Who Owns the One Ring?: A Legal Inquiry

the-one-ringOne day a few months back, I was scrolling through Tumblr, and I came across this delightful post by user simaethae:

so on the subject of stolen property, i’ve seen various arguments on this point but it is in fact true that inheriting something from a relative, when you know full well that it was stolen, does not make it yours.

this clearly goes doubly so for powerful magical artifacts, and especially for artifacts which are strongly implied to contain part of their creator’s soul!

you can talk about consequences – maybe the artifact in question has benefits for you, maybe you’re not convinced its rightful owners would use it responsibly – but talking about the consequences doesn’t erase the fact that whatever benefits you think you’re getting are achieved through wrongful means.

which is why i, too, think Frodo should have given the One Ring back to Sauron. thief.

sauron

Sucks to be you, dude.

Which prompted me, a law student and Lord of the Rings fanatic preparing for a Property exam, to ask myself…does Sauron even own that Ring anymore?

The short answer: No.

Here is my pedantic and completely unasked-for analysis (cross-posted from my Tumblr blog) — Continue reading

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In Response to a Question

Morgoth

Sometimes evil is a little overwhelming

(I recently received a comment on my post Tuor, Gondolin, and Our Life Mission that said the following:)

Hi there!
An interesting application to our life..I am christian as well and I have been quite big fan of Tolkien earlier when I was younger..than I just thought..all these stories are really great and well written and catchy but somehow dark or tragic..dont you think? I mean the life of Tuor is an exception i guess but …

– Sam

(My reply got a little long…so here is my open response to Sam – )

Hey Sam, thanks for the comment! I have been thinking about the question you posed, and here are some of my thoughts:

It’s true that Tolkien wrote many stories that contain lots of tragedy. I mean, he really puts his characters through the ringer:

  • Frodo never really recovers
  • Theoden’s son dies (and then he dies)
  • Turin’s life is basically a study of how much one dude can suffer
  • And literally everything bad happens to Elrond (ask me about it sometime)

Grander events in Middle Earth are also tragic: the elves are in decline and leaving Middle Earth, the great stories of the past are being forgotten, grand cities and nations and peoples are destroyed. Evil empires wage war against peace-loving peoples.

Evil seems to win a lot.

tolkien.jpg

This guy…

I don’t think this was just Tolkien being ~dark~ and ~brooding~. I think he did this on purpose. Life is often very tragic, no matter how you look at it. Sam, you’re a Christian – just look at the lives of Christ and His Apostles! Bad things happen all the time to good and bad people. This is no secret. This is something humanity has been dealing with since before Day 1.

BUT (and this is a big but) – that’s not all that is going on. Evil is not the only force at work. Continue reading

When All Other Lights Go Out

Stars Above Haleakala, Haleakala National Park, Maui, HI

 

“Though here at journey’s end I lie
in darkness buried deep,
beyond all towers strong and high,
beyond all mountains steep,
above all shadows rides the Sun
and Stars for ever dwell:
I will not say the Day is done,
nor bid the stars farewell.”
-Samwise Gamgee (LOTR 909)

 

I am a chronic stargazer. Place me under an open evening sky and I will inevitably look up and try to spot as many celestial lights as I can. I’ve been known to hassle my family for weeks on end to go stargazing with me in the middle of winter.

The stars just never cease to amaze me. Whenever I look at them, I feel like I am peeking through the cracks of eternity into God’s workshop. The sight of them moves me in ways that no other work of nature or art can. There’s no other word to describe it – to me the stars are holy.

As it turns out, I am in good company in my love and admiration for the stars. Man has seemingly always looked to the stars and found them to be more than mere balls of gas burning billions of miles away. Continue reading

Tuor, Gondolin, and Our Life Mission

I am going to involve you all in my nerdiness today. Lately, I have been thinking a lot about the writings of one of my favorite authors – J.R.R. Tolkien. I’ve always found his mythology of Middle Earth particularly profound and inspired, full of life lessons. And this last week I was especially struck by a story that speaks to me of our purposes in life. It’s about a man named Tuor and his mission to the secret Elven city of Gondolin (from Tolkien’s lesser known works the Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales).

Detail from Gondolin by digital-fantasy (via Deviantart)

Detail from Gondolin by digital-fantasy (via Deviantart)

Here’s some backstory:
Now, in the early days of Middle Earth (long before the Lord of the Rings takes place), the mighty elf-king Turgon was worrying about how to protect his people from the evil powers that sought to destroy the elves. So with the help of the sea god Ulmo, Turgon designed a secret city he named Gondolin. It was to be a sanctuary for elves hidden in the mountains, a place of protection, where no one would know its location except those who lived within it.

But the god Ulmo warned Turgon that the city’s secret would not last forever, and in the future Gondolin would be destroyed by enemies. Continue reading