I was introduced to the writing of J.R.R. Tolkien by my 5th grade reading teacher, Mrs. Rougemont. We read The Hobbit aloud, painfully enduring others who pronounced the w in sword and committed other acts of disinterested, semi-literate mediocrity.
That was the 1970s. A love of words had already been discovered. The craft, you see, provided a place to go. When one is a child, and his father is gone, and one lives ten miles from the middle of nowhere surrounded by people incapable of projecting value or love, having a place to go was vital. It was, at the time, part of what I did to survive long winters.
I still have those original mass-market paperbacks. They are tattered, broken, since-retired remnants of the fresh copies a young man bought with allowance money. The Hobbit, The Silmarillion, and of course the three volumes of The Lord of the Rings were read many times. Enough times, in fact, as it takes for such a copy to totter on the verge of disintegration.
The Perimeter would be incomplete without its library, even pared down as it is through many moves. Tolkien’s classics remain, now in hardcover, as the Editress is also a fan. She actually had not encountered the stories until the release of Peter Jackson’s movies, and furthermore exercised enough discipline to not outrun the films as they released, though she read up to the point as soon as possible afterward.
Tolkien, as he discussed in the forward of the Houghton Mifflin edition I have recently finished again, never intended to present allegory. His fantasy, the man insisted, had no bearing on the real world. Were that true, I suspect the work would not have endured to the extent it did. The Professor in actuality had quite a lot to say about our state of affairs. All writers do, in their own idiom.
Middle Earth, populated by elves, trolls, orcs, dwarves, Men, Hobbits and others, was born to a purpose in the mind of a genius. I believe, after a short lifetime of reflection, it to be a message and a simple one, unseen if unsought as so many are. Perhaps it was even unconscious as the man wrote. Character and faith are inseparable and vital attributes of a righteous mind.
It’s another law in a universe of actualities. Things are as they are. That which is true has always been true, and will ever remain. The Fourth Age of Middle Earth arrived, and Tolkien’s world sometime after merged with our own. Much that was in his world never was, yet is still. We yet have the challenges posed by evil and our options in acting where we find ourselves, right now, today. The choices remain to serve ourselves entirely, or trust, as Tolkien wrote, that Powers work in the world besides the will of the enemy.
We’ve no elves, but there are others just as fair and perilous if not possessed of the wisdom of the Eldar. No goblins, though in cases it can be argued certain communities are close enough to an orc-hold for comparisons to be drawn. Mordor no longer exists, but we have resurgent Marxism and its child plague of liberal elitism; each of those possesses an enduring diabolic ambition to subject all mankind to its own Darkness.
The race of Men maintains its weakness in the face of mortality. We’re told to have faith and given a limited lifespan to choose our loyalties, set our goals, and discern our purpose in the context of a much larger story. We can, after our own fashion, look west as did Faramir to Numenor that was, Elvenhome that is, and Undying Lands and remember.
We instead look up, and apply Tolkien’s unspoken premise to a faith wonderfully real. The long ages God has wrought in His relationship with children on Earth go on. We have, as my character Jon Anthony presented it, a choice between love and hate, with only indifference as a temporary hiding place before our circumstance forces one or the other. We’ve the long history and testimony of those many who’ve encountered Him, whose accounts are preserved by Providence every bit as well as were records in the archives of Minas Tirith. All allow a reasoned faith to conclude there are, beyond the gray curtain of this world, white shores and a far green country under a swift sunrise.
To discover character and faith, vital and inseparable, is the primary purpose of a living soul. To Realize one’s need sparks the tinder which inflames Exploration for truth. To Accept God’s gift of forgiveness and afterward Live what one believes makes one R.E.A.L. That is a good place to be before things “Get Real.”
These days, as they were through the ages of Middle Earth, are here to bless us or build us, but not to break us. We are made of God Stuff and will not be undone, to our eternal joy or peril. It’s time to choose whom we serve, and ever has been.
Choose to Love, -DA
In production news, Boone Hildebrandt’s third, One Last Scent of Jasmine, stands 43% complete in primary editing. Her contest with elements of our own government remains on schedule to appear this winter, God willing, likewise to be followed by the next volume in Sean’s File, King of a Lesser Hill.