Lord of the Rings
When an Obsession Is Actually an Idol
By Ralph Cabrera - January 2005
I have to start out by saying that I was a great fan of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings and have read the trilogy no less than five times in the last three years. Most of the reading (and re-reading) was motivated by the arrival of the next movie in theaters. Up to this point the only Tolkien I was exposed to was the Hobbit in cartoon form back in my high school days.
When I had finished the trilogy the first time, I couldn't get enough -- I read the Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales: The Lost Lore of Middle-Earth, The Hobbit, The Book of Lost Tales, Treason of Isengard. I watched all three movies in extended DVD versions, I watched all the extra footage, behind the scenes videos, character descriptions, etc. I really couldn't get enough! I was never satisfied, in other words.
Back then I would have defended my watching the movies and reading the books by downplaying the occultic element and up-playing the humble roles that the "good" main characters were playing. I even dared to condemn Harry Potter while defending Lord of the Rings because of the purer motives behind the powers used by Tolkien's characters as compared to Rowlings'.
I am a Christian who loves God, His Son Jesus Christ, and His Comforter, the Holy Spirit. But was I really loving/worshipping God? If you asked me in the last three years which I read more cover to cover, the Bible or Lord of the Rings Trilogy, the sad answer would have been the latter. I have yet to read the Bible cover to cover. I found the Bible dull and boring, but the Lord of the Rings exciting and adventurous. I could paraphrase portions of the stories in Lord of the Rings, discuss the unwritten motivations and thought processes of the major characters, draw analogies from the stories to spiritual aspects of my life. If a sloganed T-shirt were made to reflect where I was, it would say "What would Frodo do?" I would steal every moment to be alone to read more Tolkien rather than relate to my family (wife of 10 years and five boys 8 years old and under).
I've come to face the fact that I had placed Lord of the Rings above the Bible, above my relationship with God; my life was about entertainment and escape, not service and reality. I had made an idol out of entertainment/escape with the chief god (at that time) the Lord of the Rings.
Psalms 16:4a says "Their sorrows shall be multiplied that hasten after another god." [KJV] That certainly described my life at that time. I gave no time to being a Godly husband and father with disastrous results. My children were floundering without leadership; my relationship with my wife suffered.
Since then, I have learned to evaluate my pursuits to see if I am placing any of them before God. I don't want anything to come between my Lord Jesus Christ and I. I must be willing to be examined throughout my life through God's Word and through accountability to others -- I John 1:7 "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin." [KJV].
Thank the Lord Jesus Christ for delivering me! I'm back on the road of God, reading His Word, sharing it with my wife and children as Deut. 6:7 says I should. I'm relating and fellowshipping with people, not characters in a book. My sorrows that were consequences of idolatry are gradually turning into repentance and gladness/thankfulness for God's loving chastening.
Praise the Lord!