Tag Archives: J.R.R. Tolkien

Church and the Fellowship of the Ring – part 2

fellowship montainsIn my last post I talked a bit about how the church is akin to Tolkien’s Fellowship of the Ring. Both groups include folks of different races and cultures that do not always get along. Yet throughout it all, we need each other.

Today I would like to explore a bit more about the message the Fellowship spread why engaged on their journey.

In the books, the nine members of the Fellowship at the same mission: take the One Ring to the Mountain of Doom and destroy it. Along the way, they experienced betrayal, pain and death in addition to love, honor, self-sacrifice and companionship.

At one point in the journey, the Fellowship is split into three smaller groups with two others members having died before the split. While painful, it is noteworthy that each of the smaller groups retained a focus on the original mission. Just because they weren’t together in one big group didn’t mean that they didn’t care about the other groups or that they had given up on their goal.

Rather the act of split up into smaller groups, why originally a horrible things, helped accomplish something that wouldn’t have been possible had they stayed together. What was it, you may ask, that was accomplished by splitting up?


In splitting up, each group was able to connect with different people in Middle Earth and spread the vision of destroying the One Ring. Some groups were able to recruit entire nations with thousands of people to the cause while others were only able to recruit a few people. Yet each act of multiplication, when seen from a distance, was crucial in accomplishing the mission to which they were tasked.

The church is like that.

There are small churches of three or four people meeting in a pub just as there are large megachurches of thousands of people meeting in one venue. While these different groups look very, very different, they all are committed to the same mission – and are able to share the message of the King to people of different races, social position, gender, cultures, etc.

The one thing that the Fellowship did NOT do – and the one thing that the church must also NOT do – is keep silent and stop multiplying.

The moment we stop sharing the message of the King is the moment we have given up on the mission of the King – which is to destroy sin, death, and evil while usher in a new way of living without pain, sorrow, and tears. To bow our knees to King Jesus is to embark on a mission with him to share his love with all of creation (human and non-human). The way we live out this mission may look different, but that’s okay. We aren’t supposed to all look and act alike.

After all, we are a fellowship of Hobbits, Dúnedain, Dwarves, Elves, Maiar, and Human.

Church and the Fellowship of the Ring

Comic by Choppic
Comic by Choppic


Six English letters that carries within itself a ton of emotions, good and bad.

For some the word “church” brings back memories of family, friends, Sunday School rooms, great worship and potlucks. To others, the word recalls unwanted memories of abuse, pain, human politics and rejection.

I have been on both sides of this scale – finding great comfort and sharp pain in that one word.

Yet throughout it all I refuse to give up on the word nor the concept that it represents. It is like the tension of the here and not yet. We are called by the King to walk with others through this journey of life, yet in doing so we open ourselves up to pain and heart ache.

It is like the Tolkien’s Fellowship of the Ring.

Nine people chosen from different races and culture. Not all the people liked, loved, or even carried for the others. However they were all thrown together by forces above them and tasked with a mission. As they journeyed through the land, they experienced betrayal and pain along with self-sacrifice and love. In a word, they needed each other.

It is the same with us. We are all on a mission with Jesus through the land of darkness awaiting for the fullness of the Kingdom to come. In following the King, we have bound ourselves to people of different races and cultures. There are those people and cultures we like and love along with those who we don’t. Yet we all are walking together with our Lord – and we all need each other, just like the Fellowship needed all nine members.

And just like Tolkien’s Fellowship, our fellowship looks different at different times. It may be a formal group of nine (i.e. the organized church with a building and all that) or it may be three friends riding across the land searching for lost love ones or two Hobbits walking through hell itself.

The manner or structure of what the church looks like doesn’t matter as much as some may think it does. At the core we are to be a fellowship on mission with our Lord walking through the darkness with those we love and those we are learning to love.

The Hobbit Trilogy

On Monday this week Peter Jackson dropped a bomb shell on the world with the announcement that there would be a third  “Hobbit” film. While there have been a ton of thoughts and articles about what this means – along with lots of accusations of him wanting more money – folks have forgotten what this news really means within and without the film industry.

