The Exotic–Yet Amazingly Simpatico–Ambassador

The Lord Jesus repeatedly refers to “the One Who sent me.” Another, perfectly plausible way to translate the Greek here would be: “the One Whose ambassador I am.”

I don’t know about you, but the idea of an ambassador always intrigues. It catapults my imagination into a cocktail party, with James Bond standing there in a tuxedo.

The ambassador of a foreign land, unknown to us, populated by a people of mysterious customs and counsels. A strange country, where they grow different fruits, weave exotic garments in shades of color we have never conceived, and make music with instruments in shapes we have never seen. They wear different kinds of hats, have different ideas and different philosophies. They have plans; they seek communication, perhaps friendship with us…so an ambassador has arrived from across the sea.

Christ comes from such an unknown place. In fact, from a place infinitely more unknown. Even if we learned today of an island country which had remained completely isolated from the rest of the world until now—even if such a place in some corner of the ocean sent an ambassador to us, it could not be anywhere near as thoroughly exotic and unknown as the domain from which the Christ has come.

But let’s not forget the other admirable quality of an ambassador. He comes from a land beyond our ken, but he also must possess the communication skills necessary to make it somehow part of our ken. His mission as an ambassador is to reveal and make intelligible to us all the exotic and mystifying things about the foreign land, to make them familiar to us, to introduce us into friendship with them.

Christ possesses this ambassadorial quality, too, in an eminent way. Not only is He skilled at communicating with us and opening up to us the mysteries of His homeland, He is, in fact, not a foreigner at all. He is one of us. Gosh, Christ is so human—He makes us look like rookies when it comes to knowing how to be human. He understands us better than we understand ourselves.

So: Let’s show our well-bred, James-Bond-like manners. Let’s quietly take our place next to the ambassador and spend the rest of our lives listening carefully to everything He says, so that we can learn all about His fabulous homeland. He has promised to take us there when the time is right. Because, it turns out that His homeland, strange as it is to us, is actually our homeland, too.

Another thing…

…to keep in mind is:

In order to win the ACC tournament, the Virginia Tech Hokies will have to beat:

1. Georgia Tech on Thursday, which is eminently doable.

2. Florida State on Friday. (Tough.)

3. Duke on Saturday. (Been done!)

4. UNC on Sunday.

If Tech makes it to the final, I will root with the Blacksburghers. Otherwise, go Tar Heels!

…May I make one other observation?

If you are like me, you have watched “The Lord of the Rings” movie trilogy more times than you care to remember. The movies are now a decade old.*

When the movies were first released, I was livid because they departed so shamelessly from the books. But I soon persuaded myself to go easy. After all, film is a different genre, and some concessions must be made.

Does it make sense for Aragorn to be felled in a skirmish with Uruk scouts, only to be revived by a kissy-kissy from Liv Tyler? No, it makes no sense. But this is a movie.

Does Viggo Mortensen ‘own’ the role of Aragorn, as Peter Jackson put it? Um…Does Pierce Brosnan ‘own’ James Bond? Does Vivien Leigh ‘own’ Anna Karenina? Does Jim Caviezel ‘own’ our Lord Jesus Christ? NOT. No. Not at all. Good yeoman efforts, yes. But ‘own?’ Please. (By the by, in my opinion, George C. Scott does in fact own Rochester, so you can forget about this new Jane Eyre movie.)

However: I can live with Viggo Mortensen.

Should poor John Rhys-Davies, an accomplished Shakespearean, and poor Gimli son of Gloin, who could kick any of our butts before you can say the word ‘midget’–should the Dwarf warrior be reduced to silly comic relief? No. But…We will let it go.

So I have had a decade of peaceful coexistence with these movies. But two particular things still rankle. They both concern the final film, and they have helped me to realize exactly what these movies are.

1. How is it possible that the script-writers thought it was plausible for Elrond to demand that Aragorn “forget the Ranger,” and become the man he was meant to be? Makes NO sense. The Rangers are the Dunedain, the remnants of the most excellent men, the Numenoreans. Even if we leave that aside, Aragorn’s majesty derives precisely from his humble, hardscrabble Ranger resourcefulness. If he were no Ranger, he would be no king.

2. In the greatest betrayal of all time, how could Peter Jackson possibly have thought that it was alright to remove the most important part of the whole plot? The climax of the book is NOT the destruction of the Ring or victory over Sauron’s armies. The climax of the book is when the Hobbits return to the Shire and clear Saruman’s petty dictators out of it.

Oh–you didn’t know that Saruman went north into the Shire after Isengard was reduced to ruins by the Ents? You didn’t know that the evil wizard engineered a sinister take-over of the the Hobbits’ homeland by wastrels he found wandering the roads around Bree? You didn’t know that Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin had to show the punks who was boss when the heroes returned home from Gondor?

Well, that’s because you wouldn’t know it, based on the dagblame movie. Since the movie pretends that such things never even happened!

So, what are Peter Jackson’s movies? They are an extremely good comic-book version of the “The Lord of the Rings.” It is hard to imagine a better comic-book version.

*This is the beginning of a LONG series of ‘Reflections on the Oughts Decade.’