended entirely upon the heart condition of the hearer. People from many different backgrounds came to listen, and their interpretations could be as numerous and diverse as they themselves were.

Jesus, too, used key words as a signal that He had a message for those among His listeners who were prepared to receive it. The clue was simply, “he that hath ears to hear, let him hear.”

If you have eyes that know what to look for, you will always be rewarded when you search the scriptures— not only with important clues, but with messages that speak to your heart and bless your life.

Another clue in searching the scriptures is found in types. Types are defined as “actual objects, events, people, or rituals that teach spiritual truths about Jesus Christ and the eternal plan of God. [1]When you read the scriptures seeking these types or patterns, you will have eyes that know what to look for. These types will not only unlock the powerful relevance of the scriptures in our day, but also repeatedly verify their truthfulness. You will see how epic heroes in the scriptures resolved both personal relationship challenges and the perplexities of national leadership. This understanding can empower you to respond with comparable nobility to modern challenges as well.

Dinner Talk Topics

Eyes That Know What to Look For

dinnerAn example from Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings illustrates different approaches to problem-solving. *Problem-solving, Literature, Parables

  1. How do parables inspire people to make righteous choices?
  2. Why do parables have universal appeal?
  3. Why was the Savior’s use of parables so effective?
  4. Malcolm Muggeridge said, “All happenings great and small are parables whereby God speaks. The art of life is to get the message.” How do types in the scriptures and patterns in history help us understand life’s parables?

Copyright © 2010 by C.A. Davidson

[1] T.R. Valletta

Gallery

History Lessons, Lord of the Rings, and Politics of Nations

This gallery contains 4 photos.

History Lessons, Lord of the Rings, and Politics of Nations History Lessons Critical Thinking A nation’s quality of government reflects the character of its citizens.   In The Lord of the Rings, every character is tested by the Ring’s compelling … Continue reading

Literature: Learn from Bible, Lord of the Rings

Advice for the Leader: Learn wisdom from the Bible, and Wizard in Lord of the Rings

Eyes That Know What to Look For

keyAn example from Tolkien’s literature, The Lord of the Rings, illustrates different approaches to problem-solving.

Scriptures, like life, can be puzzling.  In The Lord of the Rings, author Tolkien deliberately places a riddle.  Like the characters here, we, too, are often compelled to think before we can progress.

gandalfFrodo and his friends come to a set of doors through which they must pass to proceed on their way.  In plain sight on the door are the words, “Speak, friend, and enter.”  They try to decide what word they are to speak, so that they may enter.  Gandalf the wizard assures them they can figure it out, if they only have eyes that know what to look for.

They each bring different approaches to the problem-solving process.  Merry seeks further information.  Gimli the dwarf draws on previous experience.  Frodo reflects on his education. Gandalf exercises his expert training, seeks a more subtle meaning, and pauses to ponder the problem. Boromir complains.

This is a similitude to unlocking the door to meaning in the scriptures.  Because of the perilous times in which He lived, the Savior spoke in parables.  Each parable was simple yet masterful, woven with many layers of meaning.  The meaning grasped depended entirely upon the heart condition of the hearer.  People from many different backgrounds came to listen, and their interpretations could be as numerous and diverse as they themselves were.

Jesus5000Jesus, too, used key words as a signal that He had a message for those among His listeners who were prepared to receive it.  The clue was simply, “he that hath ears to hear, let him hear.”

If you have eyes that know what to look for, you will always be rewarded when you search the scriptures— not only with important clues, but with messages that speak to your heart and bless your life.

You will see how epic heroes in the scriptures resolved both personal relationship challenges and the perplexities of national leadership.  This understanding can empower you to respond with comparable nobility to modern challenges as well.

Dinner Topics

*Problem-solving, Literature, Parables

1. How do parables inspire people to make righteous choices?

2.  Why do parables have universal appeal?

3.  Why was the Savior’s use of parables so effective?

4.  Malcolm Muggeridge said, “All happenings great and small are parables whereby God speaks. The art of life is to get the message.”

Speak, Friend, and Enter

Day by day, big and little—Answers await life’s every riddle

In The Lord of the Rings, Gandalf the wizard and his friends find themselves before an unyielding door that blocks the progress of their journey through a hostile wilderness. On the arch over the door are inscribed the words, “Speak, Friend, and Enter.”  But precisely what they should speak, which would open the door, remains a mystery to them.  Gandalf, who has visited this place before, informs his companions that the doors could not be forced inward, nor would they open from the outside.

