Catholicism in
the Lord of the Rings

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Abercius24 from CatholicQandA.com
The Lord of the Rings -- A Catholic Epic
Posted January 2002

I created this forum so that those interested can share their thoughts on the Lord of the Rings--both the new movie and the classic novel.

To start things off, I'd like to share the thoughts that struck me the most after seeing the new film.
My wife and I love the main characters of this film. We learned to appreciate the characters after reading the book, but truly, the movie brings them more to life. The particular characters of which I speak are Frodo, Aragorn (Strider), and Boromir. These characters, among others, emulate the core Catholic philosophy of complete self-giving through sacrifice. This philosophy is truly the heart of Catholic teaching--the Eucharist, Catholic sexuality (artificial contraception, divorce and remarriage), Redemption, Sanctification and Salvation. I'd like to share my thoughts on each of these characters in the next few messages.

Frodo Baggins:
As Mr. Pearce states in his article (www.CatholicQandA.com/LOTR2.html), Frodo's struggle emulates the Way of the Cross. After Frodo wakes at Rivendell, he and Sam begin to look forward to returning to their home in the Shire. The trip to Rivendell alone has tested them greater than they had ever dreamed. At the Council of Elrond, Frodo places the ring on a pedestal for the council to behold. He breathes a sigh of relief as he returns to his seat. As the council continues, he realizes the ring is invoking disharmony within the members of the council. He understands that he alone can carry the ring into Mordor, hell itself. That scene in the movie shows Frodo looking at the ring. He sees a reflection on the ring's side of the council members arguing and a flame engulfing them to ruin. Out of love for these people, he let's go of his personal need to return home. He chooses to sacrifice himself for the good of all. The pain in his heart testifies to the love he holds.

At the end of the first movie, Frodo realizes that Galadriel's warning is true: The Ring will eventually corrupt each member of the fellowship. This reality begins to take hold when Boromir attempts to take the Ring. In that scene, Boromir tells Frodo he can see that the Ring weighs heavily upon Frodo. In the book, Frodo mentions that the Ring becomes heavier the closer they get to Mordor. By this, Tolkien clearly intended the Ring to emulate the cross. As the cross burdened Christ's shoulders while He carried it onward to the place of his death, the Ring burdens Frodo as he journeys toward his hopeless destination.

From the movie, Frodo having realized the Ring is corrupting the Fellowship, he chooses to forgo the comfort of his companions. Again, you can see the pain in his heart at making this choice. He chooses this sacrifice for love of his friends.

Steve S. (Abercius24)

 

Abercius24 from CatholicQandA.com
The Lord of the Rings -- A Catholic Epic

Posted January 2002

Hello everyone!

Today I'd like to share my thoughts on Tolkien's character, Strider (aka Aragorn). Many of the characters in the Lord of the Rings embody different elements of the gospel. Aragorn is one of them.

Aragorn is the rightful heir to the throne of Gondor. His people have been abandoned for some time and have existed without their king. At the beginning of the book, we find that Aragorn has lived in the Northern wilderness as a ranger, one who patrols the wilderness in mystery keeping the people on their guard. He begins his ministry to lead Frodo and his companions from the slavery the One Ring intends to bring upon Middle Earth. As the movie portrays, Aragorn begins to learn that his people are in need of their king and begins to take on his duty. This role parallels the ministry of John the Baptist and kingship of Christ.

Christ is the rightful heir to the Kingdom of Israel through both Mary his mother and his step-father Joseph. The Jewish people had been without their king since the days of the Babylonian exile. They desired the restoration of their king to his throne. More so, mankind is in need of a king to lead them from the slavery of sin. Christ later visits John the Baptist to be baptized. John lived in the wilderness a good portion of his life. He lived as a mysterious prophet and rabbi, charging the people to repent and make ready the Way of the Lord. Christ similarly took on the mystery of a wondering rabbi, preparing people for the coming of His Kingdom, the Church. Prior to beginning his ministry, Christ lived in the wilderness for 40 days. Christ's desire to rise as his people's king is manifested in his crucifixion and resurrection.

