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Old 05-25-2002, 07:49 PM   #8
littlemanpoet
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Child, Nar, Evenstar, Genandra, your replies are greatly appreciated.

I own only the Lays of Beleriand (the only purely poetical tome - you know my moniker [img]smilies/wink.gif[/img] ), but a friend of mine owns every volume and lets me borrow them on occasion.

Quote:
I do not see this open and clear evidence of Christianity or Catholicism in the book which Tolkien talks about, whether you're discussing the first draft, or the tenth!
Precisely. As Evenstar and Genandra remind us, although there are instances that on the face of it look like they are particularly Christian, we are so insular at our peril. For a more complete discussion of this, see the thread, "Trilogy and the Bible" on "Book" here at the downs. It's long and involving but thorough and courteous for a debate on religious topics. Sorry about that tangent. As I was beginning to say, I'm aware of the "face-value" things that look Christian, but that is not evidence enough to say they are what was "conscious in the revision".

By the way, I'm not in the least ready to write an article or book or do the research necessary to do justice to this topic. Which is why I took the easy and lazy way and asked others to help me brainstorm here. [img]smilies/biggrin.gif[/img]

I was getting ready, Child, to say "yes, but which of these 10 can you say are actually substantially different from earlier drafts in terms of Catholicism/Christianity"? Then you go and say it yourself. Kudos. Off the top of your head!? I wish I had the top of your head. [img]smilies/tongue.gif[/img]

I think the clear differences you delineate regarding Frodo in the Scouring of the Shire are informative and persuasive. Even more so the Mount Doom scene as related by a number of you. Pieced together, the combination of Gollum's ironic providential fall with the Ring, Sam's carrying the light Frodo who bears so much weight, Sam's undying Estel, and Frodo losing his finger, add up to an exquisitely elegant (thanks Nar) realistic eucatastrophe. No deus ex machina here.

Putting the above word here got me to thinking how Tolkien tied 'eucatastrophe' with his thoughts on the 'evangelium' in On Faerie Stories. Perhaps. PERHAPS, I SAY, the eucatastrophe of Mount Doom is the most Christian thing in the entire book precisely in that there is no deus ex machina, just as there is none at the crucifixion of Jesus, whose Deus had forsaken him according to the story, that very forsaking essential for the next event to be possible, thus bringing about what Christians hold to be the evangelium par excellence.

I like your idea, Child, of Sam as the truest depiction of Estel in the story. I don't think anybody ever thought that one up before. Kudos again.

You raise a reasonable conundrum in terms of "where in the revisions" these conscious Christianizations occurred. It probably could be debated forever without resolution.

One caution, Evenstar, duly noted in the Trilogy and the Bible thread, is that Gandalf's resurrection, Aragorn's healing ability, and other such characteristics can be found just as frequently in myths and religions the world over. What I'm really interested in looking into here is that which is particularly Christian, if anything can be assuredly stated as such in tLotR (which I think I may have found, above). I do appreciate your retelling of Sam's experience of Frodo weighing nothing. It does resonate for Christians as you say; it may not be particular to Christians, though.

Genandra, I think the passage you refer to speaks of Tolkien's dislike for allegory rather than analogy. A fine distinction, I grant you, but important enough to be accurate about. Your caution is well stated and worth abiding by. Thanks. As to principles of Christianity, again, I hope we can find principles that are unique to Christianity. A tough challenge, I grant. I think Child was right: difficulty level 5 out of 5.

I guess I haven't really added much to this, except for the one thing regarding the eucastastrophe with no deus ex machina. Any comments on that?
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