I did not read J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” Trilogy until I was in my 30s. I had read much fantasy before that and well knew that LOTR really kicked off the genre. But I always put off reading the epic and now feel I left the best for last (or at least later….my chances to read epic fantasies are limited these days). As a minister, I can well see the Christian influence throughout LOTR even though it is not nearly so overt as C.S. Lewis’ Narnia books.
And, of all the characters, Gimli is my favorite. Sure, Frodo and Samwise are probably Tolkien’s favorites and underscore the sacrificial role God’s people are meant to play in this world. Gandalf is wise and the not overly controlling leader. He embodies much of what is needed in leaders today. Legolas and the elves portray a perfection of the past which is fading away. Aragorn represents what is needed in humanity, moral characters willing to step up to the plate, even when they do not want to do so.
Gimli though represents something different. He is not the leader. He comes from a people he loves and he is proud of his heritage. But he recognizes the answers to the problems they face do not rest with his own kind but elsewhere. He is open to befriending others, even the son of an elf who jailed his father. He has a sense of humor. He does not lose his identity but is willing to go far for what is right and true. He is even will to sacrifice himself, if need be, but that is clearly not his goal. When pressed once on what he wanted most, it was the strands of hair of a beautiful elf, totally discounting what people expected (dwarves to be greedy and to hate elves). At the end of the adventure, he sought not fame or riches but time with the friends he had made and to explore old forests.
Tolkien spent much of his life in the midst of a war or considering its ramifications. I still think there is much we can learn from this modern myth.
Until next time,