by A.B. Stuart
Some friends and I have been revisiting Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings of late, and it has, like the time before and the time before that, been a highly salutary and edifying experience. The author has found a way to appeal to the metaphysical longings that all men have, even if they do not themselves recognise or acknowledge the higher truths of their humanity.
The appeal is largely in the splendour of the imagination and the warm embrace of the good of creation, with such examples as Farmer Maggot’s hospitality (of beer and a mighty dish of mushrooms and bacon) and the tall golden mallorn trees of Lothlorien. Balanced with these earthly (and earthy) goods are the helpings of lore and high culture, which serve to create a mythology and history in which the characters play their integral, if small, parts.
The characters bring the fantastic and timeless world to a human level, and the lessons about living can be applied across time and to persons of all types. We can learn a lot from The Lord of the Rings, and it is well worth the visit to Middle-earth.
THE LURE OF POWER
At present, Mark McGowan is Premier of Western Australia. The Australian newspaper recently lauded him as Mr 89 per cent, referring to his 89 per cent approval rate among West Australians. By all worldly accounting, McGowan is doing well.
It is interesting to note a common theme among our recent premiers. Our last five premiers – Richard Court, Geoff Gallop, Alan Carpenter, Colin Barnett and McGowan – all voted for the Abortion Amendment Act of 1998 (second reading April 8, 1998: 31 ayes, 25 nos). Court, the premier at the time, initially voted for the bill but voted against it on the third reading and final vote on May 7 (32 ayes, 22 nos). This is the bill that legalised abortion in Western Australia. Discounting Court (who seems to have changed his mind on the matter), our four most recent premiers have all supported and personally voted for legalised abortion in this state. Power has its price.
When discussing The Lord of the Rings with a friend, we got to speaking about what the One Ring represented. While some in the past have tried to posit that the Ring represented nuclear weapons, Tolkien dismissed this and declared he did not write direct allegory. Apart from general sin and the lure of the world, the flesh and the devil, I think that the Ring represents a desire for power, or a power greater than that given us by God. It is thus particularly dangerous to the proud, and least so to the humble.
The Ring grants an increase in power to the wearer and at the same time corrupts the person wearing the ring. Even if the person desiring the ring wants to do good, the unnatural power leads to corruption. This is evident at the end of The Fellowship of the Ring, when Boromir, a member of the fellowship and a man of Gondor seeking to defend that realm from the Dark Lord, tries to take the Ring from Frodo to use in the defence of Gondor.
Before he lunges at Frodo, Boromir expounds: “True-hearted men, they will not be corrupted. We of Minas Tirith have been staunch through long years of trial. We do not desire the power of wizard-lords, only strength to defend ourselves, strength in a just cause.
“And behold! In our need chance brings to light the Ring of Power. It is a gift, I say; a gift to the foes of Mordor. It is mad not to use it, to use the power of the Enemy against him. The fearless, the ruthless, these alone will achieve victory. What could not a warrior do in this hour, a great leader? What could not Aragorn do? Or, if he refuses, why not Boromir? The Ring would give me power of command. How I would drive the hosts of Mordor, and all men would flock to my banner!”
WHO IS REALLY IN CHARGE?
I’m going to make a bit of an elven leap here (much farther than that of a dwarf), and suggest a similarity between our current Premier McGowan and Boromir. Indeed, the analogy could extend to most contemporary leaders who seem to have lost any notion of fearing God. For it is the humble before God, who do not desire power over that given them, or believe that all can be achieved by the power of man (rather than the power of God), that stand a chance to bear the Ring.
In the modern West, it would seem that many Boromirs have arisen and seized hold of the Ring. The desire for power has overwhelmed them, and worse, been given them, by a people who have themselves forgotten that it is God, not man, who is in charge.
On his Parliamentary Biography, McGowan’s religion is listed as “Not Stated”. He attended government schools, and I can find no information suggesting that he believes in God. His voting record tends to indicate a distinct lack of respect for God. Apart from the Acts Amendment (Abortion) 1998, he voted for the Acts Amendment (Lesbian and Gay Reform) Act 2001, the Cannabis Control Act 2003, the Acts Amendment (Consent to Medical Treatment) Bill 2006, the Human Reproductive Technology Amendment Bill 2007, and has supported the radical LGBT-propagandising Safe Schools Program.
