Sunday, November 23, 2008

My Brother, My Captain, My King

The scene of the death of Boromir from The Fellowship of the Ring comes to my mind every year on the occasion of the Feast of Christ the King. This is one of those rare instances where I think the film improved upon the book. Tolkien's account is brief:

Aragorn knelt beside him. Boromir opened his eyes and strove to speak. At last slow words came. "I tried to take the Ring from Frodo," he said. "I am sorry. I have paid." His glance strayed to his fallen enemies; twenty at least lay there. "They have gone: the Halflings: the Orcs have taken them. I think they are not dead. Orcs bound them." He paused and his eyes closed wearily. After a moment he spoke again.

"Farewell, Aragorn! Go to Minas Tirith and save my people! I have failed."

"No!" said Aragorn, taking his hand and kissing his brow. "You have conquered. Few have gained such a victory. Be at peace! Minas Tirith shall not fall!"

Boromir smiled.

"Which way did they go? Was Frodo there?" said Aragorn.

But Boromir did not speak again.

In a moment of weakness, Boromir tried to seize the one power that he thought might save his people, although he had been warned of the folly of thinking that any man could control the power of the ring. He atoned for that failure by sacrificing himself, trying to defend Merry and Pippin, and summoning the rest of the fellowship. Aragorn recognized and respected Boromir's contrition. In the film, Aragorn's self identification with the people of Gondor, elicits the declaration of acceptance and loyalty from Boromir, who had previously regarded Aragorn as an outsider with an illegitimate claim to the throne of Gondor: "I would have followed you, my brother, my captain, my king!"

How often have I failed in weakness to temptation, thinking that I could control a power akin to the ring? Am I doing what I can to atone for those failures, defending my family from the assault of a toxic culture? Have I truly recognized Christ as my brother and King? I cannot help but admit that He deserves much more than I have given Him.

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