“We Knew Mordor Was Real”: What It Takes for Christians to Survive under Totalitarianism

Written by Mark Farnham

On December 19, 2020

Rod Dreher’s new book, Live Not By Lies: A Manual for Christian Dissidents, includes many stories of Christians who survived life under the communist regime of the Soviet Union. One of those families, the Bendas, who lived in the Czech half of the communist Czechoslovakia, modeled Christian resistance through family unity, radical hospitality, and by placing a higher value on faithfulness than their own political freedom. 

One of the things the mother, Kamila Benda, did, in addition to her role of teaching at a nearby university, was to read to her six children several hours every day (yes, several hours!). One of their favorite books was J. R. R. Tolkien’s trilogy, The Lord of the Rings, because, as she recounts, “we knew Mordor was real. We felt that their story”—that of the hobbits and others resisting the evil Sauron—“was our story too. Tolkien’s dragons are more realistic than a lot of things we have in this world.”

For those who are not familiar with the storyline of the Lord of the Rings, Mordor is the land of Sauron, the embodiment of evil trying to take over and dominate Middle Earth. Tolkien drew from the evil and destruction of communism and fascism to imagine a force that sought to bring everything into subjection to its control. In the novels, therefore, Mordor represents the enemy of dignity, freedom, and life. 

Live Not By Lies is a warning to the West and a call to Christians. It warns that many of the social and political trends in the West that increasingly curtail freedoms also happened under communism in the Soviet Union. Dreher interviews many older Eastern Europeans who are genuinely alarmed at the changes in America and Europe. More importantly, the book is a call to Christians to understand that individualism, big-box churches, and “my house is my castle” lifestyle will not sustain believers under totalitarianism.

We have much to learn from our brothers and sisters who suffered under genuine oppression and persecution in the Soviet system, something I began to learn more than twenty years ago during my first teaching trip to Ukraine. To survive the persecution coming from increased surveillance, the LGBT+ lobby, intolerance, and secularism, we will have to change our way of life. We will need communities of Christians to share life together, strengthen one another, and perpetuate our faith to the next generation, as we stand in opposition to the ideology forced upon us.

The church can and will survive under any amount of pressure, but only if believers faithfully teach and live courageously. Live Not By Lies may very well become the manual for Christian dissidents within the next decade.

You May Also Like…

When Jesus Says, “Mind Your Own Beeswax”

When Jesus Says, “Mind Your Own Beeswax”

Teddy Roosevelt once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” How true. How often does our contentment vanish when we see (what we perceive to be) the superior condition of another person. We lack nothing until that catalog arrives in the mail, and suddenly we are...

My Top 10 Reads of 2020

My Top 10 Reads of 2020

2020 was perhaps the best year of reading I can remember since 1980 when I was fourteen and read twenty Louis L’Amour books and the Hobbit for the first time. Not all these books were released in 2020, but these were my favorites (in no particular order). Interpreting...

Let’s Not Forget What Abortion Really Is

Let’s Not Forget What Abortion Really Is

The issue of abortion has never been more contentious among Christians. I’m not referring to debates between Christians and non-Christians, but among those who profess to be followers of Jesus. So, let’s get back to the basics of what abortion is. A straightforward...

0 Comments

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. “We Knew Mordor Was Real”: What It Takes for Christians to Survive under Totalitarianism — Apologetics for the Church | Talmidimblogging - […] “We Knew Mordor Was Real”: What It Takes for Christians to Survive under Totalitarianism — Apo… […]

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *