Elder Larry Y. Wilson of the Quorum of the Seventy compared “Lord of the Rings” and “The Chronicles of Narnia” to preparing for Christ’s return at BYU’s devotional on Dec.1, 2015.
Wilson illustrated the time in which authors J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis lived, plagued with doubt and a religious decline, much like the one society faces today. The number of Christians in the United States has dropped by eight percent in the last seven years alone, according to statistics from the Pew Center. More and more people are becoming disillusioned and claiming to be unaffiliated, atheist or agnostic.
During the time of Tolkien and Lewis, the First World War and the Spanish Influenza resulted in billions of deaths and caused people to become disillusioned with God.
“To many of those living at that time, the cosmos seemed to be indifferent and uncaring,” Wilson said. “The realities of the new type of war were staggering. The horror of seeing men blown apart and then seeing and smelling their corpses rot for weeks in the cold mud of trenches tried the faith that sent men to fight ‘for King, for Country and for God.'”
Instead, people turned to science, technology, or other places to fill the religious void they felt. Wilson claimed this same sense of disillusionment is happening today.
“It is a time of uncertainty, one in which many question whether or not faith and religion have a place in their lives or in the public square,” Wilson said. “You, too, will have to decide whether faith has an enduring place in your own life.”
Wilson proposed it is not the fantastical elements of “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Chronicles of Narnia” that make them popular, but the realism and the important truths they contain for living in troubling times and preparing for the return of Christ.
These books served as cold water waking up the downtrodden and serving as a reminder that there had always been a battle between good and evil, Wilson claimed.
Speaking of “The Lord of the Rings,” he said, “It is not just about brave hobbits fighting the armies of Mordor, but about the universal heroism of all of us, seemingly little people, who must fight against the evil of their own day in whatever way they can, calling on an inner strength they didn’t know they had.”
These books are popular because they demonstrate the longing people have to have a hero to fight the fights they couldn’t fight, Wilson said. He compared these heroes, Aslan and Aaragorn, to Christ.
“Each of us faces a choice. We can choose to see ourselves as the Lord’s servants, and humbly seek to know what He wants us to be doing with the talents and time he has given us,” Wilson said.
Wilson further claimed people need to remember that God will not necessarily fulfill all of people’s natural aspirations for happiness, but rather that the triumphant future and time when he will return. He compared this to the people who were preparing for the return of Aslan in Narnia or Aaragorn in “Lord of the Rings” — people today must prepare for the return of Christ. The New Testament mentions Christ’s return 318 times, according to Wilson.
“If we are prepared for His coming — if we are looking for it — that day will be a great time of reunion and rejoicing,” Wilson said. “Make your choice, brothers and sisters, to use your time in the cause that matters most, the one that leads to the millennial reign of Jesus Christ.”
Wilson cautioned that just like the heroes in these novels needed to stay on the right path, so do people today.
“The Enemy of your souls will entice you to take these strange paths, to devote your precious life not to building God’s kingdom, but to any other cause,” Wilson said. “From Satan’s point of view, any cause will do if it diverts God’s children from the one path that allows them to hold fast to the iron rod and thus receive ongoing revelation.”
Wilson further mentioned the need for heroes to raise up. Lewis and Tolkien were criticized for their views, but they didn’t back down. He claimed these people are likewise needed today.
“It seems that no one wants to be labeled judgmental today, so our world has posited gods for itself that never judge and are never stern. They only affirm us and never deny us of anything we want,” Wilson said.