Today I completed "The Lord of The Rings". Reading epic novels is quite an undertaking and one that I am growing to relish. I have also found that such endeavours fall into several categories. For example, one can read a great novel and then study it deeply and join email lists and seek to become well-versed and almost elite in one's understanding. There are those who read novels, such as "The Lord of The Rings" and use it as a form of snobbery to outclass those who have only seen the movie. There are those who read novels and quote lines from those novels to amke their conversation appear more erudite. With a novel such as Tolkien's there is a Christian sub-culture that seeks to wring every bit of Christian-ese out of the book.
I hope I don't fall easily into any of those groups although I am not averse to learning more about a novel. My chief desire in reading any novel is for the sheer joy of entering another world and allowing myself to be taken to new and exciting places in my imagination. As technology advances onwards , seemingly unstoppable, I lament the death of imagination and dreaming that seems afoot in the world.
"The Lord of The Rings" has, I am unashamed to admit, been a deeply moving and challenging journey for me. I have always been a big fan of "The Hobbit" and so starting the book was easy and proved to be full of great delights. As the quest began I was easily drawn into the excitement and the trepidation and found myself consumed for pages upon pages each night before sleep. As the companions moved on I found I needed a break now and then as if my reading was a tiring as the physical journey contained within the pages of the book.
It was when Frodo got captured by the orcs that I had to take a large break from reading. I had become so engrossed in their world that it was a shock and a drain upon my emotions to see Sam lying helpless outside the closed door seemingly in defeat. Am I ashamed or embarassed for my emotions? Surely not! As I came back to the book I fought my way forward with each blow that was struck against Sauron's minions until the last 3 or 4 days as it all drew to a close.
Today the battle was over and all was well in the world but there was still one final moment to tear at my heart strings as Frodo, Bilbo and Gandalf set sail with the elves to leave Sam, Merry and Pippin to return home to a new age in the shire. I share this because I feel a need to and because I want to remind people that there is beauty with books. I might be considered a literary snob by some because I am fussy about what I read but my opportunities for reading novels are limited and I do not wish to waste the opportunity to take a journey into my deepest imaginings.
I have only seen the first film and am interested in watching all of them but am in no hurry. The memories of this book will linger long. I am not sure if I will ever use any excerpts for sermon illustrations. Somehow I want to keep my special relationship with the novel. A part of me has found a home in middle-earth and I would like to keep that treasure in my heart.