At youth on Wednesday, we studied Josiah, the sixteenth king of Judah. We’re doing a six-week, 40-minute inductive study called, “How to Make Choices You Won’t Regret.” In studying Josiah’s life, we also studied his father and grandfather, Manasseh and Amon, who were awful kings: they worshiped idols, encouraged child sacrifice, and did not follow the Lord. Josiah became king when he was eight years old, began to seek the Lord at sixteen, started to cleanse the land completely of idols when he was twenty, and began reconstructing the temple at the age of twenty-six. He was very different from his father and grandfather! During the evening, I was reminded of several examples in Tolkien’s works that prove we do not have to be like our parents and ancestors.
Aragorn, grandson of Isildur
Aragorn is the grandson of the man who refused to destroy the One Ring when he had the chance. Aragorn lives with the shame and burden of his ancestor’s failings, and worries that he may fail, too. Arwen, Aragorn’s betrothed, believes in Aragorn: “You are Isildur’s grandson, not Isildur himself. You are not bound to his fate.”
When the time comes, Aragorn resists the temptation to take the Ring and fights numerous orcs to give Frodo time to get away.
Thorin, son of Thrain, son of Thror
Thorin’s grandfather became mad with dragon-sickness, greed, and pride. Thror’s love for hoarding gold and jewels led to disputes with the Wood Elves, and brought Smaug the dragon upon his own people and the people of Dale. The Dwarves of Erebor fled from the dragon’s wrath, wandering for several years until Thror tried to re-enter Moria, where he was killed by Azog. (Yes, it’s different than the movie.) Thror had given his son Thrain a Ring of Power, a map of Erebor and the surrounding area, and a key to the mountain. Thrain passed these things (excepting the Ring) on to Thorin before he went wandering.
Thorin has a duty to his people – to do what is best for his people. He set out for Erebor to find the Arkenstone, which would affirm his right to rule. When he cannot find it, he starts to fall under the influence of the dragon-sickness. Here, Thorin has a choice. He can imitate his grandfather and allow his greed to influence him, or he can fight his greed. He succumbs to the dragon-sickness for a while, but is jarred back to reality before the Battle of the Five Armies, conquering his greed.
Faramir, son of Denethor and Finduilas
Faramir’s father was a proud man, distrustful of Gandalf, who wished to help the people of Gondor. He turned to a palantir to test his strength against Sauron, who was unable to corrupt him, but deceived him into hopelessness. Faramir did not lose hope. He remained faithful, refusing to take the One Ring from Sam and Frodo, accentuating the differences between him and Boromir. Denethor was angered when he heard of Faramir’s doing.
Later Faramir commands the defense of Osgiliath (though he knows it may be futile), staying behind to protect the rearguard. He was wounded by a Southron arrow (not an orc arrow like in the movie) and brought back to Denethor, unconscious. During the battle at the Black Gate, he stayed in the Houses of Healing, where he fell in love with Eowyn, who was also severely wounded. Faramir provides a wonderful contrast to his father and brother.
I hope these examples are good reminders to follow God, and “Do Hard Things.”