The necessity and beauty of destruction


I recently finished the book The Silmarillion written by J.R.R Tolkien, considered the bible of the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Hobbit. It was a long read and what I normally finish in a month or less, I finished in a little over three months, partly I owe to being busy. There were too many characters and storylines in this book that you have to really take your time reading it or you get lost somewhere. Silmarillion is divided into 5 parts that introduce us to Eä –Tolkien’s universe, and the creation of Middle-earth by Eru Iluvatar, the Supreme being in Tolkien’s fictional universe. Eä is where the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings take place. In this book, we also get to know about the supernatural powers that created the universe, how the Elvish, Dwarves and humanrace came about, the beginning of Sauron and the evil at work in Middle Earth, and the eventual destruction and downfall of the kingdoms made and remade. I really found the book very engaging and if, like me, you are a big Lord of the Rings fan, you would love this book and find it very essential to understanding the Lord of the Rings.

Anyway, what I really found compelling in the whole book was how destruction played a very important role in shaping the world in which the characters moved about, and their particular responses. That as they see the world and the kingdoms they know get destroyed, their characters, their purpose, their values and their principles also change. Some wander and scavenge for survival; others recuperate for revenge. Every destruction that takes place is avenged one way or another, which leads to more destruction and death, and loss. On this note, destruction also breeds creation. When an old kingdom dies, a new one takes place. Overarching the story are two narratives between the fight for good and evil. The central evil figure in this story is called Morgoth or Melkor who is the first dark lord before Sauron and is the greatest Ainur or the immortal powers created to oversee the Ea. Isn’t it interesting that one considered a “god” was the provoker of destruction? His downfall was very similar to Lucifer’s, in that he also had pride in his heart and wanted to create for himself more than what was given.

I thought about the futility of the universe by the end of this story. I thought about why it had to be made in the first place when it was going to be destroyed and remade many times over, in different fashion and state, oftentimes in a place of desolation than a place of hope and beauty. Wouldn’t Eru be better off without this world if it ends in destruction anyway? But reading through the stories, I realize that the world would have retained its original design and purpose had its inhabitants stayed true to their purpose themselves, which was to care for the world that was given to them. The beauty was marred because of the presence of evil through the greed of Melkor, and what brought about destruction was the constant fight between good and evil, and where these two are present, destruction is inevitable. You either form a world devoid of evil or good because they cannot co-exist. One side would naturally seek to destroy the other. And the destruction is brought about by the greed of its inhabitants, much like today, where our world is a mess and all we really have to blame is ourselves. Isn’t this story familiar? Sin, the evil at work, is present in the fictional world of Tolkien, and in the real world that God created. To this note, I still find it amazing that Tolkien discloses he did not intend for any biblical parallelism to his stories.

I was having dinner with my co-BSF leader a few nights ago and discussing over the sad state that our world is in, she surmised that Jesus had better come sooner because “we’re making a mess of the world He created for us.” I do agree in one sense. After all, you cannot blame God for how this world has turned out. Even Adam and Eve made the mistake of messing it up in the perfect garden of Eden that God made for them.

If we had just ended in Silmarillion, it would be a depressing book with no hope in sight, but thankfully, we know from the Lord of the Rings –the Return of the King, that good overcomes evil in the end, and that despite the destruction again taking place in Middle Earth, a new beginning dawns. I like that. I like that this is very prophetic even of the Bible and how destruction must take its course for a new heaven and earth to be ushered. Destruction doesn’t take place devoid of reason. Even in this sense, we know destruction has its purpose and evil does not and will never triumph over good. In our Christian belief, Satan will never win this world. God already is the victor even before the world began.

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