Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Friendship in LOTR

I just watched the extended version of The Two Towers for the first time. Wow.

Friendship is a major recurring motif in these films. When the elves show up at Helm's Deep, I get chills. Other chill-inducing scenes: when Sam tackles Frodo, rescuing him from the clutches of the Nazgul; when Gimli and Legolas stand with Aragron in battle, knowing they are hopelessly out-numbered; when Brego the horse, who had been set free by Aragorn, later rescues the Grey Ranger from death; when Gandalf, Eomer and the Rhorirrim show up as the dawn breaks to save their countrymen and friends; and when Merry and Pippin repeatedly urge one another on in the face of danger.

We all long for friends like these. David-and-Jonathan-type friendships. People for whom we would lay down our lives.

To often, we settle for mere acquaintances or friendships of pleasure and utility. We have allowed our vision of masculine "friendship" in particular to be deformed by Hollywood, where it is almost always either superficial or eroticized. To make things worse, we fear being known. We desperately want a friend, and yet we are too consumed with our neediness to be a friend. Friendship is indeed a lost art in our age. And so we are consigned to fighting our battles alone.

On a lighter note, we can always turn for wisdom to that sagacious bard of friendship, Michael W. Smith.


Blogger Brent Watson said...

Well said, my friend (and I mean that in the tone-of-your-post sense). :)

7:45 PM  
Blogger derek said...

Great post Chris. I have found that your observations about neediness are "spot-on." I have also noticed that we often avoid intimcay in friendships, the kind like we see in great movies like LOTR because we know that one day our "gray havens" parting will come, and we will watch our best friends depart. I have found that we would rather protect ourselves from pain than invest ourselves in something meaningful.

I pray that you may be someone's "Sam," and others would be yours.

10:50 PM  
Blogger chris said...

Thanks, guys. I think it would have been more honst to write this post in the first person (I am so consumed with my own needines . . .) I've appreciated your friendships, and I hope they continue.

11:29 PM  
Blogger Chris Barker said...

I think there is some great insight here on one of the problems of our culture.

The following line from your post reads a little strong:

Friendship is indeed a lost art in our age. In our culture, male relationships have become either superficial or eroticized, and true friendship is never found.

It seems to imply that true friendship cannot be found in our culture. I would venture to say it does exist. When found it is a sweet thing beyond description. It is easy to let it go without realizing, thus, it is something that needs to be fought for.

I think your assessment of our fear to be known, truly known, is right on. The Fellowship of men in my life, whom I started to grow with in my years at FarmHouse, who I would consider true friends didn’t wait to be invited. We simply jumped into the muck and mire of each other’s lives and went from there.

I am reminded of the song Shimmer by Shawn Mullins. He sings of a man who wants to shine like he sees his child and wife shining. I think men really want to be seen and accepted in the same way they want to radiate glory. Often the fear of judgment is to big of an obstacle to allow our self-imposed walls to be fully brought down. Yet, in the context of “true friendship” we are spurred on to radiate and allow ourselved to be known, unto the glory of God.

12:38 PM  
Anonymous diane said...

Maybe another reason for the lack of true and deep friendships is that so many people are shallow, and to stand in the "gap" during times of trouble are too difficult. Often, when we finally show our vulnerable selves, the folks we think the most of let us down. It's easier to be steadfast to yourself than depend on someone else. It's an ugly truth. Not only are most of us too self absorbed to want to be a "deep" friend, but we have also learned the hard lesson of how someone you thought you could depend on can disappoint you.

Not that I would know... ; )

2:49 PM  
Blogger chris said...

I've been genuinely encouraged by your thoughtful comments. Chris B. -- you're right, my statement was a little strong. I was speaking from emotion. You're also dead-on about the fear of judgment. I think that many times that fear is an illusion, but it seems so real that we shrink back. Diane -- you've brought up something significant -- the fact that people do hurt us sometimes. This also causes us to hesitate with our friendships. This is no answer or solution, but it is an inescabable truth that love involves pain. We can avoid pain, but only by giving up love as well.

9:25 AM  

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