09 June 2008

'Not for Any Merit'

Reading Lord of the Rings at the moment and reminded how different, and how much more powerful, the book is than the (wonderful) films. Lewis defined 'myth' as a story that we all recognize even when we're hearing it for the first time. This is true of Tolkien's marvelous creation. As Tolkien himself said, he's not trying to create an allegory. He doesn't have to. He's simply tapping into the fundamental longings of the human heart and portraying them and exploiting them and showing one snapshot of redemption and joy after another. Anyhow, here's a great passage early on, as Frodo is trying to rid himself of the burden of the ring by offering it to Gandalf.

'I do really wish to destroy it!' cried Frodo. 'Or, well, to have it destroyed. I am not made for perilous quests. I wish I had never seen the Ring! Why did it come to me? Why was I chosen?'

'Such questions cannot be answered,' said Gandalf. 'You may be sure that it was not for any merit that others do not possess: not for power or wisdom, at any rate. But you have been chosen, and you must therefore use such strength and heart and wits as you have.'

'But I have so little of any of those things!' (p. 60)

I know exactly what you mean, Frodo my friend!

'Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may tabernacle upon me. . . . For when I am weak, then I am strong.' (2 Cor 12:9-10)

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