Books That Tell Truth Through Lies

As I was going through blog posts in my inbox yesterday,  I noticed two of my fellow bloggers were writing about reading recommendations and lists. Juni Desireé was posting about the top 10 books on her reading list for this year, and Socratic MBTI offered three quick recommendations for “enriching” books to read. In the past, I’ve shared a couple lists of my own, including my favorite fantasy books, but that was way back in 2013 (I’ve been blogging that long!?!). Sounds like it’s time for another recommended books post! Fiction That Tells The Truth

Books That Tell A Truth Through Lies | marissabaker.wordpress.com

I’m taking the title of this post from one of my favorite ideas — that even though “fiction” is defined as imaginary or untrue it is, in fact, a vehicle for telling the truth.

“That’s what fiction is for. It’s for getting at the truth when the truth isn’t sufficient for the truth.” ― Tim O’Brien

“Fiction reveals truth that reality obscures.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Fiction is the lie through which we tell the truth.” ― Albert Camus

“A fiction writer weaves a fabric of lies in hopes of revealing deeper human truths.” ― Wally Lamb

That’s my favorite kind of fiction. Any good story can teach you something true about yourself or other people, but truly great stories are going to get at a “deeper human truth” than is often isn’t possible in any other form. Child-labor laws would have passed in Britain without Dickens, but would it have happened as quickly if people hadn’t read Oliver Twist? Would the phrase “Catch-22” have entered our vocabulary if Joseph Heller wrote an essay instead of a novel?

Many books exist to share truths or make us think about something we’d otherwise overlook. One of the more famous is 1984 by George Orwell, which I’ve never actually finished reading (I know, I know — I’ll go hide in the corner now). Many others teach us truths seemingly by accident while telling a story. Here are just a few examples :

*note: there will be spoilers for all these books.

The Lord of the Rings

Tolkien insisted his The Lord of the Rings trilogy was not allegorical or inspired by his personal life, but I think we can at least say that his faith (Catholic) and his history (serving in both World Wars) influenced his writings. It’s a classic battle of good verses evil that set the stage for every epic fantasy adventure written since.

Just in case you’ve escaped reading or watching LOTR, the formerly-vanquished dark lord Sauron has come back into power in Middle Earth and is attempting to regain control of a magic ring that will let him subdue all lands and people under his power.  Though there are great warriors involved in the fight, the final victory hinges on two little hobbits from the middle of nowhere who hiked a very, very long way to destroy the ring.

By taking us outside of our own world, Tolkien shares universal truths about what makes a real friendship, the sacrifices required to do the right thing, and the importance of resisting evil even when it seems hopeless. One of the truths that hits me the hardest when reading or watching Lord of the Rings is how helpless we are to resist evil on our own. Frodo was incredibly strong on an emotional and psychological level and he carried the ring longer than any other character could have, but he still couldn’t make it up to Mount Doom by himself. Sam carried him the rest of the way and Frodo still wouldn’t have destroyed the ring if Gollum hadn’t fought him for it and carried it into the fires when he fell. Even heroes are susceptible to evil’s pull and they can’t overcome alone.

Mockingjay

I’ve read the whole Hunger Games book series and just watched Mockingjay Part II this past weekend. Suzanne Collins grew up learning about military history from her father — a Vietnam veteran and history professor. She didn’t go the history professor route herself, though, instead majoring in theater and telecommunications, then earning a master’s degree in dramatic writing.

The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay all take a good, hard look at what the article linked above describes as “necessary and unnecessary wars.” They quote Collins saying, “If we introduce kids to these ideas earlier, we could get a dialogue about war going earlier and possibly it would lead to more solutions.” In this case, the writer approached her storytelling hoping to convey truths about and get a dialogue started on ideas relate to war.

