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View Poll Results: Is Eru God?
Yes 43 66.15%
No 22 33.85%
Voters: 65. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 11-30-2005, 02:41 PM   #201
Feanor of the Peredhil
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alatar
And in regards to polls being a cross-section of the population, it should be obvious that only people who partake in polls...well...partake in polls, and so we leave a group completely out. Plus I would say that here at the Downs that only special people participate in these threads, mostly people with high pain thresholds...
I agree with Al of the Tar-folks. In a truly comprehensive poll, there would be even the most random answers like "Well, if you consider God to be embodied by the campus squirrels where Fea goes to school, then heck yes!" even if that answer makes sense to only one person and hardly seems to pertain to the general group. Without the extra choices, a more serious one being "I don't know who God is, but when I find out, I'll tell you if he's the same dude as Eru", there will be a bunch of people left out of it.

And am I an extra special person, alatar, for participating in the thread without even having voted?
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Old 11-30-2005, 02:48 PM   #202
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Hear! Hear! I have clicked post reply umpteen times to justify my choice but the noise was making my ears bleed.
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Old 11-30-2005, 02:54 PM   #203
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Feanor of the Peredhil
And am I an extra special person, alatar, for participating in the thread without even having voted?
But of course Fea - or is it Fey - you are an extra special person, as one might note that I never vote in polls either (don't want to cause some worldwide catastrophe via the butterfly effect ) and people call me special...right before they run the other direction.

But anyway, I really see what the now-visible davem is saying. After receiving some criticism regarding the paganness of the LotR, JRRT continually points to 'similarities' and says, "See? There's yet another reference to Christianity."

Who can argue with the author? And if you all see something stellar in a post of mine that makes my point, surely I'll claim the accident to be intentional - diamond in the rough for those adept at digging, as it were, and not just some lump of compressed carbon.
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Old 11-30-2005, 03:11 PM   #204
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alatar
and people call me special...right before they run the other direction.
Ah. I get special just before a favor is asked of me.

Quote:
Who can argue with the author?
Not me! And when in doubt, fall back on "Well, the text doesn't explicitly state anything, so who cares?"

Since Tolkien didn't write anywhere the exact words "Okay guys, pay attention now: Eru is God.", it's really no skin off my nose whether he is or isn't. Call me a stubborn block-head that would be unable to see through a brick wall no matter how long a time given for it, but delving through subtlety in search of some Freudian concept of slightly hidden messages doesn't appeal to me unless I'm in it for the sheer hilarity of it all. Tolkien intended to secretly convey to us that the all-powerful Eru is God? No way, are you serious? He's also Santa Claus?!? Seriously though, you can find anything you intend to look for, if you simply know where to look. Gimli and Legolas as well as Sam and Frodo are gay. Elrond is sexist as shown by him not appointing females to the Fellowship. Celebrian was raped. Feanor wasn't nearly as bad as he was made out to be. Elves have ears shaped like maple leaves. Balrogs look like emus.

When you get a bunch of sophists running around with a point in their head that they're intent on, they can prove anything, though I'm perfectly willing to admit that that's what makes this argument so much fun.
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Old 11-30-2005, 04:08 PM   #205
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fea
When you get a bunch of sophists running around with a point in their head that they're intent on, they can prove anything, though I'm perfectly willing to admit that that's what makes this argument so much fun.
Perfectly stated, if I do say so. If you look at evidence to prove your own point, you can almost always do it. That's what we science folk call the danger of bias. To really get to the truth of the matter, you have to look at the evidence completely objectively, and without bias. This is, rather unfortunately, impossible for anyone who has an opinion (ie all of us) so the chances of ever figuring out what was supposed to be is nigh impossible.

All we have to go on is avgue textual references, the author's statements, and the author's possible motives. The motives have no proof that would hold up to a review board, court of law, etc, the text is vague and could be interpreted any way you want to, so the most concrete evidence we have are the author's statements, and those clearly say that Eru is God.

But you know what they say: "When all else fails, manipulate the data."
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Old 11-30-2005, 04:18 PM   #206
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roa_Aoife
But you know what they say: "When all else fails, manipulate the data."
75% polled disagree with this statement. The other 35% often forget that when manipulating data, they should make sure their numbers match up.
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Old 11-30-2005, 04:33 PM   #207
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fea
Seriously though, you can find anything you intend to look for, if you simply know where to look.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roa_Aoife
But you know what they say: "When all else fails, manipulate the data."
Precisely. And I suspect this is pretty much what Tolkien did. I don't think he 'consciously revised' LotR during the writing phase to make it a Catholic work. I think he wrote it, gave it to the world, & was very surprised at accusations of a lack of spirituality, of pagan tendencies, &, most importantly of being 'juvenile'. When some readers & reviewers started to suggest it had a Christian dimension, Tolkien happilly took this up & convinced himself that he had written a 'fundamentally Christian & Catholic work'.

What it is, rather (I would say) is a work that came from his heart, & one that he didn't have much control over - he wrote & re-wrote it, till he found out 'what really happened'. He then attempted to understand it, make sense of it - mainly for himself, but also for the readers who quizzed him on it. I think we're talking something much closer to [i]revisionism[i] than 'revision'.

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Old 11-30-2005, 07:04 PM   #208
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alatar
And of course I would disagree with that, though at this point I cannot even remember the original poll, let alone the question being asked.
As I said, I consider that these types of poll can be of value, but that there value will depend upon the size and nature of the sample. And you are quite right. I should also have included the range and nature of the choices given as a further factor in determining their value. Taking these factors into account, I think that it can be possible to draw conclusions (albeit sometimes tentative ones) from them.

For example, with specific reference to the poll that I linked to, one can, at the very least, conclude from it that a sizeable majority of those Downers who responded (and therefore had an interest in, and a view on, the issue) were of the opinion that the meaning of LotR was to be found in the reader's experience rather than authorial intention (or any of the other given choices).

Quote:
Originally Posted by alatar
Who can argue with the author?
A loaded question, if ever I heard one. However, I will content myself with pointing you in the direction of the Canonicity thread and the poll thread that I linked to (if you haven't already read them).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fea
Since Tolkien didn't write anywhere the exact words "Okay guys, pay attention now: Eru is God.", it's really no skin off my nose whether he is or isn't.
And even had he done so, it does not follow that we would be obliged to accept it.
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Old 11-30-2005, 07:31 PM   #209
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I finally finished reading the whole 5 pages of posts – another fascinating (but time-consuming) discussion!

I voted yes, not only because for Tolkien Eru meant God, but because he pretty much reflects my own conception of God. In fact, reading Tolkien’s works was rather like a revelation to me!!

I must admit that my own faith is rather vague – that is, I have a deep longing to believe in God, and with my feelings I do believe, but as soon as I start thinking rationally, I start doubting. There’s just too much injustice and suffering in the world to believe in a God that is omnipotent AND loving. It doesn’t need the direct experience of suffering – just read history (“a long defeat” indeed!) or listen to the news every day –it could lead one to despair! For years I just tried to evade thinking too much about that. It was reading Tolkien’s works and letters that caused me to reflect on my own belief again.

