Saturday, November 25, 2006


You might remember this bit at the end of the Two Towers film. I searched it out for a talk I'm doing for a bunch of Christians next weekend on suffering (as if a weekend with me wasn't enough teaching on that subject!).
I can’t do this, Sam.

I know.
It’s all wrong.
By right we shouldn’t even be here.
It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo.
The ones that really matters.
Full of darkness and danger they were.
And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end, because how could the end be happy?
How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened?
But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow.
Even darkness must pass.
A new day will come.
And when the sun shines, it will shine out the clearer.
Those were the stories that stayed with you that meant something.
Even if you were too small to understand why.
But I think Mr. Frodo, I do understand.
I know now.
Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t.
They kept going because they were holding on to something.

What are we holding on to, Sam?

That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo.
And it’s worth fighting for.
It is pretty moving - until you get to the last couple of lines, at which point you realise that, however masterfully expressed, with whatever emotive and rhetorical strength, this is what most non-Christian hope looks like: holding on to the fact that there's some good in the world.

But it is a very flawed hope, with amazingly little basis in empirical fact. Seems to me that it takes much more faith than holding on to the fact that Jesus was who he said he was. Is it the case that a study of history shows humans being kinder to eachother as time has passed? We have better education - true, but: so what?? Harold Shipman was a highly educated man, Hitler wasn't thick, and examples multiply without any thought whatsoever... Yet many still hope that there's something good in humanity - what blind faith!
The pursuit of education as a solution to national problems, for example, is just one example of such a flawed hope.

Jean-Paul Satre said, just months before he died: "I know I shall die in hope ... but hope needs a foundation". He was right. It does - and it is Jesus. The hope that there's something good in this world (in the way atheists mean it, as opposed to the way Christians might want to nuance it) has no foundation.

A great moment in a great film - but a very sad one too...


Blogger Mandy said...

The hope that there's something good in this world (in the way atheists mean it, as opposed to the way Christians might want to nuance it) has no foundation.

Do we need to be careful how we state that? [I say this having never read the book or seen the movie, so am responding only to your extract] Without wanting to simply put a 'Christian nuance' on it, the world as created, including humanity, is declared by God to be 'very good' and the hope of the Christian is not escape from this world, but the redemption and transformation of it. The created world does reflect our glorious creator - this can be said without denying the significance of the fall into sin and the implications that has on all aspects of our humanity.

What do you think?

11:27 am, November 27, 2006  
Blogger Andrew said...

I guess we both know what eachother means! Question is, whether we simply rejoice when a pagan says 'there's something good in this world' when we're as certain as we can be that they're not saved, or whether we say 'are you sure? how do you know?'. I was wanting to do the latter - but am keen to know if that's wrong...

And we have to distinguish a bit, don't we. There's 'something good' in this world in the sense you outline, but it is also true that there's nothing good in this world, nothing unaffected by the fall, nothing that isn't waiting in the pains of childbirth. That's what I was trying to get at - sorry if I wasn't clear... So if 'something good' means 'something perfect', the answer's no; if it means 'something not totally imperfect', then it is probably yes...

Is that right? Thoughts? It is a pretty big issue, given that similar situations come upon us almost each day...

2:43 pm, November 27, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fancy running across you here Andy! The wonder of google.... Where are you now you have left Oak Hill? from Tink

2:20 pm, November 29, 2006  
Blogger Celal Birader said...

If the so-called goodness of the creation, which has been marred by the fall in probably every aspect one could imagine, were sufficient to sustain hope then what did Jesus mean when he said what he did in John 16:33 ?

8:42 pm, December 03, 2006  

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