Themes: Theological, Moral, and Spiritual

Jonah

Member
In this thread I (and anyone else who wants to) will identify three types of theme: Theological, Moral, and Spiritual. I will proceed episode by episode identifying themes, the LOTRO texts in which they are recognized, their references (with outline notations in blue) in the Episode Summary, and what is said about them in the Episode. References to other passages in the LOTR text I will color red. Citations of other episodes and slides where passages are discussed I will color dark red. I hope to do that in a way that makes the themes I identify easy to categorize and link to various content.

I think an enormous amount of excellent content could be collected for this project. I hope that what I do will just be a drop in the bucket and I look forward to seeing other people's contributions.

*note: I dropped "/PHILOSOPHICAL" from the title of the THEOLOGICAL THEMES I an identifying here, as all of them are plainly theological.

*I added SPIRITUAL THEMES, which seem clearly distinct from, though often closely related to THEOLOGICAL THEMES.

*Occasionally I will add my own comments, which I will italicize
 
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Jonah

Member
EPISODE 1

MORAL THEME: HOBBIT VICES
  • TEXT: “Bilbo Baggins called it a party . . . But they never got tired of them.” (Chapter 1, pp. 26-27, slide “Parties and Presents”)
  • EPISODE SUMMARY: D1“Hobbits are subject to all the foibles and sins of humans, but in a small provincial way.”
  • EPISODE:
    • D2“A lot of Tolkien fans have developed this highly romanticized view of hobbits and the Shire. Hobbits are not totally upstanding people . . . They’re not [pure sinless little creatures].” (28:18-28:55)

MORAL THEME: HOBBIT VICES: MATERIALISM
  • TEXT: “Bilbo Baggins called it a party . . . But they never got tired of them.” (Chapter 1, pp. 26-27, slide “Parties and Presents”)
  • EPISODE SUMMARY: C1“Are Hobbits materialistic? Not in a big way, but in petty ways, yes” and C3“Hobbits can be freeloaders, at times.”
  • EPISODE:
    • C1“Are Hobbits materialistic? . . . maybe in some ways but I don’t think that’s what we’re getting here . . . ‘there all about getting stuff’ – that doesn’t seem to be . . . now they’re not totally non-materialistic, if they were then nobody would sneak out around and come back for a second present, so clearly there is at least some degree of present coveting going on here. They seem to like the idea of presents . . . it’s not just that presents are a means to an end." (26:06-26:56)
    • C3"Hobbits are freeloaders: they love free food, the go for presents at all times, the sneak out and back in to get more, they think if they find Bilbo’s gold they can keep it, and they’re happy to take his stuff.” (27:53-28:05)
MORAL THEME: HOBBIT VICES: PAROCHIALISM (seems mostly to be a bad thing but might also be related to virtues like humility)
  • TEXT: “'But what about this Frodo that lives with him?' . . . Small wonder that trouble came of it, I say'” (Chapter 1, p.22, slide "Shire Values")
  • EPISODE SUMMARY: O2“Hobbits are naturally suspicious, and apt to look for scandals and gossip” and P1“A primary term for Hobbit culture is parochial. They look at people even in the next town as foreigners”
  • EPISODE:
    • O2,P1“The hobbits are incredibly parochial. It’s not just that they look dubiously at people from outside the Shire. That’s kind of a given. But that’s not anything like the limit of their parochial-ness. They are so parochial that they look at the people only a few miles away as almost foreigners.” (1:06:23-1:07:00)
    • O2,P1"This does seem to be a fairly staple thing . . . That is to say, it's not just the Gaffer and his friends. It's not even just a class thing. Because, you'll notice, Lobelia talks in a similar kind of way. Her whole insult: 'You're not a Baggins, you're a Brandybuck!' is premised, it seems, upon the same kind of thing. She also seems to believe that 'away there in Buckland, folks are queer." (1:09:47-1:10:19)
MORAL THEME: HOBBIT VICES: GOSSIP
  • TEXT: “'But what about this Frodo that lives with him?' . . . Small wonder that trouble came of it, I say'” (Chapter 1, p.22, slide "Shire Values")
  • EPISODE SUMMARY: O2“Hobbits are naturally suspicious, and apt to look for scandals and gossip” and P1“A primary term for Hobbit culture is parochial. They look at people even in the next town as foreigners”
  • EPISODE:
    • O2"Yes, gossip . . . They are hugely gossipy, these hobbits are." (1:08:58-1:09:19)
MORAL THEME: HOBBIT VICES: SCANDAL-MONGERING
  • TEXT: “'But what about this Frodo that lives with him?' . . . Small wonder that trouble came of it, I say'” (Chapter 1, p. 22, slide "Shire Values") and “And Mr. Drogo was staying at Brandy Hall with his father-in-law . . . Boats are quite trick enough for those that sit still without looking further for the cause of trouble” (p. 23, slide "Family History")
  • EPISODE SUMMARY: O2“Hobbits are naturally suspicious, and apt to look for scandals and gossip” and O3"The Gaffer is leading his audience . . ." and R1“The Gaffer is showing normal Hobbit culture by saying that trouble came of boating, but Sandyman is clearly crossing a cultural line by accusing Frodo’s parents of murder-suicide”
  • EPISODE:
    • O2“They like sensational stories and they’re ready to believe scandalous things about people who live outside their world." (107:24-1:07:33)
    • O3"[The Gaffer] is just begging to be asked to tell that story . . . their enjoyment of telling these kinds of shocking stories and the desire to hear them again and again is definitely another part of their culture” (1:08:07-1:08:38)
    • R1“I used the word ‘scandalmongering,’ but when it comes to real scandal, the Gaffer’s not having any of it . . . it’s interesting the limits: he’ll talk about the Brandybucks – they’re queer people, they go fooling about on with boats on that river . . . he’s willing to go there but he’s unwilling to go further. The idea that there was pushing and pulling involved . . . the Gaffer will have nothing to do with that.” (1:13:41-1:15:12)
MORAL THEME: HOBBIT VIRTUES: HUMILITY
  • TEXT: “For ADELARD TOOK, for his VERY OWN, from Bilbo, on an umbrella . . . too obviously considered her face shapely(Chapter 1, pp. 36-37, slide "Tough Love")
  • EPISODE SUMMARY: N1“Humility matters to hobbit culture”
  • EPISODE:
    • N1“There’s a kind of humility to hobbit culture, not taking yourself very seriously” (59:10-59:17)
MORAL THEME: HOBBIT VIRTUES: NON-VIOLENCE
  • TEXT: “For ADELARD TOOK, for his VERY OWN, from Bilbo, on an umbrella . . . too obviously considered her face shapely(Chapter 1, pp. 36-37, slide "Tough Love")
  • EPISODE SUMMARY: N2“Hobbit culture is clearly nonviolent, based on the impolite nature. They have no fear of violent reprisals”
  • EPISODE:
    • N2“One of the other things that I think we can see about hobbit culture: you can tell how nonviolent in general it is . . . Hobbits are not [armed]. There is a kind of laid-back element to their culture . . . They don’t stand on formalities.” (59:22-1:01:08)
 
