Sunday, December 20, 2020

"I also am a steward"

One of the groups I follow on Facebook is called "Christ & Tolkien" describing itself as "A group for all Christians — Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant, Evangelical, etc. — who love the works of Prof. J.R.R. Tolkien." Today it led me to an online conversation with Alan Jacobs during which he discovers the "Gandalf Option":
Well, yeah, I’m just inventing it right now. I hadn’t thought to call it this before, but it’s something I think about a lot. There is a point late in the Lord of the Rings where Gandalf is confronting Denethor, the steward of Gondor. And Denethor thinks that Gandalf wants to be the one to rule Gondor. Gandalf tries very hard to be patient with Denethor, and he says, “Denethor, my lord steward, you need to understand something. The rule of no realm is mine, neither Gondor nor anywhere else. It’s not what I do. I’m not here to rule. I am here to try to nourish and to care for all the good things that I find in this world.” He says, “When I come across something that is alive and is capable of bearing beauty, then I want to nurture that, and that is my call.” And if through this whole mess and misery that they were going through at the time, he says, “If anything survives that can flower and bear fruit in the days after, then my work will not have been in vain.” And then he says to Denethor, “For I also am a steward.” I love that line. Honestly, if I were going to define my calling in just a few sentences, it would be those sentences. And I think that’s what we should be doing. We get so caught up in fighting against all the things that we believe to be wicked and destructive that we fail to nourish and care for and strengthen, to feed and water the gardens that we hope will produce fruit for our children and our grandchildren. I think that is the great failing of the church in the West—that we go out charging into battle, but we forget to care for our own gardens. So that’s my option. My option is the Gandalf Option. I’ve never said those words exactly that way, but I probably will use them from now on.
Online Conversation | Crisis & Christian Humanism with Alan Jacobs

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