Christianity has taught us to shun the Dark and reach solely for the Light: the Dark was bad and the Light good. Our weaknesses and faults were bad and we needed to shun them and repent. Yet, Jesus himself was fully human and not afraid to show his temper in the Temple when he overthrew the tables of the moneylenders.
This is not the message we receive from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.
If the Forces of Good had not used both the Light and the Dark they would assuredly have lost. It gave them the edge because the Forces of Evil only used the Dark. Remember how they were wont to steal only the black horses belonging to the Rohirrim, the horsemen of the great plains. Thus, they were only using half of the power of Creation.
We have a shadow self and to know that side of ourselves and to accept it is to know ourselves fully. This is implied in the words above the Delphic Oracle ‘KNOW THYSELF’.
Would Frodo have succeeded without the help of Gollum who had been long steeped in the evil energy of the One Ring belonging to the Dark Lord Sauron? Probably not. Gollum guided Frodo and Samwise through the treacherous marshes in the Dead Lands near Mordor: he took them into the heartland of Mordor over the only Pass they had any hope of navigating: and at the end, on the edge of the volcano, Gollum and Frodo fight each other for possession of the Ring. If Gollum had not bitten off Frodo’s Ring Finger, lost his balance and fallen into the flames, Frodo would have declared himself the New Ring Lord, been quickly taken captive by one of the Ringwraiths, and all would have been lost.
The great white bastion of The West, Minas Tirith, was only saved by the timely arrival of Aragorn with a second contingent of fighters from the Homelands. He could not have achieved this seeming miracle if he had not dared to take the Paths of the Dead – a short cut. He was able to enlist the help of the ghosts of that dead people, who had once worshipped the Dark Lord, to terrify and chase away the Corsairs whose ships they then commandeered to sail up the river to the rescue of Minas Tirith in the nick of time.
And if you can bear to read another example – the seemingly disastrous attack on The Fellowship at The Falls of Rauros by Orcs that scattered its members and left Boromir dead. Yet, without that, Frodo and Samwise might not have struck out independently for Mordor, the Tree Ents and Huorns (the wild trees) might not have come to the rescue of the beleaguered Horsemen and their families at Helm’s Deep. Moreover, they might not have fled to that safe redoubt in the first place.
It reminds me of a sentence I came across recently that ‘something good always comes out of something evil’. We have the expression ‘every cloud has a silver lining’. Or to put it another way, having just read Paulo Coelho’s The Fifth Mountain, God uses Evil for his own purposes. This is certainly seen in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings as well as in Coelho’s book.
In the latter, the young Elijah works out that God sent the Assyrian Army to destroy the Phoenician town of Akbar, where he was living, to wake up the people there who had become stuck in their ways, allowing no change in custom. After this great tragedy only the old, widowed and children are all who remain to rebuild the City under the guidance of Elijah. But the old come alive again: they have to start being useful and resourceful and to learn new skills. Many improvements are made to the City such as wider streets, stronger roofs, a more efficient water system and new embroidery stitches. And the one thing the High Priest thought worth sacrificing the City for, so as to prevent it happening which was learning to read and write, was taught under Elijah’s encouragement to administer taxes etc more efficiently.
To end with a conversation between Elijah and the young boy in The Fifth Mountain,
“Can God be evil?” the boy insisted.
“God is all-powerful,” answered Elijah. “He can do anthing, and nothing is forbidden to Him, for if it were, there would exist someone more powerful than He, to prevent His doing certain things. In that case, I should prefer to worship and revere that more powerful someone………….Still, because of His infinite power, He chose to do only Good. If we reach the end of our story, we shall see that often Good is disguised as Evil, but it goes on being the Good, and is part of the plan that He created for humanity.”