My mother, brother and I were talking yesterday about how Mockingjay is a story that sticks with you. It’s not something you can just read/watch and move on from. This is largely owing to what is probably Collins’ least popular authorial choice — killing Finnick Odair. In the book I actually read right over his death the first time and then had to go back and figure out what happens to him. His death isn’t the driving force in a major plot point (like Prim’s death) and he doesn’t have a dying scene all of his own (like Rue does in the first book). He just dies senselessly and tragically while the action moves on without him. And that’s the point. In real life, death doesn’t always make sense or serve a specific purpose.

Ender’s Game

This book could have so easily been nothing more than a story about a futuristic society that trains children to kill aliens. But Ender’s Game was written by Orson Scott Card (one of my all-time favorite writers) and there’s much more to it than that. The real story isn’t about the alien threat — it’s about human nature.

Ender’s Game wrestles with the question of how far it’s “okay” to go when you’re at war, and it does so from the perspective of a child who’s been immersed in a militaristic system for the bulk of his formative years. Just in case the military training isn’t enough to make him comfortable with genocide, though, he’s taught the entire thing is a game — that none of the aliens will actually die if he wins.

As the story unwinds, we’re forced to confront ideas that can spill over into our own world. How violent can games become before they start affecting reality? When, if ever, are large-scale preemptive strikes an acceptable form of self-defense? What is an adult’s responsibility toward children?

Somewhat less obvious is the question of an individual’s responsibility within society. Ender was raised from a young age to think of the Buggers (this name was changed to Formics in later Enderverse writings) as enemies you must destroy at all costs. He should have been thoroughly brainwashed into believing this, and yet learning he’d succeeded in wiping out his enemy in real life rather than just in-game nearly destroyed him. He devoted the rest of his life to making others understand the Hive Queen’s perspective and trying to set things right by bringing back the Formics species. Perhaps that’s the real take-away truth from Ender’s Game — there are at least two sides (and often more) to every story and it’s not always easy to see who’s right.

Your Turn: What are some of the truths you’ve discovered in and through fiction?

Goals, Growth, and a Happy Birthday to Me

Today is my 25th birthday. Other than posting this, my birthday plans involve spending time with family and eating cheesecake. My original idea for this post was to write one of those “Letter To Me” things addressed to my 15 year old self (since 10 years is a nice round number). Part of that’s still here, but it’s not the focus. Why? because while a post all about me could be mildly entertaining, I doubt anyone will find it helpful. Instead, I want to encourage you to join me in thinking about how you’ve changed in the past ten years, and what you want the next 10 years to look like.

If you’re like me, looking at a more narrow time frame of your life to inspect how you’ve changed can be disheartening. I don’t usually feel like I’ve made much progress in a week or a month or sometimes even a year on things like personal growth, forwarding my publishing goals, and growing my business. But look at 10 years, and you can see how much you’ve accomplished, some of it in little steps that you probably didn’t notice when you were walking them."Happy Birthday To Me" marissabaker.wordpress.com

10 Years Ago

I tried to look back at my journal for the year I turned fifteen, but the only entry between November 2002 and June 2006  is an undated poorly-spelled complaint about not having many friends or knowing how to talk to people. It does look like a clump of pages was torn out, but I don’t remember why. Even without a record of my precise thoughts, though, there are plenty of specific things I remember that are pertinent to how much I’ve changed. Setting aside the potential implications contacting your past self might have on the time-space continuum, here are a couple suggestions I’d share with me then:

Dear 15-year-old-me,

Stop reading the Thoroughbred book series right now. I mean it — take that stack beside your bed back to the library immediately. Why? because you’re going to feel guilty when you turn sixteen without having ever been asked out on a date, because some of the characters teased Christina for turning “sweet sixteen and never been kissed.” Which is just plain ridiculous. And speaking of kissing, stop reading the Hardy Boy/Nancy Drew cross-over books as well. You don’t have to be 5′ 3″ and taste like mint for a guy like Joe Hardy to like you (and do you really want him to? this version is kissing a different girl in every book). Honestly, you have poor taste in fictional men. Go read Jane Austen.

