Gandalf and the One True Ring

“Tolkien–like most Christians–believed that the most important things about the world are not subject to quantification. ‘Magic’ and ‘power’ in his mythos are qualitative, not quantitative phenomena. … the Rings of Power act more as multipliers of their wielders’ inherent virtue/vice and force of personality than by conveying discrete, quantifiable powers. Each person who comes in contact with any ring would be effected by it slightly differently, depending on who they are, though any given ring would have tendencies in one direction. The One Ring tended towards domination and possessiveness, while the Elven Rings towards healing and restoration. Etc. But the reason we don’t see the One Ring do all that much is that Sauron is the only person who ever wielded it who actually had the underlying strength of spirit to use it to its full potential. The books actually talk about this in as many words. Gollum became a sneaking, spiteful creature–because that was in his nature to begin with. But his nature did not really have much in the way of ‘strength of spirit’ in Tolkien’s terms, so he was never going to be a great lord. Just a really sneaking, spiteful creature instead of an ordinary one.”

From a Metafilter thread “Gandalf as Ring-Lord would have been far worse than Sauron.”