I’ve just gotten home from my long road trip to South Bend, Indiana for my youngest brother’s baptism. My siblings and I have all been baptized at the same church, the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at Notre Dame University, and by the same priest. The road trip was about 8 hours, so I needed some serious entertainment. I brought my laptop, but it died within 2 hours of Minecraft. After about an hour or so of boredom, my dad put the Fellowship of the Rings audiobook on. I’ve read the book many times, but my brother sadly had not, and I am always ready to read, or hear it again.
Like I’ve already said, I have read the Lord of the Rings trilogy at least 15 times, but I’ve never noticed something which caught my ear on Saturday. Gandalf was talking to Bilbo before the hobbit left for the mountains right after the party. Bilbo was getting angry, and he told Gandalf, “I’ll do as I choose and go as I please”. Ever heard that before? Probably not in those exact words, but perhaps something like “Don’t tell me what to do”.
Nowadays, that’s what most people define as liberalism. But, with the secularized culture, our liberty has morphed into license (doing whatever the heck you want to do). Now, that is pretty much what Bilbo in his anger just confessed. He believes that he can do whatever he wants. That what true. With his Ring of Power, Bilbo can get away with whatever he wants because of the invisibility it bestows on its wearer. He can do as he chooses and go as he pleases, and no one can stop him. The ring symbolizes liberalism.
Many people want to live like that. No rules, no bonds, nothing that could get in the way of you and your desires. Look at America today, somehow the Supreme Court has decided that people have a right to do something just because they want to do it. Look where that got Bilbo. He lived an extremely long life, had a tremendous amount of wealth, and not to mention the power of invisibility. But then we start to see the side affects. He says that he felt like “butter, scraped across too much bread”. He has begun the transformation into a terrible creature, a slave to sin. He shows this in his flashes of anger in his conversation with the wizard. The reader sees the similarities between him and the creature Gollum, as Gandalf outlines in great detail. The biggest similarity that I see, is their obsession with their “right” to the ring. Gollum claims that it was his birthday present, and Bilbo claims that he won it, both lies.
So many people today claim to have a “right” to have an abortion, or to marry someone of the same gender, or to get a divorce. A right is given from authority. A mayor has authority given to him from a higher authority, and eventually goes on up to the Federal Government. And there the chain stops, or does it? Jesus says that all authority comes from God, and that government has authority in things that only God gives authority. The Supreme Court may profess to have the authority to redefine marriage, but no such authority lies in any human establishment. That would be like a monkey trying to redefine the banana given to him by his master. His master gave it to him out of love as a gift, and the monkey doesn’t want it to be a banana, he wants it to be a pistol. Eventually, when that monkey tries to start a Rise of the Planet of the Apes, his so called gun will fail to function and he will be in a very bad spot.
I used to have a CD that I would listen to in the car by Joseph Pierce about the Catholicism that can be found in the Lord of the Rings. He mentioned how the Ring is sin. It seems appealing and harmless, altogether precious as Tolkien put it. It seems to exist only for your happiness. But it will trap you and change you. Look what it did to the Nine human kings. They were probably okay guys to start off with. Some were probably tyrants, but nothing compared to what sin turns them into.
At the beginning of the Return of the King movie, it shows Smeagol fishing with his friend Deagol. They are very happy, just hanging out enjoying the good weather. Then they spot the ring, and a peaceful day turn into a murder scene. A perfectly happy hobbit-like thing was changed into the monstrosity of Gollum. He both hates and loves the ring, as he hates and loves himself. He is a hideous animal, a monster from nightmares. Sin has the capacity to do that, no matter how alluring or harmless it may seem.
This is what will happen if we do not drop sin as Bilbo did. Leave it and never even look at it again. The same thing with liberalism, or should I say, license. License puts you in the place of God as judge of all. Something is right if you say it is. That would be living on a lie, like the lie of Gollum.
Frodo just wore it around his neck and he almost turned evil. But he had a friend, Sam (my favorite character by the way) who helped him on his journey. Like I’ve said like 10 times already. A journey is a lot easier if you have good friends to keep you going.
In Christ, Catholic2theMax