A Parent’s Job

At the bottom, what is the job of parent?

Dane Ortlund answers beautifully:

With our own kids, if we are parents, what’s our job? That question could be answered with a hundred valid responses. But at the center, our job is to show our kids that even our best love is a shadow of a greater love. To put a sharper edge on it: to make the tender heart of Christ irresistible and unforgettable. Our goal is that our kids would leave the house at eighteen and be unable to live the rest of their lives believing that their sins and sufferings repel Christ.

This is perhaps the greatest gift my own dad has given me. He taught my siblings and me sound doctrine as we were growing up, to be sure—which is itself a sore neglect across evangelical family life today. But there’s something he has shown me that runs even deeper than truth about God, and that is the heart of God, proven in Christ, the friend of sinners. Dad made that heart beautiful to me. He didn’t crowbar me into that; he drew me in. We too have the privilege of finding creative ways of drawing in the kids all around us to the heart of Jesus. His desire to draw near to sinners and sufferers is not only doctrinally true but aesthetically attractive.

I know for myself, a re-calibrating thought I return to again and again is this: Do my children see me savor the Savior? If that is happening, then I think all the other crucial responsibilities and joys of parenting will fall into place.

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5 Benefits of Sickness

With the current COVID19 situation, I can’t help but think about a sermon I read years ago entitled Sickness by J.C. Ryle.

In the sermon, he offers a biblical perspective on sickness under three headings:

I. The universal prevalence of sickness and disease.

II. The general benefits which sickness confers on mankind.

III. The special dutiesto which sickness calls us.

Under his second heading, Ryle unpacks five benefits sickness offers to those who know Jesus. For your joy, I have copied those points below.

I could not recommend the sermon more highly, especially since sickness is on everyone’s mind.

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Once more I repeat, that I speak of the “benefits” of sickness on purpose and advisedly. I know the suffering and pain which sickness entails. I admit the misery and wretchedness which it often brings in its train. But I cannot regard it as an unmixed evil. I see in it a wise permission of God. I see in it a useful provision to check the ravages of sin and the devil among men’s souls. If man had never sinned — I would have been at a loss to discern the benefit of sickness. But since sin is in the world, I can see that sickness is a good. It is a blessing quite as much as a curse. It is a rough schoolmaster, I grant — but it is a real friend to man’s soul.

1. Sickness helps to remind men of death.

Most people live as if they were never going to die. They follow business, or pleasure, or politics, or science — as if earth was their eternal home. They plan and scheme for the future, like the rich fool in the parable, as if they had a long lease of life, and were not tenants whose length of stay is brief. A heavy illness sometimes goes far to dispel these delusions. It awakens men from their day-dreams, and reminds them that they have to die, as well as to live. Now this I say emphatically is a mighty good.

2. Sickness helps to make men think seriously of God, and their souls, and the world to come.

Most people, in their days of health, can find no time for such thoughts. They dislike them. They put them away. They count them troublesome and disagreeable. Now a severe disease has sometimes a wonderful power of mustering and rallying these thoughts, and bringing them up before the eyes of a man’s soul. Even a wicked king like Benhadad, when sick, could think of Elisha (2 Kings 8:8.) Even heathen sailors, when death was in sight, were afraid, and “cried every man to his god.” (Jonah 1:5.) Surely anything that helps to make men think, is a good.

3. Sickness helps to soften men’s hearts, and teach them wisdom.

The natural heart is as hard as a stone! It can see no good in anything which is not of this life, and no happiness excepting in this world. A long illness sometimes goes far to correct these ideas. It exposes the emptiness and hollowness of what the world calls “good” things, and teaches us to hold them with a loose hand. The man of business finds that money alone, is not everything which the heart requires. The woman of the world finds that costly apparel, and novel reading, and the reports of balls and operas — are miserable comforters in a sick room. Surely anything that obliges us to alter our weights and measures of earthly things, is a real good.

4. Sickness helps to humble us.

We are all naturally proud and high-minded. Few, even of the poorest, are free from the infection. Few are to be found who do not look down on somebody else, and secretly flatter themselves that they are “not as other men.” A sick bed is a mighty tamer of such thoughts as these. It forces on us the mighty truth that we are all poor worms, that we “dwell in houses of clay,” and are “crushed before the moth.” (Job 4:19), and that kings and subjects, masters and servants, rich and poor — are all dying creatures, and will soon stand side by side at the judgment bar of God. In the sight of the coffin and the grave — it is not easy to be proud. Surely anything that teaches that lesson, is good.

