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Old 07-02-2014, 06:21 PM   #9
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
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Originally Posted by Lotrelf View Post
I started the thread because my experience with atheists has always been bad, so to speak (and I think most of them are arrogant).
Originally Posted by Mithalwen View Post
I have found many Christians rude and arrogant.
Originally Posted by Andsigil View Post
I've found the same thing about the current, strident crop of atheists lately. What a coincidence, yes?
I would argue that the important thing to realise is that people are not strident or arrogant or what have you because of their beliefs but because of their personalities. Being a Christian, an atheist, of any other belief or ideology does not make one arrogant, in my opinion, but arrogant people will use those things as a bludgeon to try to quash differing opinions or points of view which threaten their own self-image. For this reason I would argue that we ought to avoid generalisations wherever possible.

Returning to Professor Tolkien's work more specifically, I find the question of a generalised spirituality, setting any specifically Catholic doctrine aside, to not be irreconcilable with a non-spiritual view of the world. What are the most spiritual elements of the text, then?

1) The idea that there are 'divine' forces at work in the world: Eru, the Valar etc. I think even in a non-spiritual sense it is possible to appreciate the idea that human power has severe limitations in the grand scope of time and space, and that history is complex and rife with the unexpected, that evil will not always triumph and so on.

2) Mercy, pity and self-sacrifice: I don't think compassion and altruism need to be considered 'divine' traits but that from a non-spiritual point of view they can derive from a recognition of weakness and suffering in others as we ourselves are weak and suffer. Ultimately I would link this back again, I suppose, to a recognition of human limitations.

I am neither a religious nor a spiritual person. I don't know for sure what I would classify myself as: I'm not overly keen on "labeling" myself in any sense. Lately in fact thoughts have been troubling me when I consider Professor Tolkien's faith and the "catholicity" of his work and whether I'm to any extent a hypocrite for appreciating it as I do. I think the internal consistency of the narrative helps a great deal, however, what with the account of Eru, the Valar, the Ainulindalė and so forth, and again the recognition that the themes of the work, in my opinion, have great relevance to human life regardless of beliefs.
"Since the evening of that day we have journeyed from the shadow of Tol Brandir."
"On foot?" cried Éomer.
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