Gandalf meditated for some time. Suddenly he called out a word in the elven language, and the doors opened.  After the old wizard had sorted through all his vast store of knowledge, he was astounded to discover that the answer had been before him all the time.  The password was, simply, “Friend,” just as was written on the door.  He admitted that even wise old wizards could still learn something.

JesusatdoorDoors to everything good, whether it be opportunity, freedom, or simply joy, are opened outward by small and humble means, and at that, from the inside.  For Gandalf, it was not the force of pride or worldly power, but his simple humility that opened the door. The children of Israel, also on their wilderness journey, encountered a more serious problem to solve.  They were bitten by fiery flying serpents.  Moses raised up a type or symbol of their Redeemer.  The solution was simple.  The only labor they had to perform in order to be healed was to look at this type, raised up in the wilderness.  “Look to God and live,” they were instructed.  But because of the simpleness of the way, there were many who refused to look, and perished.

Why would anyone fail to do such a simple thing, at the hazard of life itself?  Perhaps they did not have “eyes that know what to look for.”  It has been said that God is “able to show forth great power, which looks small unto the understanding of men.”(Ether 3:5)

At the meridian of time, in a place so obscure and humble that it was overlooked by the wise and mighty of the world, our Redeemer was born.  If this same small, innocuous event occurred in our time, we might well wonder if our own eyes would know what to look for; if we would see our Friend, and open the doors of our souls.

Dinner  Topics

Humility enhances the effectiveness of leadership. *Humility

1.  In what ways do we sometimes misjudge by the outward appearance?

2.  How is God’s way different from the ways of the world?

3.  Give examples of how solutions to the most vexing problems are often profoundly simple.

4.  From Gandalf’s example, what do we learn about the importance of humility in leadership?

Copyright 2010 © C.A. Davidson

Literature: Bible, Patterns, and Lord of the Rings

Dinner Topics for Thursday

Exodus Motif is a Pattern in the Bible and our Lives

keyoldAt first glance, The Lord of the Rings may not appear to be a “fundamentally religious and Catholic work,” as it was sometimes called.  Symbolism has been artfully used by many inspired authors to depict basic but abstract Christian doctrines, such as the Creation, the Fall, and the Atonement.

Tolkien writes of pre-creation events in which one archangel-like being rebels, as Lucifer rebelled against the plan of God, then fought a war in heaven over the issue of free will.  John the Revelator used extensive symbolism to portray his vision of eternity and teach doctrines sacred to Christians.  John Milton, in his epic poem, “Paradise Lost,” paints an eloquent picture of the creation and the fall of man.  C.S. Lewis, in his Chronicles of Narnia, teaches about the atonement of Jesus Christ.

MosesredseaBut when God taught about the fall and redemption of his children, he used, not artistic metaphors, but events in real life.  One of the most powerful lessons of all time concerning the atonement of Christ is the Exodus.

The slavery of the children of Israel while in Egypt parallels the bondage of sin after the Fall.  Those in Israel who marked their doorway with the blood of the lamb were spared from the plague of physical death which was visited upon the unbelieving Egyptians.  All who have faith in the atoning blood of Christ, and repent,  are delivered from spiritual death.

The crossing of the Red Sea has been compared to baptism, which qualified them to enter the “promised land,” which signifies a condition of being “born again” to a new life, or is also compared to heaven. [1] The Book of Mormon, written by prophets of Hebrew lineage, is replete with exodus motifs.  Three different peoples crossed the “great waters” to the “promised land” in the New World.   The two later groups fled religious persecution, which is also a prototype of American history.

Even in post-exodus events, we may continue to find parallels in our daily lives.  Many of the people had unrealistic expectations of life outside of Egypt.  They found that their new liberty did not bring them instant gratification for the rest of their days.  Instead, freedom meant constant effort and struggle. Every day was a battle.  They did not like it one bit, and complained that slavery was better after all.  Furthermore, they learned that their victim status in Egypt was not an automatic ticket to the Promised Land.  They would be required to fight courageously and vanquish evil. Only then could they obtain rest and joy in the Promised Land.  Although they had been miraculously delivered, they did not believe it was possible to conquer the enemy.  Many did not believe they could make it into the Promised Land.  And so they didn’t.

exodus1If we have forgotten our miraculous delivery, our own sojourn in the wilderness could be marked by ingratitude and faithlessness.  No one ever said it would be easy to endure the daily battles to change our hearts and conquer temptation, but faith assures us that it is decidedly worth it.

