Review: The Return of the King

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The Return of the King
The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Not sure how many times I have enjoyed this trilogy, starting when I was in high school. Just finished it yet again. Just magnificent. I am thinking through a companion book to What I Learned in Narnia — What I Learned in Middle Earth — and so I wouldn’t want to say too much about it here. But I will say two things. One is that I believe the color gray is mentioned about a hundred times more than all the other colors put together. And secondly, Tolkien is enough of a master to make going to Heaven really sad. But these books satisfy as few others do.

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PerfectHold
PerfectHold
6 years ago

I asked an elder at a local PCA church if they’d allow Tolkien access to their table. “Absolutely not.” Nor Chesterton.

"A" dad
"A" dad
6 years ago
Reply to  PerfectHold

Funny how, at times, black and white statements make gray areas.

John Callaghan
John Callaghan
6 years ago
Reply to  PerfectHold

In fairness to the PCA elder, while I’m sure that both Tolkien and Chesterton would have appreciated the offer of access to the table, it would have been an invitation that they would both have politely declined.

PerfectHold
PerfectHold
6 years ago
Reply to  John Callaghan

And that makes their refusal to offer all the more gross. But in fairness to an earlier elder, it would have been issued with a kiss.

John Callaghan
John Callaghan
6 years ago
Reply to  PerfectHold

Ironically, as a Catholic, I feel somewhat more affinity for the PCA elder who would refuse me table fellowship than for the elder who would tell me, “Come on down and join in!”

That first elder, though his understanding of the Eucharist is incomplete, is at least demonstrating an awareness that it is something of import that is not to be taken lightly.

PerfectHold
PerfectHold
6 years ago
Reply to  John Callaghan

You’re right to notice the similarity, John. More than they’d like to admit. You’d both prefer the other to abstain. And I’m sure neither would admit a Judas to the table.

John Callaghan
John Callaghan
6 years ago
Reply to  PerfectHold

It is fairly clear from 1 Cor 11:29 that it would not be proper for the Church to invite a Christian who do not “discern the body” to follow Judas’ example and “eat and drink judgement upon himself”.

PerfectHold
PerfectHold
6 years ago
Reply to  John Callaghan

John, You seem to be saying that it was not be proper for Jesus to invite Judas I.. And you probably notice that Paul says one ought to judge themselves worthy or not, not have the priest do that judging. Finally, if the Church is the body (and it is), then the betrayal Paul excoriates here is the exclusion of folk (not discerning who should be present) by those gobbling up all the goodies — because they are not including the whole body at the meal. Hence the RC & PCA take perverse pride in not discerning Body of Christ… Read more »

John Callaghan
John Callaghan
6 years ago
Reply to  PerfectHold

As I recall, Judas’ presence at the Last Supper did not work out all that well for him … Except in very usual cases, no Catholic priest will deny communion to anyone who presents themselves at mass. The obligation of judging worthiness for receiving the Eucharist falls upon the individual himself (Matt. 5:23-24). Of course, there are guidelines, but with over a billion Catholics in the world, quite rare for any priest to know with certainty that someone walking into church is in a state of mortal sin or even whether or not that individual is in communion with the… Read more »

PerfectHold
PerfectHold
6 years ago
Reply to  John Callaghan

Good discussion. Thanks for the link. The cited place seems to disagree with your take on the matter, saying nonCatholics “are not permitted” and “it is normally impossible for non-Catholic Christians to receive Holy Communion” — all of which presumes that good priests will in time vet out offenders, thenceforth withholding / fencing the table. No Knoxes or Luthers allowed! That “anyone who presents themselves” will be fed is, for the Church RC, an unfortunate situation, not a point of pride. And I’d agree. A pastor ought, as best he can, be examining those he feeds to make sure they… Read more »

John Callaghan
John Callaghan
6 years ago
Reply to  PerfectHold

We may be close to agreement here. I think we both understand that the sacrament is something for Christians only and that therefore there needs to be some limits as to who receives it. St. Paul, in 1 Cor. 10:16-17, tells us that the Eucharist is a sacrament of unity. It would indeed be wonderful for everyone calling himself a Christian to be able to partake of it together, united as one body – and I pray that it may one day be so. What is preventing that from happening is a lack of actual unity. The Church’s rules about… Read more »

PerfectHold
PerfectHold
6 years ago
Reply to  John Callaghan

John,

What I hear you saying is that you RC-ers aren’t reserving and gobbling up all the bread & wine, thus leaving good Christians “hungry” who weren’t able to make it in time to the ceremony, like the selfish Corinthians that Paul is chastising.

You are instead purposefully withholding the Eucharist from not-so-good Christians who deserve to / need to have the Eucharist withheld from them, as an enticement for returning to the proper assembly of faith — the RC.

So while you excommunicated Luther, you a-communicate the rest of us, until we show up repentant for our wayward ways?

John Callaghan
John Callaghan
6 years ago
Reply to  PerfectHold

“a-communicate”! I like it! A very clever coinage! It does actually rather nicely capture the state of modern Protestants vis-à-vis the Catholic Church. Most are outside not by choice but by happenstance of birth. We could have an interesting debate about whether inviting Protestants to partake of the Eucharist en masse would be wise/useful/moral, etc. However, it seems unlikely to me that the policy could be changed as there is more than ample precedent in the history of the Church. For example, back in the 2nd century, Justin Martyr wrote to the Roman Emperor to try to persuade him to… Read more »

PerfectHold
PerfectHold
6 years ago
Reply to  John Callaghan

The underlying issue is of the supposed shepherds disassociating themselves from the sheep. RC & PCA type leaders both think they can avoid their responsibility to feed the sheep. “Feed my sheep” He said. The bishop and teaching elder whisper to each other “Sure! But WE get to decide which ones we consider His! We’re so clever!” The Eucharist is not a prize, but necessary food. Withhold from those you determine as in rebellion. Feed the rest. We can agree that those leaders will indeed soon answer the direct question from the Good Shepherd — “Tell me why you did… Read more »

PerfectHold
PerfectHold
6 years ago
Reply to  PerfectHold

A-communication is the cowards’ way to avoid the issue, let sleeping dogs lie there and maybe hopefully wake up at the whiff of dinner they might miss, so come begging and willing to do the tricks we require.

We think, “We can’t just feed them as they are, like Jesus said — that’s crazy talk. But if we excommunicate them, we’ll look like meanie dog kickers. Wait!! I know!! Let’s do that passive aggressive thing!!! — Let’s just turn our backs!”

Rob Steele
Rob Steele
6 years ago

Dat coda!