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Old 07-04-2014, 02:38 AM   #33
Shade of Carn Dūm
Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 276
cellurdur has just left Hobbiton.
Originally Posted by Zigūr View Post
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.
The 'hope' in LOTR is actually solely a Christian belief as is the acceptance of the inevitable change. The hope in Catholicism comes from the belief that God will never let humanity completely fall. To quote Hurin there is always a belief that 'Day shall come again'. However, at the same time Man has been in a downward spiral since the Fall and things will get worse. The latter is not strictly Catholic, but found in numerous religions and mythologies from Greek to African. Numenor will never happen again and even Aragorn is the last of the Numenoreans.

Nor does LOTR have any kind of theme about rejecting power. There is nothing wrong with power, when it is something innately yours or taking up your responsibility.

However, the biggest theme of the books and the mythology as a whole is Death and how we cope with the fact that one day we will die.
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.
Maybe "buy" is not the correct word, maybe accept is more useful. I agree with you though it is too wide to draw a line between atheist and belief in God. I personally am agnostic, but was raised Catholic. Whilst I am no longer Catholic and I am agnostic, I would struggle to enjoy any story, which was anti-Catholic in nature like say the Dark Materials books.
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