Dinner Topic:

Epic literature contains cultural richness and profound meaning for the thoughtful reader. *Symbolism, Epic Literature

1. How is good vs. evil played out in our daily lives?

2. Why isn’t it easy to conquer evil?

3. The restored Church of Jesus Christ does not use the cross as a symbol of their faith because the focus is on the living, resurrected Christ.

exodus24. What is reverence? How does gratitude increase our reverence?

5. How do stories of scriptural heroes help us liken the scriptures to ourselves? How do stories teach conversion and character-building?

6. How does understanding of symbolism in scriptures and epic literature increase our reverence?


[1] Paul teaches that the passage through the Red Sea and being led by a cloud or pillar of fire were types or symbols of the baptism of water and fire or the HolyGhost (see 1 Corinthians 10:1-4) “[Paul] is saying that even as Israel, when they passed through the Red Sea, fled from the worldliness of Egypt, so their Christian descendants, through baptism, are to forsake the lusts of the flesh and live godly lives.”  ~Bruce R. McConkie

Easter 2013, Literature, and Lord of the Rings

Dinner Topics for Wednesday

Exodus

That I might more fully persuade them to believe in the Lord their Redeemer. . . I did liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning. (1 Nephi 19:23)

KJV BibleAt first glance, The Lord of the Rings may not appear to be a “fundamentally religious and Catholic work,” as it was sometimes called.  Symbolism has been artfully used by many inspired authors to depict basic but abstract Christian doctrines, such as the Creation, the Fall, and the Atonement.

Tolkien writes of pre-creation events in which one archangel-like being rebels, as Lucifer rebelled against the plan of God, then fought a war in heaven over the issue of free will.  John the Revelator used extensive symbolism to portray his vision of eternity and teach doctrines sacred to Christians.  John Milton, in his epic poem, “Paradise Lost,” paints an eloquent picture of the creation and the fall of man.  C.S. Lewis, in his Chronicles of Narnia, teaches about the atonement of Jesus Christ.

But when God taught about the fall and redemption of his children, he used, not artistic metaphors, but events in real life.  One of the most powerful lessons of all time concerning the atonement of Christ is the Exodus.

The slavery of the children of Israel while in Egypt parallels the bondage of sin after the Fall.  Those in Israel who marked their doorway with the blood of the lamb were spared from the plague of physical death which was visited upon the unbelieving Egyptians.  All who have faith in the atoning blood of Christ are delivered from spiritual death.

MosesredseaThe crossing of the Red Sea has been compared to baptism, which qualified them to enter the “promised land,” which signifies a condition of being “born again” to a new life, or is also compared to heaven. [1] The Book of Mormon, written by prophets of Hebrew lineage, is replete with exodus motifs.  Three different peoples crossed the “great waters” to the “promised land” in the New World.   The two later groups fled religious persecution, which is also a prototype of American history.

Even in post-exodus events, we may continue to find parallels in our daily lives.  Many of the people had unrealistic expectations of life outside of Egypt.  They found that their new liberty did not bring them instant gratification for the rest of their days.  Instead, freedom  meant constant effort and struggle. Every day was a battle.  They did not like it one bit, and complained that slavery was better after all.  Furthermore, they learned that their victim status in Egypt was not an automatic ticket to the promised land.  They would be required to fight courageously and vanquish evil. Only then could they obtain rest and joy in the promised land.  Although they had been miraculously delivered, they did not believe it was possible to conquer the enemy.  Many did not believe they could make it into the promised land.  And so they didn’t.

If we have forgotten our miraculous delivery, our own sojourn in the wilderness could be marked by ingratitude and faithlessness.  No one ever said it would be easy to endure the daily battles to change our hearts and conquer temptation, but faith assures us that it is decidedly worth it.

Dinner Talk Topic: Epic literature contains cultural richness and profound meaning for the thoughtful reader. *Symbolism, Epic Literature

Dinner Talk

1. How is good vs. evil played out in our daily lives?

2. Why isn’t it easy to conquer evil?

3. What is reverence? How does gratitude increase our reverence?

4. How do stories of scriptural heroes help us liken the scriptures to ourselves? How do stories teach conversion and character-building?

5. How does understanding of symbolism in scriptures and epic literature increase our reverence?

 

Epic Stories for Character Education, pp. 108, 190

 

Strengthen your family’s faith in the Bible.  Christian Parenting

 


[1] Paul teaches that the passage through the Red Sea and being led by a cloud or pillar of fire were types or symbols of the baptism of water and fire or the Holy Ghost (see 1 Corinthians 10:1-4). Christian descendants, through baptism, are to forsake the lusts of the flesh and live godly lives.” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 2:355) ~The Old Testament for LDS Families, p.127