Have you read The Lord of the Rings?
What is your take on the Tolkien trilogy?

Commentary by Greg Wright

The Lord of the Rings
The Fellowship of the Ring, Book II
""Many Meetings" thru "The Breaking of the Fellowship"

This page was created on December 04, 1999
This page was last updated on June 3, 2005

The Fellowship of the Ring, Book II
In April, 2004, this web page was annotated to address errors in the text. Click on highlighted text to review errata.
When Frodo has recovered from his wound at Weathertop, Elrond convenes a council at Rivendell to determine a course of action.  Not surprisingly, the advice of Elrond echoes the themes found in Book I.  "Believe rather that it is so ordered that we, who sit here, and none others, must now find counsel for the peril of the world," he says.  Aragorn agrees.  "It has been ordained," he says, that Frodo should bear the Ring.  Ordained by who?  Ordered by who?  The text offers little insight into the gods that govern Middle-earth; but the belief in greater powers that order the universe are reflected in Biblical teaching.  Ephesians 2:10, for instance, says, "We are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."

The old hobbit himself volunteers to carry the Ring to the end of the Quest, seeing as he was the one who seemed to start the whole mess.  Elrond overrules, designating Frodo as the Ringbearer.  "This task is appointed for you, Frodo," Elrond says.

The Fellowship of the Ring 
The Fellowship of the Nine Walkers sets out southward from Rivendell.  They depart at night, to avoid the watchful eyes of Sauron's spies; but Boromir rashly blasts the horn of Gondor, for which he earns a reprimand from Elrond.  Boromir replies, "I will not go forth as a thief in the night."  This is an interesting choice of words to put in Boromir's mouth.  Aragorn has already been identified as the one the prophecies speak about, the heir of Isildur; so the setting forth of the Fellowship, is, in a way, the beginning of the return of the king.  In Biblical New Testament prophecy, Jesus describes his own foretold return as happening like a "thief in the night."  Is this foreshadowing that Boromir is not really on the king's side?

Who is Gandalf, exactly?  The book never really makes that clear.  Sure, he's a wizard, but what are wizards, and what are their powers?  In the mines of Moria, we find the first chinks in his armor.  Following the confrontation with the unknown power in the Chamber of Records, he remarks, "Ah!  I have never felt so spent, but it is passing."  Gandalf?  Physically taxed by the use of his powers?  And then he falls into darkness in his death struggle with the Balrog, saving the lives of the Fellowship!  What is this madness?  How can such strength exhibit such weakness?  In a similar way, Jesus feels his strength go out of him when working miracles (see Luke 8:46), and himself dies on the cross to save others.  Hollywood Jesus readers have already remarked on the Christlike characteristics of Frodo.  What about Gandalf?  Is he a Christ-figure, too?

The words of the Fellowship's host, Haldir, demonstrate the symbolic nature of Lórien: the "struggle of light and darkness."  Lórien is an idyllic paradise, almost existing even outside of time.  It contrasts starkly with the darkness and evil of Mordor, which creeps even on the borders of Lórien from Moria and Mirkwood.  In such times, Haldir explains, trust has gone awry. 

The Fellowship in Lothlórien
The Fellowship must pass through Lórien in blindfolds.  "In nothing is the power of the Dark Lord more clearly shown than in the estrangement that divides all those who still oppose him," says Haldir.  The Fellowship itself is a testimony of the trust possible amongst those of the light; but their blindfolds remind us of Haldir's words.  The true nature of Fellowship is discussed in I John 2:10-11.  "Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble.  But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him."

The power of Lórien is maintained by the ring that Galadriel wears.  But she and Celeborn have other powers as well, including powers of insight.  The hearts of each member of the Fellowship are searched.  For Gimli, "it seemed to him that he looked suddenly into the heart of an enemy and saw there love and understanding."  The enmity between the dwarves and elves was longstanding and bitter; so the love Gimli felt was truly a love like that Jesus spoke of when he said, "Love your enemies:" a love "that keeps no record of wrongs" (I Corinthians 13:5).

The rightful king, the heir of Isildur, Elessar the Elfstone, finds confirmation and solace from Galadriel.  "I will diminish," she says, in much the same way that John the Baptist spoke of Jesus.  "Maybe the paths that you each shall tread are already laid before your feet."  Boromir, however, perceives in Galadriel only "a choice between a shadow of fear that lay ahead, and something that he greatly desired."  He goes so far as to openly say, "She tempted us."  Celeborn and Galadriel know, however, that the only evil that a man may find in Lórien has been brought by himself.  "Each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed."  (James 1:14)  By what is Boromir enticed?  What is his evil desire? 

Below Rauros, beyond the twin images of Isildur and Anarion, atop Amon Hen, Frodo confronts an enormous choice:  to take the Ring to Gondor and the War, or to take the Ring to Mordor and certain destruction. Like Boromir, he carries with him his own temptation, the desire to take "the way that seems easier."  In this way, Frodo is Everyman.  Every day, we are confronted with the choice between the easy way out, and what we know is right.  "Wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction," Jesus said, "but small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it" (Matthew 7:13-14). 

Boromir's true colors are revealed on Amon Hen.  His own lust for power and glory gets the better of him.  "The fearless, the ruthless—these alone will achieve victory," he says to Frodo.  Boromir's tragic moral failure helps Frodo see the way toward the hard path all the more clearly.  But in that moment of struggle, in spite of the weight of destiny and providence in which his task was steeped, Tolkien tells us that Frodo was still "free to choose" which path he would take. 

What about you?  What is the struggle like for you on a daily basis?  You are free to choose, too.  What choice will you make?
So what gives?
Did this spiritual imagery find its way into The Lord of the Rings by design? Or was it simply part of Tolkien's cultural fabric, accidentally creeping into the text? And what about the magic and wizardry? Is this really healthy spirituality that Tolkien presents?

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