Be nicer to your siblings. My brother asked me to include this, but he’s right. They’ll still be some of your best friends when you’re 25, and if you’d treated them as well as they deserved you’re probably all be even better friends. And on the subject of friends, don’t give-up because you can’t seem to make any new ones. You haven’t even met the person who will become your best-friend-who’s-not-a-sibbling yet.

Love,

25-year-old-me

When I was fifteen, I was still convinced that I didn’t need a plan for after high school because within a few years I was going to meet Prince Charming and live happily ever after. Aside from reading and my homeschool work, the only thing I really had interest in was gardening (I ran a little roadside greenhouse selling plants for two years in high school). I hadn’t even started writing yet (I mean, not seriously writing. I would jot down ideas), or really even cooking. Now I list writing and cooking as two things I can’t imagine not doing, largely because I love them so much.

  • What important aspects of your life now were missing 10 years ago?

Now

One thing I haven’t touched on yet is my spiritual walk. I knew at 14 that I wanted to be baptized, but I couldn’t find a minister who didn’t think I was too young. Which I probably was, but I was pretty sure of my faith when I turned 15. Without getting into too much details, that changed after I graduated high school. While I never actually left “the church,” when I again decided to be baptized at 19 it felt almost like coming back, and I’ve seen tremendous growth since then. Not, like, all the time of course — I have plenty of set-backs and doubts like everyone else, but I also think recognizing the fact that we’re nowhere near perfect and we can’t move toward perfection without God is a huge step towards spiritual growth.

  • How is your spiritual growth now different than it was 10 years ago?

As you all know if you’ve been reading this blog on any kind of a regular basis, my writing is now a huge part of my life (this blog, fiction, and copywriting). I love to cook and bake. I have an outlet for sharing my faith. I have a few close, stable friendships with dear people who I hadn’t even met 10 years ago and now can’t imagine life without.

  • Have you met any people who are now your “best friends” within the past 10 years?

Oh, and regarding the whole panic-about-not-having-a-boyfriend thing, I’ve still never been in a serious relationship and I’m actually okay with being unmarried at 25. I still want to get married, but I know that I wasn’t really ready for that kind of commitment during the time frame I was expecting marriage to happen and I’m willing to entertain the possibility that the same thing is true now. More importantly, I’ve actually started turning over my worries about the timing for this and other goals to God.

10 Years Ahead

  • Where do you want to be in 10 years?

My first impulse to this question is, “I have no idea.” I didn’t plan 10 years ago to end up where I am today, and I don’t really know if having a 10 year plan now would be any more advantageous. But I keep hearing about the importance of having a vision for your future, finding your passion, planning a life mission. And I can see the advantages.

In my life, the time period where I’ve felt most productive was my last three years of college. I had a goal (graduate with Latin honors and research distinction in my major), and I worked toward it. The more focused I got on projects, the more productive I was. For example, November 2011 I was was doing the final editing and writing on my thesis, wrote a 50,000 word novel for NaNoWriMo, and taking a full class load that included French (my hardest subject). I was exhausted by the end of the month, but I felt great (and yes, I met those academic goals next year when I graduated).

That’s kinda missing now, and it’s not a good thing. I don’t like being unfocused and not having a more definite goal to work toward. My faith provides a goal for spiritual growth toward eternal life, but it’s also supposed to be an integral part of my life and keep me moving forward personally and professionally as well. I need a direction on a physical level to go along with my direction on a spiritual level.

For my readers who are MBTI fans, personality type plays a role as well — INFJs like me must have a goal. We hate not having something clear (and preferably world-altering) to work toward. So, yea. Making better goals is next on my list.

  • What steps can you take now to move forward with focus and purpose into the next 10 years?

What Are Your Favorite Board or Party Games?

