Writing is an Itch. This is a place to scratch.

Friday, August 27, 2010

My P-r-r-re-cious!: A Lesson from The Lord of the Rings

Scene: LOTR: Return of the King, Peter Jackson, Dir.

By Rattus Scribus©

My wife and I just finished watching, again, Peter Jackson's film adaptation of J. R. R. Tolkien's trilogy masterpiece, The Lord of the Rings, one of my favorite reads since childhood. There are many lessons I have gleaned from this series over the years. But for this post I will focus on one, "the precious."

Many people of course know that I am referring to Sauron's master ring, with which the Dark Lord of Mordor sought to enslave all Middle Earth under his evil rule. In a previous bid for total domination, Sauron failed. The ring was lost and eventually ended up in the hands of a "river-folk" hobbit named Sméagol, who killed another hobbit to get it.

Corrupted by the power of the ring, Sméagol became Gollum, a frightful and pathetic creature of unnaturally great age with a mind as demented and disfigured as his physical appearance.

Gollum, by Greg & Tim Hildrebrandt

In time, the one ring was lost to Gollum and was found (stolen as Gollum saw it) by the hobbit Bilbo Baggins of The Shire.

In the LOTR trilogy, it is the great burden of Bilbo's young relative Frodo, to take the dangerous journey to Mordor, there to cast the ring into the volcano Mt. Doom where it was forged and thus the only place it can be destroyed.

Throughout the epic journey Gollum pursues the bearer of the ring, and even becomes Frodo's guide into the "valley of shadow." But Gollum does all with one relentless goal, one purpose to the exclusion of all safety and reason: he must get back the ring: "We wants it. We needs it. Must have the pr-r-re-cious!"

I have often thought how people, myself included, have our own versions of "the precious." It can be a fault in our personality or habit that is simply not up for discussion.

"I'm not listening. I'm not listening."
Scene: LOTR: The Two Towers, Peter Jackson, Dir.

I've known some people whose "precious" is to make others feel bad, because they feel bad. "I get to treat you like dirt because life has treated me like dirt. It's my right, mine, my own, my pr-r-re-cious!"

Most of us at one time have our own unassailable precious like money and possessions, careers, even religious beliefs.

What makes these like Gollum's precious is not that we should never pursue or have things like possessions or careers or beliefs. It is that they can become unhealthy distortions. At such times, even a good can become monstrous.

When profit, possessions and influence are pursued at the expense of people -- sometimes at the sacrifice of millions of people, their livelihoods and lives -- those things become our horrible "precious."
When one is married or devoted to career far more than spouse and family for which the career is supposed to exist in the first place, that career becomes our "precious."

And, dare I say it, when belief trumps common sense goodness, then even faith becomes a corrupting "precious." While he was being tortured for holding certain religious beliefs contrary to "established church doctrine," the 16th century Anabaptist, Balthasar Hubmaier asked his tormentors this tragic question: "You burn a man to uphold a doctrine?" (On Heretics and Those Who Burn Them, 1524). The church said in heavenly fashion: "But this is my belief, my own, my pr-r-re-cious!" Then in hellish fashion proceeded to burn him alive. But they were wrong. Hubmaier was right. I am a definite subscriber to the dictum that one cannot claim to love a God they've never seen, and not love people one can see every day. (Matthew 22:37-39; 1 John 4:20)

Mt. Doom, by Tim Kirk

As I begin a new academic year of teaching college students, I will meditate on those things in my life that have become my versions of "the precious." So if you think of me, pray that I will have the wisdom and strength to cast them all into the mountain of fire.

Humbly yours,
Rattus Scribus


Martina said...

Dear Rattus, i really enjoyed reading this - you're so right. It's this "precious" that takes us away from ourselves by taking our energy, so that it seems like, we're left with nothing if we let go. A dear teacher of mine called it "identification" - which is really a state of inner sleep that makes us machine-like. But we, as human beings have the ability of observing ourselves, of being conscious and free - not easy this, but, worth a try ;) We also love "lord of the rings" - my younger son knows every scene by heart!

Fete et Fleur said...

My dear brother,

We will uphold you in prayer. Teaching is a heavy burden, not one to be taken lightly. I know your heart is in the right place. May this new school year be filled with new discoveries in your teaching process and an unwavering focus on Him.

Love you!

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

I will never forget the moment we spoke about this idea as we were watching the movie; keep writing my beloved, your insight is stunning, and with God's help, if we all adhered to the truth, would shine His love and would change the world. There is nothing more precious...Anita

Angelsdoor * Penny said...

Your words say it all Ruben.. Excellent read..
Blessings my friend

Bonnie said...

An interesting and thoughtful read, Ruben! Hi, it's been a while welcome back to blogging.

I think it's great that you and Anita both teach. I will say my prayers for you and Anita for an exciting and stimulating new year of teaching and reaching young minds.


Edie Marie's Attic said...

Dear Ruben,

Bonjour mon amie! Oh how we love the Lord of the Rings stories. It should be seen and discussed by every living human being. There are so many things through life that can become the prec-i-o-u-s. Sometimes we let ourselves become the precious. Sad but true. I await the day when my little "sweetie girl" granddaughters are old enough to watch and soak up The Rings.
My prayers are with you and darling Anita for your new school year ahead. Blessings to you both!

Bisous, Sherry

Marie said...

As I'm sure we all are, although in different areas of our lives, I too should be charged guilty. Thank you for writing this. For some reason, and I'm not sure what exactly, reading this actually brought me to tears. I believe I'm just very disillusioned with many things going on in the world right now. I agree to pray for you, if you, my cousin, would remember now and then to do the same for me.

Sending much love your way,

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

You great big, wonderful thing from another planet, you!!!! I just got home to see my comments, and you came.....oh, I miss you so.


The Dutchess said...

My precious Rattus...such wise words...I wish you a wonderful wise and witty year of teaching.

Blessings...T.D...and a big hug from a little mouse!

Jacqueline said...

Now I'm totally rattled up like a baby rattle with those little plastic beads being knocked around in a plastic bulb. I can only take so much of the TRUTH which when spoken by you, seems to make sense. Once again, I'm off to find my thinking cap.

In the meantime, while I ponder your thoughts, I pray for both of us as we dump out precious and become more and more real, like the velveteen rabbit spoke.