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Jonah

Member
EPISODE 2

MORAL THEME: HOBBIT VIRTUES: GIVING
  • TEXT: “Hobbits give presents to other people on their own birthdays . . . they never get tired of them.” (Chapter 1, pp. 26-27, no slide)
  • EPISODE SUMMARY: D2“The Hobbits seem to take pleasure in giving, and in enjoying what they have”
  • EPISODE:
    • D2“The hobbits love to give gifts . . . the narrator tells us that “they never get tired of them” . . . one of the symptoms of dragon sickness, of that kind of acquisitiveness, of that desire to get and to keep, is to cease to value . . . the spirit of hobbits and their relationship to gifts seems to be in very marked contrast to that kind of dragonishness.” (18:55-20:06)
MORAL THEME: HOBBIT VICES: SCANDALMONGERING
  • TEXT: “I find that I have become rather unpopular’ . . . ‘I wonder if I shall ever see him again’” (Chapter 1. p. 40, slide “Scandal-mongering”)
  • EPISODE SUMMARY: I4“Frodo also judges . . ."
  • EPISODE:
    • I4“When he hears that rumor, [Frodo] immediately concludes (A) this was a malicious rumor . . . (B) he of course suspects the Sackville-Bagginses of having started it and he call it ‘abominable.’ So, that’s important. This clearly shows that its not just generally accepted as being okay to always say these things. Talking about your neighbors, telling stories about people is clearly okay. Malicious spreading of rumor [is not.]” (39:40-40:20)
MORAL THEME: HOBBIT VICES: PAROCHIALISM
  • TEXT: “There were rockets like a flight of scintillating birds . . . ‘That is the signal for supper!’ said Bilbo.” (Chapter 1, p. 27, “The Art of Gandalf”)
  • EPISODE SUMMARY: O4“The things represented are exposing the Hobbits to things they might never see otherwise, and to make familiar things seem new. Gandalf is opening the Hobbit’s minds.”
  • EPISODE:
    • O4“He does seem to be trying to expose the hobbits to stuff outside their protective bubble and, in particular, I would point to the dragon here . . . Gandalf is basically compelling all the hobbits to imagine this, imagine a dragon descending upon you . . . an important element there is that kind of shaking of their complacency. Gandalf intended to startle the hobbits exceedingly. Startlement is what his was going for. He wants to scare them . . . he apparently things that it will be good for them.” (1:09:23-1:11:18)
 
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Jonah

Member
EPISODE 3

MORAL THEME: RING TEMPTATIONS: POSSESSIVENESS
  • TEXT: “Bilbo flushed, and there was an angry light in his eyes . . . ‘I’ll do as I choose and go as I please,’ said Bilbo obstinately.” (Chapter 1, p. 33, slide “The Precious”)
  • EPISODE SUMMARY: J2“Bilbo immediately begins to justify his ownership of the Ring” and J4"Gandalf never questioned . . ." “Bilbo takes this as another challenge to ownership and rationalizes his words” and J5"Gandalf is still attempting to placate . . ." and K2“Bilbo takes this as another challenge to ownership and rationalizes his words”
  • EPISODE:
    • J2“Notice how Bilbo’s mind immediately drifts to justification of ownership: he goes from ‘what business is it of yours what I do with my own things” to ‘it is my own, I found it, it came to me’ and there’s even a progression there: ‘it’s mine, it’s my own.’ Why is it mine? It’s mine because I found it, no, it’s mine because it came to me" (1:07:00-1:07:32)
    • J4,J5"Gandalf wasn’t doubting this. There’s a way Bilbo’s movement here is a complete non sequitur . . . It reveals the fact that that’s his fixation.” (1:08:12-1:09:22)
    • K2"Bilbo takes this as another challenge to his ownership. 'Yes, Gollum said this about the Ring. But it's not true for him anymore. It's true for me, though. I'm entitled to call it "my precious" because it is mine. It's not his now but mine.'" (1:12:02-1:12:21)
 
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Jonah

Member
EPISODE 4

MORAL THEME: HOBBIT VICES: PAROCHIALISM
  • TEXT: “Frodo went tramping over the Shire . . . he visited the Elves at times, as Bilbo had done.” (Chapter 2, p. 41, slide “The Hamfast Standard”)
  • EPISODE SUMMARY: P6“Frodo’s reputation is reinforced by his traveling around the Shire, rather than staying at home.” and P7"Note: The Gaffer's proper name . . ."
  • EPISODE:
    • P6“What makes his neighbors look at him funny? Nighttime walks? Sensible folk are amazed that ‘he was sometimes seen far from home, walking in the hills and woods under the starlight.’ Apparently, that’s weird." (1:32:41-1:33:00)
    • P7"I call the passage “The Hamfast Standard.” . . . Hamfast means ‘homebody, home-dweller, someone who sticks close to the home.’ It’s like parochial is the Gaffer’s first name . . . It struck me because this is very tame as far as deviations from society go. And yet, ‘amazement’ we’re told this brings up.” (1:33:02-1:34:08)
 
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Jonah

Member
EPISODE 5

MORAL THEME: PITY (The word “pity” isn’t used here but it seems clear that Gandalf’s pity for Frodo is at least part of what Professor Olsen finds revealing in how Gandalf begins this conversation.)
  • TEXT: “Last night you began to tell me strange things about my ring . . . It would possess him” (Chapter 2, p. 45, slide “Gandalf’s Emphasis”) and “How long have you known this? . . . a sign that the ring was getting control” (Chapter 2, p. 46, slide “Gandalf Evades the Question”) and “’How long have you know all this?’ asked Frodo again . . . I could only watch and wait” (Chapter 2, pp. 46-47, slide “Putting the Question a Second Time”)
  • EPISODE SUMMARY: F2“He starts off by talking about the personal danger to Frodo from the Ring” and H1"Frodo rightly asks . . ." and H4"Gandalf is still hedging . . ." and H5“Gandalf seems uncomfortable and guilty about having his theory and not sharing it”
  • EPISODE:
    • F2“When Frodo asks him, ‘tell me about my ring,’ where does Gandalf’s mind go first? Answer: Where Gandalf’s mind goes first is ‘the ring is dangerous, dangerous to the possessor, this ring, if you keep it, will do horrible things to you personally. Now in a sense, if you take a few steps back from this and look at this from a totally cold, abstract viewpoint, that’s kind of one of the least important elements of the situation . . . Frodo personally getting messed up is relatively low on the list of possible bad outcomes of the ring being around. But this is what Gandalf emphasizes. The conversation that Gandalf begins is ‘let me tell you the danger you are in personally’ . . . That, I think, is a really big deal and, to me, it’s really revealing.” (37:35-39:38)
    • H1“Gandalf doesn’t answer the question . . . Frodo says, ‘How long have you know this?’ and Gandalf doesn’t answer, or rather he chooses to answer the second question" (58:08-59:02)
    • H4"I don’t think he’s just being cryptic . . . ‘”How long have you known all this?” asked Frodo again’ . . . He seems really kind of reluctant to just come out and answer this question." (59:32-1:02:07)
    • H5"I honestly think that Gandalf is squirming a little bit here. I think Gandalf feels guilty” (1:02:57-1:03:03)
    • “He knows that he has unilaterally signed Frodo up for custodianship of something that’s going to harm him and he feels it, he’s aware of it, but there was nothing else that he could do.” (1:39:38-1:39:58)
MORAL THEME: ENDS AND MEANS
  • TEXT: “’How long have you know all this?’ asked Frodo again . . . I could only watch and wait” (Chapter 2, pp. 46-47, slide “Putting the Question a Second Time”)
  • EPISODE SUMMARY: I5“But the greater harm would have come to him from taking possession of the Ring by force”
  • EPISODE:
    • I5“Taking it by force is bad news. How do you know it’s bad news? Because ‘I right to do so anyway.’ That’s kind of your first warning. Gandalf is playing it safe in saying ‘lets not try to justify the means by the ends,’ which is generally a good call. In Middle Earth that almost always turns out to be true.” (1:11:20-1:11:42)
 
