Grassroots Commentary

Lord of the Rings

William Stoecker · Nov. 9, 2015

I just finished reading JRR Tolkien’s three volume Lord of the Rings for the sixth time. Considering that I seldom read fiction, preferring to read (and write) nonfiction, this is hard even for me to explain. Not only have I read the books six times, but I have seen the film, and consider it to be one of the greatest films ever made. I’ve never met nor heard of anyone else who shares that opinion. So I had to ask myself what it was about this work that so fascinated me. Partly it is because I am intrigued by accounts of far-away times and worlds and all manner of strange beings. But mainly I love LOTR because it is a true story. Oh, of course Frodo, Bilbo, Sam, Gandalf, Aragorn and the others never existed. There were almost certainly never any beings called “hobbits,” and no Dark Lord of Mordor (at least not literally), no Ring Wraiths, and no Orcs. But in a very broad sense the story is true nonetheless.

To explain why it is true, it will help, for those unfamiliar with the work, to give a synopsis and say a few words about its author. The story is set in Middle Earth (which is just the medieval term for our world, balanced between Heaven and Hell) in a remote prehistoric era. There are a group of more or less human little people called hobbits living in a realm called the Shire (bearing some resemblance to England) near the western edge of a continent. One of them, Bilbo, traveled far on a great adventure and came to possess a magical ring that is coveted by a Satan-like evil Spirit called Sauron, who had once been defeated but is now back in a desolate Hell on Earth called Mordor, slowly regaining his power. It is also coveted by a twisted creature, related to the hobbits, called Gollum. Bilbo, years after his journey, is convinced by the wizard Gandalf the Gray to give the ring to his nephew Frodo, in order to destroy it before Sauron can find it and use it to conquer all of Middle Earth. Accompanied by his servant, Sam, Frodo leaves the relative (and temporary) safety of the Shire, and is joined by a man named Strider, who is actually Aragorn, latest of a line of ancient and heroic kings, and by Gandalf, two other young Hobbits, a dwarf, an elf, and another man who is a powerful warrior. It is decided that the ring can only be destroyed by casting it into Mt. Doom, a volcano in Mordor where the ring was originally forged. After many strange and often terrifying adventures, enduring terrible hardships, Sam and Frodo (the others have either died or been separated from them) enter Mordor and destroy the ring. Meanwhile, great and bloody battles have taken place between the armies of Sauron and the alliance opposing him. When the ring is destroyed, Sauron dies and the world is saved, but at a terrible cost, for the Third Age of the world is now ended; many have died; and Frodo is incurably wounded.

JRR Tolkien (1892-1973) taught at Oxford and had degrees in Germanic languages and classic literature. He was a British Army lieutenant in WWI, fighting in the terrible Battle of the Somme. He organized a group of Christian intellectuals that included CS Lewis (author of the Narnia books, among other works). In addition to LOTR, Tolkien wrote The Hobbit and an unfinished work published after his death, The Silmarillion, and a few shorter works. Most people are not aware that LOTR is essentially a Christian work, for it is neither preachy nor obvious, and it is set in a time before the life of Jesus. But a careful reading of the work, its appendices, and the lengthy (and, I am afraid, rather boring) Silmarillion makes this more obvious. The work is about the ancient and unending (so far) battle between good and evil. Gandalf is actually an angel sent to Middle Earth in human form, and he is killed and reborn with greater power — a prefiguring of Christ.

The story is true in a broad sense because the battle against radical, spiritual evil is real, and continues today. Anyone doubting that needs to think long and hard about the mass murders committed by the Nazis and communists, about the murder of over 55 million unborn babies here in America, and the spread of the hate-mongering death cult known as Islam. To anyone who believes the conventional account of human history and prehistory the idea that there were actually civilizations long before the time of Egypt and Sumer, the idea that there were cities and farms and so forth seems absurd. But recent discoveries by mainstream archaeologists have revealed that the city of Jericho dates back some 10,000 years, and large scale, elaborate stone carvings in Gobekli Tepi in Turkey have been dated at 12,000 years old — before the end of the last ice age. And our prehistoric past is literally divided into ages, at least by sudden and drastic climate change, including the beginning and end of ice ages.

And we seem to be approaching the end of our present age, although none of us can predict exactly how and when it will end. Certainly our growing national debt is unsustainable and will lead ultimately to economic collapse. And it is obvious that unrestricted immigration, especially the importation of Muslim criminals, will destroy Western Civilization if it is not stopped very soon. And our governments, it is clear, will not stop it, nor bring spending and debt under control. All the Western governments do, year after year, is spend more, bring in more immigrants, and slowly take away our freedom and our sovereignty. This cannot end well.

The primary hero of LOTR, the one who ended the rule of Sauron, was Frodo, an unassuming little person. Nothing in his past indicated that he would be capable of what he did. And today, ordinary Americans and others, especially armed American patriots, are all that stands between the world and the final nightmare. It remains to be seen if we, like the hobbits, will rise to the occasion. For we are about to be tested as never before.

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