I feel rather like one man who wrote to Tolkien about his experience with LotR:
letter #328
Quote:
…I had a letter from a man, who classified himself as “an unbeliever, or at best a man of belatedly and dimly dawning religious feeling….. but you”, he said, “create a world in which some sort of faith seems to be everywhere without a visible source, like light from an invisible lamp.” (……) If sanctity inhabits his work or as a pervading light illumines it then it does not come from him but through him. And neither of you would perceive it in these terms unless it was with you also. Otherwise you would see and feel nothing,
I think just because LotR is NOT overtly Christian , or religious at all, its morals appeal to so many different people.
As Tolkien said himself in letter 142
Quote:
The religious element is absorbed into the story and the symbolism.
And in letter 156
Quote:
…I have purposely kept allusions to the highest matters down to mere hints, perceptible only by the most attentive, or kept them under unexplained symbolic forms.
Quote:
posted by Mr.Underhill
It's interesting to me that he found, or sensed, that the best way to talk about the truths that he held so dear was to not talk about them, if you take my meaning. To portray the underlying truth without the trapping, or in a different trapping.
Quote:
posted by Davem
If it can (& often is) read & enjoyed by readers who do not percieve any Christian elements in it (even ones familiar with the tenets of that faith) then Christianity is obviously not something that underlies the story.
That way, Tolkien gives the reader the freedom to interpret it in his own way. (Many might be put off by overt Christianity, including myself!) Just because the allusions are so subtle and so general, they are working , and can be accepted by everyone.

from Letter131
Quote:
I believe that legends and myths are largely made of “truth” and indeed present aspects of it that can only be received in this mode.
Tolkien managed to merge these ancient truths with his Christian faith, and the result is very convincing (for me at least) . Also historically: the ancient pagan deities were very often turned into catholic saints!


On the whole I find the end of LotR a well-balanced mixture of sadness and hope. Hope without guarantees perhaps, but the book “lifts up my heart”. I get the comforting impression that a merciful providence is behind everything.

Now the Silmarillion is quite different. So sombre and pessimistic, everything seems doomed from the start. At first I found it really hard to believe that such tragic and hopeless stories like the one about Túrin were written by the same author… But the more I read in it – and especially after reading U.T., I grew more and more fond of it.
It seems to me that Tolkien's works, especially the Silmarillion, are partly his own way of pondering over those questions that engage us all: about death and immortality, good and evil, free will and providence and the meaning of suffering and injustice in the world.
And I think Davem has hit upon a truth (for me anyway) when he wrote:
Quote:
Recently I've begun to wonder whether what we get from LotR is not 'satisfaction' a having our spiritual questions answered or our confusions & dilemmas resolved, but rather a 'confirmation' of our own doubts & uncertainties
I guess that’s why I sympathize with the Númenoreans saying
“For of us is required a blind trust, and a hope without assurance, knowing not what lies before us in a little while.”
And with king Meneldur asking “If either way may lead to evil, of what worth is choice ?”

Eru is inscrutable indeed (as is God in my eyes at least), yet there is some attempt at a justification

Quote:
“"Thus even as Eru spoke to us shall beauty not before conceived be brought into Ëa, and evil yet be good to have been."
(Manwë to the other Valar)
"...and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater"
(Haldir to the Fellowship)
And something similarly hopeful is expressed in letter #64 (1944).
Quote:
All things and deeds have a value in themselves, apart from their "causes" and "effects" . No man can estimate what is really happening at the present sub specie aeternitatis.
All we do know, and that to a large extent by direct experience, is that evil labours with vast power and perpetual success - in vain : preparing only the soil for unexpected good to sprout in.

Quote:
Davem, quoting Roa_Aoife
But you know what they say: "When all else fails, manipulate the data."

Precisely. And I suspect this is pretty much what Tolkien did.
Honestly, I’m surprised to hear you talking in such a way about Tolkien ! And I don’t think I would have liked the lecture of this Mr.Hutton (was that his name?) in Birmingham.
Quote:
Davem:
What it is, rather (I would say) is a work that came from his heart, & one that he didn't have much control over - he wrote & re-wrote it, till he found out 'what really happened'. He then attempted to understand it, make sense of it - mainly for himself, but also for the readers who quizzed him on it.
That's more like it!
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Last edited by Guinevere; 12-01-2005 at 05:01 AM. Reason: to correct a quote that wasn't quite correct.
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Old 11-30-2005, 10:00 PM   #210
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Saucepan Man
A loaded question, if ever I heard one. However, I will content myself with pointing you in the direction of the Canonicity thread and the poll thread that I linked to (if you haven't already read them).
Apologies, as I was not able to complete the link...my computer's failsafe mechanism kicked in and so it reduced itself to ashes at the mention of the "C" thread.

Luckily I have sack clothe to match.

And note that it's easier to start with the answer and work backwards assembling the evidence to fit, as that way you're sure to reach the conclusion that the evidence points to 100% of the time. As long as no one was watching your backtracking, you can pretend that the evidence speaks for itself.

And Guinevere's post regarding the world light by an invisible lamp is excellent.
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Old 11-30-2005, 10:41 PM   #211
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davem
Precisely. And I suspect this is pretty much what Tolkien did. I don't think he 'consciously revised' LotR during the writing phase to make it a Catholic work. I think he wrote it, gave it to the world, & was very surprised at accusations of a lack of spirituality, of pagan tendencies, &, most importantly of being 'juvenile'. When some readers & reviewers started to suggest it had a Christian dimension, Tolkien happilly took this up & convinced himself that he had written a 'fundamentally Christian & Catholic work'.

What it is, rather (I would say) is a work that came from his heart, & one that he didn't have much control over - he wrote & re-wrote it, till he found out 'what really happened'. He then attempted to understand it, make sense of it - mainly for himself, but also for the readers who quizzed him on it. I think we're talking something much closer to [i]revisionism[i] than 'revision'.
So you are saying then that Tolkien was lying?

I'm not saying that your theory is entirely discreditable, but it does make Tolkien's statement that it was CONSCIOUSLY Catholic in the revision to be either a misstatment, or- to take the facts in the most simply presented way, to be a lie.

Lies, as far as we are shown, are very much not in keeping with Tolkien's style (he was quite often blunt in his letters, as I'm sure you are aware), and it's very much not in keeping with his Catholic faith, which we know he was fanatical about.

There are definitely some thing about what you are saying that seem to ring true, Davem, but your theory is directly at odds with what Tolkien said, and I'm loathe to directly contradict a clear statement made by Tolkien himself.

Of course, the people on this forum would probably STILL give Balrogs wings even if Tolkien had deposited the same statement "Balrogs do not have wings" in the bank every year of his life, to be produced at the time of his death as the final authority in the Balrog wing debate. For some reasom, people seem to have a problem dealing with direct statements as meaning exactly what they say.
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Old 12-01-2005, 05:35 AM   #212
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Formendacil
I'm not saying that your theory is entirely discreditable, but it does make Tolkien's statement that it was CONSCIOUSLY Catholic in the revision to be either a misstatment, or- to take the facts in the most simply presented way, to be a lie.
It certainly wasn't a 'lie' - it just wasn't a fact. CT has shown that his father's memory (in letters written/statements made many years after the fact) was not 100% - cf the statement that he 'halted for a year by Balin's Tomb'. His other statement in the Foreword, that it has 'no inner meaning in the author's intention', that it is 'merely' entertainment, clashes with statements in the letters where he as much as says that LotR is an intentionally Christian work & the 'similarities' between Mary/Galadriel Lembas/The Host were deliberate.

I think Tolkien had convinced himself that LotR was made 'consciously Catholic' in the revision - but (if you've read HoM-e) can you tell me where the evidence is for that?

