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Old 07-03-2014, 11:36 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by cellurdur View Post
I see no reason why atheists cannot understand or appreciate LOTR, but I think it's generally hard to like a film, which goes against your morals and beliefs.
Courage, hope, self-sacrifice, refusal of power, acceptance of the inevitability of change: are these solely theistic (or Christian, or Catholic) beliefs? The Lord of the Rings doesn't go against my morals or beliefs because a) I think a lot of its morals are universally good, and b) I don't think a reader has to believe in god, fate or providence in the real world to accept that god, fate and providence can exist in a story.

Originally Posted by Lotrelf View Post
Frodo destroys the Ring not by himself but by mercy and pity: that's in the divine nature. So, how does an atheist see this? As a moral failure? Misadventure of Gollum? I'd like to know that.
I suppose The Lord of the Rings in isolation is sufficiently ambiguous about things (is Eru mentioned specifically anywhere outside the Appendices as 'the One'?) but within the context of the broader corpus of literature it's observable that in the narrative there is a god (Eru) who does influence things, subtly in some cases and directly in others. It'd seem bizarre to me if an atheist didn't consider the god within the world of a fictional narrative to be real.

Originally Posted by cellurdur View Post
Ultimately I think some atheist would struggle to by the numerous times Eru intervenes to save the day.
In all honesty I find some of Eru's actions to be rather inscrutable, or rather his fluctuating levels of involvement, but I don't think I struggle to "buy" his role in the narrative because, well, if Professor Tolkien says that's what happened then that's what happened. But that's a story of his invention. Surely it's entirely reasonable to differentiate between that and reality.

I agree that a particular faith or system of belief may influence one's reading of a text but in my opinion there are so many different beliefs and ideologies that it doesn't work to simply draw a line between atheists and all forms of spiritual belief and say that the latter are predisposed to "get it" better than the former. Many forms of "belief" are vastly different from Professor Tolkien's Catholicism and have different values and ethics despite still believing in a spiritual sphere of existence.
"Since the evening of that day we have journeyed from the shadow of Tol Brandir."
"On foot?" cried Éomer.
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