The Two Towers: The Voice of Saruman
One of the reasons Gandalf came to Orthanc was to offer Saruman a chance at redemption. The White wizard admits to the danger and likely futility of attempting such a thing, but he knows the effort must be made. We must do the same, so that even those far gone may have the opportunity to find their way back to the Light. If they choose not to take the hand we hold out, that is their failure, not ours.
As Saruman confronts his enemies, he shows the terrible power of his voice. The history of its varying effect is briefly given. For some, it lasted only as long as the wizard focused on that individual. For others, the spell lasted much longer, and they came under the control of the demonic and obeyed its commands. Saruman holds Wormtongue so, and Sauron holds Saruman.
As others speak to us, whether aloud or in our heart and soul, we must discern what they bring us. We may rebel at first after the Holy Spirit shows us our vocation, but in the end there is peace even if fear and toil also come. We may also fight against what the adversary of our soul presents to us, but then he starts to sound much like Saruman: so seductive, reasonable, and right. If we follow such a voice, however, its wake brings confusion and despair. But if we go outside its malicious influence, we realize the folly of it and wonder why we thought it so appealing. Let us carefully watch and ponder our reactions to the voices we hear and also our responses to others who seek to guide us if we have fallen. If we believed in their wisdom before an unwholesome spell overcame us, we should continue to believe in it and not be angered by it, as our enemy would have us when he is in danger of having his hold over us thwarted.
The dialogue between Gandalf and Saruman contains a powerful refrain of one of the most important lessons in the tale. Frodo and Théoden both received Gandalf’s counsel about the importance of giving mercy to their enemies in order to give them a chance for a cure. The wizard now offers Saruman the same opportunity. On one side is redemption and light, which require repentance. On the other stands the dark abyss. Saruman’s ability to decide in favor of the Light is greatly diluted by other choices to embrace the Dark. The fallen wizard does not have the courage or humility to admit that he made mistakes. “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” (Prov. 16:18). Saruman does not realize that he is a puppet of another haughty spirit, who is a servant of the haughtiest of them all. Rather than accepting transformation and mercy, he hardens himself against it and stubbornly continues toward perdition. As a result, Gandalf casts his former superior out of the Istari order and breaks his staff.
Have you ever had a time in your life when you made poor choices due to the dark influence of another? What turned you back to the Light?