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Old 06-07-2018, 07:04 PM   #15
R.R.J Tolkien
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Some Relevant to the topic Biblical and Christian Themes in the LOTR

“The Lord of the Rings is of course a fundamentally religious and Catholic work.”
-J.R.R Tolkien

“In LOTR the conflict is not basically about “freedom,” though that is naturally involved. It is about God, and his sole right to divine honor. The Eldar and the Numenoreans believed in the one, the true god, and held worship of any other person an abomination. Sauron desired to be a god-king, and was held to be this by his servants.”
-J.R.R Tolkien

As a devout catholic, Tolkien’s worldview could not be hidden in his works. His worldview is the worldview that produced the LOTR. He included many Christian and biblical themes into his works. He did not however like straight allegory and disliked C.S Lewis’ strong Christian allegory (Lewis, who sought to give Christianity a home in mythology, used strong Christian allegory). Tolkien said, “I have written a tail which is built on or out of certain religious ideas but is not an allegory of them.” Of first most importance, Tolkien’s work was to be for enjoyment, yet he knew he could not withhold his own worldview. At a lecture at Saint Andrews, Tolkien said LOTR was a specifically a Christian venture to write such a story as he was now engaged in. Wheaton College (IL) professor Clyde Kilby once sent Tolkien a paper by a professor in New South Wales that argued, “At every point, the human dynamics of The Lord of the Rings are drawn from the tradition ascribed to Christ’s redemptive activity.” Tolkien wrote back to Kilby and said that this was true, though not always conscious on his part. A student said he feels “clean” after reading LOTR, with no sex, morality, power, and with its concern for ethical/spiritual life.

“The religious element is absorbed into the story and the symbolism.”
-J.R.R Tolkien

“Myth and fairy-story must, all art, reflect and contain in solution elements of moral and religious truth.”
-J R.R Tolkien quoted in David Day The Battles of Tolkien Thunder Bay Press San Diego CA 2017

Tolkien included many aspects of biblical theology into his books. Councils of the past play a large role in catholic thinking, doctrine, and decision’s on important issues. In LOTR there are many councils that decide the fate of Middle Earth, such as at the council of Elrond or the Ent moot. In the book “Walking with Frodo, a devotional journey through LOTR,” author Sarah Arthur goes through the many choices faced by LOTR characters good versus evil with biblical counterparts and lesson. It includes chapters on darkness/light, pride/humility, corruption/integrity, betrayal/loyalty, deceit/honesty, control/servant hood, bondage/freedom, and despair/hope. The creation of Middle Earth was by singing, just as in the bible, God spoke creation into existence. “The elf food called “lembas,” was clearly reminiscent of the Eucharistic wafer.” Tolkien said Elendil was a Noahchian figure [Noah]. He said Aman was a form of purgatory for Frodo and mortals until their eternal destination. When Tolkien said that Frodo gave into the ring of power, but that he was still a “good” person, he was thinking of 1 Corinthians 12 and 13 and the Lord's Prayer. Some see similarities between the highest angel Manwe, and the biblical arch angel Micheal. Biblical marriage, monogamy, was commonly practiced in the West by the free people. Other systems of marriage or union were regarded as “things only done under the shadow.” Tolkien said Frodo was under demonic pressure bearing the ring, and was given grace, divine grace, to carry out his task. Much of Galadrial comes from the teachings of Mary the mother of Jesus.

“I am a Christian, that fact can be deduced from my stories.”
-J.R.R Tolkien

The Fall From Eden and Restoration

“There cannot be any story without a fall- all stories are ultimately about the fall.”
-J .R.R Tolkien quoted in David Day The Battles of Tolkien Thunder Bay Press San Diego CA 2017

“Tolkien believed devoutly that there had once been an Eden on earth, and that mans original sin and subsequent dethronement were responsible for the ills of the world
---* Humphrey Carpenter J.R. R Tolkien The Authorized Biography Houghton Mifflin company NY 2000

Tolkien believed strongly there had been an Eden on earth and that man’s original sin was responsible for this fallen world. The immortal Elves for all intent and purposes were men before the fall. Like the world pre fall (Garden of Eden), Lorien was without “stain,” no death, sickness or curse. The Elves represent the eternal and supernatural aspects of humanity and are the creatures most like eru(God). Elves by nature are good, but can be seduced. At the council of Elrond, Elrond says, “Nothing is evil in the beginning, even Sauron was not so.” This is a Christian understanding of evil, that God’s original creation was good, with no death or suffering and evil. The devil himself was created “good” and an angel of light. Andreth says that men were born to live everlasting in the beginning just as the bible teaches. The elves thought God’s gift to man was death, because to go on as fallen creatures in a fallen world forever would be worse. And when the men of Númenóreans* were upset over the human race dying while elves and valar did not, the immortal valar replied

“Thus you escape, and leave the world and are not bound by it, in hope or in weariness. Which of us therefore should envy the others”

And reflecting the biblical teachings in Revelations chapter 21, Andreth says, “The one [God] will himself enter into Arda, and heal men and all the marring from the beginning to the end.” Tolkien said, “Fantasy serves as “A far off gleam or echo of evangelium [good news gospel] in the real world.” In the history of Middle Earth, when Arwen dies, it says “There is her green grave, until the world is changed.” In the Hobbit it says, “The world will ultimately be “renewed.” “The world was fair, the mountains tall in elder days before the fall,” says Gimli. And Thorin said to Bilbo at his death “I go to the halls of waiting to sit beside my fathers, until the world is renewed.”

