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Posts Tagged ‘Ent’

If you ever get that craving to find treasure, just for the thrill of finding, get into words.  Open a dictionary, read the definition that catches your eye first, and ask yourself questions.  What did that one word mean in the definition?  What are the root words, and where are they from?  How is that word related to other words that sound or are spelled similarly but whose definitions you never before associated?  Is there a list of synonyms?  How are they similar to the first word?  What variations do they put on it?

If you get really interested in the hunt, pick up a book about interesting words.  There are many of them.  I have been a fan of JRR Tolkien for years, and his books contain many interesting words.  In one reading of Lord of the Rings, I kept a list.  Even if the words were familiar, I listed ones that sounded good, or that had an intriguing spelling – words that stood out.  Then I started looking up their definitions and etymologies.  There is a book I’m reading now, Ring of Words: Tolkien and the Oxford English Dictionary.  Over half of the book is word studies.

You can learn interesting things, like the history of “ent.”  It comes from old Germanic and Norse words for giants.  In those ancient days when the word was in common use, the writers attributed still older ruined cities and half-remembered mythologies to “ents.”

Or you can start wondering about words.  How is dwarf related to orcs and ogres?  To rocks?  Especially in mythology, and very intentionally in Tolkien’s myths, relations between words reflect relations between the objects they describe.  If the word “dwarf” derives from a word for “rock,” then maybe dwarves themselves come from rocks.

EVEN if you are wrong (as I often am) you’ve started your imagination on a great story.  And along the way, you’ve undoubtedly found some absorbing treasures of words and history.

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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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,
Lisa of Longbourn
 
(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.”

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One can read over the brim of one’s cup, just as Treebeard the Ent studied Merry and Pippin in his mountain home over his entdraught in Middle Earth long ago.  Such was I doing when I stopped thinking about the words and became more attentive to the taste in my cup.  I was drinking a vanilla chai tea latte, hot, and slightly watered down due to my lack of tablespoon at work.  The flavor is one of the new things introduced to my life in a year that is rapidly flowing to its end.  I like it. 

 

But I miss hot chocolate.  Not that I never drink chocolate anymore.  That I drink chai tea when I would have been sipping cocoa is undeniable.  Life has changed.  My tastes have dutifully broadened as an expected part of growing up.  If they are broadened, they are also dispersed.  Now the intensity of my appreciation for chocolate is tempered by my acceptance of vanilla chai tea. 

 

Would my life be better if I had refused to taste chai tea?  If through loyalty I remained zealous for chocolate alone, could I still be a grown up and still be happy?  Would I be happier? 

 

Life is a choice whether to try new things.  Once surrendered to a new pet topic, to the diminution of my former sole passion, my experience says there is no possibility of returning to a single-passion life.  A new opportunity arises, and if I am consistent, is tried.  Causes ebb and flow, wax and wane now, each replacing the last for its moment in the spotlight. 

 

I haven’t really written anything in a while.  Inspiration departed.  Whenever that happens I get borderline depressed, because life seems to have lost its flavor, and my passion for each moment has waned.  I don’t like drifting, shallow waves of life lapping around an unresponsive me.  Leaving the metaphor, though, I keep on doing things: going to work, talking to people, checking email.  Even genuine smiles come to my face. 

 

Now, slowly, I think I’m coming out of my doldrums.  A week ago Saturday night, I completely spontaneously saw a movie, August Rush.  There were so few people in the theater, and I was so tired.  Reclined in my seat, I tilted my head against the back of the cushion, and absorbed a beautiful movie.  The soundtrack was uniquely expressive, imposing its presence and importance.  Music spoke in the movie.  It communicated identity, feelings, direction, summons, friendship, longings, and fulfillment. 

 

Afterward I escaped the scent of popcorn into a fresh midnight wind.  The air was too cold to linger, but I breathed it deeply, and memorized its touch on my face.  I felt the cold and the current.  My brother and I talked of how we love things and moments with feeling, and flavor.  They say something, and mean something. 

 

In contrast, the chocolate cake I had just before the movie was bland.  The color boasted bursting flavor, when in actuality the taste was dull and muted.  Not like fudge, or cinnamon, or grape juice.  Those things are so bursting with flavor that they assert their identities. 

 

Then a few days later was a day full of feeling, and a sense of doing things important, though everyday.  I cried near the end, for a few friends came home.  Tears break the walls of the world without passion.  That’s the metaphor of George MacDonald’s Princess Lightness. 

