I’m enough of a Tolkien geek that I can admit to becoming a little verklempt when I listen to the soundtracks from the Lord of the Rings movies. The music so lifting, so inspiring, so haunting in many places.
So, I was listening today and I thought, “I need to watch the movies.” If you don’t know which movies I’m talking about when I say “the movies,” then I wonder how we’re even friends.
The books have long been some of my favorites stories, and the movies are my most favorite, probably of all time, movies. For several reasons.
First, it is hard to find a better telling of the battle between good and evil. But I think back to when the movies came out. The Fellowship of the Ring was released in December of 2001.
Remember what we had gone through just months before. We needed a hero. Interestingly, the first Harry Potter movie also came out that fall. In Frodo and Harry, we found unlikely heroes.
That time is also significant because I began friendships with an online community of Tolkien fans who, amazingly, shared similar political persuasions. While hard to explain, those friendships continue. We’ve shared weddings, and births and deaths. Our community stretches from Massachusetts to Washington State to Texas and back to Virginia with points in between. One of my friends in this group created the image for this post.
I thought back on that today because we’re at a place in this country where we could use some hope. Certainly, I have the hope of my faith and that is the one hope that endures.
But sometimes we need an epic fantasy story to lift us up.
We’re witnessing a dysfunctional government with the shutdown and the failure (yes, failure) of Obamacare. Closer to home the electorate doesn’t want any of the choices for governor. The economy stinks. Job prospects for the unemployed, including those in my household, are grim.
So, in a sense we find ourselves in Shelob’s lair. And while we may be tempted to give up, there is still hope.
At one of the darkest points in their question to destroy the ring, Sam puts it all in perspective.
Sam: I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.
Frodo: What are we holding onto, Sam?
Sam: That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo… and it’s worth fighting for.
Sam is right. We shouldn’t be here. We shouldn’t have a government that can’t govern. We shouldn’t have an economy in the toilet. We shouldn’t have an election that inspires no one. But we do.
Still, there’s some good in this world that’s worth fighting for.
And there’s some music that makes me a little verklempt.