26 January, 2008

There and Back Again. A Sheep's Tale

I imagine most of you have read/seen The Lord of the Rings trilogy. For the couple of you who have not, it's a tremendous tale of friendship and love - and power.

In ancient times a ring of power was forged by an evil super-being named Sauron. That ring fell out of his control, but has spent millenia try to manipulate its finders into carrying it back to its rightful owner. It is currently held by an unprepossessing hobbit as a kind of good-luck charm. The wise Gandalf has finally divined its true import, though, and knows that it must be destroyed before it can find its way back to Sauron again. Doing so means that this hobbit, Frodo, must carry the ring back to the place where it was forged - Sauron's own furnace.

The journey takes a couple thousand pages (though others have proposed an alternate solution) and demands everything of Frodo. In the end it is love that allows him to succeed, the love of Frodo's steadfast friend, Samwise Gamgee.

There are countless stories of love in The Lord of the Rings. Faramir's love for Denethor, Gandalf's love for the world, Aragorn's love for Arwyn, Merry's and Pippin's love for each other, Eowyn's father's love for her, Gimli's and Legolas' strange and beautiful bonding, Elrond's love for Arwyn, Frodo's pity for Gollum. The list is long, but none compares to Sam's love for Frodo, and that's the real story.

But Tolkien makes time for one other little story, and one other little character who has always meant more to me than any other of the saga.

Boromir's is the story of power.

And Boromir's is the only story of failure in the whole saga.

And Boromir's is my story.

Boromir's story is simple. All told, I don't think he adds up to 5 pages in the whole book. He was born in the city of men, the eldest son of the Steward of Gondor. Gondor stood for centuries, the sword, stone, and blood of men, holding back the armies and evil of Sauron the great. Denethor led his sons, Boromir and Faramir, in holding back the rising flood of Sauron's evil, but the evil is grown too strong. It is the end of the age. Evil is about to overflow Gondor and ravage the idyllic world of hobbits, elves and dwarves.

If you want to understand Boromir, watch this commercial. Boromir would know his brothers instantly.

Boromir is men's representative in quest to destroy the ring. He is the ninth of 4 hobbits, 1 elf, 1 dwarf, 1 wizard, and 1 ranger.

As the quest wears on, the truth of his mission weighs on Boromir's mind. The ring Frodo bears, the ring he will destroy, is The Ring of Power. The ring Frodo will destroy could guarantee Sauron's destruction. Gondor could save the world, if but Boromir wore the ring.

Boromir is driven mad by the thought and by the tempting seduction of the ring. At the height of his madness, he attempts to steal the ring. Too late, the spell of the ring is broken in his heart, and he repents. By his fall, the party of 9 is broken into 3 parties of 2, 2, and 4. His last act is to sacrifice himself to allow Frodo's escape, but it is the bitter sacrifice of sin's price.

I hope you will forgive and indulge me in retelling that story. I don't know whether it ever leaves my heart.

Tolkien tells it perfectly. The good intentions of a heart do not reduce the evil it can commit. For every good intention, there is a true intention behind it. Sometimes those true intentions are wise, foolish, evil, loving, thoughtless, but they always play out. They have played out in my life so far. There are many years left to measure, but so far the Lord has had to work double-time to redeem the messes I've made.

Just like Boromir.

In Feb of 1989, I joined a new church, one that was going to change the world. In Nov 1998 I withdrew. It's been 9 years since I left that church, and I think it's time to tell the story.

For those of you who like to read ahead, here is the man whose church I joined:
Gene Edwards

And here is his bookstore:


Weekend Fisher said...

"And I will restore to you the years the locust ate ..." (Joel 2:25)

Anonymous said...

"The good intentions of a heart do not reduce the evil it can commit."

I too know well the truth of those words. Though I already know the story (on some level), I'm looking forward to hearing it in full. Yours and mine have a bit in common.

Boromir's story hit me too when I saw the movie. Froto's is a story of duty and determination, Sam's of fierce loyalty and Gandalf's of shepherding and leadership. But Boromir's is one of misguided passion and ultimate, last minute redemption. It's the redemption that is powerful, for in the telling we can all see Boromir's heart, even the characters in the story are skeptical of his intentions. Everyone knows something isn't right - but Boromir.

Seeing the anguish in his own realization of his heart's intent and his desparation to right the wrong touched my heart.

That you would identify with him touches it too.

Milly said...

I should get around to seeing these movies or reading the books.

tari said...

Boromir's part in the story was haunting...especially well done in the film, I thought.

Interesting thoughts. I just loved these books, and the treatment of the trilogy in the films as well.

Lynne said...

Boromir? I wouldn't have thought that, but I see what you mean. To me he became beautiful in his repentance, whereas before he was the most irritating character in the book. After all, repentance, not natural virtue, is the highest good. It's Sam I wish to emulate, but I've always identified most with the young hobbits,(along for the ride without a clue what they've got themselves into) or with Eowyn (heartsick for something that isn't hers to have).

I don't know a lot about Gene edwards (other than what I just read) but I have read a couple of his books (particularly Tale of 3 Kings) and found them both inspirational (I can see how anyone wouldbe attracted to his movement) and yet .. disturbing .. There's something .. I don't know , for want of a better word .. masochistic .. about his presentation of spirituality -- I know it locked into, in unhealthy ways, with some of my personal abuse issues. Thinking about his stuff (the little I know) in connection with Boromir takes my brain to some interesting places,

Bless you brother, in your journey, and for the light you give to others as you seek to follow Jesus out of the darkness.

codepoke said...

Thank you, WF, and I know I don't need to remind what precedes that promise:

Joel 2:12 -14
Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye [even] to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he [is] gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil. Who knoweth [if] he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him; [even] a meat offering and a drink offering unto the LORD your God?

And then again, that which follows is beautiful too.

Joel 2:32
And it shall come to pass, [that] whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call.

I'm writing these things because the Lord has begun to restore. I brought the locusts on myself. The Lord will bring mercy anyway, and He has already begun.

codepoke said...

> Everyone knows something isn't right - but Boromir.

Amen, Salguod.

I'm just like that. I will do a thing wrongly rather than back off, even if it's not working. I have this innate sense of propriety, and as the song says, I'd rather break than to bend.

codepoke said...

FYI, Milly, the book is a story within a story. The whole trilogy plus "The Hobbit" were written as book written by the hobbits themselves called, "There and Back Again: A Hobbit's Tale."

codepoke said...

Agreed about the haunting part, Tari, and the movies were about as good as video can be.

codepoke said...

Hahaha, Lynne!

I was not going to mention Boromir's boorishness.

> he was the most irritating character in the book.

Yep. And I have empirical proof that it is just one of my many parallel's with this fascinating guy. My church kicked me out of the brotherhood until I'd read, "How to Win Friends and Influence People" ... wait for it ... twice.

In 6 years I managed to make some of the best people I've ever met completely sick of me, no matter how productive I was. It was one of the best lessons I've ever learned. Probably nothing that's ever happened to me changed my life so much for the better.

I concur with your analysis of Gene's spirituality. Thank you for your blessing.

Patchouli said...

CP, you show a great deal of trust to reveal your pain. I am humbled-btw, my brother was kicked out of church at the age of 16 because he wouldn't cut his hair above his collar. Sometimes CHURCH is a four-letter word.

codepoke said...

Odd. Blogger logged me in and lost my comment. Ah well. Another one for the bit bucket.

Thank you, Patchy for your faith, and I hope your brother recovered. That kind of injustice can be hard on a young man.