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Jonah

Member
EPISODE 6

MORAL THEME: PITY (Again, the word 'pity' is not used here, but I think Gandalf's pity for Frodo is clearly at the root of his feeling of guilt.)
  • TEXT: “Of course, my dear Frodo, it was dangerous for you . . . I still knew little for certain” (Chapter 2, p. 59, presented in Episode 8 slide “Gandalf’s Decision”)
  • EPISODE SUMMARY: C1“Gandalf shows very human feelings and failings in his fears for Bilbo and Frodo and wanting to avoid believing things that he knows in his heart are true, out of concern for his friends”
  • EPISODE:
    • C1"Why did he leave the ring with Bilbo and Frodo? . . . ‘I knew it was dangerous for you,’ he finally says, but he had to do something. And what he’s been doing is leaving the ring where it is because he can think of any place where it would be safer and more secret than it is in Bag End.” (19:06-19:42)
    • C1"One thing that Gandalf shows is very sort of human feelings. He feels guilty. I think he does feel guilty about what he’s done to Frodo." (21:20-21:27)
 
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Jonah

Member
EPISODE 7

MORAL THEME: PITY
  • TEXT: “’Gollum!’ cried Frodo . . . Think of the riddles they both knew, for one thing.” (Chapter 2, p.53, slide “Sympathy and Revulsion”) and “And hobbits don’t cheat . . . and the torment had become almost unbearable.” (pp. 53-54, slide “Gollum’s Nature”)
  • EPISODE SUMMARY: E2“Gandalf’s switch into a storytelling tone . . .” and E5“Gandalf’s tone of pity . . .” and F7"Gandalf is emphasizing hope . . ."
  • EPISODE:
    • E2“He immediately shows the applicability. ‘I’m not just telling you a horror story . . . I’m telling you a cautionary tale.’ And it’s a cautionary tale that has obvious relevance to Frodo himself.” (42:27-42:46)
    • E5“This is to me the interesting thing, where he goes from that: ‘Even Bilbo’s story suggests the kinship’ – ‘Frodo, you’ve not been paying close enough attention to the Bilbo story. If you’ve been hearing Bilbo’s story and you’re coming away with ‘Bilbo is a noble, heroic character and Gollum over here is a slimy, hideous monster’ . . . you’re missing the point. The moment that Bilbo has, remember what leads to his moment of pity is his moment of empathy with Gollum, he feels sympathy for Gollum, imagining what it would be like to live a life like his . . . and doing so invokes pity in Bilbo [see further consideration in Episode 40]. Well, Frodo is explicitly refusing to take that step.” (46:03-47:32)
    • F7“Don’t forget the main point, Frodo: for you to have sympathy, for you to feel pity for Gollum.” (104:50-1:05:00)
MORAL THEME: HOPE (In some instances, I think the theme of hope will be more theological than moral, relating to belief in the final victory of God or, more vaguely, goodness [i.e. Estel]. Here, I think the theme of hope is more connected to Gandalf’s pity of Gollum and the pity he wants Frodo to have.)
  • TEXT: “And hobbits don’t cheat . . . and the torment had become almost unbearable.” (Chapter 2, pp. 53-54, slide “Gollum’s Nature”)
  • EPISODE SUMMARY: F7“Gandalf is emphasizing hope . . .”
  • EPISODE:
    • F7“The last thing he emphasizes about Gollum is hope. Even Gollum was not wholly ruined . . . Frodo: This is why it’s so important for you not to just say ‘loathsome, abominable’ . . . because you need the hope that this story brings" (59:21-1:00:15)
    • F7"Don’t dismiss him as ‘loathsome’ and the idea of your being like him as ‘abominable.’ It’s far from abominable. It’s the opposite of abominable. It’s hopeful. It’s good news.” (1:04:34-1:04:47)
THEOLOGICAL THEME: PROVIDENCE AND FREE WILL
  • TEXT: “A Ring of Power looks after itself . . . and putting his hand on it, blindly, in the dark.” (Chapter 2, p. 54, slide “Pawns on the Chessboard”) and “There was more than one power at work . . . though I am not sure I understand you.” (Chapter 2, pp. 54-55, slide “Doom”) and “’Yes, alas! . . . he may even think that the long-unnoticed name of Baggins has become important.’” (Chapter 2, pp. 57-58, slide “Breaking the Really Bad News”)
  • EPISODE SUMMARY: H5“He also starts to hint that other powers are at play in thwarting the Ring’s will” and I1“Note: This is the place where Tolkien begins wrestling with the “fate vs. free will” questions” and L5“Gandalf also is betting on fate, as Bilbo, and therefore Frodo, was destined to have the Ring”
  • EPISODE:
    • H5“What Gandalf begins to point to here is: there are two things at work . . . that Bilbo should be the one who blindly put his hand on it in the dark – this is not a coincidence. He is giving Frodo the sense here that both Frodo and Gollum are not the actors here, they are merely the patients, not the agents involved here. So, who is opposed to the Ring? Who is the other player?” (1:11:16-1:13:06)
    • I1“Who was meaning him to find the Ring? Clearly, he’s talking about fate, some larger destiny, he’s talking about the larger providence that is at work here. This is what Gandalf point to: doom in the sense of destiny, that which has been laid down to come before, the intention, that meaning. We know that the Ring intended something. But we know that somebody else intended something else as well. There was not just the will of the Ring and its maker, those wills were being opposed by someone else: fate, destiny, God ultimately . . . by the Valar, by somebody else. There is another power there.” (1:15:52-1:17:17)
    • I1“Yes, Alia (sp?), I too love how Tolkien plays with the issues of predestination and free will. It’s an important question. It’s a major question. Tolkien is very thoughtful in how he handles the situation and he’s very non-simplistic about it. He does not seem to agree with a hard line in either direction. Is there destiny? Yes. Are things mapped out? Does God know what’s going to happen? Yah, he does. Does that mean there’s no such thing as free will? No. There is such thing as free will. (1:19:18-1:20:03)
    • L5“More importantly, remember what he was saying about the chess match. Gandalf says, ‘Bilbo was meant to have it and therefore Frodo you were meant to have it.’ That, I believe, is the other thing that people who question Gandalf’s decision don’t take seriously enough. Gandalf said he believes that Bilbo was destined to have it, some power which was moving in opposition to Sauron and the Ring chose Bilbo. What? Is Gandalf going to be like ‘I think I can upgrade that’? No. That not going to be where he’s going to go and what he’s going to say.” (1:42:10-1:42:55)
 
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Jonah

Member
EPISODE 8 (Part 1)

(note: I didn’t find a summary for Episode 8 - update: I found it in the "Let's talk about the course!" thread)