"What Are Your Favorite Board or Party Games?" marissabaker.wordpress.comThere’s a stack of games in my closet that rarely get dusted off and used. It’s a shame, because every time we actually play them I’m reminded how much fun they can be. We had guests over Saturday evening, and played Pictionary until 11:30 at night. My brother and I think so much alike that it’s scary — we teamed up and were moving around that game board at super speed. I don’t usually like team games, but Pictionary is one I’ll make an exception for.

Here a few of the other games I like. What are your favorite party and/or board games?

Apples To Apples

This game gets played more often than most in my closet. Every year before Thanksgiving at least one family member will call and remind us that we are not allowed to show up for the family gathering unless we bring Apples To Apples. A large number of people in a wide variety of ages can play, and at family gatherings we even rival the euchre table for enthusiasm and laughter.

Clue

Why my cousin was here over New Year’s, we played Clue while waiting to watch Series 3 Episode 1 of Sherlock.
Known as Cluedo in the UK (which I did not know until I Googled the history of the game), it is a murder-mystery game now available in a Sherlock version. Since we only had an old Clue game from the ’80s tgat I picked up at a resale shop, we made do by re-naming all the characters with Sherlock names (Plum=Sherlock, Scarlet=Irene Adler, etc.).

Lord of the Rings Monopoly

Monopoly in general is a pretty good game, but Lord of the Rings Monopoly is better. There’s fortresses, and Shelob’s lair, and you can buy Bag End and Mount Doom. The little game pieces are so cute. Also, with a version that moves the Ring around the board toward Mount Doom every time someone rolls a 1, the game can have a time limit.

Herd Your Horses

I’m going to guess you’ve probably never heard of this game. Herd Your Horses is a game my mother came across in a homeschooling catalog years ago. There are three game variations. It is easy enough for young children to play but, as we proved before the Pictionary battle on Saturday night, still engaging for older teens and young adults.

Star Trek Trivia

Unfortunately, it’s hard to find people to play Star Trek Trivia with. The version I have covers The Original Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space 9, and Voyager. It’s perfect for me and my sister since we’ve watched all of those and haven’t seen Enterprise. When we can find people with the same Star Trek watching background, though, it’s fun to play.

Lord of the Rings MBTI

Update 6/7/2016: Since publishing this post, I’ve become increasingly unsatisfied with MBTI charts that try to find a character from a film or TV series to fit each type. Not every one of the 16 types appears in a given film or show and many charts (including mine here) include incorrect/forced typings. I leave this post here for archival purposes, and may do an up-dated LOTR chart in the future.

With the The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug coming out this past weekend, I thought it was time to release my Lord of the Rings MBTI chart. My original idea was make this my 111th blog post so there would also be a tie-in with Bilbo’s fateful birthday party, but after missing some posts I decided just to release it now. This was inspired by the Star Wars chart by Geek in Heels that has been going around the social media sites, and I’m grateful to her for the idea.Lord of the Rings MBTI Chart. Find your Myers-Briggs type in LOTR at marissabaker.wordpress.com

I admit not every one of these characters fit perfectly where I put them. This is partly because typing fictional characers is always subjective, partly because I’m not an expert, and partly because there just don’t seem to be that many extroverts in Tolkein’s world. I also wanted to give everyone a good-guy character that they could relate to, which is why you don’t see people like Sauromon or Denethor on this chart (this is for you, INTJs). I do mention them in the discussion below. For the sake of convenience and consistency, I’ve grouped the 16 Myers-Briggs types into the four categories used by David Keirsey’s Temperament Sorter. You can take his test here, or try out an online test that will give you an idea of your Myers-Briggs type here or here.

What follows is an explanation of why I chose each type for these particular characters, so you can see the reasoning behind my choices and pick-apart my ideas if you disagree 🙂 Since there are so many characters in Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, I’ve also mentioned other characters which might share each type. For the following information about cognitive functions and different Myers-Briggs types, I rely heavily on Dr. A. J. Drenth’s Personality Junkie website. For the sake of time, I’m mainly focused on the first two functions in each type’s function stack.

