>LOTR

>I’m a pretty big Lord of the Rings fan. I don’t consider myself a huge fan because I haven’t tried to learn the languages, but I’m enough of a fan that I’ve read the three volumes of the book through each January for nearly thirty years.

Last night Sam came home, took Eleanor on his lap and said, “Well, I’m back,” just like he has every other time. I love that final scene of homecoming. It’s one of the key components of the book’s enduring appeal.

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien is more than a mere tale of the triumph of unquenchable good over unassailable evil. Good ironically triumphs over evil through unlikely characters in unanticipated ways. Even though Frodo, with Sam’s aid, perseveres to the Crack of Doom, the quest would have failed if it depended on him alone. Treachery becomes the vehicle for the ultimate destruction of evil. Doesn’t that sound familiar?

Woven into the fabric of the “good over evil” story line, glimmers the unbroken golden thread of providence. Something happens that the ring “did not intend”; Bilbo and Frodo were “meant” to have the ring.

That portrayal of providence and an emphasis on values such as honesty, duty, loyalty, and sacrifice evidence Tolkien’s Christian worldview. The tale is analogous (but not allegorical), paralleling the present antithetical struggle of believers against the evil of this world in preparation for the return of the King and the fulfillment of His Kingdom.

Those are some of the reasons why the tale warms my heart every time I read it during the cold, dark month of January.

Unlike some Tolkien purists, I also enjoy the Peter Jackson movies. For the past couple of years, I’ve held a LOTR movie marathon on New Year’s Day, viewing all three extended versions back to back. And, yes, nearly twelve hours is sufficient to give even me my LOTR movie fix for some time. But I was still up for my annual read.

Family members who have inexplicably observed my interest have given me LOTR board games such as The Confrontation, LOTR Risk, Trivial Pursuit LOTR, and LOTR Trivia Game. For what it’s worth, here’s my evaluation of those games.

Although I didn’t care for my first game of The Confrontation, I enjoy playing it with my son now that he’s explained it to me. I’ve never been a Risk fan; I fail to appreciate games that take so long to set up. The Trivail Pursuit game is based on the movie trilogy and, aside from some obscure questions in the “film” category, is too easy. I can, and have on more than one occasion, won the game in one turn.

The LOTR Triva Game is completely different. It is based solely on the books, and the questions can be far more challenging. Factors beyond simply answering questions correctly make it possible for anyone to win. It’s the most fun of the above LOTR games.

Before I end this random LOTR post, I feel that I should reiterate why I like LOTR so much. It’s not that I’m a big fantasy fan, but that I see elements in this particular fantasy that resonate with my faith. These elements point me to the One who is Lord of the church, the home, the workplace; the hymnal, the ring, and the pen; the One who is the Lord of all things.

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