MORAL THEME: PITY
  • TEXT: “’But this is terrible!’ cried Frodo . . . He began his ownership of the Ring so. With Pity.” (Chapter 2, p.58, slide “Fear and Pity”) and “’I am sorry,’ said Frodo . . . such kindness as they can find in their wise hearts” (Chapter 2, p.58, slide “The Fate of Many”) and “’But I have so little of any of these things’ . . . ‘Great perils lie before me.’” (Chapter 2, p. 60, slide “A Plain Alternative Rejected”)
  • EPISODE SUMMARY: F4"Gandalf is using the word 'pity' in the sense of 'compassion' or sympathy . . ." and F5"This kind of pity . . ." and G2"Gandalf emphasizes that Gollum is theoretical to him . . ." and J7"There is irony . . ."
  • EPISODE:
    • F4“Notice how he pounces on Frodo’s conspicuous turn of phrase, because it is just a turn of phrase . . . Gandalf however fixates on the word because the work is ironic. ‘Pity? It was pity that stayed his hand . . .’ . . . Pity, as it’s being described by Gandalf here, is simply the acknowledgment of the suffering of somebody else . . . to have compassion shown to your situation by somebody who is not in your situation. To have pity there has to be a discrepancy or else it would just be commiseration, not pity. But to acknowledge the suffering of someone else is a good thing. And our desire not to be shown pity is often the thing that is not good." (45:49-49:23)
    • F5"You cannot show pity, you cannot feel pity for someone without compassion, without empathy. Gandalf emphasizes that Bilbo started his career not just differently from Gollum, but exactly the opposite . . . Pity doesn’t have to be smug . . . any element of self-congratulation . . . is, in a sense, the opposite of pity . . . Pity is all about the other person, is all about responding to the difficulties of someone else. In a sense, it’s self-forgetful.” (50:15-52:34)
    • G2“’You have not seen him’ is an interesting comment . . . Gandalf recognizes that it’s easier if you can actually see him. Gollum is totally theoretical to you. Gollum is a monster out of a children’s story to you . . . but when you see him, when his situation becomes real to you, you will probably feel different.” (58:02-58:56)
    • J7“Notice Gandalf’s emphasis on pity again . . . ‘The way of the Ring to my heart is by pity, pity for weakness and the desire of strength to do good.’ Of course, that’s the next step. Pity by itself isn’t enough. If pity doesn’t lead you to action, if you just feel bad for somebody, that’s good to feel bad for the suffering of another. But, if that’s all you do, that falls short of really good. Really good is to feel pity and to act on that pity, to help to work to alleviate the suffering of one whose suffering you perceive. And Gandalf has that . . . it is really interesting that we see both: it was pity that preserved Bilbo, but it’s pity that would be the root of temptation for Gandalf.” (1:25:25-1:26:30)
MORAL THEME: JUSTICE AND MERCY
  • TEXT: “’I am sorry,’ said Frodo . . . such kindness as they can find in their wise hearts” (Chapter 2, p.58, slide “The Fate of Many”)
  • EPISODE SUMMARY: G4"Gandalf admits that the just punishment . . ." and G5"Gandalf's admonition of restraint" and G6"Once again, Gandalf emphasizes hope . . ."
  • EPISODE:
    • G4“Yes, Gollum deserved death . . . Have his deeds merited death? Yes." (1:00:47-1:00:56)
    • G5"That’s not Gandalf’s concern. On the one hand he is interested in capital punishment, ‘Don’t be so eager . . .’ . . . Gandalf isn’t talking about kings and governments . . . so whether or not this argument by Gandalf could be applied at a political level . . . certainly if you’re a private individual that’s not your bag." (1:00:57-1:02:17)
    • G6"Notice his emphasis: ‘I have not much hope that Gollum can be cured before he dies.’ Notice how shifted the whole paradigm of the conversation there. Does he deserve it? . . . that’s not what matters. What matters to Gandalf: can he be cured or not . . . that shows Gandalf’s attitude. That shows how he embodies this idea of pity that he’s been describing.” (1:02:25-1:03:35)
MORAL THEME: PREMISES FOR GOOD DECISION MAKING
THEOLOGICAL THEME: PROVIDENCE
  • TEXT: “’I am sorry,’ said Frodo . . . such kindness as they can find in their wise hearts” (Chapter 2, p.58, slide “The Fate of Many”)
  • EPISODE SUMMARY: G8"The conversation reveals something of Gandalf's character . . ." and G9"He's also willing to rely on his intuition about future events."
  • EPISODE:
    • G8"There are two things involved here for Gandalf. And I think this in an important principle that we’ll see at many points in The Lord of the Rings [see Chapter 2, pp. 62-63, considered in Episode 18 slide "Notes and Queries 1,"]. On the one hand, we have a general moral principle . . . focus first on curing rather than punishing . . . pity is good." (1:03:46-1:04:23)
    • G9"In addition to the general moral principle, there is also the insight that he has. ‘He is bound up with the fate of the Ring. My heart tells me he has some part to play yet’ . . . You will often see people, good guys that is, making decisions on one or both of those two premises, either the ‘I have a sense that this is what is supposed to happen’ or ‘this is right that we should do that’ and it’s interesting to watch those things interact, I think. With Gandalf, notice he starts with the moral issue. He doesn’t kill Gollum because he doesn’t think it would be right . . . but that’s sort of endorsed by the general feeling that he has, the feeling that there’s a reason, capital R reason, not to kill him.” (1:04:24-1:05:42)
 
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Jonah

Member
EPISODE 8 (Part 2)

