The Parish Council of Elrond
Updated: Feb 8, 2019
Wisdom from The Council of Elrond, or Reflections on Parish Council.
The existence of the one ring, the ring of power, became known to all Middle Earth at Council of Elrond. Yes, it was known to many in Middle Earth - some heard rumors of existence and tales of its power - but only during the Council of Elrond does the truth of its existence become manifest to Middle Earth in the persons who represented the various races (the elves, humans, hobbits, dwarfs, and so forth). During the Council, the history of the ring was recounted and those gathered debated on what should be done with it.
There is something about a gathering. Something meaningful in a council. Councils possess a certain mystique. Why is that? It’s because in council problems are addressed, stories are shared, knowledge is acquired and passed on, leaders emerge, bonds are established, and a future begins to take shape. If you’ve not read the Lord of the Rings do so, and you’ll see how the Council of Elrond had all those elements that make a council so archetypal.
Parish Council doesn't have a wizard, elves, hobbits, or dwarfs, despite the priest's best efforts to embody them. What it does have are humans, most of whom don't resemble Aragorn or Boromir- concerned with the future, under pressure, with family obligations, duties to uphold, confusion to work through, and self-identities to explore. Plus, they are being led by a priest playing Gandalf, who may not realize that he is just another Boromir.
It's not all bad. Boromir, after all, possesses an inner nobility that eventually makes its way to the surface. Individual members of a Parish Council (and I include would-be Gandalf priests) may lose their way and grasp the severity of the ring of power, but trust in their inner nobility, coax it out if you can, and remember that their heart is ultimately aimed at the good. It's that aim which will guide their royal priesthood to an honorable end.
Now if you’re on a Parish Council with this would-be wizard you might think I have you in mind, that this post is written with of some specific experience or person(s) in mind. I don’t. Nor am I the type of person to write a cryptic blog that allows me to passively air my frustrations toward you. This is simply a chance to speak in general terms.
Then again, perhaps the Council of Elrond does provide some specific wisdom. Indeed, it does. The Council seemingly concludes having agreed that Frodo will bear the ring to Mount Doom. He will, of course, need help. He will need companions - a fellowship. The company of the nine isn’t fixed right away. As I recall, it is later, during a sort of extension of the Council of Elrond, a veritable Council of Trullo (that’s a bad priest joke. Look it up.), that Merry and Pippin are chosen. They are chosen over others who are more knowledgeable, experienced and skilled. Why? Because of the bond of love and fidelity between them and Frodo.
That is real wisdom. Parish Council’s can have anyone on them. They assign anyone to a task. Experience, knowledge, and skill are all important qualities. What matters most, however, are love and fidelity. Without those the Council, the Fellowship, the Church cannot accomplish its purpose.
Post Script: We are blessed with a wonderful Parish Council at St. Basil’s who now knows I compare them to that fabled gathering of Rivendell in ages past. It is truly sad to hear so many of my fellow priests lament about their parish councils. Thank you to St. Basil's Council for your love and fidelity toward me, each other, and the people we serve.