As I said, I think Tolkien spent years after the publication of LotR attempting to understand it & make it fit with his beliefs. He constructed a Catholic interpretation of the story - which many of his readers (though not all) have accepted.

I don't know where the Legendarium came from - his constant references to 'finding out what really happened' rather than 'inventing' are clearly true & I think it was only the critical & readerly responses & challenges that made him actually start analysing it for meaning & conformity to his faith.

One point Hutton made in his talk: Tolkien's claim that LotR was about 'the elevation of the humble' & that this somehow confirmed its Christianity. Fairy stories were the 'literature' of ordinary folk, & their heroes tend to be ordinary, humble heroes - ie a 'humble flittle man elevated to the status of 'hero' is not a uniquely Christian theme. Tolkien supplied that interpretation of his Hobbit heroes & then claimed that tsuch things made it a specifically Christian story.

Not 'lying', then, but not exactly stating the 'facts'.
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Old 12-01-2005, 08:27 AM   #213
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The full quote is, if I am not mistaken:

Quote:
The Lord of the Rings is of course a fundamentally religious and Catholic work; unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision. That is why I have not put in, or have cut out, practically all references to anything like `religion', to cults or practices, in the imaginary world. For the religious element is absorbed into the story and the symbolism.
So Tolkien here says that this 'revision' consisted of excising any references to religious ritual. He does not say that he altered the rest as it was 'absorbed into the story'. I have to say, it was absorbed so well and with such subtlety that I entirely fail to see many of these references as specifically 'Catholic'.

davem used the example of 'the elevation of the humble' as being something Tolkien used to 'prove' the Christian credentials of his work - while it is actually a far more universal factor. This is just one of many examples throughout the Legendarium which can have mulitple meanings and interpretations. Symbolism such as sacrifice is not exclusive to Christianity, it is Universal. I'd wholeheartedly agree with Tolkien that his work is fundamentally religious, but in a truly Universal way.

I think that his infamous statement/soundbite can be re-interpreted as it is Tricksy. A 'fundamentally' religious and Catholic work may be said to have its roots in those things; the origins of the work were both from the 'religious' i.e. sacred but not necessarily Catholic (bearing in mind Tolkien was steeped in knowledge of Pagan literature, both European and Classical) and from the 'Catholic' i.e. his own idiosyncratic and intensely personal interpretation of Catholicism.

Tolkien seems to be saying that at first he did have reference to rites and rituals in his work (unconsciously, as though he could not help but do this) but that in order to make his work coherent as a representation of a Secondary World he had to ensure that such references were excised. The things which happen in his works follow his own (as a Catholic) moral standards (How could they not reflect his views on what is right and wrong behaviour? Are there many writers who would produce something which they found morally repugnant?) and he wrote of these 'unconsciously' at first.

When it came to revision of what he had written, he bore in mind (consciously) his own Primary World faith and ensured he had excised explicit references to this. Note that what was left was not Catholic, but 'religious', a very different kettle of fish.

His statement, if viewed as proof positive that he did revise his work to make it more Catholic actually does not make sense. If looked at that way then he seems to be saying "Well, I started off unable to do anything but write a Catholic work. Then I had to edit my work and realised it had to be a Catholic work so I removed all the Catholic references."
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Old 12-01-2005, 08:54 AM   #214
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Lalwendë, that is a very interesting analysis of Tolkien's comment in theological terms. However, I have always interpreted Tolkiens comment about the absorption of the religious element into the story and the symbolism as an aesthetic statement.

To explain my interpretation, I compare LotR with Lewis' Narnia series. I must admit to complete failure to ever being able to finish reading Narnia, no matter how much I am delighted by the idea of a wordrobe into another world. I have tried, and tried recently as preparation for viewing the movie (the trailers of which attract me very much). Yet time and again I cannot get over the abject obviousness of Lewis' allegory. I find it wearyingly boring. I very much prefer the indeterminacy of Tolkien's hints and suggestions. Perhaps this says more about me as a reader than about either author but I think that Tolkien was a more astute storeyteller than Lewis. I think he had a surer hand in understanding what drives audiences/ readers to adopt stories keenly and closely and I think it was this concept of the relation between author and audience that drove his thoughts about the Catholic references rather than any theological desire per se.
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Old 12-03-2005, 01:10 PM   #215
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I just found this in an essay by Verlyn Flieger, 'A Cautionary Tale' in an edition of The Chesterton Review. The relevant issue is avaiable as a free download from the website.

Quote:
Tolkien borrowed from the myths of northwestern Europe for the flavor of his stories, and much has been written about his debt to existing mythologies from Scandinavia to Sumer. Nevertheless, he wrote to father Robert Murray that The Lord of the Ringswas “a fundamentally religious and Catholic work” (Letters 172), and one might assume that nothing in the legendarium as a whole would contradict that. Rather surprisingly, a quick comparison between the two reveals some fundamental differences, and not just on the level of doctrine or creed. Tolkien’s is a far darker world than that envisioned by Christianity, and falls short of the promise and the hope that the older story holds out. Unlike the Judaeo-Christian mythos with which it is so often compared, and which tells of a world fallen through human willfulness and saved by sacrifice, Tolkien’s mythos as a whole begins with a fall long before humanity comes on the scene. He wrote of his story:
Quote:
I suppose a difference between this and what may be perhaps called Christian mythology is this. In the latter, the Fall of Man is subsequent to and a consequence (though not a necessary consequence) of the ‘Fall of the Angels’; a rebellion of created free will at a higher level than Man, but it is not clearly held (and in many versions not held at all) that this affected the ‘World’ in its nature: evil was brought in from outside, by Satan. In this [i.e. Tolkien’s own] Myth the rebellion of created free-will precedes creation of the world (Eä); and Eä has in it, subcreatively introduced, evil, rebellions, discordant elements of its own nature already when the Let it Be was spoken. The Fall, or corruption, therefore, of all things in it and all inhabitants of it, was a possibility if not inevitable. (Letters 286-87)
Thus original sin (if one may borrow that term) enters the world in the very process of its coming to be, when the melodic theme that is the metaphor for creation is distorted by the clamorous and discordant counter-theme of the rebel demiurge Melkor. The resultant Music sets the tone for all that is to follow.
The supreme godhead, Eru/Iluvatar, who both proposes the theme and conducts the Music, is neither the Judaic God of Hosts who alternately punishes and rewards his people, nor the traditional Christian God of love and forgiveness. Rather, he is a curiously remote and for the most part inactive figure, uninvolved, with the exception of one cataclysmic moment, in the world he has conceived. The lesser demiurgic powers, the Valar, have only partial comprehension of the world they have helped to make. The primary heroes, the Elves, are gifted beings caught in a web of pride, power, and deceit—largely of their own weaving—that hampers and constrains every effort they make to get free of it. The secondary heroes, Men, are courageous but shortsighted blunderers with but little sense of history and even less comprehension of their place in the larger scheme of things.
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Old 12-03-2005, 07:31 PM   #216
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*gives up and gets involved in the theological debate*

I can't let this go unanswered. It seems that one Verlyn Flieger has a rather onesided view of Christian beliefs. Unfortunately, this shortcoming is shared by far too many people, on all sides of every debate involving it.

Quote:
Tolkien’s is a far darker world than that envisioned by Christianity, and falls short of the promise and the hope that the older story holds out. Unlike the Judaeo-Christian mythos with which it is so often compared, and which tells of a world fallen through human willfulness and saved by sacrifice, Tolkien’s mythos as a whole begins with a fall long before humanity comes on the scene
If one truly studies the Bible where it describes Mankind as a whole, the world is a very dark and ugly place, where we screw up constantly, and hope for us is all but gone.