 

Yet when the walls are down, and I care about what happens around me, when I’m advancing my might on causes and people, there’s the probability that I’ll see the world in reality, and see myself as I am.  Couple this to just turning 23, to holidays and old friends, and I am sad now – not depressed, but sad in a sentimental way, in a fightable way. 

 

Sunday I went to Red Robin alone.  They offered me a free burger for my birthday in exchange for receiving their emails, so I went to redeem my coupon.  The staff was nice.  I brought a book about grace.  And in between sips of a chocolate shake and bites of luscious burger, I observed.  The walls caught my attention, bearing an eclectic collection of posters, prints, and photographs.  One fantastic picture showed downtown Chicago along the Chicago River in 1929.  Already the concentration of sky-piercing towers was a marvel.  Chicago is my favorite city.  I can’t lay my finger on the reason, only that when I am there I feel alive.  Every place is a story; every sound has a flavor; and every person has a style. 

 

I love Christmas for the same reason.  Each song is a tale, each note a rush of emotion.  Every light twinkles mystery into my soul.  Altered from its original intent or not, in December the whole country is united in focus.  No one asks why the stores all play music about snow, bells, peace, and Jesus.  It is understood when you wear red that you’re being festive.  Even those who have dropped out of church make it back for the memories of candlelight at Christmas Eve services. 

 

So today, especially at Christmas, I want to challenge you to seize the day.  Breathe the moment.  Live to the hilt.  Pursue life.  Feed on truth.  Praise beauty.  Remember.  Cry.  Hope.  Laugh.  Sing.  Love. 

 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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Actually, it’s old, so old that we hardly use it.  Tolkien used it because it was old and English.  When I write about the Church so much, and am trying to emphasize original meaning instead of what the word has come to mean in our culture (I despise redefinitioning), I resort to long explanations each time I describe what happens when the people of God get together.  One can use Greek, ekklesia, or start by defining the English word, church (which has so many uses now that it is about as ineffective as love), or say assembly, meeting, gathering, or fellowshipAssembly reminds people either of six grades of public school children seated in the cafeteria, or when speaking of religion, the semi-charismatic Assembly of God denomination.    Meeting was actually used in its common sense (I have a meeting to attend) by nonconformist religious groups, and continues to be used by the Quakers.  Gathering tells you nothing about what is going on.  And fellowship indicates that people are getting together for chit-chat.  See how inadequate these words are to express the potent prescription described in the New Testament for the followers of Jesus when two or more were together. 

The first occurrence of “church” in the Bible is Matthew 16:18, where Jesus promises that on the truth Peter confessed 2 verses prior, the Church would be built, and even the gates of hell would not prevail against it.  The context is, like much of Matthew, very kingdom-focused.  As usual, the disciples were hearing Jesus to speak of an earthly kingdom.  No doubt they had in mind governments (like that described in detail in 1 Chronicles), armies, governors, judges, and councils.  The word ekklesia (translated church) was the word for the political assemblies at which the citizens would deliberate.  We might think of parliament or legislatures, or even a townhall meeting.  It could refer to any gathering of people, and was applied to religious gatherings.  Matthew 18:17, in the passage used for church discipline, Jesus indicates the church is a judicial body.  Paul goes along with this in 1 Corinthians (a great textbook on church structure, life, and leadership), when he suggests that rather than bringing “brothers” to court, they should submit to the judgment of the Church. 

All this to set up my new synonym for church, a word so out of fashion that it is very unlikely you will think of it meaning anything else.  The word is moot.  You have heard it, but you didn’t know what it meant.  It was used colloquially in the phrase “moot point,” or “moot case.”  The common use is a perversion of the original use.  A moot was a deliberative gathering, often for discussing hypothetical cases (this is the sense in which the word does not apply to church).  If something was hypothetical, it was debatable, in that there was no final word to be said on the matter.  But a culture that does not appreciate the hypothetical has transferred the phrase “moot point” to mean not worth discussing. 

JRR Tolkien used moot in his chapter on the Ents.  Their gathering was called a moot.  In this case, he blended two meanings: the newer one applied to deliberation, and the etymological one in which the word simply meant assembly.  The Online Etymology Dictionary defines moot as “a meeting, especially of freemen to discuss community affairs or mete justice.”  Its root is in a word for “encounter.” 

So a church, which is a gathering of disciples to manage the affairs of their community, to build each other up in unity and provide accountability towards godliness, could be described as a moot.  That’s just what I’m going to do. 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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