5. Finally, sickness helps to try men’s religion, of what sort it is.

There are not many on earth who have no religion at all. Yet few have a religion which will bear inspection. Most are content with traditions received from their fathers, and can render no reason of the hope that is in them. Now disease is sometimes most useful to a man in exposing the utter worthlessness of his soul’s foundation. It often shows him that he has nothing solid under his feet, and nothing firm under his hand. It makes him find out that, although he may have had a form of religion, he has been all his life worshiping “an unknown god.” Many a creed looks well on the smooth waters of health — which turns out utterly unsound and useless on the rough waves of the sick bed. The storms of winter often bring out the defects in a man’s dwelling — and sickness often exposes the gracelessness of a man’s soul. Surely anything that makes us find out the real character of our faith, is a good…

We have no right to murmur at sickness, and repine at its presence in the world. We ought rather to thank God for it. It is God’s witness. It is the soul’s adviser. It is an awakener to the conscience. It is a purifier to the heart. Surely I have a right to tell you that sickness is a blessing, and not a curse — a help, and not an injury — a gain, and not a loss — a friend, and not a foe to mankind. So long as we have a world wherein there is sin, it is a mercy that it is a world where there is sickness.

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Favorite Quotes From “Shogun”

I recently read the novel Shogun by James Clavell.

Here are some of my favorite quotes.

Man is But a Blossom in the Wind

“He subdued the land. Made the peace. Forced all the daimyōs in the land to grovel like peasants before him. Rearranged feasts to suit his whim. Promoting some. Deposing others. And then he died. He was a giant among pygmies. But perhaps it’s right that all his work and greatness should die with him. Isn’t man but a blossom taken by the wind, and only the mountains and the sea and the stars and this Land of the Gods real and everlasting?”

Reason & the Law in Japanese Culture

“The law may upset reason but reason may never upset the law, or our whole society will shred like an old tatami. The law may be used to confound reason, reason must certainly not be used to overthrow the law.”

The Study of Men

“It’s always important to take time to study men — important men. Friends and enemies.”

Complex Beasts

How can a man be so brave and so stupid, so gentle and so cruel, so warming and so detestable — all at the same time?

Death is Our Heritage

Perhaps that is why we love life so much, Anjin-san. You see, we have to. Death is part of our air and sea and earth. You should know, Anjin-san, in this Land of Tears, death is our heritage.

My Only Fear

I’m not afraid, my son. I fear nothing on this earth. I fear only God’s judgment

The Natural Direction of Our Thoughts

“Always remember, child” her first teacher had impressed on her, “that to think bad thoughts is really the easiest thing in the world. If you leave your mind to itself it will spiral you down into ever-increasing unhappiness. To think good thoughts, however, requires effort. This is one of the things that need discipline –training- is about. So train your mind to dwell on sweet perfumes, the touch of this silk, tender raindrops against the shoji, the curve of the flower arrangement, the tranquillity of dawn. Then, at length, you won’t have to make such a great effort and you will be of value to yourself…”

Patience

Patience is very important. The strong are the patient ones, Anjin-san, patience means holding back your inclination to the seven emotions: hate, adoration, joy, anxiety, anger, grief, fear. If you don’t give way to the seven, you’re patient, then you’ll soon understand all manner of things and be in harmony with Eternity.

This Sunset

This sunset exists. Tomorrow does not exist. There is only now. Please look. It is so beautiful and it will never happen ever again, never, not this sunset, never in all infinity.

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Favorite Quotes from “The Blade Itself”

I recently read The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie and here are a few of my favorite quotes.

A Dreaded Task

“Once you got a task to do, it’s better to do it than to live with the fear of it.”

Be Realistic

“You have to be realistic. You have to be. No matter how much it hurts.”

When Man Worships No God

She looked down at the floor, but Yulwei surprised her by stepping forward suddenly. She raised her hand, to ward off a blow, but instead he put his arms round her and squeezed her tightly. A strange feeling. Being so close to someone else. Warm. Then Yulwei stepped away, one hand on her shoulder. “Walk in God’s footsteps, Ferro Maljinn.”

