I am a convert to the world of Tolkien. This is my story.
When I was in middle school, we had to read one of two books: A Wrinkle in Time, or The Hobbit. My reading group had to read the latter.
Cue the internal seventh grade frustration questions: “Why can’t we read about interesting things like time wrinkles? Also, what are time wrinkles? Why are we reading about little bearded men somewhere in the middle of the earth? What is wrong with regular earth? Also, why should we care about wild-eyed dwarves?” and so on…
I tried to focusing on the positive: The Hobbit did inhabit (“inhobbit”?) a home in possesion of a circular green door with a knob in the exact middle. A sucker for design, I felt vaguely helped by this detail.
This information was on the first page. The rest of the book, honestly, was a total snooze.
Because life is slathered in irony, I grew up, got married, had children, and witnessed our plethora of offspring delightedly discovering The Lord of the Rings books. Most of them were over the moon about their discoveries. Some attended Peter Jackson’s films en masse, with friends, dressed in character. I remember standing in a theater lobby, flooded with high school Orc’s, dwarves and Arwen’s, as I dropped off my own middle earthlings. I remember a daughter swathed in a velvet green Arwen cape she pleaded with me to make her for Halloween.
All of this begged the question: Was this genetic mismatch Bilbo’s revenge because his book had bored me to tears? 😉
Truthfully, I was grateful our children loved The Lord of the Rings. This is because there is a lot of bad media and literature out there and when you are a parent you are reverentially grateful for any good entertainment consumables. Mr. Tolkein was a writer of morally good things. This was enough for me.
With the new Amazon series “The Rings of Power”, and a knowing nod from Galadriel, Everything Has Changed.
My interest was ignited when I read Jeff Bezo’s son warned his dad not to “mess up” the series. Actually, he used a less beautiful word, but his warning resonated. I didn’t want Mr. Bezo’s to mess it up either.
Through all my years of dodging hobbits, I knew Mr. Tolkien was a man of great faith, and that faith had influenced his works.
I’m into faith. I decided to try again.
Perhaps this new series, this new cinematic Uber, as it were, could get me to middle earth. Maybe I could stay awhile and have a better look around.
I watched cautiously, for the first handful of minutes. Parts of my brain competed for dominance: the part that recalled middle school/middle earth, and the other part that stared in wide-eyed wonder at the sweeping cinematography, the metaphorical nods to pre-mortality (an LDS thing-you can look it up), and the captivating conversation opener between Galadriel and her seriously good brother. They are living in an innocent world. But evil is hiding…lurking…
Galadriel is a boss from the get-go. She knows stuff. She knows what is really going down, and not just about what appears to be going down. She is willing to give her very life, if necessary, to protect others from going down.
In her words: “I know what it is to be alone. I know what it s to be the only one who sees…Choose the path of faith, not fear…”
And then the queen (you’ll see) responds “Faith is too fine a thread on which to hang a kingdom…”
BOOM. There is it is: the epic, eternal battle of faith vs. fear; good vs. evil; light vs. darkness.
It’s the battle we have All Been Fighting almost Our Whole Lives. In small, subtle, “it all adds up” ways, or sometimes, in larger ways. But the Battle is Real. We are trying to make good, better, and best choices every day. We are trying to “see” the darkness, and avoid it. But darkness can be deceiving. We need faith to discern it. We are here on earth to be tested. We are here, as Tolkien reminds us, for a purpose, to know that purpose, and to serve bravely.
So it has ever been…before our time, and will be after our time.
This life is not trivial.
He just explained it in a much broader, more fantastical way, than say, Paul, who summed it up in the Bible:
“Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:10-17)
You are going to see a lot of armor in this series. Not all of it will be metaphorical, non-violent armor (I look away).
You will likely feel the tension between right and wrong, and the courage of those who are willing to stand up for their faith in that which is good and to defend against that which is evil. We don’t need violent battles, of course, for that in our own lives, but this is a metaphor. We still battle things out in our hearts every day, before we make choices that lead us ultimately towards, or away from, heaven’s Father.
All of this eternal depth led me to these immediate places:
- My husband and I attending a Rings of Power Party. Thanks, adult kids, living with your own young families now. I contributed Lord of the Onion Rings from Sonic.#becauseonionrings
- Watching every single episode with tenacity normally reserved for cats laser-focused on laser pens.
- Our family continually texts about these episodes on our family text string.
A quick shout out to Jeff Bezo’s son (Preston?): Thanks! They haven’t messed it up! It’s clean! It’s magnificently done! It’s well cast, and well written!
Here are links to learn more about the series. This first one is an interview with the writers (the guy on the left is a Latter-day Saint!). The two writers have been friends since high school and have written together, on and off, for over two decades.
More on the writers/showrunners here:
More on the family of Jeff Bezo connection:
Best link for getting a background on the show before you watch:
Let’s watch, rate on Amazon, subscribe, share, and do whatever else we can to bless others with this fun!
“Go where you must go, and hope!”-Gandalf
MaryJo Bell is the author of the Costco best-selling book, The Pursuit of Happi-Nest, a book about bringing more light and laughter to your home “nest.” (on Amazon and most major book sites-link below). She is also the host of the podcast Moms Meet World (rated #13 in a ranking of 90 best mom podcasts). You can also find her on KSL Studio 5, talking about Nanahood (interview with MaryJo, below):
The Pursuit of Happinest: