Themes: Theological, Moral, and Spiritual

Jonah

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EPISODE 20

SPIRITUAL THEME: SPIRITUAL POWER: PLACES: THE SHIRE
MORAL THEME: HOBBIT VIRTUES: RESISTANCE TO EVIL
  • TEXT: "They waited anxiously for him to go on . . . riding over my land so bold." and "'"Be off!" I said' . . . 'What do you think of that?'" (Chapter 4, pp. 91-92, slide "Notes and Queries 1," first considered in Episode 17, slides "A Funny Customer" and "The Stoutness of Farmer Maggot")
  • EPISODE SUMMARY: A3"The Nazgûl could employ . . ." and A4"Instead they try to . . ." A6"Fear and intimidation tactics don't really seem to work . . ." and A7"They actually need the hobbits' cooperation . . ."
  • EPISODE:
    • A3"It does seem that they proceed both by fear and intimidation, and by promises of reward. Now, fear and intimidation is not their go-to ploy. We see that happening in other places. We will see, for instance, some fear and intimidation at work in the Bree land when we get there. But it's interesting, I think, that they don't do that with the hobbits." (7:45-8:20)
    • A4"The Nazgûl's number one approach with Farmer Maggot is not just to terrify him and cow him into answering; It's to wheedle. It's to be polite, try to get hime to help. He even promises to bribe him" (8:22-8:38)
    • A6"One thing that's kind of interesting to me is the fact that - and we'll talk about this a little bit more later on - we don't really see any hobbits on whom the fear and intimidation thing works. We've seen the Black Riders interact verbally with two hobbits . . . Gaffer Gamgee and Farmer Maggot, and both of them were pretty uppity and cheeky in their dealings with the Nazgûl. So, it seems certainly that the flattery thing is a better strategy (9:25-10:04)
    • A7"But I do also think it has something to do with the hobbits too. They're trying to do a hard thing . . . they're trying to find one hobbit . . . and without the cooperation of the other hobbits, they're going to have a difficult time . . . Freda asks, 'What about Fatty Bolger?' We'll get to him and see what happens there." (10:07-10:44)
 
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Jonah

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ESPSODE 22

MORAL THEME: TORTURE
MORAL THEME: ENDS AND MEANS
  • TEXT: "'I endured him as long as I could' . . . 'with much sniveling and snarling'' (Chapter 2, p.55, slide "Notes and Queries 1, passage skipped in Episode 7)
  • EPISODE SUMMARY: A1"Did Gandalf threaten to torture . . ." and A4"'Putting the fear of fire . . ." and A7"There is a general moral issue . . ." and A8"Using wicked means . . ." and A10"More will be revealed . . ." and A11"In the context of Gollum's . . ."
  • EPISODE:
    • A1"Let's address first the basic question of fact. Does this suggest that Gandalf actually does burn Gollum and torture him in order to get him to talk? I would say no." (18:07-18:20)
    • A4"Julia, the passage you brought up about ringing the true story out of him bit by bit, it is a really fascinating metaphor. It sounds like he's putting him on the rack . . . But in fact that's actually what convinces me that he's being metaphorical here. Because it's a mixed metaphor. I don't think Gandalf is going to be like: 'first I burned him and then I put him on the rack.' So I don't think the 'ringing' is literal . . . Gandalf talked about the fear of fire specifically. So I cannot see any way of interpreting that without understanding Gandalf threatening him. That seems very clear."(19:06-19:56)
    • A7"Where does this put us? Because the two points that Julia makes are excellent. First of all, there's just the general moral issue. This is independent of our own views." (21:30-21:44)
    • A8"I agree with Julia that what matters is the moral economy of Tolkien's world, of The Lord of the Rings itself. And what we see again and again is that wicked means do not achieve good ends. That doesn't happen. That doesn't work. I don't know that that ever works. So I agree. That is to say, that makes this a big issue. If Gandalf has to torture him, or even threaten to torture him, to get him to talk, that seems really bad." (21:55-22:38)
    • A10"Let's keep this in mind when we get to Frodo and Gollum. Because what we're going to see is Frodo in a very similar case . . . If what we want is to see 'how does Tolkien explore this issue?' then I think the answer to that is: 'Let's let's wait and look at when he actually discusses it in more detail himself later on." (23:11-24:11)
    • A11Here's the one way that I suggest that it could be understood from Gandalf's point of view is not merely as an expedient -- 'Normally I wouldn't, but it was super important and the ends justify the means' -- but I would put it in the context of the way Gandalf talks about Gollum . . . He's pretty ruined. He is a liar. I think in threatening him, Gandalf was in a sense speaking Gollum's language. Gollum understands treats. In as sense he's sort of speaking in Gollum's idiom. More on this later on . . . Don't forget this passage. This is going to be really important later." (24:41-26:31)
THEOLOGICAL THEME: DIVINE REVELATION
  • TEXT: "When at last he had got to bed . . . and there was a noise of thunder." (Chapter 5, p. 106, slide "Frodo's First Dream", recalled in Episode 32 and Episode 36)
  • EPISODE SUMMARY: G10"This dream of the sea seems to intervene . . ." and H1"We don't know what the source . . ." and H2"Ulmo is the prime suspect . . ." and H4"Note: Ulmo is more in the business . . ." and H10"Frodo chooses his desire over his fear . . ."
  • EPISODE:
    • G10"The dream of the sea seems almost to intervene in a comforting way, as Frodo was at risk of being paralyzed by fear, as Gildor was concerned about. He, at that moment, hears the sound of the sea and the dream shifts from a dream of fear to a dream of desire. That doesn't seem coincidental to me at all." (1:05:12-1:05:41)
    • H1"We don't know where Bilbo's dreams come from . . . but, knowing the Silmarillion . . . I think we can make a pretty good stab at this dream" (1:05:41-1:06:09)
    • H2"Sounds like Ulmo to me. This is just the kind of stuff that Ulmo pulls all the time: sending dreams to people next to rivers." (1:06:34-1:06:45)
    • H4"Think back to the earlier Silmarillion stuff . . . Ulmo is the one who is preserving hope for the Noldor . . . Ulmo is in business of hope. He is the one who has not abandoned the people of Middle Earth and who comes to help them and to give them hope . . . So, yeah . . . it seems to me likely that this is Ulmo speaking to Frodo, that this is him sending a vision of hope." (1:08:03-1:09:39)
    • H10"Clearly throughout this is comfort from the Valar . . . that seems to me the most important work that's being done here . . . it's about his outlook . . .and this message of hope that he is given, which shifts the focus, which changes the picture for him. It doesn't change the facts. But it changes the whole orientation of his relationship to it." (1:17:27-1:18:11)
 
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Jonah

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EPISODE 23

THEOLOGICAL THEME: DIVINE REVELATION
  • TEXT: "When at last he had got to bed . . . and there was a noise of thunder." (Chapter 5, p. 106, slide "Notes and Queries 1," first considered in Episode 22, slide "Frodo's First Dream")
  • EPISODE SUMMARY: A13"It is most probable that the dreams are evidence of the influence of some 'other power.'" and A16"The Valar are known to send dreams and visions . . ." and A17"Gandalf, as Olórin . . ."
  • EPISODE:
    • A13"His dreams seems to me evidence that he is being influenced -- that here is some other power at word here influencing Frodo." (19:03-1914)
    • A16"If the Ring isn't sending him his dreams, what is? If the Ring isn't making him restless, what is? I think that both of them might have the same answer. Dreams are not a clear Ring thing. That's not something that we see very plainly, see the Ring using in order to influence the mind of its wielders. But the Valar do send dreams. This is a known communication method: visions and dreams. (21:14-21:47)
    • A17"And, in fact, this is one of Gandalf's primary MOs." (21:47-21:56)
THEOLOGICAL THEME: PREPARATION FOR MISSION
  • TEXT: "When at last he had got to bed . . . and there was a noise of thunder." (Chapter 5, p. 106, slide "Notes and Queries 1," first considered in Episode 22, slide "Frodo's First Dream")
  • EPISODE SUMMARY: A14"Frodo seems to have been prepared . . ."
  • EPISODE:
    • A14"He's been prepared in some ways. And this is something that Tolkien mentioned in one of this letters, when he talked about the fact that Frodo remained single, that Bilbo and Frodo remained single . . . He talked about this sense of calling that they had . . . They never explicitly thought about it that way but . . . they had this sort on unspoken sense of, like, 'I have a job to do and I can't root myself down.' They can't afford to be torn in two the way that Sam is torn in two at the end, where he is now rooted and connected through his family to the Shire . . . When Frodo says, 'I don't suppose you could come with me," Sam says, 'Well, not very well, sir.' Frodo doesn't want to be in that position." (19:15-20:44)
 
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Jonah

Member
EPISODE 24

THEOLOGICAL THEME: PROVIDENCE AND FREE WILL
  • TEXT: No specific LOTR text (slide "Notes and Queries 1")
  • EPISODE SUMMARY: A5"There is a difference between . . ."
  • EPISODE:
    • A5"The kind of luck that you point to, Brandon . . . is the more significant one in the story. Specifically, the things that look at the time like ill fortune, like particularly bad strokes of ill fortune, turn out to be the things which are a particular blessing . . . That kind of thing happens a lot in The Hobbit, and I certainly agree that we see that same pattern in The Lord of the Rings, exactly as you say. But here's the other thing . . . I think we need to be careful about how we describe that . . . It is providence at work . . . we can see the providential plan working out. They don't understand how it's working out. The things just seem like random bad fortune is happening to them. But it's not random bad fortune. The other thing though that I would say is that the choices that they make along the way . . ." (06:47-8:23)
    • A5"It's also a result of their choices. They themselves are the agents of fate. They're how providence is working out its plan in time." (10:26-10:38)
MORAL THEME: HOBBIT VICES
  • TEXT: No specific LOTR text (slide "Notes and Queries 2)
  • EPISODE SUMMARY: B4"This is a symptom of the over-idealization . . ." and B9"There is an ambivalence about the actions of the Hobbits . . ."
  • EPISODE:
    • B4"I often find that people over-idealize the Shire . . . It's not entirely benevolent and wonderful. Hobbits are petty. Hobbits are venial. Think about the stealing of the silver spoons . . . Sancho Proudfoot who was digging for treasure . . . the hobbits who go sneak out by the back way and come in a second time in order to sneak a second present [see Chapter 1, Episode 1] . . . Hobbit society is not perfect. (17:11-18:20)
    • B9"I'm not saying . . . that I think Tolkien wants us to be wholly in support of what the hobbits did. I think we're supposed to be uncomfortable . . . they are in an uncomfortable position in relation to the forest. But at the same time, I don't think this shows the hobbits being 'orcish,' being evil, that this is an evil action. Was it excessive, the burning of the bonfire? Maybe." (21:21-21:56)
 
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Jonah

Member
EPISODE 25

MORAL THEME: TEMPATION TO RATIONALIZE
  • TEXT: "The hobbits began to feel very hot . . . Sam stood yawning and blinking stupidly" (Chapter 6, p. 114, slide "The Trap Sprung")
  • EPISODE SUMMARY: F4"There is a rationalization going on here . . ." and F7"This rationalization is similar to the way the Ring works on people."
  • EPISODE:
    • F4"Notice that there's a kind of rationalization going on here . . . Merry feels like this is just coming from him . . . It would be very sensible for us to go and have a nap under the willow trees" (59:20-1:00:39)
    • F7"And that's interesting because that kind of rationalization is kind of like the effect that the Ring has on people's minds. They are under the influence of the song of Old Man Willow." (1:00:49-1:01:02)
MORAL THEME: HOBBIT VIRTUES: RESISTANCE OF EVIL
MORAL THEME: HOBBIT VIRTUES: HUMILITY (This is specifically about Sam's resistance and Sam's humility. Sam's humility is extraordinary among hobbits. But I think, as we see more elsewhere, Sam's extraordinary humility and resistance of evil also exemplify virtues characteristic of hobbits in general)
  • TEXT: "Sam sat down and scratched his head . . . he woke, and coughed and sputtered." (Chapter 6, p. 114-115, slide "Resisting the Spell")
  • EPISODE SUMMARY: I4"His thoughts are not on himself . . ."
  • EPISODE:
    • I4"Blue Wizard was pointing out that it seems to not be a coincidence that Sam is thinking of others and serving others . . Merry is like, 'must have nap.' . . . Sam is saying, 'must tend ponies.' . . . I agree. And I think that's an important thing. But I'm not convinced that can be the source of [Sam's resistance] . . . he makes that choice: 'I am not going to listen to the willow. I am not going to do what the willow is telling me to do.' [He] is used to working when he's tired . . . So I suspect that's part of it." (1:16:45-1:20:21)
 
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Jonah

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EPISODE 26

SPIRITUAL THEME: SPIRUTUAL POWER: SONG
  • TEXT: "Suddenly he stopped . . . loud and clear and burst into this song" (Chapter 6, p. 116, slide "An Unlikely Deliverance")
  • EPISODE SUMMARY: I1"The whole last line . . ." and I4"Tom seems to be asserting himself . . ."
  • EPISODE:
    • I1"He is stating his name as he walks down the path. Why would he do that? (1:22:49-1:23:07)
    • I4"At least one of the things that he's doing is asserting himself . . . Tom Bombadil has authority over Old Man Willow, but that doesn't mean he doesn't have to assert that authority." (1:26:04-1:26:30)
 
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Jonah

Member
EPISODE 27

SPIRITUAL THEME: SPIRITUAL POWER: SONG
  • TEXT: "Hey! Come merry dol! . . . Can you hear me singing?" (Chapter 6, pl. 117, slide "Meeting Tom Bombadil") and "Frodo and Sam stood as if enchanted . . . 'Don't you crush my lilies!'" (Chapter 6, p. 117, slide "Introductions")
  • EPISODE SUMMARY: D6"'Can you hear me singing?' is an assertion of the power of his song." and E2"When Tom puts his hand out . . ." and E3"Tom doesn't just stop them . . ."
  • EPISODE:
    • D6"The last 'Can you hear me singing?' is an assertion of the power of his song. 'You hear what I'm saying?' That's definitely how I hear that last line." (1:08:02-1:08:15)
    • E2"The absolute authority in Tom's command over them: 'Whoa! Whoa! steady there!' doesn't sound like a command that must be obeyed, but it certainly does. And that's fascinating. Here we see his song making things happen around him. That clearly is a thing that occurs. But you may say, 'His song? What do you mean? He's not singing anymore.' Of course he is. Tom Bombadil is always singing." (1:13:42-1:14:28)
    • E3"Tom's words are always song. So he sings, 'Whoa! Whoa! steady there!' and they stop, they whoa. But 'steady there' I think is really interesting too . . . He also steadies them. They're panicking. And when they stop as if they're struck stiff, they're not panicking any more. (1:16:39-1:17:55)
 
