Bill Whittle wrote a powerful essay called SHARDS; shortly after, Stella of The Last Refuge wrote a beautiful essay of her own in reference to Bill’s to head a discussion thread. Both were using Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings Trilogy to make plain the challenge many Americans now face to resist the fundamental deconstruction of the American state under the Constitution and the concentration of power in a central government, without Constitutional constraint. The discussion missed many opportunities to understand some of the deepest issues, though the usual high quality of commentary was there. But before I speak to one important aspect that was missed, I would like to set people straight about J.R.R. Tolkien and his epic work.
Thematically, it is not an allegory of any kind, nor is it metaphorical in any useful sense of that word. Reference to Fowler’s MODERN ENGLISH USAGE should straighten out this simple matter of what these words mean. Tolkien was a professor of Philology, a colleague of C.S.Lewis amongst many other peers. He is counted as one of the greatest philologists of the 20th century and his area of study was the cultural and linguistic history of the English language. As a student of the English language at university, I was directed to Tolkien’s work by my professors; I remember him for the obvious passion he had for the subject as well as his erudition. In the 1930’s he exercised his story-telling talents on his children; it is a tribute to his creative vigor that he didn’t just retell old Norse myths and such, rather he created a world informed by the cultural and spiritual heritage of all English speakers. As that world began to take shape, night after night, he took to writing out an overall portrait of what became Middle Earth, pre-sketching the next adventure of Bilbo, the Hobbit, and the finding of The Ring. He published The Hobbit in 1937. But his sons kept after him for more; by this time he was inventing Elvish languages (Arabic, Persian, Sanskrit elements), Dwarvish (Old High German, Norse, Icelandic), Orcish (Gaelic, and Pictish) and others and creating cultural histories to match. To merge all that into the epic creation of Lord of the Rings (6 books; 2 per volume) rooted in the cultural/spiritual being of all English speakers… one can only be in awe. The work rings with Truth and Beauty. When I read these books to my children, I improvised tunes to the Hobbit songs, Tom Bombadil, the Elves…neither of my children failed to respond to, say, an Elf Song sung in Elvish…if it was sad, their eyes teared up; if a song was lively or funny they responded appropriately… As to the characters, they loved my Gollum, my Preciousssssss, and the distinct characterizations of all the characters, and it was Tolkien’s writing which compelled my efforts. When I got to the Wood Elves of Lothlorien, my daughter Phoebe caught her breath in wonder to hear the Queen called by her own middle name: Galadriel. Aside from being, in my opinion, an imperishable work of the human imagination, It rings with Truth and Beauty.
So, in SHARDS and in Stella’s followup there is discussion of Good vs Evil, the rightful assumption of leadership, and the spiritual significance of the re-forging of the sword, and it’s re-naming. Most important though is the importance of making the distinction between Good and Evil in one’s inmost heart and choosing to stand by the Good, no matter how hopeless that cause may seem. But, what if, as in present-day America, it becomes clear that one’s personal survival as well as family survival may well be at stake, or even just comfort and well-being seeming threatened. Parents will be concerned about their children and grown children about parents. What if the sense of threat is ill-defined and coming from all directions, and incremental and one’s own foundations in disrepair, and sense of self-worth compromised? What if one’s life-style choices leaves one disconnected from any particular support community or congregation of the like-minded? What if love bonds are few and rarely thought of or thought important? Many Americans now are swept hither and thither by forces barely sensed, much less understood; how can you get moral traction in such mud? Hobbits, Elves, Dwarves, Ents, and Humans are encountered on the journey of the Ring-bearer’s company. At Rivendale Human, Wizard, Hobbits and Elves confer on what to do about the Ring of Power, the One Ring that Binds Them All. If any of them take it, they become bound to Sauron, and if Sauron gets it, Middle-Earth is doomed; it must be destroyed to destroy Sauron; Gollum demonstrated that Hobbit folk have a unique ability to resist Sauron’s control through the Ring, at least for a long time; and so it is determined, and Frodo accepts the charge, to send Frodo with a small company for protection to try to sneak into Mordor and cast the Ring into the molten well of Mount Doom, the only way the Ring can be destroyed. The company is split by the betrayal of Boromir and Aragorn makes his first kingly decision: to accept that it is fated that Frodo and Samwise should go on alone while the rest would arouse resistance, and thus draw Sauron’s notice, amongst the peoples of Middle Earth. Except for Frodo’s meeting with Faramir’s folk, he and Sam go alone. Most of the writing through to the last book, is devoted to the arousing of the Folk of Middle Earth. It is hard-wired in our genes as a species: human beings survive in groups not as lone individuals. Heroes act in relation to a group and are remembered by their group with reverence. Honoring ancestors is about honoring those who contributed to your very existence, the progenitors. Spirituality in a people is handed down from generation to generation. Those of us who have a relationship with God, read in Scripture God’s work with humankind since the dawn of human consciousness. All peoples have such spiritual traditions. Let us not limit our Sense of God by thinking he hasn’t been everywhere active. Though peoples war, and some become avaricious and kill or enslave others, and all manner of evil can be cited, no great civilization would ever have existed without an extended stretch of Good. Ethical norms of forbearance, right action, morality and ethics, self-sacrifice for the welfare of the group; Love of country, family, friends…making an altruistic choice over a selfish one. Look at the last 2000 years just in Christendom and you will find the full breadth of both Good and Evil. Part of the powerful Truth-ring of Tolkien’s work is exemplified by the stories of the two human communities Aragorn’s company encounters: The Riders of Rohan and the people of Gondor. Both peoples are being hard pressed by Evil forces and both are suffering from a failure of leadership which is crippling resistance. Both have leaders able to carry on, but their efforts are torn by conflict of loyalties between vows to their King and the needs of the people for strong leadership….sound familiar? Both Theoden of Rohan and Denethor of Gondor have been turned to Darkness by corrupting influences, but they are alive and accepted as rightful heads