Still Holding on the Rings of Power

Still Holding on the Rings of Power September 13, 2022

Image: Amazon

Last week I said that we should withhold judgment on Amazon’s series Rings of Power to see whether or not it aligns with or deviates from Tolkien’s works. I think that in light of the third episode dropped last Friday, we should keep withholding judgment for now. Once again (and I’ll not give away major plot points) there were a lot of “know the rules and stick to them” statements directed at scrappy independent-minded characters. At one point one hobbit even says to another some variation of “you’re nothing special.” Which is a Tolkienian point, but which hobbits would say about themselves rather than to each other. For me to think I’m not special is accurate (and can even be a sign of true humility); for someone else to point it out is kind of a jerk thing to do.

Still, I think waiting to see how things develop is worthwhile. Again the story could go either way.

One question that has been left unanswered is: who is the guy who fell from the stars? Maybe the Tolkien fanatics out there already know and can cite chapter and verse clearly pointing out that he’s Gandalf, or Mr. Rohan, or the tall above-ground Dwarf. I’m not a Tolkien fanatic and I don’t know if there’s an answer. But I am going to go on record and guess that he’s Tom Bombadil. Do with that prediction what you will.

Back to the episode itself: in this week’s telling Galadriel finds herself on the island of Numenor, The human empire there had cut itself off from the Elves and the “low men” of Middle Earth (the latter are the men who had sided with Morgoroth against the Elves, while the men of Numenor had fought with the Elves against Morgoroth). And if you think this is getting complicated just try reading Tolkien’s stuff aside from Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit to know what “complicated” really means 🙂

On the island in an obscure archive Galadriel finds the solution to the mystery of the symbol that had been popping up in Middle Earth-the location of Sauron’s new stronghold. This, at least, is pure Tolkien. The solution to the challenges of the present lies in the close study of the past and a deep familiarity with even obscure bits of arcana. As Christians of course we know something about this. We believe the way to understand and navigate the complexity of our modern age is by increasing our familiarity with and obedience to a book two millennia old. Though no Protestant, I’m sure Tolkien appreciated the Sola Scriptura conviction that the truth necessary for living well is not found in the innovations of the moment, but rather in the faithful paths laid out for us in God’s Word.

Again, I’m going to continue to postpone judgment on Rings of Power for now, but at least this is a sign of a good direction for the show in future episodes.

Dr. Coyle Neal is co-host of the City of Man Podcast an Amazon Associate (which is linked in this blog), and an Associate Professor of Political Science at Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, MO

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