I love Tolkien's works. I don't know what it is about his style and content, but he pulls me in, absorbs me in his fantastical culture and history. Maybe that is it! Tolkien is the only author I know to create not only a fictional context for his story, but a whole history, language, culture, and lore for his tales. Anyway, here's some interesting stuff from him, punctuated with some less polished stuff from me.
All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
(The Fellowship of the Ring)
I particularly like this rhyme, especially the first two lines, for two reasons. First, it sort of parallels the the I Cor. 1 verse which says that God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.
Second, I secretly hope that someone will someday consider it to reflect me. There is often pure gold in material that doesn't exactly look valuable. And though I sound pretty crazy sometimes, please remember that just because I wander, I am not necessarily lost. :)
The last two lines remind me of the heritage I have in the Word of God, the historic liturgy and the Lutheran Confessions. We know that the Word of the Lord will stand forever and if we are "built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone" our "roots" will not be "reached by the frost".
"Pity? It was Pity that stayed his hand. Pity and Mercy: not to strike without need. And he has been well rewarded..."
"He deserves death."
"Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many live that deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be to eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the wise cannot see all ends."
(The Fellowship of the Ring)
This is a very interesting one. I've looked at this section from very different angles, but finally came back to my original view. Pity and Mercy are good God-given qualities. This is not to say that criminals shouldn't be punished. That is the God-ordained task given to the government. But it is a weighty thing to deal out death. Especially for those to whom the task of bearing the sword has not been given.
For those who defend authority against rebellion must not themselves rebel
This convicted me right from the get-go. (The context of the quote is great too, but I can't state it exactly because I don't own my own copy of the Simarillion and therefore do not have it with me right now.) We cannot defend a person's authority (ie. "parents and other authorities") and still rebel against their authority at the same time. Not only is this inconsistency, but it is mockery.
"And thou shalt see that no theme may be played that hath not its uttermost source in me, nor can any alter the music in my despite. For he that attempteth this shall prove but my instrument in the devising of things more wonderful, which he himself hath not imagined."
Again, this is an interesting passage. Eru/Iluvatar is speaking to Melkor/Morgoth who has in jealousy and rebellion attempted to ruin the music of the Valar by dissonance. I think the passage speaks for itself as to meaning. Whether I fully agree with the theological sense of the meaning is still up for debate.
"White!" he sneered. "It serves as a beginning. White cloth may be dyed. The white page can be overwritten; and the white light can be broken."
"In which case it is no longer white," said I. "And he who breaks a thing to find out what it is, has left the path of wisdom."
- Gandalf/Mithrandir (The Fellowship of the Ring)
Oooh. This could leave a mark... Remind you of anything? Anyone? White is not white unless it is kept pure, unadulterated. Introduce a little falsehood, and a teaching is no longer true. Introduce a little hormone and the chicken is no longer organic.....(yeah, laugh). In the same way, this should serve as a warning to us not to sacrifice truth at any cost.
Has scientific research "left the path of wisdom"? Consider embryonic stem cell research...
"It is perilous to study to deeply the art of the Enemy, for good or for ill."
-Elrond Halfelven (The Fellowship of the Ring)
The thing speaks for itself. Do not study the "arts of the Enemy" too deeply, even if you mean well by your research. This is perilous ground. Mind your steps.
"The world is all grown strange...How shall a man judge what to do in such times?"
"As he ever has judged...Good and ill have not changed since yesteryear; nor are they one thing amoung Elves and Dwarves and another amoung Men. It is a man's part to discern them..."
(The Two Towers)
Yes, indeed! Our world has grown strange. Men say that evil is good and good is evil. Absolute truth is condemned as narrowminded or discriminating. We Americans push for freedom to live whatever lifestyle we please under the name of "diversity". But Good and Evil are not differently defined than when God spoke to Moses, despite what society would tell us. It is indeed "a man's part to discern them".
"There are some things that it is better to begin than to refuse, even though the end may be dark."
(The Two Towers)
This is another statement that I'm not quite sure what it fully means. Let me put it like this: You may know that something unpleasant will happen to you if you do what is right. (The cross is always a given.) But remember the consequences of refusal to carry out what is necessary, the cost of failure to defend the truth. "If anyone disowns me, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.." God grant that we not shrink from a confession of His Son, and may he give power to our feeble words.
Well, that's it for now. I'll probably add more later.