of their people. Gandalf is able to awaken Theoden to himself by breaking Wormtongues hold, and just in the nick of time too, with just enough time to get the people to Helm’s Deep to make what looks to be a last stand. Young Faramir is enabled to assume leadership because Aragorn is the King for whom the Stewards have been waiting. And the great battle of the Two Towers is waged even as Denethor succumbs to suicidal despair. But this is not just about leaders; leaders are tested and must have the ability to put aside self-doubt and pick up the sword of leadership; but without a staunch people to lead, their efforts would be futile. Churchill had a staunch people to lead, and many are the stories of individuals and small groups who were tested and enough found courage to make their stand count, each finding and picking up their rightful mode of battle, an individual overcoming of fear and finding courage. Alone would they have found courage? A leader articulates the basis for resistance, makes the choices clear, then it is up to the people to respond, each one, then linking arms. And what of the broken sword in our present circumstance? A what of the leadership which urges us to focus on the need to arouse ourselves and exemplifies the courageous choices we each must make? We do have a broken sword, you know. We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
It is under this Constitution that we consent to be governed. It has been our sword, and now it is being broken; much of it has already been attenuated or broken; soon it will be dysfunctional as a guiding document protecting the people from a bloated Federal government seeking total domination by a few over all, with legislative or judicial checks and balances crippled. The subversion of the people has been incremental, by most imperceptible; the control of information is nearly complete now, coming to the people as deceptive constructs and manipulation of what facts are unfiltered to create a receptivity to and support for the centralization of power, and to create conflict between communities over race, gender, politics and wealth “issues;” the Federal government, under the Executive branch, has insinuated it’s control into nearly every aspect of the life of the people; under the aegis of joint action by DHS and DOJ, units of militarized police (SWAT teams) have been distributed to law enforcement of small towns and large across the country financed by federal money, as well as distributed within Federal agencies (70 percent, last count I saw), thus creating a national police force assembleable by mere executive order; a hierarchical chain of commanders and the legal supports are surely in preparation……
Each of us is a member of nested circles of community which in aggregate are The People. These networks of inter-relationship bond us together as The People. When a crowd stands for the National Anthem and many tear up, it is our love for our country and for our fellows that wells up in our eyes; not everyone, but still many. Our country’s election process shows a deep polarization of the people, but most do not realize what distinguishes the poles; thus the forces for increased centralization of power and abrogation of the Constitution, through media control and a focused agenda, are able diffuse the perception of the opposition by most, and also sow discord and confusion of purpose in the opposition. The ability of The People to see through the fog, smoke and mirrors and realize their danger is seriously compromised. In order to avoid being forced to more desperate actions to recover our birthright as a people, we must somehow become mobilized to take advantage of the upcoming election.
Each of us, in ourselves, must clarify our vision, recognize the danger, assume personal responsibility for what we see, and pick up the sword being broken and vow we will not rest until the government under the Constitution is restored, else we will not be governed by it’s substitute; then, sly like the snake, peaceful as the dove, we work in our nested circles of community to awaken–The British Are Coming! Awake! Awake!— We are not defeated yet. It is not enough for me to take comfort in the CTH community, in the Internet community; no, right here in the vineyard where God placed me is my battleground. I will be staunch. I will believe in The People. I will trust God to bring the needed leaders to the fore. I will love the people around me enough to open my mouth and say what needs saying, to share what I have learned, to pass on what was passed to me by my forefathers, to awaken what is already in them, to keep informed of the Truth and share what I learn. I will walk amongst my brethren with my eagle-headed cane with it’s cruelly hooked beak and sound the call to action….I can do this, it can be my small part in the big picture, but many like me doing just what they can where they are, do a movement make. Leaders on a larger scale will be encouraged to take up the call by sensing the stirring of The People, and, overcoming self-doubt, and clarifying their vision and realizing what is in them to contribute will step forward, maybe to lead a small group, maybe a small group of groups, and so it grows…
Our Sword is the Constitution by which we consent to be governed. It can be restored if the People will it. Perhaps later we can see if changes need to be made to strengthen the protection it gives us to be a free people, but for now, Restore what is Ours.
As for the state of the people, I say this: the Revolution was not won by Franklin, Jefferson, Adams, et al; the Revolution was won by farmers, frontiersmen, carpenters, tradesmen, cattle herders, adventurers, plodders, the uneducated, the some educated, the highly educated, men, women, slave, free. indentured, bonded, high-minded and low-minded, the smart and the not-so-smart, the washed and the filthy—all and any stirred by the cause—and they shocked the world by what they so nobly accomplished, then they went home and tended to business. My people were Scots already survivors of British predation; most had come over as bond servants or indentured slaves, served their time, then went over the Smokies to start a new home. They left a contingent at home to assure the safety of community and attend to farming and trooped over to join the fight with their long rifles and ways learned from the Cherokee as well as their own battle-hardened knowing— there was no assurance of victory, far from it, but to answer such a call for such a cause was bred in their bones. And they were not remarkable; all over the colonies such as they answered the call; somehow the identity of a people had grown in the colonies; the Declaration of Independence does not plumb the depth of what came together and endured that hopeless war; no writing has ever satisfactorily explained it, but the Constitution was written to protect that precious core strength that won victory. That core has not gone away. By God, it will be aroused once more. So I pray that God brings me home to my core strength and guides me to my Right Actions in this battle. Thy Will Be Done. AMEN
AND GOD BLESS AMERICA!