THEOLOGICAL THEME: PROVIDENCE AND FREE WILL
  • TEXT: “’There is only one way . . . such strength and heart and wits as you have.” (Chapter 2, pp. 59-60, slide “The Only Option”) and "He went to the window . . . terror of the Fiery Mountain." (Chapter 2, p. 60, slide "Frodo's Burden")
  • EPISODE SUMMARY: J1"Gandalf praises Frodo . . ." and J3"He also emphasizes that the choice of Frodo by the power that chose him . . ." and J4"This is a fate vs. free will issue . . ." and K1"Gandalf emphasizes that while it's clear what need to be done . . ."
  • EPISODE:
    • J1“’I do really wish to destroy it,’ cried Frodo. Frodo asserts his will . . . But, of course, ‘I am not made for perilous quests’ is perfectly true. ‘Why was I chosen?’ ‘Such questions cannot be answered,’ said Gandalf. We can see what destiny chooses; we don’t know destiny’s rationale. ‘You may me sure that it was not for any merit that others do not possess: not for power of wisdom, at any rate’ . . . I think that’s kind of a funny piece of counter-reassurance that Gandalf gives here." (1:15:56-1:18:12)
    • J3"But, actually, I kind of think, in a sense, if you think it through . . . it is a little bit reassuring. You’re not chosen for power or wisdom, for any merit that others do not possess. If Gandalf were saying to him, ‘you’re the only qualified person to do this’ . . . then there would be pressure on him: ‘don’t screw it up, Frodo’ . . . He says, ‘Actually, it’s not about you. You were chosen for this but it’s not about you. It’s about the one who has chosen you. If that other power chose you, it didn’t choose you because you are so awesome you could easily handle it. It chose you because it has a plan to do it through you. So don’t worry about it. Leave it to the power who’s got the plan, who can see all things, which you can’t.’ But, of course, Frodo still has a role. ‘But you have been chosen and you must therefore use such strength and heart and wits as you have. You are in the passive place: you have been chosen. But you do have to choose, still, to respond to that’" (18:13-19:52)
    • J4"This is Gandalf saying: ‘Are you predestined to do this? Yep. Do you have free will that you need to exert? Yah. Absolutely.” (1:20:08-1:20:18)
    • K1"'Now the decision lies with you.' Remember, he's just said to Frodo, 'there's only one choice; there's only one thing that can be done . . . you've got to take the Ring, at least start with it on the way to Mordor is pretty much the only option.' And yet, he turns to Frodo and insists, 'the decision lies with you . . . you have to choose.'" (1:26:40-1:27:25)
MORAL THEME: HOBBIT VIRTUES: HUMILITY (This is a Frodo virtue specifically. But, as Gandalf seems to suggest in his “Hobbit are truly amazing creatures” discourse, it’s also a hobbit virtue more generally)
  • TEXT: “’There is only one way . . . such strength and heart and wits as you have.” (Chapter 2, pp. 59-60, slide “The Only Option”) and “’But I have so little of any of these things’ . . . ‘Great perils lie before me.’” (Chapter 2, p. 60, slide “A Plain Alternative Rejected”) and “’Well,’ said Gandalf at last . . . ‘I ought to leave Bag End, leave the Shire, leave everything and go away,’ he sighed.” (Chapter 2, pp. 60-61, slide “Frodo Makes the Choice”)
  • EPISODE SUMMARY: J2"He emphasizes that Frodo's humility . . ." and J6"Gandalf is clearly afraid of the temptation . . ." and L3"He also is leaning into Frodo's humility . . ."
  • EPISODE:
    • J2“Of course, Frodo is uniquely qualified, in part by his humility. ‘I am not made for perilous quests’ is exactly the response that he should be having. If you thought you were good enough to handle this, if you were like ‘leave it to me, Gandalf. I’m glad the Ring of Power fell into my hands because I am obviously the most qualified person to handle it,’ there would be a problem.” (1:20:25-1:20:50)
    • J6“Gandalf is admitting he’s weaker than Frodo in this sense. There is an irony there.” (1:22:57-1:23:05)
    • L3“And it’s all done in the context of humility. ‘I hope you may find some better keeper soon.’ ‘I don’t think I’m worthy of this; I don’t think I’m going to do a good job, but this burden is placed upon me, and I will choose to bear it.’” (1:35:06-135:19)
MORAL THEME: HOBBIT VICES: PAROCHIALISM (reconsidered)
  • TEXT: “’I should like to save the Shire’ . . . on a similar morning long ago” (Chapter 2, p. 61, slide “Frodo’s Secret Response”) this text is referred to in Episode 14 and Episode 16
  • EPISODE SUMMARY: K9"Frodo's sigh afterwards seems to be and acknowledgement that he is losing the Shire . . ."
  • EPISODE:
    • K9“That sigh seems to me like, ‘Now I’m rethinking the Shire. Now, from this new perspective that I’ve been given of looking at the Shire as I’m about to leave it and to try to protect it . . . I don’t feel dismissive; I don’t feel impatient . . . He has the Bilbo perspective, the wider perspective of the world outside the Shire that Bilbo has given to him. And the parochial-ness and simplicity and stupidity of the hobbits has annoyed him. And in a sense that was snobbish. And now he sees it very differently.” (1:36:57-1:38:18)
MORAL THEME: HOBBIT VIRTUES: AMAZINGNESS
  • TEXT: “’My dear Frodo!’ exclaimed Gandalf . . . ‘The enemy has many spies and many ways of hearing.’” (Chapter 2, p.61, slide “Gandalf’s Reaction”)
  • EPISODE SUMMARY: L1"Gandalf's praise of Hobbits in general . . ." and L2"Gandalf is not being insincere . . ."
  • EPISODE:
    • L1“I love Gandalf’s reaction. He responds with amazement about hobbits in general, and I think in large part he’s sparing Frodo’s shyness here" (1:45:29-1:45:39)
    • L2"I think it does apply to many other hobbits as well, I don’t mean he’s being insincere about the generalization that he’s making, but I think he’s making the generalization [to spare Frodo].” (1:46:24-1:46:36)
 
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Jonah

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EPISODE 11

MORAL THEME: HOBBIT VICES: PAROCHIALISM (LIMITATIONS)
  • TEXT: Review of texts from Chapter 2: rumors in the Shire in the beginning of the chapter
  • EPISODE SUMMARY: A5"The hobbits have shown how parochial they are . . ."
  • EPISODE:
    • A5"We learned that one of the major changes that were happening in the Shire was these rumor from outside that were coming through. And it's interesting of course that, even in the Shire, people were talking about this kind of thing. And 'even in the Shire' is a big because we've seen how provincial the hobbits are. Inside the Shire itself, people less than thirty miles away have never visited each other, don't know each other, consider the others strange and queer. Its very interesting, therefore, it very important that there's enough word coming from outside, there are people even in the Shire that are talking to other folks from outside that they begin to hear these stories about the Black Land, about Mordor, about the Dark Lord, and the rebuilding of the Dark Tower." (5:24-6:27)
MORAL THEME: HOBBIT VIRTUES: PEACE AND TRANQUILITY
  • TEXT: Review of the passage considered in Episode 8: “’I should like to save the Shire’ . . . on a similar morning long ago” (Chapter 2, p. 61, slide “Shire”)
  • EPISODE SUMMARY: B5"The changing of Frodo's attitude towards the Shire"
  • EPISODE:
    • B5"The idea of the Shire being this inviolate bubble of goodness, of peace and tranquility - it was a little too tranquil for him, a little too peaceful for a while - but, now that he's leaving it, he doesn't feel that way any more and he really values that. Tonight we will look at the invasion of that peace, the fact that that peace is already gone before Frodo really suspects that that could be possible. (8:52-9:27)
MORAL THEME: RING TEMPTATIONS: RATIONALIZATION (closely related to ENDS AND MEANS)
  • TEXT: "A sudden unreasoning fear of discovery . . . and then breaking into a quick trot." (Chapter 3, pp. 73-74, slide "The Ring and the Rider")
  • EPISODE SUMMARY: J2"The Ring uses the fantasy of safety . . ." and J6"The Ring operates by offering what the bearer already wants . . ."
  • EPISODE:
    • J2"Notice what the Ring does. It creates this fantasy image in his mind . . . And look how immediately the rationalizations follow on the heels of this little fantasy, this fantasy of the safety that the Ring will give him" (53:25-54:15)
    • J6"The temptation that the Ring offers in not temptation of the Ring itself. It's not desire for the Ring that is the central element of the Ring's temptation . . . What it is tempting Frodo to do is to use is as a means to accomplish and end that he values. That's how the Ring operates . . . We are in a position to see through it . . . Obviously the ring it trying to expose itself . . . It's lying to Frodo." (55:38-57:56)
THEOLOGICAL THEME: PROVIDENCE
  • TEXT: "A sudden unreasoning fear of discovery . . . and then breaking into a quick trot." (Chapter 3, pp. 73-74, slide "The Ring and the Rider") and "Once more the desire to slip on the Ring . . . can't we go see them (Chapter 3, p. 77, slide "Temptation and Desire")
  • EPISODE SUMMARY: L2"This is 'luck', as Bilbo would call it, so some other power may be at work here." and T4"It is important to pay attention to the role of chance in this story" and T5"We are reminded of the role of 'other powers' . . ."
  • EPISODE:
    • L2"What saves Frodo here? My answer: chance . . . chance if chance you call it . . . I think this is Illuvitar, this is the Valar, there is some other power at work here." (1:00:56-1:01:51)
    • T4,T5"When you look at the way that luck and chance are deployed in this story - It's easy to say that Illuvitar and the Valar are totally invisible in the story of The Lord of the Rings - but when you look through carefully you see that." (1:37:54-1:38:24)
 
