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THE BALROG IN THE BASEMENT


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August 15, 2010

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“A number of years ago, I heard a young father, a very prominent young man in the entertainment world, addressing a tremendous gathering in California. It was during the time of the Cold War, and communism and our own way of life were very much on people’s minds. And he was speaking to that subject. And suddenly, though, I heard him saying, “I love my little girls more than anything — — “And I said to myself, “Oh, no, don’t. You can’t — don’t say that.”

But I had underestimated him. He went on: “I would rather see my little girls die now, still believing in God, than have them grow up under communism and one day die no longer believing in God.”

There were thousands of young people in that audience. They came to their feet with shouts of joy. They had instantly recognized the profound truth in what he had said, with regard to the physical and the soul and what was truly important.

Yes, let us pray for the salvation of all of those who live in that totalitarian darkness — pray they will discover the joy of knowing God. But until they do, let us be aware that while they preach the supremacy of the state, declare its omnipotence over individual man, and predict its eventual domination of all peoples on the Earth, they are the focus of evil in the modern world.

It was C.S. Lewis who, in his unforgettable “Screwtape Letters,” wrote: “The greatest evil is not done now in those sordid ‘dens of crime’ that Dickens loved to paint. It is not even done in concentration camps and labor camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried and minuted) in clear, carpeted, warmed, and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voice.”

Ronald Reagan  3/8/1983

Thank you Ronald Reagan for daring to use the word “evil” in a time when the press, and society at large, equivocated all things and simply lacked the guts to properly characterize Godless Communism in such strong, but accurate, terms.

It is a summertime tradition for my kids and I to enjoy a LOTR marathon.  For those of you less acquainted with “furry footed burrowers” and stately wizards, that means Lord of The Rings.  Peter Jackson’s movie trilogy became an instant classic for us the first time we saw the movies.  We are a “big concept” kind of  family and we often discuss the topics of good and evil, wars and conflicts, and the effects of them on individuals and upon nations.  So the LOTR movies are an entertaining reminder of the allegorical clash of transcendent good, and formidable and unrelenting evil, that has been a common theme through all ages.

I love best, of all of the LOTR characters, Gandalf, who, while bellowing “You shall not pass!”,  bars the evil Balrog from its deadly course in the corridors of Moria.  His penetrating soliloquies contain truths that stretch across the ages, flirt with verses of scripture, and, finally, resonate within the hearts of contemporary people.  I am especially moved by his narrative to Pippin about how the men of Gondor fell because they spent more time lauding their dead fathers than they did loving their little children.  Tolkien drew upon ancient symbols in his writing to parallel the malevolent forces that threatened to extinguish Britain during World War II.  And this is one example of what makes LOTR such an irresistible visual and cerebral feast; the battles fought in Middle Earth are of the same anatomy as modern wars, including the battle of ideas and foundational principles that Americans are locked in right now.  They are the battles waged by freemen against those powers that would cage and bind them.

I won’t further analyze Tolkien’s writings, suffice it to say that his tales are timeless.  The concepts of evil seeking to overthrow good, and the triumph of good over the oppressors, are an extrapolation of the eternal battle that was first waged during the War in Heaven.  The plan of Lucifer was to ensure that all of the Children of God would be exalted because none would, or could, sin.  How would Lucifer do this?  He would abolish moral agency which impels man’s ability to choose for himself and, as a result, grow, prosper, and learn.  But the adversary could not rework the eternal, cosmic principles that govern the Children of God and so his plan of “collective salvation” would not only fail but, if implemented, would end in everlasting bondage and misery.  It is not difficult to draw parallels between the ideological conflicts that define modern American politics and the eternal struggle between those who are endowed by their Father in Heaven with liberty, and those who employ ingenious tactics to enslave, and limit people, suffocating their incentive to choose for themselves.  The adversary does not relent.  Things like addiction, unrighteous dominion, and immorality abridge one’s liberty on a personal level.  But in the grand scheme it is governments,principalities, powers, the rulers of the darkness of this world, and spiritual wickedness in high places that seek the ultimate power and control over their populations.

“One Ring to rule them all. One Ring to find them. One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.”

Socialism is the “gateway” drug to all totalitarian regimes.  Socialism, as it creeps along the path toward Communism, encompasses the ever increasing power of the state to make decisions for its population.  And even the most private and Creator-endowed liberties may be eclipsed.  The choice to have children (China), the choice to worship according to the dictates of one’s conscience (Communism), the choice to own property and to do with one’s own what one will, are all crushed.  The adversary has implemented his plan upon the Earth which had been rejected out of Heaven for its sheer madness and cruelty.

As Americans gather to the fronts of their ideological lines, most on the side of the blessings of liberty, and many on the side of the oppressors who would diminish their own agency to obtain a monthly check, or some other counterfeit of security, we are replicating that elemental struggle between darkness and light that first occurred before the world began.

Can’t you just see Gandalf  leading a phalanx of freemen, yelling “You shall not pass!”  as he did to the fiery Balrog.   The creeping power over our lives by a burgeoning, centralized government, and its political minions, is like a Balrog in our suburban basement.  Things may look nice on the ground level, but underneath there is a foul and dangerous evil. In a very real way we are the characters in an epic story.  It is a story of good and evil, light and dark, truth and lies,  freedom and bondage.  The weapons are more refined and subtle than ever, but the cage of oppression is the same as always.

So we are each like Gandalf, guarding the gates of  life and liberty so that our citizen children may pursue their happiness.  We cannot let the evil pass.  We must stop it through the peaceful actions of an enlightened electorate.  We must dare to call evil by its name, as did President Reagan when he confronted one of the most cruel and destructive regimes the world has seen in the Soviet Union.  We must enlist our friends in a fellowship quest to banish corruption from our government.  And if you become overwhelmed and you don’t know what to do next, just ask yourself; “What would Gandalf do?”  Or, as I like to ask myself, “What would Ronald Reagan Do?”  WWRRD

By Marjorie Haun 8/12/2010

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  1. Thank you!
    I too am a big fan of this trilogy and love the symbolism. I read The Hobbit, the Trilogy, and more Tolkien than most by the age of 17.
    There is much we can learn from reading similar fiction and watching of such movies. They can also be a very good teaching tool when talking to our children about good vs evil.

  2. Scott Yagemann

    I like what you are saying, even if I’m not as huge a LOTR’s fan as you. But I did like “The Hobbit.” I dig that little dude’s name, Bilbo Baggins. If I had a son I’d call him Bilbo. Well maybe just Bill. In all seriousness, I love your passion, baby!

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