The Lord of the Rings and the Lenten Journey

The Lord of the Rings and the Lenten Journey

Most journeys are in quest of something.

Indiana Jones, Christopher Columbus, and Peter Pan are all in classic journey stories. A journey story basically features a character who wants something and overcomes obstacles to get it. We travel with them and intersect our imaginations with theirs. This is what makes journey stories interesting.

My friend Phil Ryken, President of Wheaton College, wrote a paper reflecting on the journey of Frodo in The Lord of the Rings. He was comparing it to the tri-fold ministry of Jesus as prophet, priest, and king.

I was reading the paper on a long flight recently and thinking about the 40-day journey of Lent. Phil quoted a reflective review. “The Lord of the Rings reverses our expectations by taking us on a quest – not to gain something, but to give something up. Frodo and Sam go to Mount Doom in order to throw away something that they were both tempted to keep, or else to use for their own purposes. This is deeply Christian. … Frodo gives himself up for the Shire, and for all Middle-earth, by accepting the burden of the ring and not lusting after it.”

Jesus did not consider equality with God something to be grasped—but he emptied himself.

Ours is a unique quest story.

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