Anyway, I thought I'd share some of those thoughts I've accumulated about LOTR today, just as they are in the app, and I hope they will encourage you to read the series whether it's your first time or 26th.
I'm halfway through The Fellowship and one thing's jumped out at me this time through so far. Good stories of the past are important, not only to share around the fire in the middle of the wilderness, but to repeat in the middle of the worst. To chant over and over with the rest and hold onto the hope in all of them. So many times Aragorn or Sam or another has recounted a tale of bravery in the dark or to bind up hearts when the cold clench of evil seems so near. Story is important to everyone, it seems, in LOTR. And not made up stories, but real stories of history long forgotten. I love that.
A theme Tolkien really hits on in LOTR is the idea of humanness vs. inhumanness: the state of being either human or not and most of his characters fall somewhere on either side. The Nazgûl, for example, were once men, but because of their infatuation with the Ring, they eventually lost that humanity completely. The hobbits and the men are more human, perhaps the most human, but different, and the elves are more-than-human, somehow otherworldly. And it's fascinating how Tolkien crafts these characters and tells their stories as if they're on this continuous plane and they are either becoming more or less human all the time. Lewis talks about humans in our world the same way. We are all either going one way or the other; we're either becoming something altogether lovely or altogether horrible. And humanness is not physical, it doesn't follow that we appear differently – though that is certainly the case with say, the orcs – it's that we are either going back to the way God first created us at the dawn of time, or we are becoming ourselves like the angel-turned-animal in the Garden. From a perfect being to one of inhuman evil.
I'm noticing this theme of returning in LOTR, more so than I have in the past. And not only regarding the story of Aragorn, but with so many others: Gandalf, Theoden, the hobbits. There's talk of exile, and going and returning and it's all so irresistibly reminiscent of the return of Christ.
Ah, what a picture of the Gospel and the battle for man's heart. Why accepting the gift of salvation is so bloody hard, but the most desperate need. (pg. 568)
Also, the Ents are my favorite. The first couple times through this book, I thought them boring, but they've got a wisdom more than knowledge that runs true as their roots, and maybe there's something to their tree-ness, something there for us. A tree planted by the river will not fail to bring forth fruit. They are never hasty, always thinking, but ready as ever to fight for the good. Their roots run deep in goodness and truth. 🌳🌲🌳🌲
"The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater." – Haldir, The Fellowship of the Ring
"Yet he felt in his heart that Faramir, though he was much like his brother in looks, was a man less self-regarding, both sterner and wiser." So many characters in LOTR are described as being stern, not in a derogatory way at all, but as something good. And I think that should be a trait of a Christian. There should be a sort of solemn seriousness about us beside that subterranean river of joy; a consciousness of the grief of the Father and the pain of the world – a quiet awareness of the brokenness that was mended at such a price. (650)