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So the LORD said, "I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth—men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air—for I am grieved that I have made them." -Gen 6:7

29They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. -Rom 1:29-30

19Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. ....48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. -Math 5:19-20, 48
Right away, we have a sense of hopelessness. The world is evil, fallen, and the only way around it is perfection or mercy.

Quote:
In this [i.e. Tolkien’s own] Myth the rebellion of created free-will precedes creation of the world (Eä); and Eä has in it, subcreatively introduced, evil, rebellions, discordant elements of its own nature already when the Let it Be was spoken. The Fall, or corruption, therefore, of all things in it and all inhabitants of it, was a possibility if not inevitable. (Letters 286-87)
In truth, we don't know when the fall of Satan took place, all we know is that it took place sometime before the fall of Man, and that it was indeed Satan who pled to the free-will of both Eve and Adam. It has been said that the Angelic fall happened after the creation of the world, some say during, and other's say well before. There is nothing to say that the angels weren't involved in some way, though there certainly isn't anything saying they were.

Many would say that the fall was inevetible because of how things were set up in the Garden. I could argue till I'm blue in the face about why the fall happened, why there was a forbidden tree in the first place, and what God was doing while all this was going on (surely He was aware) but that would be a bit off topic. All I'll say is that the Fall was an onvious possiblity, maybe it was even supposed to happen.

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Rather, he is a curiously remote and for the most part inactive figure, uninvolved, with the exception of one cataclysmic moment, in the world he has conceived.
Uninvolved? He may have allowed the Ainur, with their free will, to sing in dischord, but everytime Eru wove the dischord into an even more wonderful melody than had been before. He turns evil to good, sets up the Valar to help and guide his children, who, though imperfect follow Him as best they can. He even moves in some less obvious ways, as pointed out by LMP.
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Old 12-04-2005, 04:43 AM   #217
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Originally Posted by Roa-Aiofe
Quote:
:
In this [i.e. Tolkien’s own] Myth the rebellion of created free-will precedes creation of the world (Eä); and Eä has in it, subcreatively introduced, evil, rebellions, discordant elements of its own nature already when the Let it Be was spoken. The Fall, or corruption, therefore, of all things in it and all inhabitants of it, was a possibility if not inevitable. (Letters 286-87)
In truth, we don't know when the fall of Satan took place, all we know is that it took place sometime before the fall of Man, and that it was indeed Satan who pled to the free-will of both Eve and Adam. It has been said that the Angelic fall happened after the creation of the world, some say during, and other's say well before. There is nothing to say that the angels weren't involved in some way, though there certainly isn't anything saying they were.
Ah, but the quote given is from Tolkien himself, so he clearly distinguished his myth from that of Christianity in that sense. The point is that the Fall in Judeo-Christian myth comes about as a result of Adam & Eve's 'sin' in the Garden post Creation. In Tolkien's myth the world is created already 'marred' by Melkor's interventions in the Music. As Tolkien stated 'The Fall, or corruption, therefore, of all things in it and all inhabitants of it, was a possibility if not inevitable'.'

I think those last three words sum up the difference perfectly - in Judeo-Christian myth the Fall is a tragedy because it didn't have to happen. Tolkien clearly implies that if a Fall was not necessarily 'inevitable' (though I wonder from his words whether he didn't actually consider it was inevitable) it was certainly very likely. God creates a world which He considers 'Good', Eru creates a world which is already flawed in such a way that a Fall is 'an accident waiting to happen'. Eru chose to allow Melkor's dissonance to be included in the creation. Why? To give Melkor the chance to repent when he saw his 'dissonance' made real? Fine, but real people area going to suffer as a resullt of that act of compassion.

Or was it all about 'free will' - too easy. If I leave a group of of children alone in a room where I have placed a load of sharp knives in full view because they have 'free will' as far as what they do with those knives, am I thereby absolved of any responsibility as to what they do? Would I be justified in punishing those children if they stabbed each other?

In short, Tolkien clearly saw a difference between his myth & the Biblical story....

Then again, which of his letters do we go with - in other letters he implies there is no difference: Eru is God, Middle-earth is our world. This illustrates Hutton's point about the Letters - we can't depend on them to present us with a coherent view re the theology of Middle-earth & its correspondence or otherwise with Christianity. He wanted the two to match up, & wherever posssible he tried to make them 'fit'. There were certain things that didn't match up, that he couldn't make match up, & in those instances he was forced to admit that (as in the letter quoted by Fleiger). His later writings show his attempt (need???) to make them fit. The whole 'Myths Transformed' section of HoM-e 10 shows him trying to force his creation into the Judeo-Christian model & (as even Christopher acknowledges) failing to do so & in the process harming his own creation. He wanted the two to match up perfectly, but he couldn't make them do so.

His mythology was his real religion, what he really believed, how he really thought the world worked. Yet he considered himself an orthodox Catholic. Doublethink I would suggest. And this doublethink allowed him to create one of the greatest works of Art in the history of literature. Only when he was challenged as to its unorthodoxy was he backed into a corner. Like Frodo on Amon Hen, caught between the Voice & the Eye, he writhed.
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Old 12-04-2005, 09:51 AM   #218
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davem
I think those last three words sum up the difference perfectly - in Judeo-Christian myth the Fall is a tragedy because it didn't have to happen. Tolkien clearly implies that if a Fall was not necessarily 'inevitable' (though I wonder from his words whether he didn't actually consider it was inevitable) it was certainly very likely. God creates a world which He considers 'Good', Eru creates a world which is already flawed in such a way that a Fall is 'an accident waiting to happen'. Eru chose to allow Melkor's dissonance to be included in the creation. Why? To give Melkor the chance to repent when he saw his 'dissonance' made real? Fine, but real people area going to suffer as a resullt of that act of compassion.

Or was it all about 'free will' - too easy. If I leave a group of of children alone in a room where I have placed a load of sharp knives in full view because they have 'free will' as far as what they do with those knives, am I thereby absolved of any responsibility as to what they do? Would I be justified in punishing those children if they stabbed each other?
Congratulations, you just brought up one of the biggest debates in Christianity today. If Tolkien thought the Fall of Man was inevitable, I can bring to mind several Theologians who would disagree. This debate has been going around for a long time, even from the Middle Ages when the Calvinists showed up. Yes, God declares the world good, but that doesn't mean it was supposed to stay that way. Initially, Ea was good, too, until Melkor started messing things up. Many think the Fall of Man was a plan of God's all along- certainly he knew it was going to happen before the world was created (that's what Omniscient means...) but He created it anyway, and then allowed it to occur.

In the Garden of Eden, God set up a failure- the Tree- allowed Satan in to tempt Adam and Eve, and then He wasn't there at the crucial moment. Many Theologians look at this and say it was inevitable. Given Tolkien's pessimisstic view of God, it's possible that he belonged to this school of thought. Therefore, perhaps he wasn't trying to insert Catholicism into the story, but trying to make it look more positive and optimistic, as was the status quo of that time. Looking like a Calvinist (which is a sect of Protestantism) would not be acceptable to an Orthodox Catholic.

So, if we can't trust his statements, and the text is vague, and there's no hard evidence about his mindset, what are we left with? Our own interpretations? Eru help us....