The movie really brings out the Christian virtue that Aragorn embodies. There is a scene in Rivendell where Boromir encounters Aragorn at a shrine to Aragorn's beloved ancestor Isuldur. Isuldur defeated the Dark Lord Sauron 3000 years prior with the now broken sword "Narcil." Boromir (son of the current Steward of Gondor, the King’s second) approaches the shrine and finds the shards of Narcil. At first he holds the hilt of the sword with reverence, but drops it as he finds despair within himself. Boromir walks away leaving the sword to lie on the ground. Now, if I was Aragorn, I'd have laid into Boromir with harsh words, if not worse. Aragorn takes the insult literally in "stride." With pain in his eyes, he picks the hilt up from the floor, gently places it on the shrine and offers a sign of reverence. The patience the man displays is quite inspiring. The reverence he also gives easily reminds me of the reverence we Catholics offer to our saints through statues and relics (remember, reverence is an offering of love for a brother in Christ, not worship as is reserved for God).

The movie also offers another touching scene that brings our loving Savior to mind. Aragorn discovers Boromir dying from the arrows impaled into his body. He embraces the dying man with his arms. As Boromir takes his last breath, Aragorn lays the man down and places a fatherly kiss upon his forehead. The scene calls to mind Christ's endearing love of the sick and dying and His promise to be with those He loves in that last hour. Only in movies of the gospel and of the saints have I seen such pure tenderness demonstrated between men. Furthermore, Aragorn makes a sign of reverence by placing his fingers on his forehead and then down to his lips, literally calling to mind the sign of the cross. Aragorn well represents the role of Christ as our loving King.

Steve S.
Editor of CatholicQandA.com

 
Abercius24
from CatholicQandA.com
Catholicism in The Lord of the Rings: Boromir
Posted January 2002

Continuing a Catholic perspective on the characters from the Lord of the Rings:

What is the One Ring, first of all? It is a symbol of material possessions, but more importantly, the power such possessions give one over others. The Dark Lord Sauron created many rings of power of which he gave to the many rulers of each race--elves, dwarves, and mortal men. They all were intrigued by the power of the rings. They were betrayed, though, for Sauron created a greater ring that would control all those who possessed the others. When the One Ring is close, it begins to corrupt those around it. Even those who intend to use it for good would ultimately bring on greater evils by its use, as Gandalf feared even in himself. Similarly, those who begin to find power in our world, slowly discover the temptation to abuse and control others for their own good. This understanding of the One Ring plays a significant role in understanding the character Boromir.

Boromir is the son of Denethor, the Steward of Gondor. He was sent by his father to represent their people at the Council of Elrond to discuss the rising evils from Mordor (Sauron's homeland). This topic is very sensitive to Boromir, for his people fought hard to keep the evils of Mordor from overrunning the northern and western regions. His people have literally given their lives for the protection of others. He is desperate for something to turn the tide of the battle. His desperation makes him susceptible to the temptation invoked by the One Ring. He later gives into this temptation and tries to take the Ring from Frodo by force. After he fails, he falls into deep regret.

Mr. Charles Coulumbe presents the idea that Minas Tirith (the Capital of Gondor) represents the Church militant. Following that idea, Boromir would represent the typical Catholic believer who is greatly burdened by the temptations he struggles with. Challenged so greatly, he finds an opportunity to obtain great power over the things that trouble him and his people. He knows that his temptations cannot be trusted, but he falls, as so many of us find ourselves doing. We know that our sins will only bring negative consequences upon us, but we disobey our reason; we choose the easy road even though it may destroy us. I can so relate to that scene in the movie where Boromir sheds bitter tears after betraying Frodo. How many times have I wished I could change the things I had done after the ugliness of my sin was revealed.