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Jonah

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EPISODE 28

THEOLOGICAL THEME: PROVIDENCE: ANSWER TO PRAYER
  • TEXT: "'Put it out! Put it out! . . . He felt desperate: lost and witless" (Chapter 6, p. 116, slide "Notes and Queries 2", first considered in Episode 26, slide "I Speak for the Trees")
  • EPISODE SUMMARY: B10"This is tied to the idea . . ." and B11"Frodo's most dangerous moment prior to this . . ." and B12"This is a reconciliation . . ." and B13"Frodo is made to understand . . ."
  • EPISODE:
    • B10"It seems to me like a really interesting and strange kind of reassurance to Frodo. There are two levels of that I'm trying to sort out. Simplest level: he calls out for help; he receives help. That's what happens. So that would seem to send one particular message: somebody's listening." (25:26-25:53
    • B11"And we've gotten that before . . . when he was on the brink of disaster before, the closest that he's been to disaster prior to this moment with Old Man Willow was when he was sitting there behind a tree in the darkness and the Black Rider was crawling along the ground sniffing towards him. They were seconds away from being made by that Black Rider, and at that point, by chance, the elves came wandering in. And what did the elves come wandering in a doing? Singing a song about Elbareth and thanking her for hearing them, listening to those who cry out in these lands. [see Chapter 3, pp. 77-78, discussed in Episode 11, slide "Temptation and Desire" and Episode 12, slides "Elf Singing" and "Lady Clear"] That's what happened before. And now again he's in mortal peril on the brink of disaster, and he cries out for help and he receives help, kind of like what the elves were singing about. (25:36-26:47)
    • B12, B13"This is about providence. Because it's the second touch that is the kicker. The message would be much simpler if Tom heard him . . . It would be like, 'hey, bingo, answer to prayer.' But that's not what happened. It's more complicated than that. When he calls out for help he gets help, but then later on he learns that would have gotten help anyway. The help was already skipping a leaping down the path . . . It's not about a response to his cry. What that shows is: it was taken care of anyway, you were getting help, help was on its way, providence. Alia Eru says, 'A piece of Tolkien's reconciliation of predestination and free will in The Lord of the Rings.' Absolutely, yes. Sharon: 'Tom is the eucatastrophe in this moment.' Yeah, when we look at this closely and we look at all the factors involved, the only answer I have to what we see there is providence at work." (27:01-28:47)
I like this commentary on Tom Bombadil's providential response to Frodo's cry for help. I agree that this is 'a piece of Tolkien's reconciliation of predestination and free will in The Lord of the Rings.' I'm not sure, however, that the role of Frodo's free will is being sufficiently appreciated here. I think it's right to say that 'help was already skipping and leaping down the path' despite Tom not intending his coming as 'a response to his cry.' But I don't think it follows that, had he not cried out, Frodo 'would have gotten help anyway.' As Aslan said to Lucy, 'to know what would have happened, child? No, nobody is ever told that.' Tom Bombadil seems not to have heard Frodo's cry. But, as Professor Olsen said, 'someone was listening.' Tom seems not to have intended his coming as a response to Frodo's cry. But the someone who was listening may have intended it so. What would have happened if Frodo didn't cry out? We will never be told.

SPIRITUAL THEME: SPIRITUAL POWER: SONG
  • TEXT: "Just as they felt their feet slowing down . . . away into the eastern night." (Chapter 6, p. 119, slide "Under the Stars")
  • EPISODE SUMMARY: E8"Tom has almost certainly sung this into being . . ."
  • EPISODE
    • E8"He exerts his will. He has marked the boundary. This is where I want the clearing around my house to be. And the trees have conformed to that. Tom has sung it and it has come to be. I think that's how we have to read that. It's hard for me to imagine it being any other way." (58:33-58:52)
 
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Jonah

Member
EPISODE 29

SPIRITUAL THEME: SPIRITUAL POWER: BLESSINGS: 'ELF-FRIEND'
  • TEXT: "The hobbits looked on her in wonder . . . He is tending to your tired beasts." (Chapter 7, pp. 121-122, slide "Frodo's enchantment")
  • EPISODE SUMMARY: K1"Goldberry's recognition of Frodo . . ." and K2"This shows that names . . ." and K3"The light in the eyes . . ." and K4"Even Faramir . . ." and K5"The blessing given . . ."
  • EPISODE:
    • K1"She can discern he Elf-friendliness. This is the first indicator that we have that being an Elf-friend means something other than 'you can have friends who are elves'" (1:39:31-1:39:50)
    • K2"Gildor named him an Elf-friend. [see Chapter 3, p. 83, Episode 15 slide "Digression Slide #3"] That sounded like it was kind of a big deal, but we didn't get much of an indication of what that meant at the time. This is our first indicator that Frodo has been changed. When he is named an Elf-fiend by Gildor, he has been changed by that experience, and it's a change that is perceptible to those who have eyes to see that kind of thing. (1:39:51)-1:40:22)
    • K3How can she discern? How are Elf-friends different from others? She says: 'The light in your eyes and the ring in your voice tells it . . . What she seems to imply is that, when you are an Elf-friend, when you have been made, when you have been named an Elf-friend, you become elvish." (1:40:22-1:41:14)
    • K4"There's something strange about him, 'an elvish air.' Who's going to say that? . . . It's not just Goldberry that can see it . . . Faramir can notice that he's an Elf-friend as well." (1:41:25-1:41:54)
    • K5"When the elves sort of adopt Frodo as a friend, he is given kind of an elvish stamp, an elvish enchantment is placed upon him. He has an elvish air." (1:42:14-1:42:28)
 
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Jonah

Member
EPISODE 30

MORAL THEME: CHILDLIKE INNOCENCE
  • TEXT: "The hobbits say down gladly . . . 'His is the Master of wood, water, and hill." (Chapter 7, p. 122, slide "Tom's Identity")
  • EPISODE SUMMARY: C4"There seems to be a childlike quality about Tom . . ." and C5"There is possibly something in the lack of pride or ego . . ." and C8"One quality of both Tom and Goldberry is innocence and purity . . ." and D6""What Goldberry (and Tolkien) . . ."
  • EPISODE:
    • C4"There is a childlike nature to Tom Bombadil . . . Tom is not proud. Tom does not do anything to try to protect a sense of his own dignity." (29:14-29:39)
    • C5"I kind of want to say: there's something in Tom Bombadil that's almost like a litmus test for the pride or self-conceit of the reader. That is to say, if Tom Bombadil just kind of annoys you and you get irritated at this guy who doesn't seem to take himself of anything else very seriously, maybe that's hint that you take things too seriously and yourself a little too seriously." (29:50-30:15)
    • C8". . . untainted, unmarred, uncorrupted in any way. There is a purity in the delight and in the merriment. You can't be as merry as they are without being either stupid/naive or being innocent. We're going to come back to this: the innocence, the separation from evil of Tom and Goldberry. Hang on to that because the interesting thing is that what we see is not like they have no experience of suffering or of evil. They're not ignorant. They know of these things. They've experienced loss. We know this. We will see this. And yet they remain in this little realm of merriment and delight." (32:05-33:10)
    • D6"[Goldberry] doesn't present [Tom's] resume. That's not her answer to the question. The answer to the question of who is he is is not like 'oh, let me tell you about Tom Bombadil, let me give you his resume' . . . that is exactly the kind of personal dignity on which Tom Bombadil is never going to [stand]. It's irrelevant to him. What is the answer to the question? 'He is." And when she expands on that, here expanse is not like 'of course you realize how important he is around here.' No, her response is, "as you have seen him.'" (1:01:20-1:02:05)
MORAL THEME: (LACK OF) POSSESSIVENESS
  • TEXT: "'Then all this strange land belongs to him?' . . . 'Tom Bombadil is master.'" (Chapter 7, p. 122, slide "Tom's Mastery")
  • EPISODE SUMMARY: E2"Frodo and Goldberry are clearly speaking at cross-purposes . . . " and E5"Tom's Mastery lacks any need for possession . . ." and F8"Note: it is perhaps important . . ."
  • EPISODE:
    • E2"Frodo assumes 'he is master' means ownership . . . That's not what she means at all (1:05:16-1:06:13)
    • E5"Notice how firmly she rejects the idea of dominion . . . Tom is unquestionably the master, but it doesn't mean dominating other things . . . Look back at Tolkien's own reading of that: He is master in a peculiar way. He has no fear and no desire of possession or domination at all."(1:07:25-1:08:09)
    • F8"None of us have any experience with the concept of mastery completely divorced from the concept of domination. [For] everyone who is master of anyone or anything else, no matter how benevolent and generous and kind you may be, there is still that element of dominance, that element either of outright ownership or of 'I'm the boss' or 'you should do what I say because I'm the master." . . . What does mastery without dominion look like? Answer: Red jacket, yellow boots." (1:16:02-1:17:22) [see slide "Tom's Identity" earlier in this episode. I think this is the consideration of innocence that Professor Olsen said we would 'come back to']
I love the connection Goldberry makes between Tom's mastery and his lack of fear. She seems to imply that Tom's mastery is without possession or domination (at least in part) because he is not afraid of losing it or having it taken from him.
 
