The Battle of Helm's Deep and Pelennor Fields is happening today
The local theater has been playing older movies because there aren't any new releases right now. I'm thrilled about this. In particular, they ran the Lord of the Rings trilogy, extended editions.
I cannot tell you the amount of excitement I had when I took in those three films again on the big screen, 4+ hours each.
Last week was The Two Towers. As with the previous week, I cried during it. The Battle of Helm's Deep gets me.
I watched the battle on that screen, as the hordes--controlled by an evil puppet master--of destructive anger-and-hate-fueled monsters crashed against the foundations of the Hornburg, destroying and killing and burning. The people inside retreated ever more, giving up a ring or a level as each gate was breached, knowing that on their own, their fight was hopeless. They resisted but doing so knowing the end of that great fortress was near.
And then there was the light in the east, a bright figure on a white horse (Gandalf on Shadowfax) with the horse-lords following, bursting over the hill and rushing down to defeat the evil mobs intent on death and destruction.
We've just seen several months of people huddled in fear inside their home due to a pandemic, just like those people huddled in the fortress and caves. And most recently, I've seen mobs burn, beat, kill, destroy, and in all ways work to tear down the very walls of this nation.
So I cried, for the actual story, and for the striking resemblence.
When we got out of the theater, my friend and I talked about the film. He commented he saw me crying. I paused. "What's going on in this country right now? We're in the Battle of Helm's Deep. And I don't know about you, but I'm eagerly waiting for Jesus to show up on the horizon and rescue his church."
Of course, I knew what was coming in the final film. It wasn't going to end with Helm's Deep.
This week was The Return of the King. (Oh, I sure wish he would.) The Battle of Pelennor Fields also had me in tears. I watched the endless waves of evil crash against the great white city of Gondor, Minas Tirith (is it racist, that it was white?) and I felt like I was, again, watching a metaphor for what craziness is happening in this country right now.
There was a scene where Frodo, Sam, and Gollum (on their way to Shelob's lair while that battle raged elsewhere) pass by the broken statue of a king of Gondor, his head toppled off and replaced by a rock, grafitti, and other desecration. What had been part of Gondor was now in Mordor, and the orcs had done this thing. The darkness had swallowed up parts of the land and the evidence was this destruction.
I'm thinking of all of the toppling of statues we're seeing now, the desire to erase anything with historical ties that no longer fits with our thinking. Toppling, lopping off, and spray painting monuments and statues.
I remember during the pipeline protest, many of the the protesters would liken themselves to the heros of various films, and say that law enforcement was, for example, like the Storm Troopers. I wonder if these woke mobs we see repeatedly wreaking havoc around the country realize they are the Uruk-Hai, the orcs, the brutes. They are the ones who fight best under a dark cloud of evil and manipulation. They tear down and destroy and light fires and pillage and screech gleefully, cannibalizing their own neighborhoods and cities. They gather mercenary soldiers, who are happy to take the money to add to the numbers, to help them do it.
Tolkien didn't make crude and fumbling obvious analogies to the Bible, but when you read the books (or watch the films) you will see striking theme after theme emerge if you know your Bible. You can't help but see it over and over. The truest story is the one God wrote across all time and revealed in his Word, and there's no getting away from it.
There are two things you ought to be reading right now.
First, your Bible. If you don't have one, get one. This is the time to be reading it, whether you're a believer or not. Read Matthew 24 and 25. Read 1 and 2 Thessalonians. Read the book of Daniel. Read Revelation. Read the book of John.
And then, read The Lord of the Rings.
You will recognize the times we are living in. The urgency. The players. And who ultimately wins. Choose your side carefully. It's an eternal choice.