“Huh. They have no God here.”

“Say rather that they have many.”

“Many?”

“Had you not noticed? Here, each man worships himself.”

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Favorite Quotes from “Perelandra”

I recently enjoyed Perelandra by C.S. Lewis.

Here are some of my favorite quotes.

The Terror of Not Liking True Good

“All those doubts which I had felt before I entered the cottage as to whether these creatures were friend or foe, and whether Ransom were a pioneer or a dupe, had for the moment vanished. My fear was now of another kind. I felt sure the creature was what we call “good,” but I wasn’t sure whether I liked “goodness” so much as I had supposed. This is a very terrible experience. As long as what you are afraid of is something evil, you may still hope that the good may come to your rescue. But suppose you struggle through to the good and find that it also is dreadful? How if food itself turns out to be the very thing you can’t eat, and home the very place you can’t live, and your very comforter the person who makes you uncomfortable? Then, indeed, there is no rescue possible: the last car has been played. For a second or two I was nearly in that condition. Here at last was a bit of that world from beyond the word, which I had always supposed that I loved and desired, breaking through and appearing to my senses: and I didn’t like it, I wanted it to go away. I wanted every possible distance, gulf, curtain, blanket, and barrier to be placed between it and me. But I did not fall quite into the gulf. Oddly enough my very sense of helplessness saved me and steadied me. For now I was quite obviously “drawn in.” The struggle was over. The next decision did not lie with me.”

The Pleasures of Earth Engulfed by the Joys of Heaven

“Another hint came out when a skeptical friend of ours called McPhee was arguing against the Christian doctrine of the resurrection of the human body. I was his victim at the moment and he was pressing on me in his Scots way with such questions as, “So you think you’re going to have guts and palate for ever in a world where there’ll be no eating, and genital organs in a world without copulation? Man, ye’ll have a grand time of it!” when Ransom suddenly burst out with great excitement, “Oh, don’t you see, you ass, that there’s a difference between a trans-sensuous life and non-sensuous life?” That, of course, directed McPhee’s fire to him. What emerged was than in Ransom’s opinion the present functions and appetites of the body would disappear, not because they were atrophied but because they were, as he said, “engulfed.””

A Joy So Good It Seems Sinful

Words are slow. You must not lose sight of the fact that his whole life on Venus up till now had lasted less than five minutes. He was not in the least tired, and not yet seriously alarmed as to his power of surviving in such a world. He had confidence in those who had sent him there, and for the mean time the coolness of the water and the freedom of his limbs were still a novelty and a delight; but more than all these was something else at which I have already hinted and which can hardly be put into words – the strange sense of excessive pleasure which seemed somehow to be communicated to him through all his senses at once. I use the word ‘excessive’ because Ransom himself could only describe it by saying that for his first few days on Perelandra he was haunted, not by a feeling of guilt, but by surprise that he had no such feeling. There was an exuberance or prodigality of sweetness about the mere act of living which our race finds it difficult not to associate with forbidden and extravagant actions.

Drink So Good It Could Cause Nations to War

“The first taste put his caution all to flight. It was, of course, a taste, just as his thirst and hunger had been thirst and hunger. But then it was so different from every other taste that it seemed mere pedantry to call it a taste at all. It was like the discovery of a totally new genus of pleasures, something unheard of among men, out of all reckoning, beyond all covenant. For one draught of this on earth wars would be fought and nations betrayed. It could not be classified…As he let the empty gourd fall from his hand and was about to pluck a second one, it came into his head that he was now neither hungry nor thirsty. And yet to repeat a pleasure so intense and almost so spiritual seemed an obvious thing to do. His reason, or what we commonly take to be reason in our world, was all in favour of tasting this miracle again…for whatever cause, it appeared to him better not to taste again. Perhaps the experience had been so complete that repetition would be a vulgarity–like asking to hear the same symphony twice in a day.”

What If Good Is Taken From You?

“And have you no fear,” said Ransom, “that it will ever be hard to turn your heart from the thing you wanted to the thing Maleldil sends?”

“I see,” said the Lady presently. “The wave you plunge into may be very swift and great. You may need all your force to swim into it. You mean, He might send me a good like that?”

“Yes–or like a wave so swift and great that all your force was too little.”