Tolkein’s Guardians

Supervisor (ESTJ) — Boromir

Extroverted thinking (Te) is an ESTJ’s dominant function. This makes ESTJs quick to express their ideas, usually in the form of judgements and measurable goals. Take, for example, Boromir’s eagerness to speak out at the Counsel of Elrond and his insistence that his plan for using the ring was the right one. An ESTJ’s auxiliary function is Introverted Sensing (Si). Supporting Te, this can make ESTJ’s appear stubborn because they prefer life to be predictable.They like tradition rather than change — “Gondor has no king. Gondor needs no king.”

Inspector (ISTJ) — Aragorn

Most characters seem to have fairly consistent personalities between the books and the films. Aragorn may be an exception. It’s been a while since I read Lord of the Rings, but I think if I was typing Aragorn from the books he might be an extravert. I’ve also seen the film version typed as an INTJ, an ISFx, and an ISxP.

Si is an ISTJ’s first function. Like ESTJs, this makes them interested in preserving old ways of doing things and resistant to change. For Aragorn, you can see this in his conflict about whether to take his rightful place as king or leave things the way they are. As an auxiliary function, Te manifests itself as a tendency for ISTJs to think out loud and share their ideas and plans. They like order and control, and this helps make Aragorn an efficient and effective leader.

Other ISTJs: this might be a good match for Treebeard — I would definitely describe him as an introverted Guardian type.

Provider (ESFJ) — Bilbo

Keirsey calls providers “the most sociable of all Guardians” and says they are “friendly, outgoing, [and] neighborly” to the point that they become “restless when isolated from people.” He also adds that they are careful to remember birthdays. Starting to sound like a hobbit?

An ESFJ’s primary function is Extroverted Feeling (Fe). This makes them quick to express their opinions and judgements, though they like to do this in a way that maintains peaceful social functions. Note how Bilbo responds to the arrival of all the dwarves — he is not shy about letting them know what he thinks about their unexpected arrival, yet he still plays the perfect host. Like other types with Si as an auxiliary function, ESFJs can become set in their ways and comfortable with routine (which is what makes him appear introverted when he is upset about being disturbed by company).

Protector (ISFJ) — Sam

Not many fictional characters are as  easy to type as Samwise Gamge. He is the perfect ISFJ. Like the ISTJ, an ISFJ’s primary function is Si and they tend to resist change and be comfortable with traditional ways of doing things. They tend to settle down and be comfortable with routine (Sam never considered leaving The Shire until Frodo went on his quest). With Fe as an auxiliary function, ISFJs are very people-oriented and attuned to the needs of others, especially their close friends. They have a strong sense of responsibility and loyalty, and readily serve others — “Come on, Mr. Frodo. I can’t carry it for you… but I can carry you!”

Tolkein’s Artisans

Promoter (ESTP) — Gimli

Gimli might not seem an obvious choice for the ESTP character, since they are often charming, life-of-the-party types who enjoy stylish dressing and living well. But translate all that into a dwarf, and I’d say Gimli probably thinks fits the description. Extroverted Sensing (Se) is an ESTP’s primary function. This tends to make them seek out thrills, take risks, and flirt with danger (“Certainty of death, small chance of success… What are we waiting for?”). They also love food, drink, and merry making — which you can see in Gimli as he celebrates after the Battle of Helm’s Deep. Introverted Thinking (Ti) is his auxiliary function, and he can become serious and intense when called upon to make decisions or deal with feelings.

