We live in a time when nothing is worth living for and certainly nothing is worth dying for. Everything is relative. There are no absolutes, no great truths, no heroic causes. Part of the appeal of Lord of the Rings is that it contains a sense of moral purpose. It is a world of valour, honour and courage. But in our world these things have lost their meaning. We want meaning and purpose, but we doubt these things exist in our age of tolerance. We like the idea of fighting for a great cause, but we are suspicion of great causes – we suspect that they are just power games.
But in Lord of the Rings there is something worth living for, fighting for and dying for. Once again this is ‘a splintered fragment of the true light’. The story of Lord of the Rings mirrors the story of history as the Bible presents it. There is something worth living for and something worth dying for – the rule of Jesus – not the rule of a tyrant, but the rule that sets us free. Here is a great cause that is not a power game because it is the cause of the Lamb. At its heart is the king who died for his people. And that is why it can set us free.
Our final extract is from the end of The Two Towers. Sam kind of entered the fellowship of the ring by accident, but he has come to see that there is ‘something worthy fighting for’. He says:
Sam: Those were the stories that stayed with you – that meant something even if you were too small to understand why. But I think Mr Frodo that I do understand. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back only they didn’t. They kept going because they were holding on to something.
Frodo: What are we holding onto, Sam?
Sam: That there is some good in this world. And it’s worth fighting for.
There is good and there is evil. These things are not relative. It is not simply a matter of perspective or a manipulation by the powerful. There is something worth fighting for. We see Aragorn and King Théoden mounting their last stand ‘for death and glory’. Interestingly when Jesus explains to his followers that he must die in the passage form Mark 8 that we read, he goes on to promise them ‘death and glory’ (see Mark 8:34-38). Here is a cause worth dying for. Here is the promise of eternal glory. Sam says: ‘Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer’.
And finally Frodo and Sam speculate about whether one day their names will be part of the great heroic stories. ‘I wonder if we’ll ever be put into songs and tales,’ says Sam. And that is what I am offering you: a place of the great story, the true myth, the ultimate adventure, a share in the kingdom of the Lamb.