“It often happens that way in swimming,” said the Lady. “Is not that part of the delight?”

What God Forbids

“Who thought of (Maleldil’s prohibition as) being hard? The beasts would not think it hard if I told them to walk on their heads. It would become their delight to walk on their heads. I am His beast, and all His biddings are joys.”

I’ve Come to Bring You Death

“He is what in my world we call Bad,” said Weston’s body. “One who rejects the fruit he is given for the sake of the fruit he expected or the fruit he found last time.”

“We must make him older, then,” said the Lady, and though she did not look at Ransom, all the Queen and Mother in her were revealed to him and he knew that she wished him, and all things, infinitely well. And he–he could do nothing. His weapon had been knocked out of his hand.

“And will you teach us Death?” said the Lady to Weston’s shape, where it stood above her.

“Yes,” it said, “it is for this that I came here, that you may have Death in abundance. But you must be very courageous.”

A Perfect Hatred

“He wavered. Then an experience that perhaps no good man can ever have in our world came over him–a torrent of perfectly unmixed and lawful hatred. The energy of hating, never before felt without some guilt, without some dim knowledge that he was failing fully to distinguish the sinner from the sin, rose into his arms and legs till he felt that they were pillars of burning blood. What was before him appeared no longer a creature of corrupted will. It was corruption itself to which will was attached only as an instrument. Ages ago it had been a Person: but the ruins of personality now survived in it only as weapons at the disposal of a furious self-exiled negation. It is perhaps difficult to understand why this filled Ransom not with horror but with a kind of joy. The joy came from finding at last what hatred was made for. As a boy with an axe rejoices on finding a tree, or a boy with a box of coloured chalks rejoices on finding a pile of perfectly white paper, so he rejoiced in the perfect congruity between his emotion and its object. Bleeding and trembling with weariness as he was, he felt that nothing was beyond his power, and when he flung himself upon the living Death, the eternal Surd in the universal mathematic, he was astonished, and yet (on a deeper level) not astonished at all, at his own strength. His arms seemed to move quicker than his thought. His hands taught him terrible things. He felt its ribs break, he heard its jaw-bone crack. The whole creature seemed to be crackling and splitting under his blows. His own pains, where it tore him, somehow failed to matter. He felt that he could so fight, so hate with a perfect hatred, for a whole year.”

A World is Born

“The world is born to-day,” said Malacandra. “To-day for the first time two creatures of the low worlds, two images of Maleldil that breathe and breed like the beasts, step up that step at which your parents fell, and sit in the throne of what they were meant to be. It was never seen before. Because it did not happen in your world a greater thing happened, but not this. Because the greater thing happened in Thulcandra, this and not the greater thing happens here.”

Why This Island Was Forbidden

“This island had never been forbidden them, and that one purpose in forbidding the other had been to lead them to this their destined throne. Instead of answering, the gods said, “Be still.”

A True Human I’ve Never Seen

There was great silence on the mountain top and Ransom also had fallen down before the human pair. When at last he raised his eyes from the four blessed feet, he found himself involuntarily speaking though his voice was broken and his eyes dimmed. “Do not move away, do not raise me up,” he said. “I have never before seen a man or a woman. I have lived all my life among shadows and broken images.

The eyes of the Queen looked upon him with love and recognition, but it was not of the Queen that he thought most. It was hard to think of anything but the King. And how shall I–I who have not seen him–tell you what he was like? It was hard even for Ransom to tell me of the King’s face. But we dare not withhold the truth. It was that face which no man can say he does not know. You might ask how it was possible to look upon it and not to commit idolatry, not to mistake it for that of which it was the likeness. For the resemblance was, in its own fashion, infinite, so that almost you could wonder at finding no sorrows in his brow and no wounds in his hands and feet. Yet there was no danger of mistaking, not one moment of confusion, no least sally of the will towards forbidden reverence. Where likeness was greatest, mistake was least possible. Perhaps this is always so. A clever wax-work can be made so like a man that for a moment it deceives us: the great portrait which is far more deeply like him does not. Plaster images of the Holy One may before now have drawn to themselves the adoration they were meant to arouse for the reality. But here, where His live image, like Him within and without, made by His own bare hands out of the depth of divine artistry, His masterpiece of self-portraiture coming forth from His workshop to delight all worlds, walked and spoke before Ransom’s eyes, it could never be taken for more than an image. Nay, the very beauty of it lay in the certainty that it was a copy, like and not the same, an echo, a rhyme, an exquisite reverberation of the uncreated music prolonged in a created medium.