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Jonah

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EPISODE 12

MORAL THEME: HOPE
MORAL THEME: HOBIT VIRTUES: HOPE
  • TEXT: "Home is ahead, the world behind . . . And then to bed!" (Chapter 3, p. 76, slide "Applicability")
  • EPISODE SUMMARY: A25"Heading towards the stars would be a message of hope . . ." and A26"The ending of the song is hopeful . . ." and A27"Holding onto hope is an important attribute of hobbits."
  • EPISODE:
    • A25"That would seem to me to be a message of hope under the circumstances, that, even when you go the to edge on night and beyond, the stars will still be alight" (34:45-34:57)
    • A26"It seems to emphasize the hopeful ending of the song, about the stars lighting up . . . This is a song of hope, and that the final not of hope is super important." (35:48-38:52)
    • A27"And hope, and holding onto hope is one the things that hobbits do particularly well." (38:52-38:57)
SPIRITUAL THEME: SPIRITUAL POWER: SONG
  • TEXT: "'What about the Eves?' . . . 'which they only partly understood." (Chapter 3, p. 77-78, slide "Elf Singing")
  • EPISODE SUMMARY: B4"This is the first time . . ." and B5"This is clearly 'elf-magic' . . ."
  • EPISODE:
    • B4"They hear this person singing in the elven tongue, which only Frodo knows al little bit of and Sam and Pippen are entirely ignorant of, and yet in their thought the sound and music combine and shape themselves into works which they can understand. They don't fully understand . . . They hear it in the common speech in their minds." (46:45-4717)
    • B5"This is elf magic that's happening here. The elf song is communicating directly to their minds. By singing what they are singing, the elves are projecting their thought into the thought of the hearers. [This is recalled in Episode 16 and Episode 36] That's how it works. It's important to notice that, however exactly this happens, it is clearly magic that happening." (47:32-48:07)
THEOLOGICAL THEME: MIDDLE EARTH RELIGION
  • TEXT: "Snow-white! Snow-white! . . . In a far land beyond the Sea" (Chapter 3, p. 78, slide "Lady Clear")
  • EPISODE SUMMARY: C5"The song is addressed and directed to her . . ." and C9"The description of 'snow-white' sounds like a physical description . . ." and C12"The eyes and breath of Elbereth . . ."
  • EPISODE:
    • C5"We learn that the song is addressed to her . . . They're singing to the Lady . . . It's all an invocation . . . It's invoking her. It's describing her. It's calling out to her" (55:42-56:40)
    • C9"'O Lady clear' doesn't make much sense if you just think of it as a physical description . . . The snow-whiteness of Elbereth is not about her skin, it's not about her body at all. She is the 'light to us that wander here' and her light is snow-white and clear. She may be 'beyond the Western Seas' but she is the 'light to us that wander here' and her light . . . is both comfort and guide to us." (57:56-59:27)
    • C12"Why is her breath bright? I think the metaphor here is that the light that comes from her is her breath. She breathes forth light. And why her eyes are clear. Again, it's the clarity of the light from her eyes. Here eyes are like the stars themselves." (1:03:11-103:33)
 
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Jonah

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EPISODE 14

MORAL THEME: HOBBIT VICES: PAROCHIALISM
  • TEXT: "'I knew that danger lay ahead' . . . 'you cannot for ever fence it out.' (Chapter 3, p. 82, slide "Isolationism")
  • EPISODE SUMMARY: F1"The Hobbits of the Shire have created and illusion of isolation . . ." and F7"Even though Frodo is the one hobbit who understands the danger . . ."
  • EPISODE:
    • F1"This illusion that the hobbits have created around themselves with their own isolationism . . . show us something about the hobbit mindset. This is their country, it belongs to them. It is the place of the hobbits. It is quiet and peaceful and the wide world doesn't come there" (52:57-53:39)
    • F7"Remember Frodo's own insight, that he thought an invasion of dragons would be kind of good for the residents of the Shire [see Chapter 2, p. 61, considered in Episode 8 slide “Frodo’s Secret Response”] . . . The shoe is on the other foot now. He now sees . . . he had looked at the whole Shire like it's just their back yard . . . That's the hobbit perspective." (57:17-58:24)
THEOLOGICAL THEME: PROVIDENCE
  • TEXT: "Gildor was silent for a moment . . . 'I fear to say too much.'" (Chapter 3, pp. 82-83, slide "The Dangerous Gift")
  • EPISODE SUMMARY: H1"Gildor is fully aware that chance is at play . . ."
  • EPISODE:
    • H1"What is the purpose? If their meeting is more than chance, which he clearly suspects that there is some purpose, capital P purpose, in their meeting, but he doesn't know what it is" . . . He's basically saying, 'I don't know what my job is supposed to be.' . . . It's not just about Frodo's course, it's about his own course. What path is he supposed to be treading here? (1:09:50-1:11:17)
 
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Jonah

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EPISODE 15

THEOLOGICAL THEME: PROVIDENCE AND FREE WILL
  • TEXT: "'I think you should now go at once' . . . 'I fear to say too much.'" (Chapter 3, p. 83, slide "Digression Slide #2")
  • EPISODE SUMMARY: D1"We don't know . . ." and D2"Like Tom Bombadil, Gildor understands what he is supposed to be doing." and D3"The idleness . . ." and D6"Gildor emphasizes that whatever their job or purpose . . ." and D7"Gildor believes in Purpose . . ."
  • EPISODE:
    • D1"There are two things I would emphasize. First: We don't know what Gildor is doing. He might have a job" (31:05-31:13)
    • D2"It makes me think of Tom Bombadil . . . when Frodo asks, "did you hear us Master?' and Tom Bombadil says, 'I didn't hear you; I was too busy singing' [see Chapter 7, pp. 123-124, considered in Episode 31 slide "Chance", and also in Episode 28 slide "Notes and Queries 2, and also in Episode 32 slide "Notes and Queries 1"] (31:23-31:35)
    • D3"From our perspective, from the hobbits' perspective, he seems idle. Is he idle? I think that would be presumptuous of us to say. We don't understand what he's doing. Does that mean what he's doing isn't important? I don't know. So is Gildor on a mission? Can he afford to take time? We don't know. It sounds like their just hanging out. But is it just that it seems that way to us? (32:12-32:38)
    • D6"We don't know what he's doing and why it might be important . . . The way that he ends this paragraph is what convinces me that . . . what he means is: 'we're trying to follow our purpose; we've got a job and we're trying to do our job. It's a different job from your job, and you might not get our job . . . I keep saying 'job' because of his emphasis on purpose: 'In this meeting there may be more than chance'" (34:01-35:35)
    • D7"He believes in purpose. He believes that . . . things are happening that are supposed to happen, but he doesn't know what he's supposed to do . . . is [his going with Frodo] what 'should be'? . . . He doesn't know. We don't know . . . [Gildor is] affirming [Frodo's] choice - 'you haven't even asked for help" . . . that he would seem to take as in indicator: 'not my job, I guess." (35:40-37:05)
SPIRITUAL THEME: SPIRITUAL POWER: BLESSINGS
SPIRITUAL THEME: SPIRITUAL POWER: BLESSINGS: 'ELF-FRIEND'
  • TEXT: "Is it not enough to know . . . shine upon the end of your road" (Chapter 3, p. 83, slide "Digression Slide #3")
  • EPISODE SUMMARY: E1"Gildor speaks a blessing over Frodo . . ." and E2"Frodo will have many close encounters . . ." and E6"Frodo is recognized as an elf-friend . . ."
  • EPISODE:
    • E1"These are elvish benedictions. Elves don't just do words that don't mean anything. I think that there is efficacy there . . . Words and being, saying a thing and making come to pass, these things are very close for elves. When he bestows a blessing upon Frodo, I believe an effective blessing has been bestowed. It's how it works. How do you bestow a curse? . . . you speak the words . . . How do you bless? You speak a blessing. And if you have the power to bring a blessing with your words, it happens." (39:02-40:27))
    • E2"[Frodo] is going to have several more scrapes . . . and he is going to get through everything. Might it be that Gildor's blessing has something to do with that?" (40:33-40:55)
    • E6"'I name you Elf-fiend.' That's also conferring a blessing on him . . . This changes something about him. It makes him different. And that also is going to have an impact. We will see that impact. [see Chapter 7, pp. 121-122, Episode 29 slide "Frodo's enchantment"] I believe that the direct consequences of Gildor's blessing and naming on Frodo are seen at Weathertop. I believe that it's these things that help him. It's his own will and his own choice as well. But remember his first blessing here, 'May Elbereth protect you,' and what happens when he's confronted by the Nazgûl and about to get stabbed into wraith-hood. What does he do? He draws his sword and lunges forward crying, 'O Elbereth! Gilthoniel!' in the words that he heard Gildor saying. I don't think that's a coincidence. The blessing is on him and he's been altered by that. And I think Elbereth is protecting him in that moment." (42:29-44:00)
THEOLOGICAL THEME: PROVIDENCE AND FREE WILL
  • TEXT: "'Do you feel any need to leave the Shire now' . . . 'I am content. We will go together.'" (Chapter 4, p. 85, slide "Sam's New Desire")
  • EPISODE SUMMARY: J3"This sense of purpose is parallel with Gildor's idea's about Purpose."
  • EPISODE:
    • J3"I think 'purpose' is exactly the word for what Sam is trying to say. Gildor used that word . . . Sam seems to see ahead in a kind of way . . . 'It is my job to go with you on this road' . . . Why does he go? It's not about his desire. With Sam it was. We saw the desire in Sam, the desire for the wonderful . . . It's not Sam's desire for these things anymore that is guiding him . . . he has now simple a sense of purpose . . . He states an awareness of a purpose and a statement of desire. He wants to see it through. He knows it's what he should do, not that he's obligated to do, not that he's doomed to donot something he should do" (1:14:14-1:17:12)
 