The movie has a delightful scene where Boromir teaches Merry and Pippen the art of sword-fighting (before Sauron’s birds come to spy on the Fellowship). In this scene, Boromir accidentally hits one of the two hobbits, and the two pounce upon Boromir in playful retaliation. Boromir later calls the hobbits "the little ones" showing that he claims a fatherly role in their care.

After Boromir betrays Frodo, the Uruk-hai orcs attack the company. Boromir finds Merry and Pippen in trouble and he thrusts himself in the middle of an impossible battle; he is quite outnumbered. He pours everything he has into defending his little ones. Even after the commanding orc Lurtz begins to impale Boromir with arrows, Boromir falls, then rises again with intense determination to maintain a defense for the hobbits. He gives all that he can give until he can do no more. At that point in the movie, I was reminded of the martyr St. Sebastian, a Roman warrior. At his martyrdom, he stood tied to a tree, with many arrows impaled into his body. Here, Boromir is broken down to his knees, impaled in similar fashion. Truly a triumph of the heart and soul is found at the most tragic hour.

When Boromir begins to die in the arms of Aragorn (Strider), he confesses his sin against Frodo. Aragorn reassures Boromir that he has in truth triumphed and redeemed himself. In the gospels, Christ tells us that there is no greater love than to give one's life for a friend. Truly, Boromir gave his life for his friends and manifested the purifying love of God within his heart through his sacrifice. Boromir is truly a model to us Christians of God's forgiveness when we give our lives to His will.

In His Service,
Steve S.
Editor of CatholicQandA.com

 
Abercius24
from CatholicQandA.com
The Theology Behind Tolkien's Middle-Earth
Posted May 2002

Dear Friends,

My friend Kevin (KevPetros) shared a great book with me the other day that further confirms our Catholic insights within Tolkien's writings. This book is called "Tolkien's World from A to Z: The Complete Guide to Middle-Earth" [hereafter noted as "Foster's book"] authored by Robert Foster; published by Ballantine Books of New York.

Did you know Gandalf is a servant of the Holy Spirit? "Where did that come from?" you say. Let me explain. When Gandalf has his face-off with the Balrog, he says "I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the flame of Anor. You cannot pass." (Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Book 2, Chapter V, p. 322). Under the definition of "The Secret Fire," Foster's book blatantly states "The Holy Spirit, the power giving substance and life to the Creation of Iluvatar...also called the flame of Anor." It is quite fitting that Tolkien would refer to the Holy Spirit as the Secret Fire since if was in tongues of fire that the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles at Pentecost (Acts 2). Such an underlying theology can be found elsewhere within Tolkien's tales.

Most importantly, Tolkien refers to God as "Iluvatar, the One." Iluvatar is the One Almighty God, creator of all things brought to existence. He created angelic beings called the Ainur who he commissioned to sing important parts of a great, heavenly song called the "Ainulindale." Through this great song, each of the Ainur is given a part in the creation and administration of the heavens and the earth. Such ideas have significant parallels with the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas.

St. Thomas explained that God created the heavens and the earth through the angels. He referred to the court of angels as "The Choir of Angels" because they would sing praise and worship before the throne of God (Revelation 4:8). He also taught that all laws of nature, all historical events and all such duties necessary for governing the universe were carried out by the angels. Though God is the ultimate source, He allows the angels to participate in His work as His instruments. Tolkien obviously included and expounded upon these ideas within his books.

Tolkien also included "the Fall of the Lucifer" within his story. Tolkien's Lucifer is called "Melkor." Melkor was created to be the greatest of the Ainur, as Lucifer was created to be the greatest of the angels. Melkor foolishly began his own prideful melody as he sang the Ainulindale, creating dissonance in the song. Other Ainur began to follow his rebellious example. Iluvatar thereby banished Melkor and his rebellious followers from the heavens. Lucifer and his demons were also rebellious angels who were banished from heaven by God for their unwillingness to serve (2 Peter 2:4). Melkor and his fallen Ainur fled to earth where they began to corrupt Iluvatar's creation. Similarly Lucifer came to earth after his banishment to lead Adam and Eve into their fall (as the serpent) and the demons continue to corrupt the hearts and minds of men on earth to this day.

St. Thomas also spoke of various levels within the Choir of Angels (thrones, dominions, principalities, powers, seraphim, cherubim, archangels, etc). Tolkien borrowed this idea by sectioning the Ainur into two groups: the Valar and the Maiar. The Valar were given dominion over the heavens and the earth to act on behalf of Iluvatar. The Maiar were lesser Ainur who governed the heavens and the earth under the direction of the Valar.


From this theological foundation, Tolkien tells the stories of the Silmarillion, the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings. According to Foster's book, the Dark Lord Sauron was one of the Maiar who followed Melkor in his rebellion. After Melkor was banished from earth into the void by the Valar, Sauron continued his work to corrupt Iluvatar's creation. To protect the free peoples of middle-earth from Sauron, the Valar sent Ainur known as the Istari to fight Sauron. The Istari are the wizards of Tolkien's tale. The greatest of the Istari was Saruman. His second in command was Gandalf.

"So why is all of this important?" you might say. Well, Tolkien's stories are the foundation for all fantasy literature known today. Others have borrowed his ideas and added their own corrupt theologies. Wizards are now known as "men of magic." Characters within fantasy literature are shown to involve themselves in pagan religions. Magic is seen as a mysterious power of nature that, when harnessed by men, can give one power over others. All such ideas have corrupted the purity that Tolkien originally invested in this form of literature.

Wizards were really angels sent to protect men from the influence of demons. Magic was actually the angelic powers of the wizards given them by God as part of their created nature. Though the men of middle-earth gave honor to the angels, they were intended to do so only after reserving worship and ultimate allegiance to the One Almighty God, creator of the universe. Fantasy literature was originally a Christian genre meant to instill Christian values and truth. To give Tolkien the proper credit he deserves, the underlying theology of his works must be considered. Then "wizards" and "magic" can be seen in the pure form as he originally intended. Then the purity of his stories can be seen separate from the corruption others have attributed to his literary style.

As a Catholic reader, I find an inspiring new light to Tolkien's stories now that I know that they have an underlying Christian philosophy. His stories actually become a source of spiritual inspiration. I can relate to Frodo and Sam more closely in their quest to destroy Sauron's influence. They fought the same demonic powers we Christians fight on a daily basis. I can see how angels work closely with us in that same fight when considering the devotion Gandalf had in protecting the people of Middle-Earth. Gandalf is like my guardian angel, assigned to me by God for my protection and counsel. I am proud to read Tolkien's stories now that I can read them with Catholic eyes. I hope you, too, can share in the inspiration found in Tolkien's books.

In Christ,
Steve S.
Editor of CatholicQandA.com

  
Luthien
[guest] from CatholicQandA.com
Regarding The Lord of the Rings and Tolkien's other works
Posted May 2002

Hello,

I just finished reading your discussions on the Catholic context in 'The Lord of the Rings' and other Tolkien related books. You mentioned that you were surprised to discover that Gandalf is a servant of the Holy Spirit. While this is an excellent observation, I have found a more deep, complete, and theological catholic perspective in 'The Silmarillion.'

