Tolkien and how to defeat abortion through mercy

In a recent article, published in the Angelus magazine of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Charles C. Camosy, Associate Professor of Theology and Social Ethics at Fordham University, gives a clue, relying on the first book and the trilogy of The JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings on how Catholics around the world can defeat abortion.

The article by Camosy, who is the author of eight books, among which *Resisiendo
the throwaway culture: how a coherent life ethic can unite a fractured country, *titled it “Abortion must be defeated with mercy” and has as its point of reference the intense debate –both in networks and in families– that prompted the US Supreme Court decision on abortion.

Many Catholics do not know how to respond to the barbs, the attacks and the fierce criticism against the Church, not only in the United States, but in the rest of the world, about the defense of life, the opposition to legal abortion and the It is necessary that – from the doctrine – reasons for faith be given against an increasingly widespread current of thought that considers faith “anachronistic”.

Tolkien’s theme

To illustrate how to defeat abortion, Camosy is based on the first book of the famous trilogy of The Lord of the rings: “The Fellowship of the Ring”. Specifically in the passage in which Gandalf speaks with Frodo -the little hobbit- on the subject of Gollum, the creature that is causing brutal evil to the brotherhood. In Frodo’s opinion, Gollum should have died and Bilbo should not have felt sorry for him.

“Pity? It was pity that stayed her hand. Mercy, and mercy: do not hit needlessly. And he has been well rewarded, Frodo. Rest assured that he took so little damage from the evil, and he escaped in the end, because he began his possession of the Ring that way. Mercifully,’ replies Gandalf to Frodo. And then he adds: “Bilbo’s piety may rule the fate of many.”

“These ten words can sum up the central theme of Tolkien’s entire trilogy: it is the only statement he puts into all three books… For those who know how the story ends, it is the pity and mercy shown to Gollum that allows his search is successful. Without that merciful response, evil would have triumphed”, notes Camosy in his article published in Angelus.

Tolkien, a fervent Catholic – his eldest son, John, was a priest – made this trilogy (wonderful) to show how mercy and kindness are the only forces that overcome evil and that “each of us is saved by the merciful response of Christ to the world. Killing Gollum to have (Bilbo) the Ring would have been what practical reason would determine. But mercy “is so above reason that it may seem foolish to many.”

Camosy adds to this section the opinion of Graham Greene, another Catholic novelist and playwright who expressed this “madness of mercy”, the “madness” that stayed Bilbo’s hand. Greene does it in his novel Brighton Amusement Park: “You cannot conceive, nor can I, the appalling strangeness of God’s mercy.”

a catholic response

Following the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States – putting an end to Roe vs. Wade—”incredible rage and anger” has been unleashed throughout the Western world, and, according to Camosy, this decision “has broken a dam that held back a deep reservoir of pain and its contents are bursting in all directions.” And Catholics have a mission to respond to the pain of millions of women who have had abortions, following the example of Christ.

“In this context we are called to bring God’s mercy and compassion to those hurt by abortion. This does not mean that we should say that what these women and men did was correct (…) On the contrary, it is the serious evil of abortion that can make the mercy of God so terribly strange, ”says Camsoy. And when connecting with the case of Bilbo he affirms that “our capacity to show mercy can govern the destiny of many, especially when it comes to abortion”.

In many places on our planet, including “Catholic” countries like Mexico, Colombia or Brazil, the pro-life option seems increasingly difficult. But, going back to Tolkien’s trilogy, Camosy says that “we may seem like pathetic little hobbits trying to take the One Ring to Mordor to destroy it in the fires of Mount Doom.

Accepting the evil of abortion, but not making it the only flag, which the author proposes, with the story of Frodo, Bilbo, Gandalf and all the endearing characters of the trilogy, the pro-life search can be successful only if we show mercy and love, making room for God’s wisdom and peace to prevail.

Responding in anger to attacks on life is useless. And, lately, it is also difficult for arguments to be heard. “The Christian alternative, as Tolkien understood, is to die to one’s ego and be ruled by the hideous strangeness of Christ’s mercy. Our own merits are not enough for the search to be successful”, concludes Camosy.

Tolkien and how to defeat abortion through mercy