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Jonah

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EPISODE 16

MORAL THEME: HOBBIT VICES: PAROCHIALISM
  • TEXT: "'It can't be helped, Sam' . . . and then burst into tears." (Chapter 2, pp. 62-63, slide "Notes and Queries", first considered in Episode 9, slide "A Fitting Doom")
  • EPISODE SUMMARY: C"Sam's new world:"
  • EPISODE:
    • C3"That outer world is coming in. They're encountering it. Most of the hobbits are still oblivious to it . . . They now are [encountering it] and they're thinking about it differently and are starting to become broadened." (17:40-17:58)
    • C4"They [the hobbits] think about shutting the world away. This is their Shire. They want to mind their own business. They don't want any part of the outside world" (18:06-18:16)
    • C5"Or even, it's gotten to a point where they're so shut in that they almost forget that there is an outside world. They're not even very interested in it at all. (18:27-18:36)
    • C6"Gildor characterizes this as 'fencing themselves in.' They have sheltered themselves. They have turned their back on the outside world and are only facing inward, as if the Shire were the entire world. And, as a result, they're sheltered, they're narrow." (18:46-19:13)
    • C7"[To] hobbits who have been outside the Shire . . . the cultural difference between the hobbits of Hobbiton and the hobbits of Buckland really kind of begins to pale . . . They're seeing things in a very different context than how they've seen things. To those who don't travel, anything far away must be very strange. They have no perspective." (19:22-20:21)
    • C8"The passage I want you remember is when Frodo confesses to Gandalf that he sometimes thought the residents of the Shire too stupid and dull for words and that an invasion of dragons might be good for them. [see Chapter 2, p. 61, Episode 8 slide “Frodo’s Secret Response”] And then he said he didn't feel that way now . . . I think the insight that he has is still an important one. We'll see Frodo himself confronting that idea in Chaper 4 . . . It's that sheltering, it's that perspective on the world, it's that circumscription of the world, and that fact that almost all the inhabitants of the Shire are like that: They're horizons are very narrow." (20:25-21:36)
SPIRITUAL THEME: SPIRITUAL POWER: SONG
  • TEXT: "Frodo propped his back against the tree-trunk . . . broken only by the sound of the wind in the leaves." (Chapter 4, p. 88, slide "Two Songs") and "'And what do you think that was?' . . . they had shouldered their packs again and were off." (Chapter 4, pp. 88-89, slide "The Shadow of the Riders")
  • EPISODE SUMMARY: F8"Singing is usually a form of power . . . " and G3"The motionlessness of the hobbits . . ." and G5"It's possible that the cry has a spiritual effect . . "
  • EPISODE:
    • F8"Bad guys sing. And when bad guys sing, it’s bad news often. Ask Finrod Felagund about that, who lost a singing competition with Sauron back in the first age." (39:27-39:42)
    • G3"What is the consequence of the confrontation with the Black Riders? I don’t mean confrontation face to face, but this confrontation with the reality of the Black Riders. It’s paralysis . . . They’re terrified to stay. They’re terrified to go." (44:24-44:54)
    • G5"I wonder if they’re actually affected by this song. Remember how the song of the elves imprinted itself on their minds? They were able to translate it even though they didn’t really know the language [see Chapter 3, p. 77-78, Episode 12 slide "Elf Singing"] . . . . It kind of seems to me that the song of the Nazgul has kind of formed itself in their minds to some extent as well. Both their impression: the evil and loneliness thing, but also their reaction: they have been enchanted, I think, in a sense – a very different way, obviously, then they were enchanted by the elves – and the result is terror, dread. (45:24-46:12)
 