What Lay Behind Disobedience

“As soon as you had taken away the Evil One,” she said, “and I awoke from sleep, my mind was cleared. It is a wonder to me, Piebald, that for all those days you and I could have been so young. The reason for not yet living on the Fixed Land is now so plain. How could I wish to live there except because it was Fixed? And why should I desire the Fixed except to make sure–to be able on one day to command where I should be the next and what should happen to me? It was to reject the wave–to draw my hands out of Maleldil’s, to say to Him, ‘Not thus, but thus’–to put in our own power what times should roll towards us . . . as if you gathered fruits together to-day for to-morrow’s eating instead of taking what came. That would have been cold love and feeble trust. And out of it how could we ever have climbed back into love and trust again?”

Two Kinds of Knowledge of Evil

We have learned of evil, though not as the Evil One wished us to learn. We have learned better than that, and know it more, for it is waking that understands sleep and not sleep that understands waking. There is an ignorance of evil that comes from being young: there is a darker ignorance that comes from doing it, as men by sleeping lose the knowledge of sleep. You are more ignorant of evil in Thulcandra now than in the days before your Lord and Lady began to do it. But Maleldil has brought us out of the one ignorance, and we have not entered the other. It was by the Evil One himself that he brought us out of the first. Little did that dark mind know the errand on which he really came to Perelandra!”

 

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Favorites Quotes from “Out of the Silent Planet”

I recently enjoyed Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes.

Fallen vs. Unfallen Desire

“‘Is the begetting of young not a pleasure maong the hrossa?’

‘It is a very great on, Hman. This is what we call love,’

‘If a thing is a pleasure, a hman wants it again. He might want the pleasure more often than the number of young that could be fed.’

It took Hyoi a long time to get the point.

‘You mean,’ he said slowly, ‘that he might do it not only in one or two years of his life but again?’

‘Yes.’

‘But why? Why would he want his dinner all day or want to sleep after he had slept? I do not understand.’

‘But a dinner comes every day. This love, you say, comes only once while the hross lives?’

‘But it takes his whole life. When he is young he has to look for his mate; and then he has to court her; then he begets youngl then he rears them; then he remember all this, and boils it inside him and makes it into poems and wisdom.’

‘But the pleasure he must be content only to remember?’

‘That is like saying, ‘My food I must be content to eat.’

‘I do not understand.’

‘A pleasure is full grown only when it is remembered.  You are speaking , Hman, as if the pleasure were one thing and the memory another.  It is all one thing .  The Seroni could say it better than I say it now.  Not better than I could say it in a poem.  What you call remembering is the last part of pleasure, as the crah is the last part of a poem.  When you and I met, the meeting was over very shortly, it was nothing.  Now it is growing something as we remember it.  But sill we know very little about it.  What it will be when I remember it as I lie down to die, what it makes in me all my days till then–that is the real meeting.  The other is only the beginning of it.  You say you have poets in your world.  Do they not teach you this?’

“Perhaps some of them do,’ said Ransom. ‘But even in a poem does a hross never long to hear on splendid line over again?’

Hyoi’s reply unfortunately turned on one of those points in their language which Ransom had not mastered. There were two verbs which both, as far as he could see, meant to long or yearn; but the hrossa drew sharp distinction, even an opposition, between them. Hyoi seemed to him merely to be saying that everyone would long for it (wondelone) but no one in his senses could long for it (hluntheline).

‘And indeed,’ he continued, ‘the poem is a good example. For the most splendid line becomes fully splendid only by means of all the lines after it; if you went back to it you would find it less splendid than you thought. You would kill it. I mean in a good poem.’

‘But in a bent poem, Hyoi?’

‘A bent poem is not listened to, Hman.’

‘And how of love in a bent life?’

‘How could the life of a hnau be bent?’

‘Do you say, Hyoi, that there are no bent hrossa?’

