Jess’ last paragraph Saturday caught my attention when she said this.
“The search for respectability often becomes a search for being accepted by a society whose values are not ours – and as, for example, the development of views on homosexuality shows, what was once not only respectable but mandatory under law, can become the opposite very quickly. Best build on Christ, who is love, and leave society to its ever-changing ways.”
It reminded me of something I had read recently, this
HEIDELBERG AND HOBBITON:
THEOLOGY OF THE CROSS IN MIDDLE-EARTH
What does Martin Luther have in common with Frodo, and Samwise? I assure you, it’s more than enjoying the company of friends and family, joyous hospitality, and of course, a good ale.
On April 26th, 1518 Martin Luther delivered his famous Heidelberg Disputation before the General Chapter of the Augustinian order.
On December 25th, 3018 (Shire reckoning) four hobbits, two men, one elf, one dwarf, and one wizard left Rivendell to destroy the Ring of Power in the fire of Mt. Doom.
To be sure, these are two different events from two different worlds, one history and the other epic fantasy. Yet, something fundamental to the Christian faith ties both stories together.
“And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” (1 Cor 2:1-5)
Like St. Paul, Luther learned to rejoice in weakness rather than boast the confidence of human works. For in our weakness we see the great strength of God displayed in Jesus who though he was strong, yet for our sakes became weak. Jesus entered Jerusalem, not on a conquering warhorse like the Caesars of Rome, but on a humble donkey as a suffering servant. For Luther, the theology of glory and the theology of the cross was as different as death and life, blindness and sight, boasting in man’s glory and boasting in the glory of Christ Crucified for sinners.
Like Luther, Frodo and Samwise were also on a journey. Their departure from Rivendell (and the Shire before) marked the beginning of the long road to Mordor, a journey in which we see the hobbits grow in wisdom and stature before men and elves.
As the story unfolds we see Luther’s Heidelberg theses on display, even before the Fellowship leaves Rivendell. Gimli’s axe cannot destroy the One Ring. And Boromir’s desire to wield it against the dark lord, Sauron is foolish and ruinous. Tolkien’s point is clear. The brute strength of dwarfs and the stout hearts of men are no match for evil. Something smaller and unexpected is needed, a humble hobbit.
“I will take the Ring, Frodo said, “though I do not know the way.”
Here Heidelberg meets Hobbiton. A theology of glory is turned aside by a hobbit, small in stature, and unnoticed by the men of Middle-earth and even Sauron himself. Frodo reveals himself to be a theologian of the cross, choosing to bear the One Ring with all its seething, restless evil, and take it to its destruction at great cost to himself and his companions.
I don’t have much to add to this, except that perhaps we should listen a bit better to Christ. He said it often enough. Here, for example, in Mathew 5, He says:
5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.