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Jonah

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EPISODE 17

SPIRITUAL THEME: SPIRITUAL POWER: PLACES: THE SHIRE
  • TEXT: no specific LOTR text (Title slide "Resisting the Riders"), "They waited anxiously for him to go on . . . riding over my land so bold." (Chapter 4, pp. 91-92, slide "A Funny Customer"), "'"Be off!" I said' . . . 'What do you think of that?'" (Chapter 4, p. 92, slide "The Stoutness of Farmer Maggot")
  • EPISODE SUMMARY: B"The power of the Shire:" and D"Farmer Maggot tells his tale:" and E"Maggot sent off the Rider:"
  • EPISODE:
    • B1"As we're thinking about the relationship between the Riders and the hobbits . . . I want to be thinking about collecting data to answer the question that's going to arise down the road from now . . . Gandalf's comment in the Council of Elrond when he says, 'It was not easy to think that the hunters before whom all had fled or fallen would falter in the Shire far away.' . . . How are they going to be foiled? Why do they fail? How is it that they can't track down Frodo? We can't definitively answer that question, but I want to be exploring some of the answers to that. (10:54-12:21)
    • B6"Today's passage, the end of Chapter 4, looking and the Black Rider's encounter with Farmer Maggot, I think shows us some really interesting things that we haven't seen before, and gives us some kind of clear data and corroborates some stuff that we've seen before." (16:36-16:52)
    • D7"Their Common is not very good. He does not speak fluent Westron . . . He says 'I come from yonder.' . . . I am convinced that the Black Riders have picked up the word 'yonder' from hobbit dialect." (37:29-38:54)
    • D8"I think this is really interesting . . . They are paying attention. There is an active attempt on the part of the Black Rider to acclimate to local culture . . . Is this the Black Rider's attempt to be disarming? (39:07-39:57)
    • D12"Why? Why should that the hunters before whom all had fled or fallen falter in the Shire? . . . You'd think that the Nazgûl's response here might be something like 'let me torture this hobbit and his family until they tell me what I want to know.' Why wouldn't he think that? Why should he be polite to Farmer Maggot at all? For the matter of that, why don't they kill everyone they meet? (42:47-43:36)
    • E8"This Nazgûl has been on his best behavior . . . and the farmer just slapped it back at him . . . I take this [hissing] as a displeased reaction to the farmer's defiance of him (54:38-55:24)
    • E13"Again, it's just to striking to me. Notice, syntactically speaking, what the Black Rider doesn't do is issue a command" (1:00:14-1:00:30)
    • E15"Notice how strange that is . . . Take note of the fact that when they are interviewing random, strange, vulnerable hobbits in the middle of the Shire, the Black Riders are going around saying 'pretty please' and asking to pay. That seems to me important. That's how they carry on. I bet Gandalf didn't see that coming. I bet he didn't expect that the hunters before whom all had fled or fallen would go around saying 'pretty please' to Farmer Maggot (1:02:15-1:02:56)
    • E16"I don't think they would do this if they didn't have to. I cannot look at the conversation with Gaffer Gamgee or the conversation with Farmer Maggot and see that as anything other than constraint (1:03"35-1:04:11)
    • E17"A king of men . . . might give a command or two. That's exactly why I find it so interesting that he never does . . . Whether it's the evil wraith being evil or it's the proud human king being a proud human king, in neither case would you expect this kind of dialogue, this kind of behavior from them." (1:04:18-1:04:48)
    • E18"We'll keep an eye on this as we go forward." (1:05:13-105:15)
 
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Jonah

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EPISODE 18

THEOLOGICAL THEME: PROVIDENCE
MORAL THEME: PREMISES FOR GOOD DECISION MAKING
  • TEXT: "'It can't be helped, Sam' . . . and then burst into tears." (Chapter 2, pp. 62-63, slide "Notes and Queries 1," first considered in Episode 9, slide "A Fitting Doom")
  • EPISODE SUMMARY: A8"There is a parallel with Gildor's understanding . . ." and A9"Gandalf takes an interpretive step . . ."
  • EPISODE:
    • A8"This is one example of something that we'll see many, many times [see Chapter 2, p.58, considered in Episode 8 slide “The Fate of Many”]. Remember we had this conversation to a certain extent with Gildor. Remember Gildor trying to make sense of what their chance meeting meant? It was a chance meeting . . . [but] he could see that 'in this meeting there may be more than chance.' . . . He suspected that there was something more to it: that there was some kind of task here, some kind of calling, some kind of role that he had to play. But what that role was wasn't clear to him . . . he didn't know how to interpret it [Chapter 3, pp. 82-83, considered in Episode 14 slide "The Dangerous Gift"]" (10:00-10:52)
    • A9"I think that what we see with Gandalf in this moment is Gandalf making a snap interpretive decision . . . he yanks Sam in through the window and he makes an interpretive judgment. 'Why is is that Sam has popped up in this moment? Same should go with Frodo. This is just right. This is a thing that should happen. Watch out for this. We saw it with Gildor. We see it with Gandalf . We'll see it with others too. Something random appear to happen - 'I'm going to take that as a sign. I'm going to trust that this has not happened by coincidence,' taking that interpretive step . . . Gandalf didn't know at the time, but . . . it was not at all by change the Sam was lurking outside of the Bag End window . . . He was part of this conspiracy . . . So it is right, it is fitting that . . . he should be sent along, he should be included, that he is including himself." (11:03-13:28)
MORAL THEME: HOBBIT VICES: PAROCHIALISM
  • TEXT: "'I knew that danger lay ahead' . . . 'you cannot for ever fence it out.' (Chapter 3, p. 82, slide "Notes and Queries 2," first considered in Episode 14, slide "Isolationism")
  • EPISODE SUMMARY: B2"Gildor is saying that the idea that the Shire belongs" . . . and B4"There is a mistaken sense" and B6"Sam will refer . . ."
  • EPISODE:
    • B2"I think this is what Gildor mean when he says, 'it's not your Shire,' that you're fooling yourself when you think of it as 'your Shire.' . . . 'It's time that you payed attention to the wider world . . . and reconsidered what the Shire was and its place within the wider world.' (19:03-19:58)
    • B4"I do think Gildor is implying . . . 'you have a misunderstanding of ownership which leads you to apply a possessive where it doesn't belong.' . . . I think it's the pronoun that Gildor objects to. I think it's the pronoun that leads Gildor to say, 'this is not your Shire. You don't own it. It doesn't belong to you.'" (22:35-23:35)
    • B6"When Sam is talking about the elves in Lothlorien, he will say that they seem to belong there more even than hobbits belong in the Shire . . . It's okay to say that hobbits belong here; it is not okay to turn that around and say 'therefore, this is ours.'" (23:54-24:36)
 
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Jonah

Member
EPISODE 19

MORAL THEME: JUSTICE AND MERCY
  • TEXT: "'It can't be helped, Sam' . . . and then burst into tears." (Chapter 2, pp. 62-63, slide "Notes and Queries 1", first considered in Episode 9, slide "A Fitting Doom")
  • EPISODE SUMMARY: A1"It is really not punishment, or is it?" and A4"However, this is analogous . . ." and A5"Gandalf is not in the same position . . ."
  • EPISODE:
    • A1"'I'm going to punish you properly for listening' . . . I don't think Gandalf really means it as a punishment but . . . it also kind of is a punishment." (10:34-11:15)
    • A4"The passage that I would be really interested to compare this with . . . is with Aragorn and his punishment of Beregond in The Return of the King. Aragorn mixes mercy and justice. He punishes Beregond for breaking the law . . . but of course his punishment isn't really a punishment. It is a punishment . . . but it's really a reward as well" (11:26-12:03)
    • A5"The way in which punishment is combined with blessing there - it's not the same . . . but the similarity of this combination of severity and kindness, justice and mercy . . . There is a sense [in which] Sam has done something wrong . . . and as a result he's banished . . . but of source it's not just severity. It's also kindness." (12:13-13:18)
THEOLOGICAL THEME: DIVINE JUSTICE AND MERCY
  • TEXT: "'It can't be helped, Sam' . . . and then burst into tears." (Chapter 2, pp. 62-63, slide "Notes and Queries 1", first considered in Episode 9, slide "A Fitting Doom")
  • EPISODE SUMMARY: B"On Middle Earth Theology:"
  • EPISODE:
    • B1"Middle Earth theology is generally entirely compatible with Catholic theology. There are very few real discrepancies between them." (17:50-17:59)
    • B2:"But there is one thing which really does sound like a discrepancy, and that is the whole 'gift' thing: death as a gift. According to the Western Church, according to Catholic theology, death is a punishment, it's a consequence of sin." (17:59-18:24)
    • B3"And this is what the letter writer was calling [Tolkien] on . . . and Tolkien was like, 'Yes it was a punishment, but which of God's punishments is not also a gift?' I've always really really loved that answer." (18:34-18:54)
    • B4"Lincoln, I think that's a really neat connection that you make there, that Gandalf operates under a similar logic." (18:58-19:03)
 
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