To any Catholic who is reading this message I highly recommend this book. It is the tale of the creation of Tolkien's world and of the coming of his powers and his children (a.k.a. elves and men)
In the first book, Eru, also called Iluvatar, is the One God who creates the Ainur, who are the off-spring of his thought. It is said how long they sang alone the themes that they perceived of his mind, and eventually their songs blended. Yet it is at this point to be noted that the Ainur knew only partial thoughts of Iluvatar, and not everything was reveled in there music. Thus the Ainur are imperfect and can be compared to Angels. At this point, the reader is introduced to the one named Melkor, who is greatest in the thought of Iluvatar. He grows impatient with the emptiness of the void, and seeks 'the flame imperishable in the void, which he could not find, because it was with Iluvatar.' He had thoughts of his own, and not in accordance with Iluvatar, and turbulence grew among the music. Then after several new themes are propounded, Iluvatar rises and tells Melkor (Satan) That he will never gain the flame imperishable, and that “no deed shall be done that hath not its uttermost source in me. Therefore, he that attempteth this (evil) shall be but my device in the creating of things more wonderful that he himself hath not imagined.” Thus Eru (God) creates the vision of the world and creates Ea (the universe) sending into it the flame imperishable. Then many of the Ainur found love Eru’s creation, and left the timeless halls to dwell in Ea while the world would last.

For me as a Catholic, this first 'book' (although barely 10 pages) of the Silmarillion is not only beautiful, but laden with theology. (Why did I even say that--it is obvious!) For many years, I could never understand how God, who is wholly good, could ever allow or create creatures who would manifest evil. Through the works of Aquinas first, I began to understand. I have to say though that this account of fall of Satan in the Silmarillion is very excellent in illustrating how the fall took place. The words of Iluvatar to Melkor are also of the greatest significance.
I am sorry that I have not had the time do discuss this book as fully as I would like. I will get on again soon and discuss the powers of Arda and the trees of light (which are of the utmost significance to us as Catholics.)
Thank you for taking the time to read my comments. I highly recommend the Silmarillion to anyone as an excellent Catholic work. Please e-mail me if you have any questions or thoughts.

 
Abercius24 from CatholicQandA.com
New Scene in the Extended Version DVD
Posted November 2002

I just got the Extended Version DVD of Peter Jackson's movie "The Fellowship of the Ring" which adds more than 30 minutes of additional footage not found in the theatrical release. I must tell you this version adds so much to the story; filling in gaps, slowing down some rushed scenes and developing characters with more depth. I highly recommend it, if you liked the movie.

I must comment on one particular scene added to this special edition DVD. After the Council of Elrond, Aragorn visits a memorial statue of his mother, Gilraen. I'm telling you, if I had seen that same statue in a Catholic Church, I would have said it was one the Virgin Mary. As Aragorn preens the statue in loving memory of his mother, Elrond speaks to him from behind. Elrond tells how Gilraen brought Aragorn to Rivendell to hide him from those who sought to take his life, to stop him from becoming king someday.
The words Elrond speaks remind me of the gospel when Mary fled to Egypt. She fled to protect the child Jesus from King Herod who feared Christ would someday become the King of the Jews as the messianic prophecies foretold. Again, a striking Catholic similarity.

In Christ,
Steve S. aka Abercius24
Editor of CatholicQandA.com

 
Abercius24
from CatholicQandA.com
The Two Towers
Posted January 2003

Well, Lesley and I have seen "The Two Towers" twice now. Kevin and I agree that you've got to watch the movie at least twice to really get a feel for it. These movies have so much stuff in them that it takes a second look to get your heart and mind over it all. I have to admit the first time left me a little puzzled with what changes they made to the story (Faramir, Treebeard, etc.), but seeing it the second time allowed me to get over my hang-ups and see it from a different perspective. But enough of that…on to the Catholic stuff!

The most striking part of the story was that of Gandalf. At the very beginning of the movie, we see Gandalf and the Baelrog descend into the depths of the shadows. If you’ve read some of the linked articles on this page, their authors speak of how Gandalf's fall and death represents Christ's sacrifice on the cross. In dying on the cross, Christ defeated the power of sin and death--Satan himself. After he died, he descended into hell and rose from the dead. Similarly, Gandalf falls into Morgoth (Tolkien's rendition of Hell), defeats the Baelrog (a major "demon of the ancient world"), dies and is resurrected to lead the people of middle earth to victory.