In government, he has most recently pushed through the assisted suicide/euthanasia bill, supported Chinese state interests, and is now attacking the Seal of Confession. It is a fair list indeed. Every last detail of it is recorded, and everything done by every premier, politician and voter will one day be revealed – but we record it here once more so that it is clear as to what it is that God-fearing people are up against.
The Lord of the Rings is about a hobbit who is entrusted with the burden of the corrupting Ring, and tasked to destroy it. In this hobbit’s path lie all sorts of struggles and individuals who would seek to take the Ring for their own use. The hobbit is not to use the Ring but destroy it.
The little people of Western Australia, in their various humble shires, are part of this quest as well. The dominating evil of our time is the belief in secular humanism – that, with the right amount of power vested in government and business, we can create perfect conditions and make a utopia for the people. Not God, but man. Man must have power. The state must have power. Material efficiency must reign supreme.
The hobbits cannot be left to look after themselves. It is this grasping at more and more power and control on behalf of governments and corporations that is indicative of the desire for power in our times. Premier McGowan is on to a winning formula of taking more and more power from people with the promise of making them feel more comfortable and secure.
A DOUBTFUL LIBERTY
Now the state can provide and administer poisons to people who are vulnerable. Shall it be up to the state to determine which sacraments are permissible? Shall the state determine the medical treatment that people are obliged to receive? In The Lord of the Rings, the Dark Lord grows in power by spreading his cloud of darkness and fear over different peoples; in a climate of fear, the desire for power can be exacerbated. Boromir wanted the Ring to save Gondor, initially at least. So, what is it that Premier McGowan wants?
If we can assume that the Premier does not believe in God, then it follows that he believes in a world without original sin and the grace of redemption. The Premier’s world is then one of only human power overcoming human problems. It is a world devoid of souls, with humans running more by program than spirit.
If he is a secular humanist, then problems must be fixed by purely technical solutions. More education, less crime. More birth control, less poverty. More abortion, more freedom. More euthanasia, more efficiency. More pandering to China, more exports. More people believing they are being kept safe, more popularity. More popularity, more power. More power, more power. More power, more power, more power.
One must ask – what for? What is the power for? To make the world perfect? The world will never be perfect, and this is the bind that those grasping after power find themselves in. The more power they usurp from families and little folk, the more that things seem to go wrong (for who would have thought that hobbits were actually pretty good at looking after themselves?), and their desire for power to correct the problems arising increases.
Truly noble government would leave power as God has seen fit to give it, and those who would become leaders would much rather not. Instead, we have people who lead us whose only qualification is their desire for power and willingness to do anything for it. Their reason for wanting to lead always seems to be the same on paper – to make the world a better place. But by taking more or less power away from the small people of the world?
LEADERS LIKE BOROMIR
One should consider whether our leaders are like Boromir, who grasp after power in their pride; or like Frodo, who would rather not bear the burden, but dutifully seek to destroy excessive power when called upon.
The Premier is very popular at this moment. That is a great shame – for he is disrespectful towards God, and appears not to like hobbits or other small folk very much – least not their independence. One could be tempted to get angry at the situation, and wish that they rather had the power – the money, the influence, the media support – to replace him as Premier. We should be careful for what we grasp for.
The Premier is in a dangerous position, for his popularity comes from an increasingly misled and confused populace, who have themselves largely lost their trust in God. The Premier may very well continue for many years in popularity, passing all sorts of godless legislation, and accruing more and more power.
But what for? Mark McGowan is, after all, another briefly present creature of God, made in His image and likeness, with an immortal soul. Should we not pity him, more so perhaps than even the victims of abortion and euthanasia, who though harshly killed by the state, were likely not widely acclaimed and mired in their effrontery to God Almighty?
How is Mark McGowan to get himself out of the bind of grasping for more and more power at the expense of serving God? The answer is by the grace of God, for which the faithful can pray on his behalf.
I do not think the Premier is a good leader, and I would rather he lead us not, but, as someone who at least professes a belief in God, I am in many ways more powerful than the Premier, for I can at least pray to God. So I pray to God for the conversion of the Premier, and that all men refrain from the desperate grasp for power, but rather do well with what God has given them.
We all have moments like Boromir, but it is those who grasp the Ring that become enslaved over time. We can all choose to be like Boromir, as we can be like Frodo, as we can even become like Gollum. By the grace of God, there is hope yet for all of us – as there was for Gollum, as there is for the Premier.
Here’s to Tolkien. Here’s to hope. Here’s to hobbits.