Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Climbing up Mt. Doom

by Sariah S. Wilson

I caught a bit of "Lord of the Rings" on TBS the other night, so I decided to go through my six disk extended version to watch my favorite parts. My sons wandered in and out to watch some of the movie - they were bored by all the talking and wanted to see the action. I did a lot of making the 5-year-old cover his eyes because he's easily spooked and speeding through the too scary parts and too violent parts (of which there are suprisingly quite a bit).

But as I pulled out the last disk to watch the epic final battle (with one of the best movie lines ever - "That still only counts as one!") and Sam and Frodo's journey to Mt. Doom, I was touched and teary-eyed, as I always am, by the ascent up the mountain.

Here, at the end of all things, you'd almost think that it would be a quick run up the mountain with adrenaline and excitement. They were nearly there and had almost completed their quest. But they are thirsty. Tired. Hungry. They have survived the unimaginable and against all odds stand at the base of the mountain. The burden of the ring has become more than Frodo can bear. He starts to hallucinate, has chafing marks on his neck as the ring becomes heavier, and can barely put one large Hobbit foot in front of the other.

I had an experience at a dinner once with another LDS couple. I saw from their bookshelf that they were Harry Potter fans, and with this being shortly after the last release, I engaged them in a conversation about it. [If you still haven't read it, then don't read the next few sentences. But I'm guessing that even if you haven't read it yet you have a pretty good idea of what happens in the last HP book.] One of the things I pointed out was the Christ imagery of Harry laying down his life for his friends, and then coming back to life. I loved how reading it reminded me of the Savior, that through fiction I could re-appreciate a real life event. The reaction to this was, shall we say, not favorable. I tried explaining it further - I wasn't basing my testimony on HP, but that reading a fictional recreation of something I know to be true made me think on the true event and feel gratitude for it. (I was vindicated later that week when I came across this article in Newsweek, which pointed out the obvious Christ allegory as well. So I knew I wasn't just crazy. Which is always nice to find out.)

I have chosen to believe the D&C, Joseph Smith and Brigham Young that there is truth in the world to be had and incorporated as part of our faith that is from the secular world. That it can even come from fiction.

Or from a movie. I thought today of the times in my life when I have felt like Frodo. Like I have given all there is to give. I literally have nothing left, but yet I am expected to keep going. I have to find a way up the mountain when I can't even contemplate taking the first step. I know I'll never claw my way up because my body and my spirit have decided I'm done.

And I know what it's like when someone steps in and tells me, "I can't carry it for you, but I can carry you!" and lifts me on my way, helps me to take those steps and keeps me on the right path.

It never fails to bring tears to my eyes when I watch that scene. Not only for the friendship that Sam and Frodo share, not only for my own personal experiences of friends and family who have helped me, but for the Christ imagery I see. How Christ carries us as we carry our impossible burdens, sometimes when we can't even see it and didn't even know that he was there. Times that we may have felt incredibly alone and didn't realize that we were being lifted and loved to the point that we somehow found the strength to continue on our own.

I came across a post wondering whether fiction is inherently immoral, and I can't begin to imagine that it is. It's not a "lie" to me when it reinforces the truths I already know, and perhaps makes me feel them or understand them in a way that I hadn't before.


At 4/26/2008 10:09 PM, Blogger jill said...

Christ taught in parables. I believe that would be classified as fiction in today's terms. No lie - illustrating a principle with a story.

At 4/26/2008 10:37 PM, Blogger Sariah S. Wilson said...

Yeah, I usually bring up Christ and parables when confronted with something like "fiction is lies and lies are bad!" but I haven't seen it have that much effect on people's thoughts. Somehow that's different, although I haven't figured out how yet.

I keep thinking that if we ever ban fiction or anything secular from General Conference I don't know what poor President Monson is going to do. He frequently quotes from non-LDS authors and poets and tells stories to illustrate points.

At 4/27/2008 6:24 PM, Blogger Annette Lyon said...

This brought tears to my eyes--I love both of those scenes. And I whole-heartedly agree with you. There are things we can sometimes learn through experiencing them vicariously through fiction that might be hard to learn or feel in any other way. Truth even in a magical world's symbolic death and resurrection is still truth.

At 4/28/2008 3:08 PM, Blogger jill said...

Yeah - poor C.S. Lewis...writing all those lies. And Dickens. And Austen. And Kipling. And...

I guess some people don't want to understand because they want to be right.


Quoting my mother, "To each his own, said the old lady as she kissed the cow."

At 5/01/2008 11:50 AM, Blogger Cheri J. Crane said...

Sariah, wonderful blog. =) I'm always finding snippets of truth buried inside my favorite books, movies, etc. And I absolutely love the Lord of the Rings books and movies. I grew up reading those epic tomes. My father read us "The Hobbit," when we were quite young. Then he challenged us to read the rest of the series. I've read and reread them several times. The imagery is always inspiring.


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