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Jonah

Member
EPISODE 31 (part 1)

SPIRITUAL THEME: SPIRITUAL POWER: SONG/WORDS/ENCHANTMENT
  • TEXT: Chapter 7, p. 123, slide "A Merry Meeting" and Chapter 7, p. 123, slide "Blessings and Instructions" and (Chapter 7, p. 124, slide "Good Night, Tom. Good Night, Bom. Good Night, Bombadillo."
  • EPISODE SUMMARY: C12"The literal sense of 'enchantment' . . ." and C15"Ent-draught is shown . . ." and D2"Tolkien clearly puts benedictions . . ." and E2"Note: The Black Riders would be . . ." and I2"Like Goldberry, Tom speaks . . ." and I5"This is also related . . ." and I6"Their immediate sleep . . ."
  • EPISODE:
    • C12"Yes, enchantment Tom, as you say, is all about song in every way, definitely." (35:22-35:31)
    • C15"What is Ent-draught? Ent-draught is water that is enchanted, water which Treebeard sings over and makes into Ent-draught. Therefore, water infused with the song and power of Treebeard. This water, presumably, is the same thing or at least the same sort of thing." (38:26-38:47)
    • D2"And yeah, Tony, it is interesting that Tolkien puts benedictions in the mouths of people who have power to make them happen. There is something incantatory, there is something spell-like in Goldberry's words here . . . This is like a spell of peace that she is giving them." (45:17-45:46)
    • E2"Remember at the Ford of Bruinen when Frodo gets to the other side of the ford and he turns around and raises his hand and says, 'Go back, Go back' . . . And the narrator says, "But he had not the power of Bombadil.' Tom Bombadil can raise his hand a say to the Black Riders, "Stop, Go back," and they would. They would obey him . . . That comes from an early draft . . . Tom is accompanying them from the Barrow Downs to the road and they meet the Black Riders . . . and Tom Bombadil raises his hand and says, 'Stop,' and they immediately screech to a halt and they they run away." (50:04-51:01)
    • I2"Absolutely, James, doesn't this sound like an incantation even more than Goldberry's little benediction did? . . . a series of commands again and the fact that he shifts so clearly into his verse form at that point gives that added significance. (1:36:37-1:37:07)
    • I5"Remember Gandalf stopping telling Frodo about the Ring before the beginning of the Shadow of the Past because it was dark and 'some things are ill to hear when the world's in shadow.' [see Chapter 2, p. 45, considered in Episode 5 slide “Gandalf’s Emphasis”] Very similar . . . and again that seems to me to fit in with the incantatory elements that we can see in both Goldberry and Tom's benedictions here. That is to say, speak a thing and it happens. So if you speak about fearful things in the night, you give them power in a sense . . . we're not going to talk about the willow because 'some things are ill to hear when the world's in shadow.'" (1:37:54-1:39:08)
    • I6"They go to bed with his blessings on them and, when they do, they go to sleep almost immediately. He's just told them to; and he's just told them to in verse . . . His incantation here seems even stronger than Goldberry's, though it's similar in kind so you could say that the two of them are kind of working together." (1:40:34-1:41:03)
 
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Jonah

Member
EPISODE 31 (part 2)

THEOLOGICAL THEME: PROVIDENCE
  • TEXT: Chapter 7, pp. 123-124, slide "Chance" and Chapter 7, p. 124, slide "Tom's Business"
  • EPISODE SUMMARY: F1"Tom answers Frodo . . ." and F2"Tom also says he had not planned . . ." and F3"In a way, Tom is discounting chance . . ." and F4"This is similar to Gildor's . . ." and F5"Note: Tom seems to be referring . . ." and F12"The act of the gathering . . ." H1"Tom emphasizes the good fortune . . ." and H2"This reinforces that Tom . . ." and H4"The evil acts. . ."
  • EPISODE:
    • F1"Tom says he did not hear them calling. We talked about this when we were talking about his initial song. [see Chapter 6, p. 116, discussed in Episode 28, slide "Notes and Queries 2] . . . 'Just chance brought me there, if chance you call it.' [see references to "Chance . . . if chance you call it" in Episode 11 (Episode Summary L2), Episode 32 (Episode Summary A1)] (56:06-56:25)
    • F2"Notice his immediate paraphrase of that, 'It was no plan of mine, though I was waiting for you.' That's what he means by 'if chance you call it.' 'It was no plan of mine.' There was probably a plan involved. (56:33-57:01)
    • F3"That's why he doesn't really acknowledge chance . . . Frodo is giving him two options: did you hear me calling or was it just chance . . . and what Bombadil is basically saying is 'neither.' 'The answer to the first part is No, no I didn't hear you' But was it just chance? Was it random? It wasn't random. 'It wasn't any plan of mine' but that doesn't mean there wasn't a plan." (57:01-58:07)
    • F4"He's speaking very similarly to the way that Gildor spoke of it. Remember Gildor when he was explaining why he was afraid to say too much because he didn't know the plan. [see Chapter 3, pp. 82-83, considered in Episode 14 slide "The Dangerous Gift" and Episode 15 slide "Digression Slide 2"] He didn't know what was going on. He can see that more than chance was behind the meeting. He perceives immediately that there is a plan here. This is providence. We have been brought together for a purpose. But I don't know what the purpose is, so I'm not going to just charge ahead thinking that I know what my role is supposed to be. I don't. So I'm going to be careful with that. That's how Gildor talks about it. Tom is not anxious about it. He's not like, 'I'm afraid to say too much.' But he does perceive that there is a plan. 'There's a reason why you guys were brought here and why I was brought there together. It was definitely not random." (59:11-1:00:12)
    • F5"Yes, Auruaron, you are very correct, this is more evidence that Tom cannot possibly be Eru . . . He's referring to the providential plan of Ilúvatar and saying that is not his plan. (1:00:13-1:00:33)
    • F12"He's made two statements: 'I wasn't going on purpose to save you . . . but I knew that you were wondering and would end up down at the Withywindle' . . . Here's my theory about how those work together. Tom Bombadil essentially has faith. What does he do? Does he go out of his way to say, 'Okay Goldberry, let's cancel today's plans and let's go down and we'll set up a rotation, we'll keep an eye out . . . That's not what he does. What does he do instead? He does him. Tom Bombadil is Tom Bombadil. And Tom Bombadil seems to trust that by being Tom Bombadil, by being who his is and doing what he does, it will work out. And it does . . . He knows (A) it wasn't his plan but (B) there was a plan. So he's not going to be bothered. He's not going to be stressed out about it. He doesn't even show the level of anxiety that Gildor shows . . . 'I'll just be me and do my stuff and it'll work out' and, true enough, there it goes. It does. (106:33-1:08:38)
    • H1"This is the end of his long answer to the question 'did you hear me calling, Master, or was it just chance? And notice what he comes back to at the end. It was just 'chance if chance you call it' and then at the end he emphasizes, "and an unusual chance, a very lucky chance for you'" (1:31:33-1:31:55)
    • H2"Does this mean that Tom was emphasizing that 'boy, you were really lucky'? No. He doesn't believe in chance. In fact, I would take that the other way. I would take that as a suggestion of him emphasizing that it was a plan. The coincidence, the chance, the fortune, is too striking to be dismissed as merely random, as merely lucky." (1:32:05-1:32:33)
    • H4"James says, 'you could say that the trees of the Old Forest make sure that the hobbits got there while Tom was still out.' In a sense, James, but that's part of the irony. That wasn't their plan. They did it for evil, not for good. But the malice of the trees, and of Old Man Willow turns out to be the very thing that brings them right to the place where they will meet Tom Bombadil just in the nick of time . . . That's a thing that we see very frequently. 'Oft evil will shall evil mar,' as we will learn later on. And that many times is seen." (1:33:09-1:34:01)
"They did it for evil, not for good" in H4 reminds me of Joseph speaking to his brothers who sold him into slavery in Genesis 50:20: "Even though you meant to harm me, God meant it for good." I wouldn't be surprised if Professor Olsen had that quote in mind.
 
