But I should say, if asked, the tale is not really about Power and Dominion: that only sets the wheels going; it is about Death and the desire for deathlessness. Which is hardly more than to say it is a tale written by a Man!
“As C.S. Lewis said to me long ago, more or less – (I do not suppose my memory of his dicta is any more precisely accurate than his of mine: I often find strange things attributed to me in his works) – ‘if they won’t write the kind of books we want to read, we shall have to write them ourselves; but it is very laborious’.”
-Tolkien, J. R. R. Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien. #159. To Dora Marshall. 3 March 1955
“But Lewis was a very impressionable, man, and this was abetted by his great generosity and capacity for friendship. The unpayable debt that I owe to him was not ‘influence as it is ordinarily understood, but sheer encouragement. He was for long my only audience. Only from him did I ever get the idea that my ‘stuff’ could be more than a private hobby. But for his interest and unceasing eagerness for more I should never have brought The L. of the R. to a conclusion…..”
-Tolkien, J. R. R. Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien. #276. To Dick Plotz, ‘Thain’ of the Tolkien Society of America. 12 September 1965
“If you don’t do so already, make a habit of the ‘praises’. I use them much (in Latin): the Gloria Patri, the Gloria in Excelsis, the Laudate Dominum; the Laudete Pueri Dominum (of which I am specially fond), one of the Sunday psalms; and the Magnificat; also the Litany of Loretto (with the prayer Sub tuum praesidium). If you have these by heart you never need words for joy. It is also a good and admirable thing to know by heart the Canon of the Mass, for you can say this in your heart if ever hard circumstance keeps you for hearing Mass.”
-Tolkien, J. R. R. Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien. #54. To Christopher Tolkien. 8 January 1944
One year ago, today, I was at the Higher Things TWELVE conference in St. Catharines, ON. I received word that my grandfather had fallen asleep after battling cancer. It was truly a blessing to be at a conference during that time. That night we prayed Compline, the prayer office that is all about falling asleep at the end of the day and at the end of our lives. The reading assigned for that night was the very comforting 1 Corinthians 15:51-57:
51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.
53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.
54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
55 “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
The next day, I attended the closing Divine Service with 250ish registrants. Heaven came down from above and we were joined with them in the song and feast of heaven. Joined with the whole church here on earth and joined with the Church Triumphant. Joined with those who have gone before us. Joined with my grandfather.
Today, on the anniversary of his baptism and the anniversary of his death, I was blessed to attend another Higher Things closing service. This year we celebrated Easter. I was reminded a year later that the victory remains with life and that the reign of death is ended. Heaven came down to meet earth and Christ was delivered to us. We were joined with the whole church once again, as we are week in and week out in divine service.
The worst thing that can happen to you is that you can die. In Christ, that’s not so bad because we have already died! We have been baptized into Christ death! Born from above and raised to new life in Christ!