EDIT: My pastor made my point about the fall of Man for me this morning. "We tend to view the fall like this: God created a perfect world, and declared it good. Then Adam and Eve come along and screw it all up and 'Ooops!' God is caught off guard. He says, 'Oh no! Whatdo I do? Anyone have any ideas?' Jesus stands up in the back and says, 'It's ok, Dad, I have a plan.' It seems silly, but that's how we really think of it. God had a perfect plan A, we screwed it up, and He had to come up with a Plan B. The truth is more likely to be that God planned in the Fall, that in fact it was part of his Perfect Plan A to reveal His love through our reconciliation to Him. The Fall of Man was supposed to happen."

This is not a widely accepted thought, especially not in Catholicism. If this is the idea that Tolkien had, in some form, he may have tried later to bring it back to the more accepted "We screwed up God's Plan, now we have to pay for it." Galileo, when he suggested the world was round, was nearly excommunicated untill he recanted his idea. Tolkien may have felt the same pressure to conform to the Catholic Church, not by inserting Christianity, but by fixing the view of it, even openly admitting that his version didn't coincide with the truth, even if that thruth may have been wrong.
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Old 12-14-2005, 06:35 AM   #219
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This question came to me while listening to a radio discussion of the Christian God's omniscience in regards to free will. The caller was perplexed, as having free will in the same universe with a God who knew the future didn't seem to be tenable.

The show host responded that the omniscient God sees the future as we see the/our past. We do not cause things to happen in the past, yet can have full knowledge of the events.

Anyway, the question then is: Is Tolkien's world Eru's replay? In the Christian world I assume that even though God knows the future, we are still moving from some start point in time to some other for the first time - it's all a new game. The future has yet to happen, and we're playing the game to some end.

Tolkien's God Eru has already played the game once, and Arda is a replay. Surely I know that there are new things that arise in the playing of Arda that might not have been heard in the Music, but I assume that Eru heard all themes, notes, etc, and from His perspective, Arda's life is a replay.

How does Tolkien reconcile these differences in 'theology?'

Hope that that makes sense.
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Old 12-14-2005, 07:07 AM   #220
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alatar, it seems to me you repeat the mistake the show caller made - how exactly Eru's omniscience differs from real world God's omniscience?

Indeed, did Eru 'play the game' once, or was it a rather a 'theme' - a rehearsal, a plan, rails along which the train of the world would move?

I can't see 'difference of ideologies' here. The 'rehearsal' was made for Ainur's sake, to let them see what it was all about, to give them 'general idea', not to help Eru see what He was doing.

Besides, terms 'first time', 'second time' seem inapplicable to me in the case - the Music was before world's time, and if there is any other kind of time in the Halls of Eru we do not know.

I once made a following analogy, I believe it may be applicable here:

Quote:
Originally Posted by HerenIstarion
I can suggest you another mental image of a man looking upon a rope stretched on the table. Both, table (space) and rope (time), are made by man (God), but man is not bound to be inside either. The picture is lame for if any ant (human, elf) was to move along the rope, it would imply some passage of time by itself. But if there was no time for a man (God) than he would be able to see an ant (human, elf) at any given moment of it’s progress along the rope (time). Neither it means that watching ant crawling along the line is somehow influencing it’s progress, i e 'predestining' it
Coming from Halls of Mandos and Elvish Free Will.

Let's further tune the image by saying Man at the Table may be seeing an Ant for each given moment of it's progress along the Rope, but all individual Ants are, in fact, same Ant stretched through the length of the Rope-Time.
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Old 12-14-2005, 07:35 AM   #221
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Originally Posted by Roa_Aoife
I can't let this go unanswered. . . .
In truth, we don't know when the fall of Satan took place, all we know is that it took place sometime before the fall of Man, and that it was indeed Satan who pled to the free-will of both Eve and Adam.
And while I am not sure how this relates to Tolkien, I can't let this go unanswered.

Actually, the Bible does not tell us it was "Satan" who instigated the Fall by messing with Eve's mind. Our contemporary concept of Satan is very much derived from New Testament sources and, even, Milton's Paradise Lost, which is a work on the Vatican's list of proscribed works for its irreglarities in dogma. In fact, satan in much of at least the Hebrew Bible is simply a minion of God who helps to do God's work by challenging people, to see if they are truly good. (He gives God the idea to make Job prove his faith.) He is not a full blown adversary until far later in Christian history.

Genesis3:1 reads:
Quote:
The serpent was more crafty than any wild creature that the Lord God had made. The New English Bible: Oxford Study Edition
(The King James Bible uses "subtil" rather than "crafty" and "beast of the field" for "wild creature".)

A footnote to the study edition notes:

Quote:
An ancient extrabiblical story tells how a serpent stole the plant which would have given immortality to man.It was believed that when the snake shed his skin, he was rejuvenated. . . .The idea of the serpent as a primeval adversary of God, indeed, the Devil, arose much later (See Wis.2.24).
I don't know if Tolkien would have been aware of this ancient myth about immortality, nor what his understanding of Satan was, but at least it is possible to think that he recognised the serpent was one of God's creations, just as Melkor is one of Eru's creations. Good is not good until it is actively tested and proven against its obverse.
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Old 12-14-2005, 02:53 PM   #222
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Originally Posted by HerenIstarion
alatar, it seems to me you repeat the mistake the show caller made - how exactly Eru's omniscience differs from real world God's omniscience?
Thank you for your reply and analogy. In regards to omniscience, one has to assume that omniscience = omniscience, independent of bearer as the word means what it means. My question, maybe poorly stated, is that the Christian God to my knowledge did not preplay the game. He may have already have watched it, being God and all, but regarding the individual players, it was all new and never 'sung' before. My understanding of Eru is that he orchestrated the Ainur's song, recorded it then played it back as Arda. He, being God and all, knew what was sung before any note was uttered. Now the Ainur, players in the theme, not only played in the subsequent replay but participated in and even remembered the initial singing. Is this same foreknowledge/replay idea in beings less than omniscient found within Christian theology?

In ME we have actors that obtain foreknowledge as they remember the original Music/hear echoes of the Music whereas in Christianity (I assume) prediction/foreknowledge comes directly and only from God.
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Old 12-14-2005, 03:26 PM   #223
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Surely its possible that the Music & Ea are 'simultaneous' events. The Music happens outside the world of time & Ea is its 'reflection'. Certainly, from Eru's perspective if all things are known they would all be known simultaneously. There's no need for Ea to be a 'replay' of the Music. If the Music happened in 'Eternity' it cannot therefore have happened 'before' anything (or 'after') for that matter. Perhaps we're talking 'above/below' rather than 'before/after'?
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Old 12-14-2005, 03:58 PM   #224
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alatar
In ME we have actors that obtain foreknowledge as they remember the original Music/hear echoes of the Music whereas in Christianity (I assume) prediction/foreknowledge comes directly and only from God.
Quote:
Originally Posted by davem
Surely its possible that the Music & Ea are 'simultaneous' events. The Music happens outside the world of time & Ea is its 'reflection'. Certainly, from Eru's perspective if all things are known they would all be known simultaneously. There's no need for Ea to be a 'replay' of the Music. If the Music happened in 'Eternity' it cannot therefore have happened 'before' anything (or 'after') for that matter. Perhaps we're talking 'above/below' rather than 'before/after'?
Ea itself could be the echo of the Music. Maybe, so is everything contained therein - at least everything that is not Ainur (or maybe they too are part of that echo, or become part of it if they choose to enter the world?). When a person has foresight it may be, as alatar suggests, that they can hear this echo more clearly; this would make sense in the case of Elves who do not die as they would have had not only more time to make sense of the music, but being outside the constraints of time they may be more attuned to these echoes.

