Thursday, September 03, 2009

Church as Entmoot

Treebeard, as an elder of Fangorn forest, takes a walk one morning, engaging the wood’s word of mouth network to call a meeting of the Ents. Some Ents won’t come, too busy with their own thoughts and existence to heed the call of community. Others will surprise Treebeard, waking and walking as they have not done for decades, to mark the importance of the moment by their presence. The cause is that which the whole forest has been awaiting to arouse them.

The tree-herders, shepherds of the forest, gather for a moot in the dingle. A moot is a gathering for deliberative purposes. So the Ents spent three days deliberating. They took their time getting the facts and feeling the urgency of their participation in the world’s events. At last they made a decision, and the conversation stopped. Then it erupted in a communal shout, which echoed into a chant as the Ents left their little dell that seemed so remote as to be not part of the real world, and marched.

No more waiting. No individuals left to ponder whether they were with the group in the action. All of the tree-people swung themselves over the hills in the gentle descent to their doom. The decision had been built into their nature, and the making of it at last was only a matter of being clear that the need was legitimate. So they went, making war on Isengard and breaking down the wicked stronghold that had harried their defensive borders for so long.

Contrast this with the two days the hobbits spent in the House of Tom Bombadil, also in a forest that shares many parallels with Fangorn. In that house they were protected and refreshed. The hobbits heard many stories of history and the way of the world in the land where Bombadil is Master. But when they were sent away, it was a thorough departure, not a continuation of the fellowship begun in the house, or even of the instruction given in the house. And so they surrendered to temptation and deceit, almost losing their lives to the Barrow Wight. Bombadil was willing to come to their aid, but not to go with them, having, as Gandalf explained, withdrawn into a little land within bounds that he had set.

The nights with Bombadil and Goldberry comprised a vivid experience for the hobbits, opening their hearts to history and destiny in a way that little else could. But it was disconnected from the rest of the quest. Frodo and his companions could no more return to the House under hill than they could spend their eternal rest in Valinor before the tale was over.

I think church should be like the Entmoot. Don’t you ever sit in a gathering of believers, praying, singing, sharing the word of God, and just imagine everyone getting up and rushing the doors to take on the world? What if we actually did?

To God be all glory.

(quotes taken from that all-three together Lord of the Rings that came out right before the first movie)

p. 467 – Entmoot = an assembly of the people in early England exercising political, administrative, and judicial powers. Also an argument or discussion, esp. of a hypothetical legal case. An obsolete definition (therefore the most likely intention of Professor Tolkien), a debate, argument or discussion.

p. 467 – “Entmoot… is a gathering of Ents.”

p. 468-469 – “The Ents were as different from one another as trees from trees… There were a few older Ents… and there were tall strong Ents…”

p. 469 – There were about 48 Ents present (and no young Ents or Entwives, due to the tragic history of the Ents).

p. 469 – “Merry and Pippin were struck chiefly by the variety that they saw: the many shapes, and colours, the differences in girth, and height…”

p. 469 – “standing in a wide circle round Treebeard…”

p. 469 – “a curious and unintelligible conversation began.” (In jest:) Were they speaking in tongues??

p. 469 – “they were all chanting together”

p. 469 – “gradually his [Pippin’s] attention wavered.”

p. 470 – “But I have an odd feeling about these Ents: somehow I don’t think they are quite as safe and, well funny as they seem. They seem slow, queer, and patient, almost sad, and yet I believe they could be roused.”

p. 470 – “But they [Ents] don’t like being roused.”

p. 471 – “However, deciding what to do does not take Ents so long as going over all the facts and events that they have to make up their minds about.”

p. 472 – “…but now they seemed deeper and less lesisurely, and every now and again one great voice would rise in a high and quickening music, while all the others died away.”

p. 473 – “…the voices of the Ents at the Moot still rose and fell, sometimes loud and strong, sometimes low and sad, sometimes quickening, sometimes slow and solemn as a dirge.”

p. 473 – “held conclave”

p 473 – “Then with a crash came a great ringing shout…”

p. 473 – “There was another pause, and then a marching music began like solemn drums… before long they saw the marching line approaching…”

p. 475 – “It was not a hasty resolve… we may help the other peoples before we pass away.”

p. 475 – “songs like trees bear fruit only in their own time and their own way: and sometimes they are withered untimely.”

1 comment:

Lady Rael said...

Hey, Lady Lisa! I haven't visited your blog in a while (a year or so?), and I thought I'd say hi!

Love this post! What a great idea - Church as Entmoot! :-D