Crafter (ISTP) — Eowyn

According to Dr. A. J. Drenth, there are about three times as many ISTP men as women. Perhaps this is one reason Eowyn felt so out of place. An ISTP has the same functions as an ESTP, but reversed so Ti is first and Se is second. Keirsey calls them “crafters” because they have an impressive ability to master the use of tools. For Eowyn, the tools she chooses to focus on are weapons, and she is an accomplished fighter. ISTPs love action, crave excitement, and feel frustrated if they can’t act impulsively. They prefer to show their feelings through actions rather than words (Eowyn making soup for Aragorn and wanting to fight at his side).

Other ISTPs: Thorin — man of few words, inwardly thoughtful, physically active and skilled with weapons. Also known as one of several dwarves who make me want to cry every time they are on-screen because I know what’s going to happen to them in the next film 😦

Bonus round: My cousin and I were talking last night about what type Smaug might be. I decided on introvert, since he is so comfortable with being alone, and SP since they are the types most likely to be both concerned with physical wealth and unconcerned with what people think of how they acquire that wealth. He’s not caring or people-oriented, which rules out ISFP. So, I’m going with narcissistic ISTP in dragon-form.

Performer (ESFP) — Pippin

Pippin was the first character I added to the chart. I keep picturing him dancing on a table and singing “The only brew for the brave and true comes from the green dragon!” Performers/ESFPs are talkative, engaging, like to be around people, and become the center of attention wherever they go. Like the ESTP, they enjoy good food and drink and will rush into things without stopping to weigh the consequences (asking “Where are we going?” after joining the Fellowship). Introverted Feeling (Fi) is his auxiliary function, and that adds a seriousness to Pippin’s character which is not readily visible (because usually introverted). It shows up during the siege of Minas Tirith.

Composer (ISFP) — Arwen

Though they share functions with ESFPs (Fi and Se), ISFPs tend to look very different. They are people-oriented, caring deeply for others and having a heightened sensitivity to suffering. This can be seen in Arwen’s deep attachment to Aragorn, her willingness to risk the Ringwraiths to save Frodo’s life, and starting to waste away because of “the evil that now spreads from Mordor.” She’s not as playful as typical SP types are usually described, but I think part of that is the fact that she is an elf and that Fi (which seems emotionally mature and serious) is her dominant function.

Tolkein’s Idealists

Teacher (ENFJ) — Faramir

I had such a hard time deciding who to put on the chart for this personality type. I’m not entirely convinced Faramir fits, but he’s the closest I could up with and the more I think about it the more I think this might be right. Extroverted Feeling (Fe) as a primary function means that an ENFJ’s sense of self is largely tied-up in their relationships with others. Growing up with Denethor constantly belittling him would have been devastating for little ENFJ Faramir, and would contribute to making him less sure of himself than a typical ENFJ. However, you can still see ENFJ traits of good leadership and an intuitive understanding of people when you look at the loyalty Faramir’s men have for him and his encounter with Frodo and Sam. His Introverted Intuition (Ni) helps explain why Faramir went with his gut feeling and let Frodo and Sam go.

Other ENFJs: Watching The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug yesterday made me think Balin might be an example of a mature ENFJ character.

Counselor (INFJ) — Galadriel

cartoon by INFJoe

Galadriel seems like a fairly standard INFJ character — otherworldly, introverted, wise, cares about others. INFJs have such a strong intuition that even some human INFJs report visions much akin to Galadriel’s and the feeling that they could almost be telepathic. As an elf in a fantasy world, Galadriel really is telepathic and can glimpse the future. She can also see right through people to discern their motives, as shown by her reaction to Boromir (or more tellingly, his reaction to her). They appear serious on the outside and are usually content to passively observe until they feel moved to speak. For more on INFJs, see this post.

Champion (ENFP) — Merry

With Extroverted Intuition (Ne) instead of sensing as his dominant function, Merry is more serious and given to reflection than Pippin. Unlike most hobbits, Merry is open-minded about the outside world and restless. He joins Frodo’s quest not just for the change of pace but because he recognizes the importance of destroying the ring. His commitment to fighting with the Rohirim and supporting Eowyn is typical of the ENFP championing causes they believe in.

