Wednesday, September 28, 2022

A Gospel Perspective on Rings of Power

(Guest Post by Tember) 

As a young man, I read The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Silmarillion, and some of the Unfinished Tales. I’ve always been captivated by Tolkien's brand of fantasy more than any other, because of the complexity, thoroughness, and quasi-plausibility of such a world existing, especially with his ability to create languages for the various races. And, although I wouldn’t consider myself as a well-versed “scholar”  in every detail of Tolkien lore, I’m familiar enough with his creation to hopefully give a decent review here. 

For years, I have been waiting for a film or series like this! So, it’s great to finally see it come to fruition. Admittedly, I would love to have seen something depicting the First Age and Morgoth’s destruction of the Trees and theft of the Silmarils, but the Rings of Power depiction of the Second Age is pretty awesome. 

Although the acting is a little too melodramatic for my taste, and the producers are taking quite a bit of editorial license, incorporating non-canonical details into the story, overall I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the series. It’s going to be interesting to see how this series will manage to condense the 3,500-year history of the Second Age into 8 seasons, but I think they’re doing a decent job trying to portray major events relatively concurrently. 

Some critics are knocking the fact that Amazon has incorporated more multi-racial actors into the series, truthfully, Tolkien did allow more diversity in deeper between men and dwarves, some being described as having darker skin. Tolkien particularly described the Harfoots, ancestors of the Hobbits, “were browner of skin, smaller, and shorter, and they were beardless and bootless” (The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings, JRR Tolkien). So, I welcome a diversity of skin color among the races that’s depicted. 

One of the common themes I saw throughout the series so far, is the prevalence of pride, arrogance, and willful blindness among the different races: the elves not wanting to acknowledge the resurgence of Sauron; the men of Middle Earth disliking the elves and denying any trouble arising from the East; the men of Númenor and their similar enmity with the elves and defying the ban of the Valar (the gods). Ultimately, it’s their pride that will allow Sauron to deceive them and dominate the land. It’s their pride that will cause Ilúvatar (the creator god) to sink Númenor and all of its sin into the depths of the sea. 

This is a crucial message for us to remember, as Latter-day Saints; that pride is the root of all sin. Like with the Númenorians, it was the Nephites’ pride that led to their destruction. Let us seek to rid ourselves of pride, for “none is acceptable before God, save the meek and lowly in heart” (Moroni 7:44). Let us not in arrogance reject the counsel of God and his living prophets, but humbly submit to his will and lose our lives in the Lord’s service. This is the key to joy and prosperity. 

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