Friday, September 23, 2005

This is a Test.

"Often does hatred hurt itself!" page 243

Does that mean anything to anybody? Well, it sounds like it maybe could have come from Proverbs, or it's just a truism.

What if I were to tell you that it was said in the middle of a story where a good character and a bad character had been in conflict, and the bad character made some choices that would have painful ramifications in the long run?

What if I were to tell you that this was Gandalf's account of Saruman's fall in the 2nd of Tolkein's Lord of the Rings trilogy. When Gandalf says, "Often does hatred hurt itself," he's telling his comrades of the way that Saruman refused to return to the good side; even though he saw that his own future was dismal, he clung to his hopes of "glory" in the evil empire he had worked to build.

Oh, that makes more sense.

But it doesn't make sense entirely until you know who Gandalf is, who Saruman is, who Bilbo Baggins is - the funny little hobbit who found the ring that started the whole chain of events that go through four books. And you're never quite comfortable with the story until the last page of the last book.

I want to use this illustration in a few weeks when I teach kids why it is so important to read Scripture covenantally. That means that we read Scripture in light of our relationship to God (as he has defined it), but it also means that we read every part of Scripture in light of the whole story. Yeah, a verse here or there can sort of make sense as a stand alone. And the more of the story we know, the more meaningful it is. But we don't understand what it's really about (whether we're looking at Proverbs, Psalms, the laws, or stories like David & Goliath) until we consider that story in light of the whole, just like we didn't really understand the quote at the beginning of this post until we saw how it figures into the victorious ending of The Return of the King.

I don't know -- what do you think? I think the illustration is good, if I can just phrase it right.


Molly said...

PS Christian: I wrote this post earlier, but I'm watching a movie while I post it. Is that acceptable for a Friday night?

Pilgrim in Progress said...

Yeah, we'll cut you some slack (because it's a good illustration) :-) We had pizza and hung out w/ Charles last night, and I didn't wake up this morning until (*gasp*) 9 AM. So we had a pretty acceptable Friday evening, but now of course I'm behind on Saturday...

Melodee said...

I think the kids are going to eat it up! I can't wait to hear your whole lesson next Thursday!

Pilgrim in Progress said...

You know there _is_ an ethical question in this: Is it fair to quote LOTR when you haven't actually read the books? Hmmm, that's a tough one... once again, I guess we'll have to cut you some slack ;-)

There's actually another great scene in LOTR - it occurs in The Two Towers, "The Stairs of Cirith Ungol" and it has Sam talking to Frodo about how different 'adventures' look when you're actually in one:
"Adventures, I used to call them. I used to think they were the things the wonderful folk of the stories went out and looked for, because they wanted them, because they were exciting and life was a bit dull, a kind of sport, as you might say. But that's not the way of it with the tales that really matterd, or the ones that stay in the mind. Folk seem to have just landed in them, usually - their paths were laid that way, as you put it. But I expect they had lots of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn't. And if they had, we shouldn't know, because they'd have been forgotten... I wonder what sore of a tale we've fallen into?"

"I wonder" said Frodo. "But I don't know. And that's the way of a real tale. Take any one that you're fond of. You may know, or guess, what kind of tale it is, happy-ending or sad-ending, but the people in it don't know. And you don't want them to."
And a beautiful discussion follows. Gosh I love Tolkien...

Anonymous said...

Great illustration! Haven't read the books? losing credibility. . .:) Even I've read the books.

Molly said...

Christian, you didn't need to spill the beans that I haven't read the books ... I'm a fan nonetheless!

In defense of myself, I've never been a fan of fantasy, and I started reading LOTR after I read the Hobbit ... I don't even know how long ago that was, but it never really grabbed my interest. Now that I've seen what a great story Tolkien tells, however, I might go back and read them some day!

Master Aegidius said...

Okay let's set the record straight:
1) it is not 3 books, it is not 4 books, IT IS FIVE BOOKS!!!!!!!! (hint- Silmarillion).
2) using the movie for an analogy/illustration when you haven't read the Books is like basing your theology on the "Left Behind" series instead of the Bible.
3) next you are going to tell us you're a Yankees fan....