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Jonah

Member
EPISODE 32

THEOLOGICAL THEME: PROVIDENCE
  • TEXT: Chapter 7, pp. 123-124, slide "Notes and Queries 1" (First considered in Episode 31 slide "Chance")
  • EPISODE SUMMARY: A1"There is a connection between Tom's "chance . . ." and A3"Gandalf seems to be implying . . ."
  • EPISODE:
    • A1"This is Mike who said, 'Thinking more about Tom's "chance" line . . . I stumbled over a similar reference . . . Appendix A, Part 3 . . . Gandalf speaking to Frodo and Gimli . . . "a chance-meeting, as we say in Middle Earth.' Mike, this is certainly one of the very famous examples. If there are four places in the text that I always think of as examples of the 'chance of chance you call it' thing: One is Tom Bombadil's line; One is the Gildor Inglorian passage we already looked at [Chapter 3, pp. 82-83, considered in Episode 14 slide "The Dangerous Gift" and Episode 15 "Digression Slide #2"]; One is when this comes up in the Council of Elrond with Elrond; And the fourth one is this one in the appendix." (16:51-17:42)
    • A3"I totally agree, Mike, that you can see a very similar response to Bombadil. Gildor, when he talks about it, states much more clearly that there is more than chance, but there's a purpose, but he doesn't know what the purpose is. Both Gandalf and Bombadil, Mike, as you're pointing out, acknowledge the fact that this on one the those things that is referred to commonly in Middle Earth as 'chance' and with the heavy implication that it isn't really, but that's how people think of it." (19:57-20:38)
THEOLOGICAL THEME: DIVINE REVELATION
  • TEXT: Chapter 7, p.125, slide "Frodo's Second Dream"
  • EPISODE SUMMARY: D6"This would seem . . ." and E11"Is this dream a failure . . ." and E12"Frodo is making a fearful . . ." and E13"Is Ulmo sending . . ."
  • EPISODE:
    • D6"We're going to give you a vision, which not only explains the answer your question, 'where is Gandalf and why didn't he meet me on time?' but also gives you some encouraging news, 'but don't worry, he has escaped, so he might be coming.' . . . I have to suspect anyway that this dream, the initial dream, is given, the Gandalf portion of the dream, as a comfort to him. That is what he's supposed to take from it." (55:32-56:20)
    • E11"I agree, Mike, It seems to be: The powers-that-be are sending him a dream, and that dream seems to be intended to comfort him and to give him hope. But it doesn't accomplish that. So why? (1:16:28-1:16:42)
    • E12"Lincoln, exactly, it has to do with free will. This is Frodo. It's Frodo that kink of blowing it. They're giving him, they're sort of offering him this vision of hope and encouragement and he whiffs at it." (1:17:02-1:17:23)
    • E13"Tony's suggesting Ulmo is transmitting him a dream though the Withywindle. What could be more likely. That's exactly the kind of thing that we see. Quite possible. Does that fit into what we see of Tolkien's mythology? Totally it does. I could absolutely see that." (1:18:14-1:18:30
 
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Jonah

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EPISODE 36 (part 1)

SPIRITUAL THEME: SPIRITUAL POWER: SONG/WORDS
THEOLOGICAL THEME: PROVIDENCE: PRAYER
  • TEXT: Chapter 7, p. 131, slide "Guidance and Advice"
  • EPISODE SUMMARY: F8"The most important aspect of this verse . . ." and F9"Note: it is important to remember" and F10"This invocation . . ."
  • EPISODE:
    • F8"Yes, this is definitely a spell, as several of you have said. Is this an invocation? Is this a spell? Yes. This is a spell . . . This in an invocation. This in an incantation. And it will have power. They are invoking him by his name, and invoking him in the names of all these other things, invoking by the names of all these things of which he is the master, by these sources of light whose power is able to repel the shadow and the creatures of shadow. And then the final imperative to which all these things lead: 'Come Tom Bombadil, for our need is near us.'" (1:18:57-1:19:57)
    • F9"Music has power, Harnuth (sp?). Names have power. And any time you're doing this kind of invocation . . . in rhyme, in song, especially in a song that's been given to me by this person for the sake of calling for help, it's pretty clear." (1:20:32-1:20:50)
    • F10"I don't think this necessarily gives them power to summon him. This doesn't mean they can whistle-up Tom . . . That's the end of the invocation. By all these things, in the name of all these things by which I am invoking you, 'harken now and hear us.' And then, 'Here's what I'd like you to hear, Tom Bombadil: "come Tom Bombadil, for our need is near us."'" (1:20:51-1:21:34)
THEOLOGICAL THEME: DIVINE REVELATION
THEOLOGICAL THEME: HOPE (ESTEL)
  • TEXT: Chapter 8, p. 132, slide "Frodo's Vision"
  • EPISODE SUMMARY: G2"This is not necessarily a dream . . ." and G3"Is this related to the Music? . . ." and G18"Who is sending . . ." and G19"This is not truly a dream . . ." and G20"Frodo's mind is taking in . . ." and G21"Note: There is a parallel . . ." and G22"The singer . . ." and G23"This seems . . ." and G24"is this related . . ." and G26"Hope has been . . ." and G27"There is a sense . . ." and G28"It may be . . ." and G29"More literally . . ." and H4"Here, the light . . ." and H5"Frodo is left . . ." and H6"The Valar may . . ."
 
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Jonah

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EPISODE 36 (part 2)
  • ESPISODE:
    • G2"This is a vision that he has. And it is a vision consequent upon his hearing a sweet singing running in his mind. Whose singing? . . . I don't know. It's some kind of singing that he hears running through his mind." (1:27:19-1:27:57)
    • G3"'Could he be hearing the Music of the Ainur?,' Matthew Hirschenroder's (sp?) asking. Possibly." (1:28:28-1:28:36)
    • G18"What's the purpose of it? Remember we were saying before when we were talking about his dream in Crick Hollow, the tower-by-the-sea dream. [see Chapter 5, p. 106, considered in Episode 22 slide "Frodo's First Dream"] We were speculating that this was a dream that was being sent to him. We were speculating that again when he was having his Gandalf dream just the night before this in the house of Tom Bombadil. [Chapter 7, p.125, considered in Episode 32 slide "Frodo's Second Dream"] With the tower-by-the-sea dream, we were in particular thinking thinking this sounded like an Ulmo dream . . . It seemed to be a hope dream . . . His fear dream was transformed into a hope dream. He gets another hope dream that he seems to misunderstand. Here . . . the main thing I would take from this: it is an explicitly sent vision. We were suggesting that the dream in Crick Hollow was being sent to him by somebody, probably one of the Valar . . . This is explicit." (1:43:17-1:44:54)
    • G19"He's not just dreaming of this. It might be happening in a dream. But that's irrelevant. There is a sweet singing running in his mind that he's hearing. It might be in his dreams; it might be out of his dreams. He can't tell which and it doesn't really matter. Someone is singing. And this vision is the song that he is receiving. (1:44:57-1:45:26)
    • G20"Amathorn (sp?) says, 'I think it's Frodo's own mind conjuring up these images.' Well, yeah, just like, remember, the Gildor song translated itself in their own heads [see Chapter 3, pp. 77-78, Episode 12 slide "Elf Singing"] . . . His mind is taking in this song. This song is affecting his mind and his heart. And it takes shape in his mind as this vision of a far green country under a swift sunrise. But that is in a sense his own mind and heart responding to this song that's being sung to him. (1:45:26-1:46:13)
    • G21"JJ says he doesn't know if the vision is in the body or out of the body. God knows (see 2 Corinthians 12:3). Frodo and St. Paul. (1:46:13-1:46:27)
    • G22"But again the point is, this is explicitly sent by somebody. There is a singer whose song Frodo is hearing here. And we have no idea who it is. I don't think it's Tom or Goldberry" (1:46:27-1:46:41)
    • G23"Arthur asks exactly the right question. What is the purpose of this vision? What seems to be its function? Again, we were looking at hope and fear and that kind of thing with the previous dreams. What's the overall thrust of it? And I agree with you Arthur, mere encouragement doesn't seem to be enough. The last dream, the Gandalf dream, seems to be an encouraging dream. 'Don't worry about Gandalf . . . He's coming. Don't despair." That seemed to be encouragement. Arthur, exactly as you say, this is not just encouragement. A far green country under a swift sunrise? That not like a 'buck up little camper' kind of vision that he's getting. (1:46:51-1:47:50)
    • G24"Forth Dauntless is suggesting that it brings Estel. Perhaps. Though even there it's not super clear. Like, high hope in what exactly? It's not exactly a theological dream. It is, Mary Ann, kind of like Sam's vision of the star. Of course that's what I'm thinking of. But it's also kind of not like that . . . Sam's vision of the star in Mordor is a vision that there is high beauty that the shadow cannot touch. Is that the purport? . . . I tend to not think so. And the thing that makes me not think so is the vail, the gray rain-curtain. This is not about dark shadows concealing something, but then getting a glimpse of what's beyond the shadows and realizing that the shadows are just a small and passing thing. Again, that's Sam's vision. That's not Frodo's vision here. The vision of the far green country under swift sunrise is obscured initially by the gray rain curtain. But notice that the gray curtain becomes a shimmering veil turned all to glass and silver by that light itself. The veil becomes part of the wonder and beauty of this vision. It's not the shadow that merely seeks to obscure or overwhelm or block out the light. So in that way I don't see the message of the vision being the same as Frodo's message." (1:47:50-1:49:57)
    • G26"Lets go back to hope, as hope has been a theme in his dreams so far. I was thinking about hope and fear. Because fear and his fear, and not just his fear but his sufferings . . . are like the gray rain curtain, which is obscuring whatever is the source of the pale light. The far green country is remote but it's living and has a different relationship with time . . . but there's a veil between him and it. And the veil is at first gray, a gray rain curtain which is an obscuring curtain" (1:51:19-1:52:45)
    • G27"The thing that interests me most . . . is the transformation of the curtain into the veil of glass and silver. If it's about hope and fear, the things that surround you, the things that obscure this vision of hope, this Estel destination of that which lies before you. If the fears, hardships, sufferings, and difficulties that he is in the midst of right now are like a gray rain curtain through which only a pale light of what is to come of that hope that he can have shines through, but that suffering and fear and difficulty is itself transformed by that light into something wondrous and beautiful before it rolls back and reveals that country." (1:52:52-1:53:55)
    • G28"Tom is asking, 'Is it everything in this world. The things that we see now "in a glass darkly (1 Corinthians 13:11)? Possibly. Maybe it is the whole mortal world, which if first transformed to veil of glass and silver and then rolled back to reveal the fare green country under a swift sunrise. Maybe." (1:54:29-1:55:01)
    • G29"Matt's asking if I can see it as the barrier that separates Valinor from Middle-Earth. Cipher Raman (sp?) was just saying the same thing . . . Possibly . . . I'm resistant to simply identifying the far green country under a swift sunrise with Valinor." (1:55:04-1:55:35)
    • H4"Galender says, 'Isn't this a situation like the dream at Crick Hollow where the light the Frodo sees is like Merry's candle?' No [Chapter 6, p. 107, considered in Episode 22 slide "Frodo's Transition"] . . . The far green country . . . is the essence of his dream or vision and then he sees something which is like a cognate to it outside the window. There is glimpse of, or a version of, or an anticipation of that far green country under a swift sunrise right outside the window in Tom Bombadil's back yard. So in that way I think it's not the same. But that's well remembered. I think thinking about that helps to clarify that relationship. (2:00:14-2:01:32)
    • H5"The relationship between Tom's backyard and the far green country: they're like each other but not the same . . . Hope is not vague. Hope is not indistinct. Again, like that idea of seeing past the curtain into the Platonic reality, seeing the real. That vision of hope is not just a 'things might work out and be okay, Frodo,' it's a 'this is reality.' And then he sees it." (2:02:21-2:03:27)
    • H6"Tony says, 'I like the idea that the powers are showing Frodo that their country is nice but far away but that they are with him.' Yeah, something along those lines.' (2:04:10-2:04:22)
    • "This is one of those passages that kind of blows your mind. Who was singing to Frodo? We're not told. But somebody's singing to him . . . He's been given this clearly momentous vision . . . but we're not told how it affects him. We can't even judge the purport of the vision by it's impact on Frodo because we're not really told." (2:06:27-2:07:08)
The passage I quoted in the H5 bullet may not be clear. In particular, the sentence before the ellipsis may seem unconnected to the sentences that follow. For what it's worth, here is my interpretation of what Professor Olsen says: Frodo's (relatively) mundane, literal, present-time vision of Tom's green yard after his sublime, mental, timeless vision of the far green country tells him that his sublime, timeless vision of hope is not just something indistinct and far off, but also something real in the here and now. To quote another passage from a New Testament epistle (two have already been quoted in this discussion), "Faith is the realization of what is hoped for." (Hebrews 11:1)
 
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Jonah

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EPISODE 37

THEOLOGICAL THEME: DIVINE REVELATION
THEOLOGICAL THEME: HOPE (ESTEL)
  • TEXT: Chapter 8, p. 132, slide "Notes & Queries 1", first considered in Episode 36 slide "Frodo's Vision"
  • Episode
    • A2"I love that reading of the veil, the idea that the gray veil, through which remember that the sound, the song that he's hearing is compared first just to a pale light that can be seen through that gray veil -- so thinking of that gray vail as suffering -- I was kind of moving in that direction a couple times last week -- I think that's great. I love that idea. And I totally agree. Looking at that element of Marielle's reading, that the gray veil is like the pain and suffering, the difficulties of the journey ahead of them, and that that's going to be not wiped out, not removed, but transformed itself into a thing of beauty which will then in turn roll aside and reveal the sort of place of future healing, I think that's great. I think that's a wonderful reading . . . I think that works really well." (7:50-9:03)
    • A7"The reason I don't like to think of that, to simply identify it, like 'the far green country equals Valinor', is that seems to me a little bit limiting. I think that the vision is sort of less concrete than that. That is, I think it is a promise. I totally agree with Marielle's overall premise. But I'm not sure it's sort of that specific a promise, like 'don't worry, someday you'll get to Valinor' . . . Yeah, JJ, it seems to me more metaphoric. That is to say, on the one hand, yes it sort of stands for Valinor, it points to Valinor. But it points to other things too. I'm also happy seeing it as more of a symbol, which again can work in multiple ways. So it can be Valinor. Or it can be even just that pure symbol for hope, not just, 'hey, here's the place where you're going to get healed', but the healing itself, as sort of a visual symbol of the healing itself" (9:34-10:47)
    • A8"Erikheb (sp?) is pointing out that it's important to remember Valinor is itself a part of Arda marred. The far green country seems more like a promise of Arda remade. Yeah, I wonder Erikheb if that doesn't factor into my sort of resistance which the kind of identification . . . I'd even be more comfortable saying that the far green country is like the idea of Valinor, almost in a Platonic sense. (11:25-11:59)
    • A9"So, Tony, it is estel hope. And it seems to me that that one little glimpse that he gets of a far green country under a swift sunrise . . . when he gets to Valinor, he will remember . . . but it won't be like, 'oh yeah, I've seen this before' . . . it's more of an idea. I think it points to the healing itself." (12:13-13:26)
    • A10"Erikheb, coming back to your point, it would be kind of cool if what is being suggested here is not only the healing of Frodo himself, but that the healing of Frodo is itself a synecdoche for the healing of Arda" (13:27-13:44)
    • A11"Frodo's own experience, his own experience of perseverance in suffering only to find in the end that that suffering is made a part of the sublimity and glory of his experience, and to become transformed through the healing into something more glorious that ne could possibly have conceived at the beginning, the way in which it would then make his own career, his own life into not just a metaphor but an enactment, one instance, one foreshadowing, of this larger vision for all of Arda." (13:45-14:26)
    • A12"Maryelle, exactly. It might be better to say that Valinor is an echo of the vision. Right, exactly . . . it's not that I want it not to be Valinor, I want it to be more than Valinor in the sense that even Valinor itself is going to be only a reminder of, a pointer to, this vision, rather than a fulfillment of it." (13:47-15:03)
    • A13"Matt says, 'aren't hobbits supposed to go to the same place men go,' to the land beyond that the elves are confused by to leave the circles of the world and all that. Could he be seeing a bit of that? Possibly, and you know Matt, that's one of the things that I'm kind of wondering. If we see the far green country as not a sort of geographical localized glimpse of a place, but rather as an idea, as a broader symbol, then I can see it also as being connected to this. In that way, the hope, the estel, the fulfillment, the remaking or Arda, the healing of the hurts and the fulfillment of the vision of Illuvatar. Now we're getting pretty grandiose, but I do think that works." (15:12-15:58)
    • A14"Yes, Tony says, 'It's kind of like Sam when he asked if all the sad things are going to be made untrue.' Yes, exactly. And of course, No they're not. Tony, we'll talk about that when we get there." (16:17-16:30)
Professor Olsen's words about Frodo's transformation in A11 make me think of Gandalf's words about Frodo in Rivendell in Book II: Chapter 1. I think that will be an interesting passage to consider in the light of this one.
 
