#1033 – Ash Wednesday

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Lenten season. Ash Wednesday is a day to reflect on our mortality; we come from ashes and to ashes we will return. In the past I’ve written about those nerdy characters who wanted to cheat death. This year I thought we’d kick off Ash Wednesday and Lent by looking at those characters who don’t need to cheat death.

Elves

Haldir_w_elves

Elves can die but, unless a bunch of Uruk-hai stab them, they get to live forever and sail into the West. I’ve never read The Silmarillion so I don’t really know how Elves came to Middle-earth or where they actually go in the West. I do really feel bad for the Elves that do die, though. When Haldir gets killed in The Two Towers the look on his face is heartbreaking. I can’t imagine what it would be like to die when you thought that you were going to live forever.

Immortals

highlander

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Highlander movie or episode from beginning to end. The first movie was a cult hit but the following films and shows created a confusing and contradictory mythology. Immortality is both a blessing and a curse, especially when it leads to constant sword fighting. I would have a hard time as an Immortal; I don’t really like fighting that much. Though wielding a sword and getting trapped in epic duels would be much cooler than simply carrying around a gun. The Immortals must have adhered to Obi-Wan’s understanding of weapons: swords are more elegant weapons for more civilized times.

Q

Q

Q is the best. I know that he was a villain but I loved each of his episodes. He was fairly ominous in Encounter at Farpoint and Q Who, but his later episodes were always some of the most hilarious. Déjà Q and Qpid are great episodes of The Next Generation because they’re so funny. Tapestry, another of Q’s episodes, is one of my all-time favorites. The Elves’ immortality led them to a lot of serious meetings and thoughts about their place in the world. Q’s immortality led him to have a lot of fun, even though it was at the expense of Picard and his crew.

I don’t imagine anyone who is immortal would get much out of Ash Wednesday. It’s a day to reflect on our mortality and remember the new life that we have in Christ. That new life wouldn’t mean much if we only had to worry about dying by the sword of an Uruk-hai or another Immortal. Since our lives are a little more tenuous, though, we should make the most of Ash Wednesday and the opportunity it gives us to remember God’s amazing grace.

What other immortals wouldn’t have much use for Ash Wednesday?

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4 Responses to “#1033 – Ash Wednesday”

  1. “I don’t really know how Elves came to Middle-earth or where they actually go in the West.” Long story short, they awoke in Middle-Earth, so they never eally “came to” it (they are the firstborn creation of Illuvatar, “God” in JRRT’s mythology), and they go to the West to live out their long-lived days with the Valar (demigods), but even there they will die; they are mortal. I am oversimplifying. I’m on my third try reading The Silmarillion, and was doing better than previous attempts, but have gotten bogged down now around page 200. It’s like Chronicles in the Bible – not easy, breezy reading.

    Interestingly, the Elves envy Men their “gift of death.” Someone once took JRRT to task for this, pointing out that, in Scripture, death is a punishment for sin. Tolkien said something to the effect of, “But, of course! Even God’s punishments are gifts.” I don’t know how far he (or I) would want to push that point, but i like it. The Elves live century after century after century, and grow weary of it. That’s why going into the West is a blessed relief. What happens to Men after Men die remains a mystery to them, but they sometimes wish they could find out firsthand (though not necessarily by meeting a violent end, as Haldir did!)

    Great post, Scott. Sweet spot of faith and geekery hit!

  2. Restless Pilgrim Says:

    The Highlander movies got progressively more and more strange! I’d suggest giving the TV series a go – I thought it actually got rather good at points. If you like pony tails, you’ll love it!

  3. Kevin C. Neece Says:

    Here’s a nerdy Ash Wednesday moment for you. 🙂

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