. . . At last it dawned upon (Ransom) that it was not (the hrossa), but (Man), that were the puzzle. That the hrossa should have such instincts was mildly surprising; but how came it that the instincts of the hrossa so closely resembled the unattained ideals of that far-divided species Man whose instincts were so deplorably different? What was the history of Man?

When Danger Brings Delight

‘All the same,’ said Ransom, unconsciously nettled on behalf of his own world, ‘Maleldil has let in the hnakra‘ (evil shark-like creatures)

‘Oh, but that is so different. I long to kill this hnakra as he also longs to kill me. I hope that my ship will be the first and I first in my ship with my straight spear when the blackjaws snap. And if he kills me, my people will mourn and my brothers will desire still more to kill him. But they will not wish that there were no hnéraki; nor do I. How can I make you understand, when you do not understand the poets? The hnakra is our enemy, but he is also our beloved. We feel in our hearts his joy as he looks down from the mountain of water in the north where he was born; we leap with him when he jumps the falls; and when winter comes, and the lake smokes higher than our heads, it is with his eyes that we see it and know that his roaming time is come. We hang images of him in our houses, and the sign of all the hrossa is a hnakra. In him the spirit of the valley lives; and our young play at being hnéraki as soon as they can splash in the shallows.’

‘And then he kills them?’

‘Not often them. The hrossa would be bent hrossa if they let him get so near. Long before he had come down so far we should have sought him out. No, Hm¯an, it is not a few deaths roving the world around him that make a hnau miserable. It is a bent hnau that would blacken the world. And I say also this. I do not think the forest would be so bright, nor the water so warm, nor love so sweet, if there were no danger in the lakes. I will tell you a day in my life that has shaped me; such a day as comes only once, like love, or serving Oyarsa in Meldilorn. Then I was young, not much more than a cub, when I went far, far up the handramit to the land where stars shine at midday and even water is cold. A great waterfall I climbed. I stood on the shore of Balki the pool, which is the place of most awe in all worlds. The walls of it go up for ever and ever and huge and holy images are cut in them, the work of old times. There is the fall called the Mountain of Water. Because I have stood there alone, Maleldil and I, for even Oyarsa sent me no word, my heart has been higher, my song deeper, all my days. But do you think it would have been so unless I had known that in Balki hneraki dwelled? There I drank life because death was in the pool. That was the best of drinks save one.’

‘What one?’ asked Ransom.

‘Death itself in the day I drink it and go to Maleldil.’

Grown Up

He was one with them. That difficulty which they, accustomed to more than one rational species, had perhaps never felt, was now overcome. They were all hnau. They had stood shoulder to shoulder in the face of an enemy, and the shapes of their heads no longer mattered.  And he, even Ransom, had come through it and not been disgraced. He had grown up.

Man Wants to Be Little Oyarsas

“They were astonished of what he had to tell them of human history: of war, slavery, and prostitution.

‘It is because they have no Oyarsa,’ said one of the pupils.

‘It is because everyone of them wants to be a little Oyarsa himself,’ said Augray.

‘They cannot help it,’ said the old sorn. ‘There must be rule, yet how can creatures rule themselves? Beasts must be ruled by hnau and hnau by eldila and eldila by Madleldil. These creatures shave no eldila. They re like on trying to lift himself by his own hair – or one trying to see over a whole country when he is on a level with it – like a female trying to beget young on herself.’

 

 

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My Favorite Quotes From “The Return of the Ring”

I recently enjoyed The Return of the King (book three in “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy) by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Here are three of my favorite quotes.

Love of Master & Self-Understanding Help to Resist Temptation

“In that hour of trial it was the love of his master that helped most to hold him firm; but also deep down in him lived still unconquered his plain hobbit-sense: he knew in the core of his heart that he was not large enough to bear such a burden, even if such visions were not a mere cheat to betray him.”

Everything and Everyone Happens for a Reason

“But do you remember Gandalf’s words: Even Gollum may have something yet to do? But for him, Sam, I could not have destroyed the Ring. The Quest would have been in vain, even at the bitter end. So let us forgive him! For the Quest is achieved, and now all is over. I am glad you are here with me. Here at the end of all things, Sam.”

The Sacrifice of Some

“But I have been too deeply hurt, Sam. I tried to save the Shire, and it has been saved, but not for me. It must often be so, Sam, when things are in danger: someone has to give them up, lose them, so that others may keep them.”

 

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