It makes me wonder what would happen if the echo ceased. Would the world end?
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Old 12-14-2005, 04:41 PM   #225
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Is the echo God?

And again, is my perceived difference in foreknowledge in the two different worlds a problem for Tolkien - one from God and one 'external' of God?
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Old 12-14-2005, 05:13 PM   #226
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Originally Posted by alatar
Is the echo God?

And again, is my perceived difference in foreknowledge in the two different worlds a problem for Tolkien - one from God and one 'external' of God?
My own feeling is that we're dealing with emanations/harmonics (as in Qabala for instance) ie Ea is a 'lower' harmonic of the Music, 'produced' by it but happening simultaneously with it.
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Old 12-14-2005, 07:49 PM   #227
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I think you confused a few things...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bęthberry
Actually, the Bible does not tell us it was "Satan" who instigated the Fall by messing with Eve's mind. Our contemporary concept of Satan is very much derived from New Testament sources.
If we use scripture to validate a point, we must take all of scripture as one. Just because Satan’s role isn’t clarified as the serpent until Revelation:

Quote:
The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. Revelation 12:9

He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years.
Revelation 20:2
Doesn’t mean we should disregard the claim. We cannot pick and choose which parts are true and which aren’t- that’s manipulation.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bęthberry
In fact, Satan in much of at least the Hebrew Bible is simply a minion of God who helps to do God's work by challenging people, to see if they are truly good. (He gives God the idea to make Job prove his faith.) He is not a full blown adversary until far later in Christian history.
Oh, really?

Quote:
Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel.
1 Chronicles 21:1

23 "In the latter part of their reign, when rebels have become completely wicked, a stern-faced king, a master of intrigue, will arise. 24 He will become very strong, but not by his own power. He will cause astounding devastation and will succeed in whatever he does. He will destroy the mighty men and the holy people. 25 He will cause deceit to prosper, and he will consider himself superior. When they feel secure, he will destroy many and take his stand against the Prince of princes. Yet he will be destroyed, but not by human power.
Daniel 8:23-25

6 One day the angels [a] came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan [b] also came with them.
Job 1:6
(Note: Satan comes from the Hebrew word for accuser.)
Satan in the Old Testament it clearly regarded as the enemy of Mankind, but even in his rebellion, he cannot deny God’s will. He did not “give God the idea,” rather, God allowed him to do his worst in order to create a much greater victory, a way of revealing Himself to his people.

It is important to recognize that Satan is not the opposite of God. He is the opposite of Michael. To be the opposite of God, he would have to be equal to God, and that he can never achieve.

As for the omniscience, the Music, and Ea: It wasn’t really that Ea was a replay; rather, the music was a pre-play, if that makes any sense. I think that Eru knew what was going to happen, and then allowed things to progress to a greater melody (much as God used Satan in the book of Job ). It’s easy to suggest that God had a general plan in mind when starting things out. Eru, being omniscient, would have known before the music how everything would work out. God, being omniscient, would have known how everything would work out before Genesis 1:1.
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Old 12-14-2005, 08:54 PM   #228
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Roa_Aoife wrote:
Quote:
We cannot pick and choose which parts are true and which aren’t- that’s manipulation.
But what was being discussed was not "which parts are true" (if any).

And I think a great number of Jews would disagree about having to take both Testaments or nothing . . .

Quote:
6 One day the angels [a] came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan [b] also came with them.
I could be very pedantic and say that even if one grants that "angels" does not include "Satan", that does not mean that Satan is not a minion of God. If you look at his role in the Old Testament as a whole, it is really quite different from that in the New Testament. I think this is the point Bethberry was making (though I invite her to correct me if I'm wrong).

In any case, it seems to me that what's relevant to a discussion of Tolkien's works is Tolkien's belief concerning Satan's fall. And he quite clearly stated, as Davem quoted:

Quote:
I suppose a difference between this and what may be perhaps called Christian mythology is this. In the latter, the Fall of Man is subsequent to and a consequence (though not a necessary consequence) of the ‘Fall of the Angels’; a rebellion of created free will at a higher level than Man, but it is not clearly held (and in many versions not held at all) that this affected the ‘World’ in its nature: evil was brought in from outside, by Satan. In this [i.e. Tolkien’s own] Myth the rebellion of created free-will precedes creation of the world (Eä); and Eä has in it, subcreatively introduced, evil, rebellions, discordant elements of its own nature already when the Let it Be was spoken. The Fall, or corruption, therefore, of all things in it and all inhabitants of it, was a possibility if not inevitable. (Letters 286-87)
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Old 12-15-2005, 12:53 AM   #229
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the post best described as 'it seems to me'...

Quote:
Originally Posted by davem
If the Music happened in 'Eternity' it cannot therefore have happened 'before' anything (or 'after') for that matter. Perhaps we're talking 'above/below' rather than 'before/after'?
Does it matter? What changes by replacing 'temporal' terms with 'spatial' ones? With equal success, I may have said that Music happened a little to the left from the World. The fact is that we do not know relation between 'eternity' and 'time'. Per instance, my Table-Rope analogy suggests just another term - 'outside'. It would suffice to say Time and Eternity are things apart. To me, though, it seems, that eternity may be like a three (or more) -dimensional time, and part of it which is 1-D 'vectorial flow' is our Time (or part of it we percieve so).

Simultaneous - well may be. It is for an 'ant on the rope' that events seem to replace one another in succession of 'time-flow'.

Quote:
Originally Posted by alatar
is my perceived difference in foreknowledge in the two different worlds a problem for Tolkien
I don't think it is. In 'real world' theology, it is not (as far as my knowledge reaches, and that is quite limited store) defined how much of the World's history do the angels know. But even taking as granted that angels do not know, and Valar do, what difference it makes for relation between Eru and Eruhini, and between Man and Creator? How exactly knowledge that some number of angels may have known what would have happened to you in any given moment, changes your attitude? Imagine that you are thirsty, and further that I know about the fact. How does the fact change your thirst? Does water taste worse for the fact I knew you would drink it?

In Orthodox theology there is a term 'teogumen' (if I remember it correctly). I could not find translation employing online resources, but generally it stands for 'idea of a person in faith, which is not officially accepted by the Church, but does not contradict it's general teaching and is acceptable to be had by the person'. It seems to me that God's Word (which is not defined in Bible as to what did it sound like) seen as Music is such a 'teogumen'. It seems to me that Host of Angels (as Valar) who may have 'worked' in Creation (even if after it was accomplished), since we do not have direct indication that they did not take any part in 'working' in it, may be a 'teogumen' as well.

Satan/Minion - it seems to me wonderfully rendered with Melkor/change of the name to Morgoth, as a mark of turning point in his 'career'.

It seems to me...
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Old 12-15-2005, 03:37 AM   #230
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Quote:
Originally Posted by H-I
Does it matter? What changes by replacing 'temporal' terms with 'spatial' ones? With equal success, I may have said that Music happened a little to the left from the World. The fact is that we do not know relation between 'eternity' and 'time'.
I suppose the Music is Myth/Theology while Ea is, in a sense Legend/History (the presence of 'immortal' beings - the Elves - who are alive in that period & remain in the world down to the 'present' of LotR means the world of Legend is also the world of History, which complicates things somewhat).

