Daily Prompt: Silver Screen – “There are other forces at work in this world Frodo, besides the will of evil. Bilbo was meant to find the Ring. In which case, you were also meant to have it. And that is an encouraging thought.”

“There are other forces at work in this world Frodo, besides the will of evil. Bilbo was meant to find the Ring. In which case, you were also meant to have it. And that is an encouraging thought.” Gandalf the Grey, Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.

This line is probably one of a few lines that struck me as *important* when I first read LotR. Some were remembered because of the scene, “You. Shall. Not. Pass!” (read exactly like that) or perhaps because I liked the idea of something, “It’s a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no telling where you might be swept off to. ” Still, none of them rang with the same sense of truth like what Gandalf’s words to Frodo within the Mines of Moria did.

I believe, that at its heart, this is what LotR is about. It is not about saving the world from evil. It’s not about the corruption of man and the loss of magic. It’s not about industrialization and how it will destroy the world. It’s not about war and the havoc it wrecks. It is about this one, simple truth. That there is something more in this world, something that guides people to be where they need to be. It doesn’t mean that evil will be thwarted at every turn-there is still free choice and free will-but there will always be those who can make a difference.

The greatest hero in LotR gets little credit, but he has the biggest heart and the strongest determination. He has something more to look forward to beyond ending the war with Sauron and destroying the Ring. Samwise Gamgee has his role to play and he plays it well. Not even Gandalf understands Sam’s role within the whole, though he knows it is important. Regardless, he gives Sam his only order, “Don’t you leave him Samwise Gamgee.” Sam, being the most loyal of the entire party follows his directions and ends up carrying Frodo and the Ring, physically and metaphorically.

I know it’s pointed out ad nauseum that LotR depits how it is the actions of the smallest of the characters that makes the greatest impact and the most sacrifices. However, I believe it is applicable to real life. We may not all be fighting this grand battle against an evil entity that is threatening to take over the world, but we are each have a role in the overall well-being of our fellows. Small kindnesses have a big impact. Small acts send out ripples that can either join and enlarge the ripples caused by others or oppose and diminish them. We were born here for a reason, there is some sort of plan. While most of us are but the smallest of players upon this large stage even our small roles have an impact in how the show (the world) turns out.

I just hope we’re all getting our lines and stage cues kind of right. Most of what we do and know is unscripted, but there are those special moments where we are caught up in a bigger scene and there is actually something we’re to do right then and there. I don’t know how many times we are given to get it right, one or fifty or however many we need, but I still take heart in knowing that there is something out there, some greater part of ourselves, that can nudge us in the right direction. Maybe not quite with the same authority and directness of a stage manager, but still some whisper of a hint of what we ought to do.

Seems kinda odd for someone who claims to be agnostic to hold such a firm belief, but then again, I don’t believe that the nudging comes from something that is omniscient or omnipowerful. It just is and it likes balance and there is an overall direction that we’re all traveling and thus there is a collective general intent that guides it as well as us. More or less, give or take.

Wow did that go in a very different direction than I thought it would when I started.

An Interesting Study in Progress

I follow a few different religious pages on Facebook. It’s interesting to see what people will say, though I know what I am seeing is very biased as they are either very liberal Christian or a mix of multiple religions. One of them, a Buddhism page, posted a link to a study that one of his colleagues just got up and running. The study is a very long survey specifically targeted at agnostics/atheists. There’s so little research surrounding this growing population in the US, so I’m really excited to see that there are people out there recognizing us.

I include myself in that category because I’m something of a Buddhist(non-theist)-pantheist-agnostic-trending-to-atheist sort of person. Yeah, it’s a mouthful so I usually just say Buddhist or pantheist or if I really want to confuse people, non-theist. Much easier to say. If anyone is uncertain whether they fall into the agnostic/atheist category, here’s a really great piece on different kinds of “non-believers” or however you want to think about it.

Anywho, if anyone here is interested, here’s the link to the study, and if you’re more interested in seeing what/why/etc. here’s the answers from the people who are doing the research.

I’ll be posting more of my thoughts about the state of religion in America later, especially after the results are published.