Healer (INFP) — Frodo

In spite of the memes going around showing Frodo as an INFJ, he is generally considered an INFP by people who are more serious about their typology hobby. Fi is an INFP’s dominant function, and like ISFPs their emotions run deep. They are loyal to their friends and enjoy people, though at the same time can become loners who like to spend time in the outdoors. Sharing Ne (as their auxiliary function) with ENFPs, INFPs are also interested in championing causes. In the INFP’s case, they seek to heal conflicts and bring the world into a state of goodness.

Tolkein’s Rationalists

Fieldmarshal (ENTJ) — Eomer

ENTJs are natural leaders, and often find themselves in command even without seeking it. When leadership skills are encouraged, as with Eomer being trained to fight and lead, they become skilled commanders. Te as a primary function means ENTJs like order and rationality and planning is one of their strengths. They will respect authority to a point, but disobey orders if they feel the situation calls for it (Eomer standing up to Wormtongue). Ni adds a reliable gut instinct. Others might see them as hurried, wanting people to “cut to the chase,” and abrupt when making judgments (see the scene where Eomer meets and rapidly interrogates Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas).

Other ENTJs: Possibly Theodin. I’m not sure.

Mastermind (INTJ) — Eldrond

I asked my INTJ sister who she thought might share her type in LOTR, and this is who she thought of. The primary function Ni gives them a view of the big picture and a keen insight for how the world works. Unlike INFJs, though, they use Te as an auxiliary function which makes them theorists who always have a plan or two (Plan A: send Arwen to the Undying lands. Plan B: reforge the sword and make Aragorn king). They often appear as aloof intellectuals and share a natural bent for leadership with ENTJS, but prefer to stay in the background until called upon to take charge for a short while (Counsel of Elrond).

Other INTJs: Masterminds make excellent villains, which I suppose would be why I’ve seen all the main villains typed as INTJs at one point or another.  Saruman and Sauron I can see as INTJs, but I’m not convinced about Grima Wormtongue and Denethor.

Inventor (ENTP) — Gandalf

Gandalf is another character people don’t agree on how to type. I’ve seen him variously classified as an INTJ (most often), INTP, INFJ, and ENTP. I tend to lean toward this last one. He’s not focused enough to be an INTJ and instead of taking charge at a crucial moment, he steps back from leadership and says “Let the Ring-bearer decide” whether or not to go through the Mines of Moria.

As an ENTP, Ne is his primary function. He is curious, likes to collect data and use it to discover patterns, can see both sides of an issue, and uses his inventiveness to work with people as well as try to change social systems. Dr. Drenth says they “brainstorm aloud” and “may not always seem to ‘have a point,’” which Gandalf will do for page after page in the book. Auxiliary Ti gives him a respect for logic and reason. ENTPs are typically non-conformist and have many friends (enjoys Bilbo’s party, knows people all over Middle Earth).

Architect (INTP) — Legolas

An INTP’s primary function is Ti, followed by Ne as the auxiliary function. Kiersey notes that it is hard for them to listen to discussions without pointing out a speaker’s error (Legolas correcting Boromir at the Counsel of Elrond), and they would rather talk about ideas than about daily events or people. They are highly disciplined, which can help them achieve proficiency with something like archery, and also makes them appear serious.

UPDATE: Several people have pointed out (here and on other sites) that typing Legolas as an INTP is … controversial. For me, he is a hard character to type, and I’m not entirely sure about labeling him an INTP. I’m not sure what else to call him, though, or who else in LOTR might qualify as an INTP. Any thoughts?

Further Reading

There are a few other bloggers I found who did Myers-Briggs typologies for Lord of the Rings Characters. Sometimes my types agree with theirs, sometimes we interpret things a little differently. Here are their websites:

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI): LORD OF THE RINGS AND MBTI

Which MBTI Type: Which MBTI type are the characters from Lord of the Rings?

