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:
And here is his bookstore: