Topic: "Cherem" (3)
Some months ago the righteous comedian Steven Colbert found himself across the interview table from an individual whom Frodo considers to be a buffoon. US Representative Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA) has proudly proclaimed that he has not sponsored a single piece of legislation, and that he has no intention of so doing, simply because "we already have too many laws on the books." Westmoreland has however, supported the efforts to display the "Ten Commandments" on public property. Given this as an opening, Colbert asked the Congressman how many of the Commandments he could list, since they were so obviously important to him. The rest is history; Westmoreland was unable to identify a single commandment correctly. Hypocrisy is a very strong word, since Westmoreland may indeed have simply been stricken with "stage fright." The greater likelihood is that Westmoreland talks without listening.
The topic Frodo has chosen for this evening is a word with which you are probably not familiar, dear reader. The word refers to what is known as "the doctrine of the remnant." The philosophical quandary which it raises has haunted Frodo for many years. God told the Children of Israel that when they entered into a war, that they should leave no remnant. Every opponent, including family members, should be destroyed so that the enemy could not rise again against the Chosen People.
Frodo, when first he was introduced to this concept, at the College of the Shire, was aghast. He raised his hand and queried the Professor of Religion about the apparent conflict between "the doctrine of the remnant," and that of the "Ten Commandments," which says that "Thou Shalt Not Kill," at least according to the King James version? The Professor looked down his needle-sharp nose. He told Frodo that the Commandment actually stated that "Thou Shalt Not Kill Others of Thy Own Kind."
Frodo responded, "You can't be serious, you mean to say that doing unto others and other such reference is tribal, and not universal?"
The Professor said, "Mr. Frodo, those who question are those without faith."
Some years later Frodo watched the great TV serial "Shaka Zulu." The 19th century Warrior-King of the Zulu was a ruthless follower of the annihilation of his foe, likening his enemies to wounded leopards who may rise behind and attack without warning. Frodo was struck by the parallel to the "doctrine of the remnant," and how two diverse religious groups could practice similar instruction.
Frodo's philosophical quandary is war and humanity. He still can't seem to weigh the balance, and he's not so sure anyone else has either. Orcs are ever-present as a threat to the Shire, and eliminating the threat is not subject to debate. The question becomes how far does one go, and what is allowed to remain. Something so very basic would seem to be at the very core in the definition of victory? Perhaps that is why we fight a war with no end.