I think 'what changes' is how we think of the relationship between the Music & Ea. Was the Music in a sense 'over' before Ea began? From reading Ainulindale it may seem so, but Tolkien is having to use language to communicate ideas & concepts for which it was not designed (language originated in the need to communicate 'Don't go into those trees - there's a sabre-toothed tiger in there' & 'Give me some of that mammoth fricasee', etc).

I really think we are dealing with 'emanations'/'harmonics'. as in Qabalah, where each Sephirah emanates the succeeding ones http://www.crystalinks.com/kabala.html. (I'd speculate that we could place Eru in Tiphareth, the sixth Sephirah (TIPERETH...THE SUN, HARMONY, BEAUTY, PERFECTION, UNITY, CREATION), the Ainur in Hod & Netzach (seven NEDZACH...THE LOVER, VENUS, ART, CREATIVITY INSPIRATION & EROTIC SPIRITUALITY & eight HOD...THE INTELLECT, MERCURY, COMMUNICATION), the Music in Yesod (nine YESOD...THE MOON, VISION & DEEP MEMORY, THE CYCLES IN & AROUND US, ILLUSION) & Ea as the tenth MALKUTH... PHYSICAL REALITY, DEATH, PAIN, HEALING) - but that's just an idea. The point is that in Qabala all the Sephirah exist within the first, the sephira of 'God'/Primal being'. Process may occur in the higher spheres, but 'Time' only comes into being in the tenth. Of course, other attributions/allocations are possible - Manwe can be associated with Sephirah four (CHESED...THE RULER, MAJESTY, POWER & AUTHORITY, CONSOLIDATOR OF THINGS). Varda with Sephirah three( BINAH...YIN ENERGY, COMPASSION, PURE LOVE & UNDERSTANDING, THE COSMIC MOTHER), Orome with Sephirah five (GEBURAH...THE WARRIOR, SPSERER OF MARS, STRENGTH, JUSTICE, PHYSICAL POWER) etc, but I digress.
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Old 12-15-2005, 01:22 PM   #231
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HerenIstarion
The fact is that we do not know relation between 'eternity' and 'time'.
Isn't time the unit of eternity? And though the universe is seemingly infinite, and may have been here so long that it seems to be eternal, it had a starting point, and may even have boundaries, and so is not eternal. Eru may be eternal but his creations have starting points.

I have no idea what point I was attempting to make .


Quote:
But even taking as granted that angels do not know, and Valar do, what difference it makes for relation between Eru and Eruhini, and between Man and Creator?
How about humans that have preknowledge? In Arda it could be, as someone has noted, a special or attentive ear for the Music. On Earth it can only be via direct revelation. Does Satan hear the Music as I assume that God does not clue him in on His plan?


Quote:
In Orthodox theology there is a term 'teogumen' (if I remember it correctly). It seems to me that Host of Angels (as Valar) who may have 'worked' in Creation (even if after it was accomplished), since we do not have direct indication that they did not take any part in 'working' in it, may be a 'teogumen' as well.
Do we assume that angels, like their ME counterparts, have creative powers? Though Manwë had to check in now and again when making a big change (drowning Númenor), he still was King of Arda and changed things therein. Are there Christian/Judaic examples of angels with similar powers? Though this may seem trivial, if angels have such powers then what would stop Satan from mascarading as a prophet or messianic figure?

Tolkien's Satan heard the Music, had creative powers (though did not have access to the 'fire') and was a visible physical force in Arda.
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Old 12-15-2005, 03:06 PM   #232
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alatar
Do we assume that angels, like their ME counterparts, have creative powers?
I'm not sure the Valar 'create' as such. I think they 'sub-create'. The true source of creation is Eru, who is sole possessor of the Secret Fire. The Valar, in the words of Gandalf are 'Servants of the Secret Fire' - only Melkor (those who followed him, like Sauron, tried to possess it (& failed). The Valar attempted to do the will of Eru, serving as the means of creation (like living 'tools', if you like).
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Old 12-15-2005, 04:01 PM   #233
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Time does matter, as it's a measurable thing, while those things which are 'outside time' are immeasurable - things like God or Eru. So if the Music happened outside Time we couldn't (or beings in Ea couldn't) necessarily pinpoint a beginning or an end, a little like the idea of God being the Alpha and the Omega, both beginning and end.

Time only seems to exist in Ea itself, as there is also the Void, which is outside this. I say that as the Void is not necessarily empty (Ungoliant came from the Void for example) as would be say, a void space as we understand it, but it is outside the Music and Time. A fitting place to put Melkor?
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Old 12-15-2005, 04:39 PM   #234
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Davem wrote:
Quote:
The true source of creation is Eru, who is sole possessor of the Secret Fire.
True, but consider Eru's words to the Ainur:

Quote:
Of the theme that I have declared to you, I will now that ye make in harmony together a Great Music. And since I have kindled you with the Flame Imperishable, ye shall show forth your powers in adorning this theme, each with his own thoughts and devices, if he will.
So because they have been 'kindled' with the Flame Imperishable, they do have a degree of creative power. The theme is Iluvatar's but the Ainur 'adorn' it with their 'own thoughts and devices'. The role of the Valar is not, I think, merely to carry out the designs of Eru like 'living tools'; they embellish that design with their own free will - even if their creative powers are ultimately derivative of Eru's.
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Old 12-15-2005, 04:43 PM   #235
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aiwendil

Roa_Aoife wrote:
Quote:
We cannot pick and choose which parts are true and which aren’t- that’s manipulation.

But what was being discussed was not "which parts are true" (if any).

And I think a great number of Jews would disagree about having to take both Testaments or nothing . . .

Quote:
6 One day the angels [a] came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came with them.

I could be very pedantic and say that even if one grants that "angels" does not include "Satan", that does not mean that Satan is not a minion of God. If you look at his role in the Old Testament as a whole, it is really quite different from that in the New Testament. I think this is the point Bethberry was making (though I invite her to correct me if I'm wrong).
Yes, thank you, that was the point I wanted to make, Aiwendil, that there is in fact a gradual accretion to the concept of Satan throughout the Bible, and that early ideas about him were rather different from those developed later, as is suggested in Elaine Pagel's The History of Satan, which is reviewed here . Even the online Catholic Encyclopedia says

Quote:
The account of the fall of our First Parents (Genesis 3) is couched in such terms that it is impossible to see in it anything more than the acknowledgment of the existence of a principle of evil who was jealous of the human race.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aiwendil
In any case, it seems to me that what's relevant to a discussion of Tolkien's works is Tolkien's belief concerning Satan's fall. And he quite clearly stated, as Davem quoted:

Quote:
I suppose a difference between this and what may be perhaps called Christian mythology is this. In the latter, the Fall of Man is subsequent to and a consequence (though not a necessary consequence) of the ‘Fall of the Angels’; a rebellion of created free will at a higher level than Man, but it is not clearly held (and in many versions not held at all) that this affected the ‘World’ in its nature: evil was brought in from outside, by Satan. In this [i.e. Tolkien’s own] Myth the rebellion of created free-will precedes creation of the world (Eä); and Eä has in it, subcreatively introduced, evil, rebellions, discordant elements of its own nature already when the Let it Be was spoken. The Fall, or corruption, therefore, of all things in it and all inhabitants of it, was a possibility if not inevitable. (Letters 286-87)
What I find interesting here is the idea that the angels had free will in Christian theology. I suppose one must reach this conclusion to account for the fallen angels, but the general gist of the "Angels" article in the CE is that the angels were emissary's of God's will. One can say that they had free will to accept this role or not, but by and large it would appear that they were merely instruments.