Another parallel to Christ is the scene when Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas meet with Gandalf for the first time after his resurrection. The three of them witness Gandalf glowing in a brilliant, glory of light. Similarly, at the Transfiguration of Christ (Luke 9:28-36), Peter, James and John witnessed Christ's divine glory as light shined forth from His face and clothes with a brilliant radiance.

The other striking scene with Gandalf was the exorcism of King Theodin of Rohan. Christ performed many exorcisms in the gospels where the demons trembled at His very presence. Gandalf’s character gives us another glimpse into the awesome power Christ held over the greatest of evil beings.

In Christ,
Steve S.
Editor of CatholicQandA.com

 

VikingVarkneus [guest] from CatholicQandA.com
Lord of the Rings - NOT Christian
Posted January 2003

Anybody comparing rubbish like LOTR to Jesus and Christianity should check if they really are saved! Like Harry Potter LOTR is new age satan rubbish and just a lie to divert man from following God the way man should!!!

 

Abercius24 from CatholicQandA.com
LOTR Not Christian??
Posted January 2003

Dear Viking,

I appreciate your feelings on the subject, but I can't believe you read anything preceding your post. You are invited to challenge the views held here, but I recommend you address particular elements of the discussion. Unsupported opinions are ineffective with the visitors at this site. They want reasonable explanations for what people believe. They can hear opinions anywhere.

I recommend you read the article written by Toni Collins on the differences between the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. Toni is a former member of the New Age and understands what is and what isn't Christian. You can find a link to this article at our main Lord of the Rings page at:
http://www.CatholicQandA.com/LOTR.html

I would suspect that the "magic" in the Lord of the Rings is what you object to. If you read Harry Potter, you'll find that magic is a power one gains by learning to "tame" the natural world. In Lord of the Rings, those who hold to that view of magic are corrupted by evil. That understanding of magic is New Age. Righteous characters like Gandalf understand their "magic" as a participation in the power of God. The scene when Gandalf opposes the Baelrog at the Bridge of Kazad'Dum is an excellent example. To demonstrate the source of his magic, Gandalf tells the Baelrog that he is "a servant of the Secret Fire; bearer of the Flame of Anor." In previous posts I demonstrated how "the Secret Fire" and "the Flame of Arnor" are names for the Holy Spirit. Gandalf clearly testifies that the source of his power is not himself, but the Holy Spirit.

The Apostles held to this same understanding of their "magic." In Acts 8, Simon Magus sees Peter and John confer the Holy Spirit upon the Samaritans by the Laying on of Hands (Confirmation). Simon Magus foolishly believes that the Apostles are using magic as he did in his previous profession as a magician. When he asks to buy this power, Peter strongly rebukes him saying "may your money perish with you, because you thought that you could buy the gift of God with money" (v. 20). Peter's rebuke is justified because he says that this power is a "gift of God," having its source in God, not in man. This "magic" done in accord with God's power is not evil because God is its source. Though "magic" is not the term we would use for these gifts of the Holy Spirit, it is not inappropriate to use that term in a book such as the Lord of the Rings if the necessary distinction is made in the story's context. The Lord of the Rings actually works against the New Age movement in this manner. In fact, this movie presents a great opportunity to show this distinction to those who dabble with the New Age Movement. I hope you take advantage of that opportunity.

God bless you and your family, Viking.

In Christ,
Steve S.
Editor of CatholicQandA.com
 

 

Abercius24 from CatholicQandA.com
More on the Two Towers
Posted January 2003

Okay...now some particularly Catholic stuff from the new movie!