Consider this for a moment, movie studies are huge corporations with business plans, marketing teams, and stock holder to please. Adding a third Hobbit film means radical shifts in the licensing, marketing and publicity arms of each of the studies involved (there are three of them). As senior TheOneRing.net staff member Larry D. Curtis wrote, the ground has “shifted under the feet of hundreds and maybe thousands of people.

Consider also WHEN the announcement was made (i.e. July 30th).  There are now approximately 90-days left before the world premiere of the first Hobbit film in November. So yeah, this is not really the best time to tell one’s investors that you want to scrap all the current plans and add a third firm, which, by the way, will require a few more months of shooting…

In a nutshell, the decision to add a third film was not an easy nor a very wise political move.  To quote Larry Curtis again,

“This change is not only bold and daring, it is coming from the right place. This isn’t a money grab. This isn’t the studio stretching out a franchise. This is team Jackson feeling that a story, a complicated one with multiple threads and characters, needed more time to tell.”

“The Return of the King” by J.R.R. Tolkien

My journey through middle earth is complete – Frodo has destroyed the ring with the help of Smeagol and Samwise… all is now well in the world.

Some thoughts:

1) The books had a lot more detail in them then I recall… for some reason, I remembered a lot more action / journeying and less poems and history. This may have been because I skipped/skimmed those parts before…something I really couldn’t do while listening to the audio version.

2) Along those lines, I have come to the conclusion that the poems and songs of Tolkien were not meant to be read silently. No, they were meant to be read aloud with heart. To this end, I HIGHLY recommend listening to the audio book as Rob Inglis does an amazing job bring these parts to life! 🙂

3) Through out the series, Tolkien continued to highlight the strength of hope – hope that one day all will be set right; hope that darkness will be overcome; hope that rescue would come; hope that the grief experienced now would be worth it…

4) The other big theme in the series was the question, “What will you do with the cards given?”  Basically, while we may wish we could live like our fathers and our fathers’ father, sometimes life calls on us to live a different life – one full of pain and sorrow. In Frodo’s case, he had to destroy the ring even though he wished he could have lived a life of peace back home.

Continue reading “The Return of the King” by J.R.R. Tolkien

“The Two Towers” by J.R.R. Tolkien

Spurred on by the filming of the Hobbit in New Zealand, I have been reading listening journeying through Middle Earth.

Even though I have read the famed works of J.R.R. Tolkien many times before, this is the first time I have read them since Peter Jackson’s films came out.

In listening to the unabridged books, I find myself imagining the characters looking and acting similar to the ones portrayed on the big screen…it is also interesting to note that my mind keeps looking forward to certain events – only to find out that Jackson actually added or left out or changed that part.

Take for example, the climb up the black stairs near the tower of Cirith Ungol. In the movies, Frodo turns his back on Samwise after Gollum threw the rest of their food. This, as LOTR nerds could tell you, did not happen in the “Two Towers” – instead, they walk into the tunnels of Shelob side-by-side.

Yet, I will forgive Jackson as the movies where amazing! (Plus there is only so much you can say/show within three hours!)

Now that I have finished the “Hobbit, “The Fellowship of the Ring”, and the “Two Towers” – it is own to the “Return of the King” and the grand finale of Tolkien’s Middle Earth.

Worship, God and Tom Bombadil

At church we have been working our way through the Five Vineyard Values in an effort to understand who we are. Yesterday the PRV family was blessed by Reggie and Flo Coleman (Vineyard Boise, Healthy Families Boise, and Angel Food Ministries) who shared with us about the value of experiencing God in and through worship.

It was a powerful service that emphasized going beyond simply singing words on a screen and really connecting with God one-on-one. As Emily mentioned at the beginning of the service (she shared her heart for a few minutes before Reggie spoke), music is a powerful connector between our logical left brain and our creative-expressive right brain. Worship is a way for us to experience God using all our heart, soul, spirit and body (i.e. raising our hands, dancing, sitting in silence, etc)

Another aspect of worship was highlighted to me this morning on the way to work as I listened to J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Fellowship of the Ring”.

Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin had just been captured by a barrow-wight (an evil spirit) and were in endangered of being entrapped forever inside a tomb of earth and stone. Sam, Merry and Pippin were placed under a deep spell and laid on a stone table with a long sword placed over the neck. Frodo, who had been knocked out, awakes to this sight and tries to protect his friends by chopping down an animated arm that was getting ready to kill them.

Only this action proofs fruitless as it plunges the cave passage into darkness…

Losing courage, Frodo lays his head on Merry’s cold face…only to remember the rhyme given to him by Tom Bombadil:

“In a small desperate voice he began: Ho! Tom Bombadil! and with that name his voice seemed to grow strong: it had a full and lively sound, and the dark chamber echoed as if to drum and trumpet.

‘Ho! Tom Bombadil, Tom Bombadillo!
By water, wood and hill, by the reed and willow,
By fire, sun and moon, harken now and hear us!
Come, Tom Bombadil, for our need is near us!'”

Continue reading Worship, God and Tom Bombadil

Breaking Out of Our Cages: The Nerd Version

When I was preparing for Sunday’s sermon about pursuing God’s adventure, I wanted to use an example from J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit.” Sadly enough, I did not…something about having to spend half the sermon setting up the story, explaining what hobbits were, etc…

(A friend once complained about why pastors are allowed to use sports analogies but not Star Trek analogies…)

Online, however, is a different story – a lot of you folks are nerdy like me!  Therefore, I am going to tell you the story I wanted to tell the church. 😛

Here’s the set up…remember, the sermon is dealing with breaking out of one’s cage (fears, responsibilities, guilt, traditions, etc) and following God in His adventure….

Breaking Out of Our Cages: The Nerd Version

Bilbo Baggins was a respectful hobbit from a long line of respectful hobbits:

“The Bagginses had lived in the neighborhood of The Hill for time out of mind, and people considered them very respectable, not only because most of them were rich, but also because they never had any adventures of did anything unexpected: you could tell what a Baggins would say on any question without the bother of asking him.”

This all changed the day Gandalf and 13 dwarves showed up for tea – quite unexpected, of course as a good hobbit wouldn’t be seen in such company!

Continue reading Breaking Out of Our Cages: The Nerd Version

I must be part nerd..

My very nerdy wife sent me a link to a webcomic (Dumnestor’s Heroes) where the author is trying to calucate the aerodynamic properties of balrogs. Yes – Balrogs. As in LOTR balrogs.


Because she’s a nerd who wanted to find out just how far the Balrog and Gandalf falls!!

Using the movies as her reference (leaving out the Jackson LOTR vs Tolkien LOTR debate), it was discovered that Balrog and Gandalf fell for 104 seconds. Knowing that the Middle Earth was an ancient part of this earth, we can say that gravity produces an acceleration of 9.81 meters per second squared. Plugging in the numbers you get a distance of 106 km – which is strange concerning the earth’s crust is only 50 km think!!

Read the full debate here

Dumnestor's Heroes

Now we get the cool part – for us nerds – does a Belrog have wings? ’cause that could heighten the air resistance… [@more@]

Diabhal says: If you want to work out whether the Balrog had wings or not, work at the problem backwards.

Gandalf must have fallen at the same terminal velocity as the balrog, since they stayed together and fought all the way down. We know Gandalf is approximately 6 feet tall and 70kgs, and has the cross-section of a human male, and should therefore have an approximate freefall speed of 120mph (55m/s).

The balrog must have a suitable cross-section to fall at the same speed. You can then compare this to that of the spherical balrog, and if the spherical one falls much faster wings will be necessary to slow it down. I admit to neglecting a magical factor invoked by either one, but since I have no idea how to include that, it’s just going to have to stay neglected.

Of course, the real question isn’t if the belrog had wings or not, but was it an European, or an African balrog??

Dumnestor's Heroes