The final fork
I just can’t get into a storyline peppered with names like Smeagol, Boromir, and Isildur. Huh? Especially when they inhabit bizarre worlds constantly in danger from creepy or menacing orcs, balrogs, and the Nazgûl. What? There’s not enough there I can relate to. At least on the surface which, unless I stick with it long enough to sink a little, is as deep as I ever get. Because if I’m put off by a failure to connect, I lose interest.
Unlike a lot of folks who love novels and films that transport them to completely unfamiliar and strange times and places, I am not a fan of fantasy. Even though I’ve tentatively skated the surface of Middle Earth it did not captivate me, so whatever themes J.R.R.Tolkien had in mind when he wrote The Lord of the Rings went mostly over my head (or under my feet, as the case may be). In fact, some readers may have discerned my lack of connection with the story from my first post in this series when I compared my spiritual odyssey to “Bilbo and Frodo’s” when I should have said Frodo and Samwise Gamgee (who names their son Samwise?).
But though I didn’t pick up on the underlying themes, there’s no shortage of assessments online of the metaphors and messages in Tolkien’s “high-fantasy” trilogy. The reality of and relationship between Good and Evil are throughout…that one was a little hard to miss. But it’s interesting that this fictional tale with Good and Evil so prominently portrayed “is mainly concerned with Death, and Immortality,” according to its author.
Which brings me to the point of this post, the last in my series recalling my spiritual odyssey begun 30 years ago. Every spiritual quest treks through a non-fictional existence where Good and Evil are prominent realities and Death and Immortality the inevitable destination. And whether or not we are seeking, we are all on a journey that will someday usher us into a very different but just as real existence where Death will forever be in our past, Immortality our present and future, and Good OR Evil our eternal, unending, unchangeable experience.
The path we travel in this life is marked by many forks in the road, each with two or more “tines” we are free to choose from. When our path proceeds through the portal of Death we are faced with one more fork, but this one is not a decision point, not an opportunity to freely choose. Our previous choices in our previous life have determined which of the remaining two paths we find ourselves on…for all eternity. The one leads us into the permanent presence of God, who IS Good, and the permanent absence of all that is Evil…sin, pain, sorrow, grief. But all those realities will still exist…where God is not. Down the other path.
One of the reasons I don’t care for fantasy is because Evil is usually depicted and always frightening, and I’m not a fan of fear neither. But I do recognize the immense, eternally significant value of artistically portraying its horrendously dreadful reality. It’s too easy to ignore what we cannot see.
But we will not be able to plead ignorance before our Judge, if we find ourselves on the wide way to the Land of Eternal Evil after we die. In fact, I believe we will know then that his judgment is just, and that if Evil is to be our endless, unremitting environment, it is because we have chosen it.
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. – Romans 1:18-21
But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.
This was the verse I was looking for the other day.