Peter Jackson has done an excellent job presenting many Catholic elements of Tolkien's story through his use of Aragorn's love interest, Arwen. Those of you who read the book will remember that Tolkien did not give Arwen many scenes. If you read the Appendix on Arwen and Aragorn at the end of the book, you will find some interesting details as to their relationship. Within the main context of the book, though, she is briefly mentioned at the Council of Elron and near the end of the book...you know, that part of the upcoming third movie I'm not going to spoil at this point. ;-)

To invoke a tone of romance in the movies, Peter Jackson and his co-writers decided to give Arwen a greater role. In creating these various scenes for Arwen, they apparently sought to develop her character with very Catholic ideas and attitudes.

In the first movie, the Fellowship of the Ring, Jackson set Arwen as the heroine who rides Frodo to safety across the river's ford at Rivendell. As Frodo begins to fall into a coma, Arwen holds him close in a motherly embrace and says a prayer: "What grace has given to me, let it pass to him." When I see that scene, an image of the Blessed Mother comes to mind as she holds those Christians close to her in their desperate hour, asking the Father that she be a source of Christ's grace for their perseverance.

A similar scene occurs in the Two Towers when Aragorn washes ashore after being dragged by a worg over a cliffside. As he lies wounded and dying, Arwen comes to him in a vision. Just before kissing him gently, she says a prayer: "May the grace of the Valar protect you." If you remember from the previous posts, the Valar are the high Angels whom the One God Iluvatar appointed as administrators of the heavens and the earth. Arwen calls upon the Valar to protect Aragorn, similar to how we Catholics call upon the angels to guard and guide us. As Arwen recognizes Iluvatar's wisdom in appointing the Valar as His administrators, we Catholics recognize the Lord's plan for His angels as they have been assigned as heavenly ministers for our spiritual benefit.

Arwen also embodies the virtues of a faithful Catholic wife as Aragorn's fiancée. Catholic theology on marriage teaches that the wife is the heart of her husband as he is her head (for the most part taught in Ephesians 5:21-33, but mostly from the papal encyclical "Casti Canubii"). As the husband takes on the dangerous and trying tasks laid before him by the Lord, he looks to his wife as his source of inspiration and strength. Though he is troubled with his own weakness and insecurities, her love courses through his veins, leading him to boldly take on the world in her honor...even to die for her.

Many scenes in the two movies show Arwen's mystical relationship with Aragorn in similar fashion. When Aragorn doubts his ability to fight his desire for the One Ring at Rivendell, Arwen assures him with loving and firm conviction that he will prevail. As he finds himself in despair traveling through the Land of Rohan, he is strengthened by a mystical dream of Arwen, finding consolation in her arms.

As Arwen's fiancé, Aragorn also demonstrates the sacrificial and obedient love to which a Catholic husband is called. As a token of her love, Arwen vows to give up her immortality so that she may marry Aragorn. In doing this, she takes on the terrible burden of an eventual death--a great sacrifice. The weight of this sacrifice is made very clear in a scene between her and her father Elrond in the Two Towers. In both movies, Aragorn takes the opportunity to convince Arwen not to make this sacrifice. He is willing to sacrifice their happiness together so that she may not suffer death. In the end he is obedient to her wishes as she insists that he accept her offering of love.

Catholics are also called to pray for the dead. Two scenes from the Two Towers demonstrate this devotion in Legolas and Gandalf. When Legolas finds clothing from Merry and Pippen amidst a pile of burning orc bodies, he pauses to say a prayer for his lost friends. Also, at the end of that stirring scene when King Theoden falls to his knees in heartbreaking anguish before the tomb of his son, Theodrid, Gandalf says a final prayer for Theodrid.

I must say that I was afraid the Catholic elements of the first movie were possibly a fluke. After seeing the Two Towers, though, I am convinced that Jackson and his co-writers are intentionally diligent in keeping to Tolkien's Catholic background. I must say thank you to them for the respect and reverence they have shown for our faith.

In Christ,
Steve S. aka Abercius24
Editor of CatholicQandA.com


Abercius24 from CatholicQandA.com
The Return of the King and the Apocalypse
Posted April 2003

I apologize for having taken so long to make this post on the Return of the King.  I hope to make the wait worth it.

