PSA: My English minor nerd is about to come out…you’ve been warned!
I love, and always have loved, reading. My parents instilled in us the importance of good literature, and I am forever grateful. While there are lots of so called “classics” out there…well let’s just say there are a few that I’d be fine with NEVER cracking open again. Wuthering Heights anyone? “Heaven did not seem to be my home; and I broke my heart with weeping to come back to earth; and the angels were so angry that they flung me out into the middle of the heath on the top of Wuthering Heights; where I woke sobbing for joy.” Oh. The. Drama. And while I’m already over here making a whole lotta lit lovers mad, I might as well tell you that I think the Harry Potter books are GARBAGE. Sorry bout it. I will always be a Louisa May Alcott girl…”I like good strong words that mean something.” ANYWAY…coming back from that tangent now.
Great literature to me, is that which directs one’s thoughts to the true, the good and the beautiful. (I should note that I’ve read a whole lot of fluffy brain candy books in my lifetime, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but I sure wouldn’t put them in the same category as great literature.) I believe that the themes and words from great books are timeless. They apply to our lives now, just as clearly as they applied to the story line when they were written
Looking at the struggles in our society today, there are a couple of lines that have been on my heart lately from Lord of the Rings. My brother has read LOTR an astonishing number of times, so he’s the real expert here, but I’m going to do my best to do them justice.
1) Frodo: “I wish it need not have happened in my time.” Gandalf: “So do I. And so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
2) Sam: “There is some good left in this world, Mr. Frodo, and it’s worth fighting for.”
First of all, can we just talk about poor Frodo? Talk about the reluctant hero. He doesn’t want this responsibility. He didn’t want this to happen in his time. He’s losing hope. He has his peaceful life disrupted by this mission he didn’t seek out.
But isn’t that what the Church asks of us? To be reluctant heroes? We are called to pick up our cross each and every day, and carry it all the way to the finish line. And call me crazy, but I sure as heck don’t want to. The cross is hard, and our human brokenness rejects the idea that sacrifice is necessary to reach the greatest good.
You and I, we live in a time that none of us asked for. We live in a culture that constantly lies to us and pulls us in the wrong directions. We live in a time where it’s legal to kill babies, and simultaneously illegal to kill sea turtles OR destroy their eggs. We live in a time where truth is subjective, and we are told to do whatever feels good to us. We live in a time where people actually ascribe to the belief that pedophilia is a sexual orientation instead of a crime and a gross abuse. And it is hard. So, dang hard. It is tiring, exhausting even, to continue standing and living for the good, the true and the beautiful.
So if you’re feeling discouraged, well, I’m here, right now, to be your Sam Gamgee. I’m here to remind you that there IS good in this world, and it is worth fighting for. Without hope, we have nothing. With hope, we can change the whole world.
In Genesis, Chapter 18, the scene isn’t a pretty one. Sodom has rejected the Lord, and God says they will justly suffer for their grave offenses. Abraham asks God, “Will you really sweep away the righteous with the wicked?” The Lord proceeds to tell him that for the sake of even ten righteous men, he will not destroy Sodom. So there it is, a promise from the Lord Himself. When you’re trying to do the right thing, it’s easy to look around and feel alone. As Flannery O’Connor says, “You will know the truth, and the truth will make you odd.” But we are called. Each of us. To be one of the fifty, the forty, the twenty or even the ten righteous. And it’s worth the loneliness, the being odd, the struggle. Because the reward, well the reward is Heaven.