This is my favorite literary passage, both for it’s own merits and for the truths it tells regarding our great God.
As I’ve been neglecting I, Pandora of late, I hope you enjoy this passage as much as I do.
The setup: Iluvatar, God, has created the Ainur (angels) and taught them music. Iluvatar has gathered them all to reveal a new and mighty song for them to accompany and build upon. Tension builds as Melko the devious weaves his own counter melodies, not in harmony with Iluvatar’s greater themes but for his own glory. The following is from the Book of Lost Tales, volume 1. It is the earliest of the forms of this great tale which may also be found in more well-read form in the Silmarillion.
Then said Iluvatar: “Mighty are the Ainur, and glorious, and among them is Melko the most powerful in knowledge; but that he may know, and all the Ainur, that I am Iluvatar, those things that ye have sung and played, lo! I have caused to be – not in the musics that ye make in the heavenly regions, as a joy to me and a play unto yourselves, alone, but rather to have shape and reality even as have ye Ainur, whom I have made to share in the reality of Iluvatar myself. Maybe I shall love these things that come of my song even as I love the Ainur who are of my thought, and maybe more. Thou Melko shalt see that no theme can be played save it come in the end of Iluvatar’s self, nor can any alter the music in Iluvatar’s despite. He that attempts this finds himself in the end but aiding me in devising a thing of still greater grandeur and more complex wonder: – for lo! through Melko have terror as fire, and sorrow like dark waters, wrath like thunder, and evil as far from my light as the depths of the uttermost dark places, come into the design that I laid before you. Through him has pain and misery been made in the clash of overwhelming musics; and with confusion of sound have cruelty, and ravening, and darkness, loathly mire and all putrescence of thought or thing, foul mists and violent flame, cold without mercy, been born, and death without hope. Yet is this through him and not by him; and he shall see, and ye all likewise, and even shall those beings, who must now dwell among his evil and endure through Melko misery and sorrow, terror and wickedness, declare in the end that it redoundeth only to my greater glory, and doth but make the theme more worth the hearing, Life more worth the living, and the World so much more the wonderful and marvellous, that of all the deeds of Iluvatar it shall be called his mightiest and his loveliest.”
Mighty is the terror to the terrible that his strutting and strong words may come to naught and vanity. Mightier still is the terror to the terrible that all their vanity may be turned against them, working from the greater glory of one greater than them. The despots and tyrants of this world fear their life being meaningless, and the fear even more that their work will have been for another.
And yet that is the way it is. And of all the tyrants, Satan, the most vicious and terrible and vain and haughty and the one who will most assuredly come to naught and that without remedy. And all his vicious and terrible and vain and haughty works will come only to the greater glory of the one true God to whom is all glory and all honor, and all worship forever.
Don’t you just love Tolkien?