Wasn't that a great ending to a fantastic trilogy!!!  Wow!  Again I had to see it twice to take all of it in. Peter Jackson and his crew have created a masterpiece that will go down in history as one of the greatest works of visual art.  The Oscars were long overdue to them. And I must thank them for being so true to Tolkien's Catholic roots.  Instead of making the movie serve their careers, they became true artists and allowed themselves to serve the art.  I commend them for their bravery!

Both Kevin and I agree that this movie is the most spiritual of the three.  I'd like to share my thoughts on the various spiritual elements, but I'd like to start with the overlying theme of the third movie--the Apocalypse.   (Yeah, I know what you're thinking, but hang in there for me!)

First let me explain a little theology behind the Catholic understanding of the End Times.  In the Book of Isaiah, the Lord God calls Himself "the Alpha and the Omega," the beginning and the end.  Christ takes the same name for Himself in St. John's vision (Revelation 1:8).  Although the title refers to God's supreme power and authority over all creation, it also tells us that nothing begins or ends without God.  We know that the Apocalypse prophesizes the end of the world and that God will be the directing force in that final event.  But even more so, every person, place or nation that meets their end before the Final End serves as a foreshadow.  Furthermore, it tells us that God is also the directing force in the finality of those pre-Apocalyptic ends.  Take the destruction of Israel, Babylon and Egypt in the Old Testament, and the prophecies of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. found in the Gospels and the Book of Revelation.  All of these prophecies use similar language and symbols ("the sun was darkened, the moon turned to blood, etc.) that tell of the impending doom of that particular nation, but they ultimately point to the Final End.  And although the world does not end by the last page of the Lord of the Rings, the story does serve as a foreshadow.

Before Aragorn's arrival, Minith Tirith hopelessly struggled against evil without a king to lead them.  Sauron called all the dark forces to his allegiance and organized them in a campaign to exterminate the race of men.  But with the return of Aragorn, their king, Minas Tirith found the strength they needed to finally defeat Sauron.  Aragorn was able to gather his army for the final battle by descending into the paths of the dead.  There he found the ancient spirits who had long waited for his coming.  He subsequently brought them out from the earth to serve him.  With them he destroyed those who opposed Minas Tirith with ease.

Remember earlier how I explained the parallel between Minas Tirith and the Church Militant (the believers who continue to struggle against sin on Earth).  This parallel extends further.  Ever since Christ ascended into heaven, the Church has battled against demonic forces.  With grace we find the courage and strength to stand against evil.  The forces of evil have not yet revealed their full force against us, though.  When the Final End is near, the anti-Christ will draw all evil to himself and persecute the Church with unrelenting ferocity.  Evil will be unleashed and the saints will be driven to the brink of despair.  It is then that the Church's King--Christ--will make His Second Coming.  He will return in His glory with tremendous power and authority, His heavenly saints and angels at His side.  He will raise the dead from the earth and call upon those who were just to join His heavenly army.  With ease, He and the heavenly hosts will conquer the anti-Christ and all presence of Evil, casting them into the eternal pool of fire.  In this Final End, though, the world will be consumed with fire, all mankind will be subject to the Final Judgement of Christ, and everyone each will be eternally assigned to heaven or hell. 

The Lord of the Rings ends with the peaceful and joyous marriage between Aragorn and Arwen, the King and Queen.  The Book of Revelation also ends with the Marriage Feast of the Lamb, when Christ and His bride, the Church, will be joined in perfect, joyous unity for all eternity in heaven. 

Well, I'll try to find time to share more spiritual details from the last movie.  Don't worry, though,  we still have the extended version DVD coming out in November 2004!  That should have more good stuff!  God bless all of you and your families!

In Christ,
Steve S.
Editor of CatholicQandA.com

The original posts have been edited for legibility and grammar.  Since the posts submitted by guests were offered with the intent of public viewing, the names have been left as given..



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