Church Mag: Which Lord of the Rings Personality Type Are You? [Chart]

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Gift of Mortality

We tend to approach death with a kind of horror, even though we know that it is not permanent (1 Thes. 4:13-18). It is natural to value life, to not want to die and to not want to lose the people we love. I think much of our longing to live forever comes from a desire God has given us to become part of his family. But sometimes I hear people say they want to live forever, and they mean an indefinite extension of our human lives here on the earth.  Personally, I wouldn’t want to live with myself the way I am now for that long.

Elves leaving Middle Earth, from The Lord of The Rings

When I think about the idea of immortality or living a really long time as a human, it makes me think of Tolkein’s elves in Middle Earth. Unless something interferes (they can be killed and they can fade away with grief) they’ll live forever. One of the things I find most interesting is that in The Silmarillion, the immortality of the elves is described as a sorrow and death is presented as a gift given to men.

the children of Men dwell only a short space in the world alive, and are not bound to it, and depart soon whither the Elves know not. Whereas the Elves remain until the end of days, and their love of the Earth and all the world is more single and more poignant therefore, and as the years lengthen ever more sorrowful. For the Elves die not till tile world dies, unless they are slain or waste in grief (and to both these seeming deaths they are subject); neither does age subdue their strength, unless one grow weary of ten thousand centuries; and dying they are gathered to the halls of Mandos in Valinor, whence they may in time return. But the sons of Men die indeed, and leave the world; wherefore they are called the Guests, or the Strangers. Death is their fate, the gift of Iluvatar, which as Time wears even the Powers shall envy.

Sown in Weakness

Death became something that every human being must face as a consequence of Adam and Eve’s sin. I wonder, however, if after the fall mortality might have been as much a gift as a curse. Yes, death is a penalty associated with disobedience to God and it is an enemy that will be conquered in the future. But the absence of death in our fallen state would not have been a kindness.

Foolish one, what you sow is not made alive unless it dies. And what you sow, you do not sow that body that shall be, but mere grain—perhaps wheat or some other grain. But God gives it a body as He pleases, and to each seed its own body. (1 Cor. 15:36-37)"Gift of Mortality" a blog post by marissabaker.wordpress.com

We are “bare grain,” as the KJV says, which after it dies to this existence will spring up into the far more glorious body that God gives us. Thank God that immortality is not give not us as we are now — corrupted, dishonored, weak, and natural. Living like this forever would not be a gift. We cannot have eternal life as we are now, nor would we want to. We need to be changed first.

For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” (1 Cor. 15:53-54).

100th Blog Post

Today is less of an article and more of a collection of random ideas that popped into my head while wondering what to write for my 100th post. I actually wasn’t going to commemorate the 100th post, but I needed a topic today other than panic about how I’m going to finish this novel before the end of the month. My deadline is actually 5:00 pm on November 29th, since I don’t write on the Sabbath and I’m spending the evening of November 30th at my cousin’s house for a Sherlock marathon where she intends to win me over to tea-drinking. It started as a “Marissa must drink tea” intervention, and I suggested that such a thing must be accompanied by British television.

I suppose I’ll take this opportunity to announce my plans for my 111th post coming up in mid December. Since it’s right before The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug is released, I thought I’d make my “eleventy-first” post a Lord of the Rings Myers-Briggs chart in the style of that Star Wars MBTI that has been going around Facebook. It harder than I thought it would be. Tolkein seemed to write an unusually high proportion of introverts into his stories.

Also, on a completely unrelated note: HAPPY BIRTHDAY DOCTOR WHO! Saturday was the 50th anniversary, and the airing of a very special episode called “The Day of The Doctor.” If all goes well, I’ll be seeing it tonight at the cinema. I loosely group the TV series I watch into “I like them” and “I’m a fan,” and Doctor Who is one in the later category (along with Sherlock and Star Trek).