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Jonah

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EPISODE 39

SPIRTUAL THEME: SPIRITUAL BATTLE
  • TEXT: Chapter 8, p. 135, slide "A Forlorn Hope" and Chapter 8, p. 135, slide "Frodo Takes the Lead" and Chapter 8, pp. 136-137, slide "Pronouns Can Be Dangerous"
  • EPISODE:
    • C1"One thing that I think we can see fairly consistently throughout the entire interaction with the barrow wight, Frodo's time in the barrow and the time leading up to it, the primary issue with the barrow wight is not physical assault but spiritual assault." (30:34-30:48)
    • C10"JJ says that he things that the way that they're forgetting the advice, that they're not thinking of Tom Bombadil kind of fits with the spiritual aspect here in a way. And I agree. I agree with that, JJ. I think that that's important. One of the things that we will see is that the barrow wights want to shut out the memory of light. Forgetting Tom Bombadil, not thinking, forgetting Tom and forgetting about his advice is, I think, a symptom, that seems to me at least likely that this is a symptom of the attack." (40:46-41:41)
    • C11"One of the arguments that I would make: They're not in a situation were they will soon be attacked by the barrow wights; now they are being attacked by the barrow wights.They are under attack. The barrow wight isn't there yet. We don't see it. They don't see it. But the barrow wight is almost never a physical threat to them. That's not the way it works. That's not the point. It's a spiritual threat to them and we see that they are under this kind of assault. (41:41-42:15)
    • D9"This is a spiritual attack. This is not a physical attack. And what happens when he comes into their zone, when he crosses their threshold, is he is now surrounded by darkness." (50:16-50:28)
    • H3"He's angry. Again, this sort of hodgepodge of negative emotions, fear, anger -- yeah, these sort of primal emotions, Blue Wizard -- those all seem to me kind of connected with the effect of the barrow wight here, and the sort of spiritual and emotional state into which Frodo is being brought. (1:27:49-1:28:23)
    • H8"He is going to have his own struggle with the barrow wight, but it's not going to be a physical struggle" (1:31:41-1:31:47)
 
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Jonah

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EPISODE 40 (Part 1)

SPIRITUAL THEME: SPIRITUAL BATTLE
SPIRITUAL THEME: SPIRITUAL POWER: SONG/WORDS/ENCHANTMENT/SPELLS
  • TEXT: Chapter 8, p. 137, slide "A Battle of Wills" and Chapter 8, p. 137. slide "A Deathly Sacrifice"
  • EPISODE:
    • A3"What is the issue? The issue are the dreadful spells that the barrow wights -- they're not going to kill him, at least that's not what he's thinking, he's not thinking about being brutally and horribly killed -- he's worried about the dreadful spells that they are going to lay him under." (10:29-10:54)
    • A4"So what are the dreadful spells about which whispered tales spoke? I agree that, I assume, Madvokius (sp?), that these are dreadful spells that the whites themselves inflict upon others, under which they place, through which they do I-don't-even-know-what because I haven't hear the whispers myself . . . I assume that those are spells like incantations, like enchantments." (10:57-11:42)
    • A5"Yes, JJ, he is worried about a fate worse that death. Yeah, exactly. Are they spells of possession? Possibly. Domination? Like you have your will and spirit dominated by the barrow wights?" (11:48-12:12)
    • A6"I don't know, but look what cues we get. We're told, first of all, the stories about the dreadful spells of the barrow wights are so terrible that people, when they hear them, they don't even want to speak then aloud. So the tales themselves are clearly very dreadful" (12:13-12:37)
    • A7"But look at the immediate cue that we get, namely Frodo's own posture. 'He dared not move, but lay as he found himself: flat on his back upon a cold stone with his hands on his breast.' Frodo has not been killed. barrow wight has taken him but he hasn't ripped him up. He hasn't eaten his brains. What the barrow wight has done is laid him out as if he were already dead. He is lying on a stone bier inside a barrow . . . He was in a tomb . . . the fear that I've been buried alive and left for dead . . . that's clearly a pretty major issue for Frodo" (12:37-14:24)
    • B1"'No longer felt limp like a helpless prey,' 'No longer' felt that way suggests that he did feel that way before. That made a part of that initial feeling when he woke up. He was in a barrow, a barrow white had taken him, and he was probably already under the dreadful spells of the barrow whites. There's that kind of fatalism. 'I'm already done. There's no way I can get out of this.' The hopelessness and despair which led him to feeling limp like a helpless prey." (15:38-16:10)
    • B2"Look at the first sentence of the second paragraph: 'Though his fear was so great that it seemed to be part of the very darkness that was round him.' I think it is part of the darkness that is round him. In fact, I think that the fear that he is under is the dreadful spell of the barrow wight or, at least, is part of the dreadful spells of the barrow wights. That fear that, lying there as a helpless prey already laid out in his funeral, right after his funeral -- he's already been laid out, he's just not been killed yet -- and that sense, that horror of that, the paralyzing fear of that, the despair that leads to, "I've already lost; I am in the midst of being destroyed; I've heard rumors about the barrow whites and whatever absolutely horrible thing they're going to do they're already doing to me; I think I'm probably already under their spells,' that is the attack of the barrow wights. That is the significance, I think, of the attack. That is the spell that he's under." (16:14-17:35)
    • B8"We're seeing the struggle happening. The wight is on offense with his fear and despair, his desire to make Frodo into a helpless prey. Frodo's refusal to be a helpless prey and instead having his courage hardened and even his body stiffening as if ready for action. That response is his counter to the spell, to the dreadful spell of the barrow white." (21:42-22:13)
    • C8"I tend to think that this is basically the next move in the conflict between the wight and Frodo. The first move was darkness and fear, to get him to submit. Would he ever have been illuminated, would he ever have seen Merry and Pippin and Sam by this pale light, had he just given in to the fear and lay like a limp and helpless prey? Probably not. I don't know. But probably not. This seems like this is the next move. This is the wight upping the ante here. 'Look. Look at your friends. Look at your friends lying dead -- not yet dead, dead in life, still living and yet laid out for death." (34:19-35:05)
    • C16-D1"JJ, yeah, breaking Frodo's will seems to be a big part of what this particular ritual seems to be aimed at. Again, he seems to be the target audience here." (41:10-41:20)
MORAL THEME: HOBBIT VIRTUES (Frodo Virtue): COURAGE
  • TEXT: Chapter 8, p. 137, slide "A Battle of Wills"
  • EPISODE:
    • B"There is a seed of courage hidden (often deeply, it is true) in the heart of the fattest and most timid hobbit, waiting for some final and desperate danger to make it grow. Frodo was neither very fat nor very timid; indeed, though he didn't know it, Bilbo (and Gandalf) had thought him the best hobbit in the Shire." (15:07-15:25)
    • B4"How do you measure 'the best hobbit in the Shire'? I think, in context, the measuring stick that seems to be being used here or, rather, the quality that is being assessed, and on which Frodo is being praised so lavishly here by the narrator is timidity, courage and timidity. Even the most timid hobbit has a seed of courage that's in his heart and can still grow and will grow under extreme circumstances. Frodo is apparently not." (17:59-18:49)
    • B5"His reaction is hardness. The despair that he feels does not make him a helpless prey to the fear. It hardens him against it. That's the good reaction. That's the strong reaction." (20:48-21:08)
    • B6"We're going to see that of course very prominently with Sam in Mordor, if you remember Sam in Mordor and the hardening process that goes on with him. When does that happen? When is he most hardened? He's most hardened when he feels most despairing, that he's most certain they're going to die and they can't make it back. That's when his will hardens in this same way." (21:13-21:36
    • B8"We're seeing the struggle happening. The wight is on offense with his fear and despair, his desire to make Frodo into a helpless prey. Frodo's refusal to be a helpless prey and instead having his courage hardened and even his body stiffening as if ready for action." (21:42-22:05).
MORAL THEME: HOPE (Amdir)
THEOLOGICAL THEME: HOPE (Estel)
  • TEXT: Chapter 8, p. 137, slide "A Battle of Wills"
  • EPISODE:
    • B10"I don't see hope here. The hardening is not like, 'I can still get out of this.' I don't see much evidence of Frodo thinking, 'If I just keep my head, I can still survive, I can still make it.' What we do see is his determination to resist to the last, not to give in, not to just allow himself to be a helpless prey." (25:32-26:06)
As Professor Olsen suggests, it will be very interesting to compare Frodo's lack of hope (amdir) and consequent determination to Sam's despair and hardening in Mordor. At that time, Sam had recently expressed his hope (estel), which he presumably retains through he has no amdir. Does Frodo in the barrow have estel?
 