Melkor’s fall was like that of Satan in the bible. Like Satan Melkor fell “From splendor, he fell through arrogance to contempt for all things save himself, a spirit wasteful and pitless. Understanding he turned subtly in perverting to his own will all that he would use, until he became a liar without shame. He began with the desire of light [creative action] but when he could not posses it for himself alone, he descended through fire and wrath into great burning, down into darkness and darkness he used most in his evil works upon arda and filled it with fear for all living things.”

Like Melkor, The biblical tempter, the angel cast out of heaven, the father of lies, the one thrown into darkness are all biblical connections. Melko’s rebellion was to increase power and glory as the biblical Satan intent was as well. Melkor forges a crown for himself and gives title “king of the world.” Melkor like Satan could not create, but only corrupt or cause marring of the once good creation.. Frodo said “The shadow that bred [the orcs] can only mock and it cannot make, not real things of its own. I don’t think it gave life to orcs, it only ruined them and twisted them”. And in the letters of Tolkien he said “Servants of the dark power, and later Sauron, neither of whom could, or would produce living things, they must be corruptions.”

“Satan promised Eve deathlessness, secret knowledge and enhanced power if she would disobey god and eat of the forbidden fruit [gen 3 4-5]. In middle earth the dark lord sauron promises much the same as he tempts the kings of Numonor to turn from the worship of Eru Ilvatar, set sail for the undying lands forbidden to them and claim the immortality he suggests is theirs by right of their greatness. Its all a lie of course and leads to their destruction. The creator, in his wisdom decrees that humans would be mortal...Tolkien refers to its tragic end as “the second fall of man.”
-Jonathan Witt and Jay W The Hobbit Party: The vision of freedom that Tolkien got and the west forgot

Angels Demons Satan Evil

To the Catholic Tolkien, angels can be and are prayed to. Frodo prays and is helped by the angelic valar Elberth or Gilthoniel when the witch king is about to stab him. Galadriel possesses intercessory powers and is a reflection of Mary, the mother of Jesus; she also seems to have divine powers, reading the hearts/minds of the fellowship. In the LOTR, the higher powers [valar/maiar/angels] help in creation. Some biblical interpreters have said that Genesis 1:26 refers to angels helping in creation, just as in Middle Earth with the valar. Also, just like in the bible, the holy spirit casts out darkness and demons. For Tolkien, the secret fire was the holy spirit; Gandalf said, “I am a servant of the secret fire, wielder of the flame of udun... go back to the shadow you cannot pass.” Gandalf tells the witch king, “go back to the abyss that awaits you and your master.” This is the biblical understanding of hell being created for the devil and demons.

But how can LOTR be Christian with pagan wizards in it? The Proper name for wizards is scholars or istari. When asked, Tolkien said “wizards distinct from sorcerers or magicians ...equivalent in the mode of these tales of angels, guardian angels.” Wizards on middle earth had limited power, he said “wizards...when enemy forces are to powerful can act in emergency as an “angel” no more violently than the release of St Peter from prison.” Gandalf and other good “wizards” did not use magic to do “spells,” their power was given to them by Eru (God). Of the elves “magic” Tolkien said “Their “magic” is art...its objective is art not power, sub creation not domination and tyrannical re forming creation.” Gandalf’s staff and powers were constant with Judges 6:21 & 13:19-20.

“The values that emerge in “The Lord of the Rings” are the values that emerge in the Gospels. In the characterization of the Hobbits, the most reluctant and the most unlikely of heroes, we see the exaltation of the humble. In the figure of Gandalf we see the archetype of an Old Testament patriarch, his staff apparently having the same power as that possessed by Moses.”
-Bradley Birzer J.R.R Tolkien s Sanctifying Myth

Pagan magic in LOTR is sinister; it seeks to alter the created world and is associated with machines and the desire for power. Bad magic is the “Desire power in this world, domination of things and wills.” “The enemy...concerned with sheer domination and so the land of magic and machines.” Hobbits never studied magic and Tolkien viewed modern technology as a form of magic. Sauron, Saurman, and the king of the wring-wraiths are the sorcerers of Deuteronomy 18:9-12 and evil.
“I am a Christian, that fact can be deduced from my stories.”
-J.R.R Tolkien

Last edited by R.R.J Tolkien; 06-07-2018 at 07:16 PM.
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