A Lesson on Worldviews in Fiction: Featuring “The Lord of the Rings”

July 14, 2011

This is going to be one of those posts that instead of giving you a fish, I want to relay a lesson on how to fish.  My goal is that you would read this and it would compel you to view fiction with a deeper mind rooted in Christ and His Word.

 

 

A while back, I was exposed to the movie, “To End All Wars.”  Though this movie is not Science Fiction, it does feature some Sci-Fi vets such as Robert Carlyle (SGU) and Jack Bauer himself (he’s Science Fiction in my book because of his super power of not needing sleep).  This movie was written by a Christian screenwriter by the name of Brian Godawa, and I found out that Mr. Godawa wrote a book on writing called “Word Pictures.”  The movie was so powerful, I had to get insight on how he writes.

And boy did I.

 

 

I want to share with you a few things that I gathered from the book while suggesting that you check out the book and the movie by Godawa.  One thing that really influenced me to write this article for the Sci-Fi Christian is that science fiction and fantasy are unique genres that are distinctively fashioned and equipped to describe and teach on reality in ways other genres may not.  What better way than to explore the disgust of racism than to create a race of men and women with heightened superpowers like the X-Men?  Or what better way to expose the core of humanity than to destroy everything around it like “The Road”?

 

“Movies are one of the modern world’s strongest examples of storytelling.  When you watch a movie, you are watching a story that is an incarnation of a worldview.  The hero embodies the superior worldview; the villain, the inferior worldview.  The drama of the story comes from the conflict of their opposing worldviews, which drive their actions to conflict with each other.  By the end of the story, the hero’s worldview is proven superior to the villain’s in his victory over the villain” (Godawa, page 103).

 

What worldviews are you exposed to right now?  Are they worth your mind and heart?

 

“The Shire” by Shayla Maddox

 

Let’s take “The Lord of the Rings” to consider this point made by Godawa.  The good guys live in the earth (literal holes).  They farm, care for their animals, live simply, and enjoy the quiet.  More than anything else, they have hope.  Hope for peace, friendship, and unity.  They have hope for a sovereignty that all will work out according to the Plan in the end.

 

“What is recycle?”

 

What about the bad guys?  They strip the earth of its life.  They kill trees to fuel their giant forges.  They wake the dead to become an army for their cause.  Oriqui are freaks of nature with no regard for life or self-sacrifice. In fact, most of the baddies are freaks of nature that ought to be dead and gone.  Instead, their sinfulness keeps them going.  Along with the evil wizard, they destroy hope, peace, friendship and family.

 

Now, before I get accused by some crazed LOTR fan (seriously, why are sci-fi and fantasy fans so sensitive and ready to fight?) that I am saying that LOTR was just a big story on environmentalism, take a breath.  I am not reducing the series to just that, but you have to admit the theme is strong.  The trees fight back and win for goodness sake.

 

Ent SMASH!

 

What’s the point?  The point is that the hero’s worldview was proven to be superior to the villains.  Hope defeated fear and hate.  We are free to carefully watch and read our genres with our regenerated minds.  We are free to learn from the truth that is hidden away by the storytellers.  But even more than that, we are invited to view Christ and His glory in all we watch and do.

 

There is nothing new that we can learn in movies, TV, or books about Christ.  Everything we can learn of Christ and God is in the Word of God. But, with that said, these other genres can help us to remember and recall the truths that we have exposed to in the Word.  For example, when we see the simplicity of the hobbits, we can remember to live quiet simple lives as good stewards to the Earth that God blessed us with.  When we view Frodo taking the burden of the world on his neck, we can think greatly and deeply upon Christ who took our sins and destroyed them for the sake of our peace from God’s wrath.  When we see Sam, we can remember what a great friend we have in Jesus.  Christ is a better Frodo, a better Sam, a better Gandalf, a better Aragorn… you get the point.  Regardless, they all can teach us of Christ.

 

We are reminded to love.  We are reminded to live in peace.  We are reminded to hope.

 

Majority of the Bible is narrative.  God gave us parables, stories, history, word pictures commanded to the prophets, etc.  God knows what He is doing.  Embrace imagery by God.  But don’t just take my word for it…

 

 

What worldviews do you see in sci-fi and fantasy that returns your mind to Christ?

Cover image: The Wrath of the Ents, by Ted Nasmith

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10 comments on “A Lesson on Worldviews in Fiction: Featuring “The Lord of the Rings”

  1. Good stuff Brady! I find the environmentalist parts of LOTR to be one of the more misunderstood aspects in the trilogy. Conservatives tend to ignore or deny the theme and liberals oversimplify it by assuming Tolkien’s agenda was the same as their own. He talks about that message a fair bit in his collected letters (which I highly recommend reading). One of the main things he was trying to express was a frustration with modernism and a desire to return to simpler times. Agree with him or not, his position is thoughtful, nuanced and very fascinating.

    Anyway, I know that was just an example of your point and not your point itself, but it’s too interesting of a topic for me to not comment on:)

    Also, Ted Nasmith rules

  2. Sarah Jul 14, 2011

    This is fantastic!
    I hate to sound like a total LOTR freak, but I thought you might like to know that it’s “Uruk-hai”, not oriqui.
    Excellent article otherwise!

    • Thanks, Sarah!

      Wikipedia’s spelling advice turned against me! It said that was the spelling that he used in his early work… Oh well. Can’t win them all. : )

      Thank you for the feedback!

  3. “There is nothing new that we can learn in movies, TV, or books about Christ. Everything we can learn of Christ and God is in the Word of God. But, with that said, these other genres can help us to remember and recall the truths that we have exposed to in the Word.”

    Great phrase in a great text; good book recommendation too. I’ve put it already in my Amazon’s wishlist!

    God bless.

    • Thank you for your feedback, Christiano.

      Oh how important it is to look to Christ in the Word!

      Thank you again. And I have a confidence you will enjoy the book. Godawa has a very unique way of writing.

  4. the Reading Rainbow catchphrase and picture made me LOL!

    • He sure did rule the 90’s didn’t he?

      • i cant even begin to tell you how elated i was when i realized all by myself that Levar Burton was also Geordi LaForge!

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