Friday, August 6, 2010

August 6

Ever since I was old enough to notice such things, August 6 has been an intriguing date to me. Is it simply coincidence that the first atomic bomb was dropped on the feast of the Transfiguration? I'm sure it's not among the reasons the date was picked (I'm not even sure August 6 was the feast of the Transfiguration during the 1940's). I find my thoughts about it coming from two different directions.

My first, almost subliminal, reaction is to notice the similarity between both events as explosions of light and displays of power.

But that's where the similarity ends. The power displayed in each event is poles apart. That of the atomic bomb is destructive and supremely impersonal. That of the Transfiguration is life-giving and supremely personal. It's also self-giving in a way that no bomb can be. The glory we see in Christ at that point is based on his total gift of self, not on any desire to draw power to himself or to have power over others.

If I may be allowed a Tolkien digression (since he provided the title of this blog, it seems right to bring him up occasionally): he said that none of the characters in The Lord of the Rings is a Christ figure and, because they all have their own flaws and faults, I totally accept that. He said specifically, when asked, that Frodo was not a Christ figure because, in the end, he failed - as any finite creature would have. But like several of the main characters in the book, Frodo also has some Christ-like qualities. The most obvious, to me, at least, is his total gift of self. Unlike Christ, Frodo's "all" simply wasn't enough. His moment of transfiguration is also simpler, and witnessed by only one faithful follower, as Sam sees light coming from within him and thinks, "He's like that, and sometimes it shines through somehow." It might be interesting to apply Sam's reflection to Christ's Transfiguration. What Peter, James, and John saw in that event was always the truth - just not always visible: "He's like that, and sometimes it shines through somehow."

For many more reflections on Tolkien, see my The Lord of the Rings as a Fundamentally Catholic and Religious Work

1 comment:

  1. I love this post and I don't understand why they move this feast to sunday and not make it a day of obiligation is beside me.