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St. Cuthbert and Disciples in a Boat


Boromir, the Wreck of Pride, and the Undoing of the High:

When one reads The Lord of the Rings, one finds many fine characters and qualities which to emulate: the true-hearted Sam and his humble hobbit-sense, the rather grim determination of Frodo, the self-sacrifice of Gandalf. In Boromir, the tragic eldest son of Denethor (a sad, mad old man himself whom one is best advised not to emulate as well) there is a great deal not to emulate. One of these qualities is Boromir's postmodern attitude concerning the Ring {actually, postmodern is merely a term to describe ideas that have long been around, and can hardly be called postmodern, as if our generation were the first to espouse their folly}. Note this quote from Boromir, as he is with Frodo below Amon Hen:

"So you go on! Gandalf, Elrond- all these folks have taught you to say so. For themselves they may be right. These elves and half-elves and wizards, they would come to grief perhaps. Yet often I doubt if they are wise and not merely timid. But each to his own kind."

Boromir admits that, yes, there are some who are incapable of bearing the Ring. But perhaps, he says, some might bear it, and make use of it. In other words, what is wrong for one group or individual need not be wrong for another. Of course, the someone for whom the use of the Ring might not be wrong is him, Boromir. He imagines himself possessing power of self-control to wield the Ring: but in reality he has little, and the Ring drives him to madness before his short episode with Frodo and the Ring is over. In calm reason I imagine he would realize the folly of his words, but he is not being driven to his statement on the Ring by any sort of reason of his; rather, it is his own pride that drives him, and prideful lust for the Ring. Indeed, it is pride that wrecks Boromir. His foolishness is driven by a deep-seated pride in himself and his high standing. Yes, he is driven to an extent by nobler things- a desire to defend his city and people, to bring honor to his father- but we see that his motivator to his madness is pride. He cannot understand why the Counsel should have given a lowly hobbit the keeping of Ring, when he, a mighty man, high in the world, of noble birth, could have taken it- should have taken it he says. To him the wisdom of the Counsel is utter foolishness.

That mode of thought is not new. Is not the thought of God passing by those who are strong and wise and powerful often repulsive to us? It is certainly taken as foolishness by those who are perishing. Why? Why are we uncomfortable with God's choosing of the lowly? I imagine that it is because of our pride. Grace is nice, yes, but grace is an affront to our pride. For God to use the lowly and not our wise selves offends us. And perhaps we doubt whether these lowly instruments, these foolish things, can truly accomplish the monumental tasks laid before them. Truly, though, they, the lowly, cannot. It is Grace, God's power, that works through them. When Frodo comes to Mount Doom, he fails. It is Grace, through Gollum, that saves the Quest, and again Grace uses a strange and foolish means. The "wise " are fooled, the "strong" collapse, and the "powerful" fail. But the grace of God conquers, and works mighty things.

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19For it is written, "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart."
20Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
26For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption. 31Therefore, as it is written, "Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord."

I Corinthians 1:18-31


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