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Jonah

Member
EPISODE 40 (Part 2)

THEOLOGICAL THEME: MIDDLE EARTH RELIGION: RITES: FUNERAL (Evilly Twisted)
  • TEXT: Chapter 8, p. 137, slide "A Battle of Wills" and Chapter 8, p. 137. slide "A Deathly Sacrifice"
  • ESPISODE:
    • B11"JJ's asking, 'Do we hear even hear anything about hobbit funerary practices . . . we do get one reference and that is the grave -- we know that hobbits bury their dead -- because remember that the hobbits who are killed in the battle of Bywater during the scouring of the Shire, and a stone is erected with their names listed. That's the only reference I can think of to hobbit funerals or hobbit burials, but they do seem to bury their dead." (26:09-26:26)
    • C7"They're being buried like warriors with their shields at their feet and swords by their sides . . . JJ was just pointing out the warrior thing is very much like Boromir. We will see Boromir begin buried, not exactly in the same way but similar." (33:24-33:57)
    • C12"This begins to look like a kind of pageant put on for Frodo's benefit . . . Amathorne (sp?), I agree ritual does seem to be more important to the wights. But again, ritual has a point. There's a purpose to ritual. Something is being prepared; something is being recalled. There's a meaning in ritual." (36:46-37:33)
    • C13"So what is the meaning? Notice here we've turned on the stage lights so that Frodo can see. And notice we're about to see the execution. They've waited until Frodo woke up and resisted them. And now they're going to kill the other three hobbits in front of him. This is part of the purpose. This is part of the meaning. (38:04-38:34)
    • C15"There's another situation in which you dress somebody up really fancy and put them in a tomb, and that's when you're going to sacrifice them. Sacrifices get dandied up also before they're sacrificed. So there is something of ritual sacrifice in the deaths, or the obviously contemplated deaths, of Sam, Merry, and Pippin. But again, Frodo's witnessing this . . . it's clearly part of the whole point, part of the show . . . Lincoln, I agree, I think both are involved. We get the parody of the warrior's burial and a human sacrifice . . . we see both of those things happening. And, I think, in order to understand the horrible spells of the barrow wights, we have to understand both of those different angles: to take life and to sacrifice it for some other purpose, but also that sort of parody of funerary ritual, the parody of the honoring of the dead. (38:46-40:26)
    • C16"Think of how Boromir's burial -- this is our big sort of model for this -- Boromir's burial. To honor the dead, to honor their slain companion was so important that, even though they were in a very big rush, the three companions stopped to lay out Boromir appropriately" (40:26-40:44)
THEOLOGICAL THEME: EVIL: SADNESS
MORAL THEME: PITY
  • TEXT: Chapter 8, p. 137, slide "Sad and Horrible" and Chapter 8, p. 138, "The Wight's Song"
  • EPISODE:
    • D2"The works of the wights are not just horrible and heartless. They're also sad and miserable. Yeah, and JJ I agree that this does seem to be one of the general trends. I think that that is the state of evil in general: repulsive, horrible, and yet pitiful. All of the great villains in Tolkien are both horrible and sad at the same time." (44:00-44:31)
    • D3"One of the places where you notice this combination most sharply . . . the description of Gollum in his cave is full of these kinds of pairings as well. He is a miserable wretch. He is a wretched, wicked creature. He's both wretched and wicked. There's no question about the one: he's bad, he's horrible, he does terrible things and he plans to do more terrible things. But he's also wretched, pitiable." (44:40-45:29)
    • D4"Gollum, sort of unbeknownst to himself, recruiting Bilbo's pity for him is one thing. Because remember . . . what prompts Bilbo's pity . . . is empathy. He thinks of Gollum and pictures Gollum's situation and how horrible Gollum's life must be. [see Chapter 2, p.53, Episode 7 slide “Sympathy and Revulsion”]" (45:33-46:31)
    • D7"Yes, Tony, since evil is in its nature the absence of something good, it makes sense that the hatred of what it's missing would be the result. 'The cold was cursing the warmth for which it hungered . . . and Tony, exactly what you were saying. What do we see here? The coldness desires the warmth. Well of course it does. We can see in that the remnants, the poor remnants, of a good and positive thing . . . It is cursing the warmth that it desires. It doesn't want to desire the warmth anymore, but it can't help but desire the warmth anymore. This is both heartless and miserable." (52:12-53:35)
    • D10"Hrothgar (sp?) points out that both night and cold here in this sentence are craving something that would cause them to cease to exist. Yeah, if the cold is warmed it won't be cold anymore; when the morning comes, the night is passed. And yet, the wights crave and ending to their miserable existence. Yes, Hrothgar, and yet they curse it. They hate it because it doesn't come, but also hate the fact the fact that they want it, it seems. Railing against that of which you are believed." (54:23-55:10)
    • D11"Both JJ and Madvilikus (sp?) at the same time said, 'they hate it and love it as they hate an love themselves.' Yeah, exactly. Again, another Gollum connection [Chapter 2, p. 54, Episode 7 slide "The Biter Bit"]. I think we can learn a lot about, you know, this is a sort of good kind of pre-gaming for Gollum, a good little insight that will help us when we get there." (55:19-55:43)
    • E18"When evil wins it's going to suck for everybody, even evil people." (1:16:46-1:16:50)
    • E19"[The dark lord] is not going to enjoy [his victory]. [The wights] know he's not going to be enjoying it. Enjoying things is not on the table and they know it's not on the table. That's why their voices are sad as well as horrible." (1:17:06-1:17:23)
    • E20"They are seeking this almost out of spite, out of envy . . . [The cold] has given up on getting [warmth] for itself. It doesn't want to be warmed; it just wants to make the warm cold . . . This is the end of evil. This is the terrible end that Morgoth's road leads to, that Sauron's road . . . this is what Gollum's path, this is what Saruman's path, everybody who goes down this road . . . this is what the end of the road looks like: lifting your hand over a dead sea and withered land."(1:17:44-1:18:44)
    • E21"In Paradise Lost, Satan says that it's better to reign in hell than to serve in heaven. Actually, no it's not. There's a sense in which the last two lines of this poem . . . serve as a kind of rebuttal." (1:18:45-1:19:06)
    • E22"I'm thinking of Boethius . . . This is what the bottom of the pit looks like. When you get to this point, when what you're looking out for is just for everything else to be destroyed because you are reconciled to your own perfect and complete misery for all eternity, that's the bottom. (1:19:26-1:20:34)
 
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