Honesty is the Best Policy – Our Mothers and J.R.R. Tolkien are Agreed

honesty




My first job taught me how to lie. I needed to be “Good” and “Great” when someone asked after me. Honesty was irrelevant to them. Therefore, I learned to say “Good. How about you?” Even on my worst days, I replied positively.

Frodo Baggins, in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Two Towers, must have learned the same lesson. For when Faramir, son of Denethor II, learned about these two hobbits holding the One Ring, he thought of only what his father told him to do. And, though Frodo tried to stop him, the hobbits held their tongues (at first!) about the One Ring’s power. This was a mistake.

Some Background on Why the Hobbits Abstained from Honesty




Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee had already undergone many trials because of the One Ring. And the trials came in many forms. Frodo suffered psychologically, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Sam, who chose to stay with Frodo whether Gandalf ordered him to or not, suffered in a different way. He suffered because he saw his friend suffering.

Despite the pain, Frodo and Sam knew they needed to destroy the One Ring. To destroy it at any cost. Gandalf had also warned them against peoples, especially among Orcs, Nazgul, and Men, who would try to take the ring. The steward of Gondor was one such man. He sent out his eldest son, Boromir, to obtain the One Ring.

Everyone in the original Fellowship knew how the One Ring drove Boromir mad, driving him to his death.  Though, no one knew better than Frodo and Sam. For this reason, knowing what the ring did to Men, Frodo and Sam tried to hide the One Ring from Faramir. And when that failed, to at least hide the dishonor that befell Boromir. But, because they hid the truth, Faramir almost suffered the same fate as his brother.

How Honesty Saved Good Men and Hobbits from Harm




Truth has the ability to strike hard and brutal blows to men’s egos, emotions, and intellect. As a result, many people choose to live, and to allow others to live, in ignorance. However, individuals who choose to overcome pain, learn to recognize evil, and fight to obtain righteousness will receive blessings from God.

For example, because Frodo and Sam knew how the One Ring brought men into madness, they withheld information from Faramir. For these two good hobbits failed to recognize the fellow desire for righteousness and peace in Faramir, a good and strong captain. And because Faramir dealt mostly with scathing and manipulative orcs, he didn’t know whether to trust these hobbits from the Shire. All three had fallen into spiritual darkness.



But this did not last. First, Samwise brought the truth to light. Shouting at Faramir, Samwise made known Boromir’s fall into madness when he tried to take the One Ring. He pointed to Frodo’s own  struggles with evil and madness while carrying the ring to its destruction. Soon thereafter, Faramir witnessed Frodo’s struggles when Frodo tried to give the One Ring to the Nazgul.

Faramir had great intelligence, greater than either his father or his brother. Merely hearing about the One Ring’s evil, and seeing Frodo’s struggle, alerted Faramir to the importance in destroying Sauron’s ring. He chose to face his father’s wrath, to risk death in seemingly impossible fighting conditions, and to allow Frodo, Sam, and even Smeagol to carry on into Mordor. He chose the hard road, the painful road, for the sake of righteousness. And it was all because Sam spoke honestly.

Honesty Brings Benefits to Hobbits and Humans Alike




Americans today, and I imagine UK citizens as well, live in a society where hard work and honesty are frequently punished. For greed and avarice drive many wills and many governments into evil practices that give to the lazy and the selfish and take from the honest and the hard workers. Christians have reason to shrug this horrible truth from their shoulders.

God’s Word speaks about rewarding believers who work diligently. And those who pray and ask God for help will receive, as long as their will aligns with God’s will. Therefore, if Christians give their time, love, and money to God, then they don’t need to worry about being able to pay all their bills. For God will provide to those who are faithful.

The same is true for other good things. If Christians desire and ask for peace, God will calm their hearts amidst life’s storms. Because, like Faramir, we must battle for righteousness in a fallen world. Scripture says wars will always exist, without ever ceasing. So, we must wait for Christ Jesus’s return for everlasting peace. But! That does not mean that we cannot fight the good fight, speaking honestly and upholding righteousness, in pursuit of God’s glory filling all the earth!



“What renown is there in that?” (The Two Towers, 2002)

renown

Screenwriter Peter Jackson barely touched upon J.R.R. Tolkien’s character Éowyn and her desire for renown. Searching through several blog resources revealed much more information on Éowyn and her quests for glory. Information which I shall discuss in more detail when I come across the underlying story in The Lord of the Rings book series. Until then, allow me to tell you what I’ve found.



What Some Christians First Think When Someone Seeks Renown

Watching the theatrical edition of The Two Towers glosses over Éowyn’s desire for renown. Possibly because of the negative connotation associated with the word. My favorite online dictionary defines renown as fame, glory, distinction, and so forth. Everything that man’s sinful nature desires.

For that is exactly what Christians fight against in their own personal walk with Christ: The desire to make themselves great. One phrase that a New Testament writer described this desire as was Selfish Ambition. Believers need to focus on giving all glory to God, not to themselves. To do God’s will ensures God will guide our steps in life.

Consequently, when a Christian hears this line in the extended edition of The Two Towers (yes, I speak of myself), she balks at her own Selfish Ambition existing in a Tolkien character. Yet, there exists something more astonishing within this beloved series: Éowyn found her renown. And it was considered good.



How Shieldmaiden Éowyn Found Her Renown in Life

The theatrical cuts for The Lord of the Rings leaves out all references to Éowyn’s search for glory. All references other than those connected to Aragorn II, son of Arathorn. But according to Tolkien Gateway , and I must assume to the books which I have forgotten, Éowyn did eventually find her renown. Simply in a different form than she first imagined.

Disgusted at the mere thought of caring for Rohan’s women and children, Éowyn revealed more than was proper to Aragorn, the man whom she loved. However, he knew she would never find satisfaction in a life with him. And he told her so in Peter Jackson’s The Return of the King (2003). Though heartbroken at Aragorn’s refusal to be with her, she still pursued her need for glory.

Thus, when the time came to fight against the evil forces, Éowyn disguised herself and went out with the Rohan men to fight against Mordor. Here she nearly met her death. But, here, she also fought the Witch-king, defending King Théoden from more harm, and earning her title as Lady of the Shield-arm. Then she was at peace, which resulted in her falling in love with Faramir and becoming Lady of Ithilien.



What J.R.R. Tolkien Revealed on His Thoughts of Renown

When J.R.R. Tolkien’s father died, and his mother married a man who practiced Catholicism, J.R.R. Tolkien grew up with the Catholic faith. Therefore, he knew about man’s will to pursue Selfish Ambition. He simply didn’t condemn it. Recognizing the sinful nature as something within every man, he merely told the tale on how it can bring a person to fight when she need not fight.

Aragorn made a point in The Return of the King which resounded with me strongly: The point about how valor often exists without renown. Aragorn said this to Éowyn, telling her, gently and discreetly,  how she would regret joining in union with him. He said this mere minutes before appearing to desert Rohan’s men on the eve of battle. He couldn’t have been more right in what he saw in Rohan’s shieldmaiden. For she rejected him for his misconstrued departure.

And, now, I bid my readers good day. Asking them to conclude their own judgments on whether mankind should pursue personal renown in today’s fallen world. If J.R.R. Tolkien found a way for this human trait to coincide with the good fight, then surely my thoughts on its evil ways must be wrong. Only the Lord knows for certain.