Quote:
The angels of the Bible generally appear in the role of God's messengers to mankind. They are His instruments by whom He communicates His will to men....
I think this means they would not be capable of Tolkien's "sub-creation." Would this be another instance where Tolkien's 'theology' in fact deviates from his Christian beliefs?

As for my thoughts on time, which is intriguing most of you here on this thread, well, it is woefully little available to me to engage in a timely fashion.
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Old 12-15-2005, 07:11 PM   #236
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aiwendil
And I think a great number of Jews would disagree about having to take both Testaments or nothing . . .
We aren't discussing Judeism, we're discusing Catholicism, and how well Tolkien's world meshes with it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bęthberry
Even the online Catholic Encyclopedia says

Quote:

The account of the fall of our First Parents (Genesis 3) is couched in such terms that it is impossible to see in it anything more than the acknowledgment of the existence of a principle of evil who was jealous of the human race.
The only principle evil ever mentioned in Scripture is Satan, unless you know of another. And, as that is a Catholic Encyclopedia, and they hold all of scripture to be true, I doubt they would deny the relevance of latter passages declaring that Satan is indeed the serpent. If we look at it through the scope of Christianity, then when a piece of scripture was added means very little- it's the point being made that matters.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bęthberry
One can say that they had free will to accept this role or not, but by and large it would appear that they were merely instruments.
The free will of angels is a largely debated subject, and their role in Creation is unclear. One can point to passages that seem to discourage the idea:

Quote:
19 The LORD has established his throne in heaven,
and his kingdom rules over all.
20 Praise the LORD, you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his bidding,
who obey his word.
21 Praise the LORD, all his heavenly hosts,
you his servants who do his will.
Psalm 103:19-21

16 When the angel stretched out his hand to destroy Jerusalem, the LORD was grieved because of the calamity and said to the angel who was afflicting the people, "Enough! Withdraw your hand." The angel of the LORD was then at the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.
2 Samuel 24:16

9 I asked, "What are these, my lord?"
The angel who was talking with me answered, "I will show you what they are." 10 Then the man standing among the myrtle trees explained, "They are the ones the LORD has sent to go throughout the earth." 11 And they reported to the angel of the LORD, who was standing among the myrtle trees, "We have gone throughout the earth and found the whole world at rest and in peace."
Zechariah 1:9-11
However, one can also find passages that support the free will of angels:

Quote:
17 'Can a mortal be more righteous than God?
Can a man be more pure than his Maker?
18 If God places no trust in his servants,
if he charges his angels with error,
19 how much more those who live in houses of clay,
whose foundations are in the dust,
who are crushed more readily than a moth!
Job 4:17-19
(God finds error with the angels- could they make a mistake if they had no free will?)

12 Then the angel of the LORD said, "LORD Almighty, how long will you withhold mercy from Jerusalem and from the towns of Judah, which you have been angry with these seventy years?"
Zechariah 1:12
(The angel questions God- not possible with out free will)

12It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.
1 Peter 1:12
(Angels had thought they served themselves, and express desire- hardly characteristic of tools)

4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.
Genesis 6:4
(The Nephilim are a type of angel, along with the Cherubim and Seraphim, and are capable of acting on their own and entering into marriages, and fathering children. This clearly demonstrates a free will.)
Also, the rebellion of Satan is documented in the Old Testament.

Quote:
12 How you have fallen from heaven,
O morning star, son of the dawn!
You have been cast down to the earth,
you who once laid low the nations!
13 You said in your heart,
"I will ascend to heaven;
I will raise my throne
above the stars of God;
I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly,
on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. [a]
14 I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High."
Isaiah 14:12-15
So, the angels may not be able to refuse the will of their Creator, not even Satan, but that doesn't mean they have no free will. Satan is a minion of God only in that God uses him to create greater works, as Eru used the discord of Melkor to create even more beautiful Music.

We must nnot forget that Eru imparted the melody to the Ainur, so even the seemingly creative powers of the Valar are not really theirs, as a priest has no power of their own, and angels have no power of their own. It is all allowed by Eru/God (respectively). Melkor tries to create outside of Eru's design, and he can't. He is reduced to distorting the already present beings, which were in Eru's Music. In the creation of the dwarves, a fully living being cannot be made, and it is Eru who must give life.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aiwendil
I think this means they would not be capable of Tolkien's "sub-creation." Would this be another instance where Tolkien's 'theology' in fact deviates from his Christian beliefs?
Quote:
In Orthodox theology there is a term 'teogumen' (if I remember it correctly). It seems to me that Host of Angels (as Valar) who may have 'worked' in Creation (even if after it was accomplished), since we do not have direct indication that they did not take any part in 'working' in it, may be a 'teogumen' as well.
Quote:
Originally Posted by alatar
Isn't time the unit of eternity?
Quote:
e·ter·nal
adj.
1. Being without beginning or end; existing outside of time.
And also
Quote:
Originally Posted by alatar
Though this may seem trivial, if angels have such powers then what would stop Satan from mascarading as a prophet or messianic figure?
Nothing.

Quote:
14And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.
2 Corinthians 11:14
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Old 12-16-2005, 01:23 AM   #237
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In quotes

1. Eru

Quote:
Letter269

I don't feel under any obligation to make my story fit with formalised Christian theology, though I actually intended it to be consonant with Christian thought and belief
Quote:
Letter 211

Theologically (if the term is not too grandiose) I imagine the picture to be less dissonant from what some (including myself) believe to be the truth. But since I have deliberately written a tale, which is built on or out of certain "religious" ideas, but is not an allegory of them (or anything else) and does not mention them overtly, still less preach them, I will not now depart from that more, and venture on theological disquisition for which I am not fitted
Quote:
Letter 153

Inside this mythical history Creation, the act of Will of Eru the One that gives Reality to conceptions, is distinguished from Making, which is permissive
Quote:
Letter 181

They [Valar] shared in its 'making' - but only on the same terms as we make a work of art or story. The realization of it, the gift to it of a created reality of the same grade as their own, was the act of the One God"
Quote:
"...they [Valar] are only created spirits - of high angelic order we should say, with their attendant lesser angels - reverended, therefore, but not worshipful..."
Quote:
Letter 212

The Ainur took part in the making of the world as 'sub-creators': in various degrees, after this fashion. They interpreted according to their powers, and completed in detail, the Design propounded to them by the One."

Quote:
Letter 153

So in this myth, it is 'feigned' (legitimately whether that is a feature of the real world or not) that He gave special 'sub-creative' powers to certain of His highest created beings: that is a guarantee that what they devised and made should be given the reality of Creation. Of course within limits and of course subject to certain commands or prohibitions".
Quote:
Letter 181

The Eldar and the Numenoreans believed in The One, the true God, and held worship of any other person an abomination
Quote:
Atrabeth Finrod Ah Andreth

The Voice said: 'Ye are my children. I have sent you to dwell here. In time you will inherit all this Earth, but first ye must be children and learn. Call on me and I shall hear; for I am watching over you'
Quote:
Osanwe

No mind can, however, be closed against Eru, either against His inspection or against His message. The latter it may not heed, but it cannot say it did not receive it
Quote:
Letter 156

"...one of those strange exceptions to all rules and ordinances which seem to crop up in the history of the Universe, and show the Finger of God, as the one wholly free Will and Agent. The story of Beren and Luthien is the one great exception, as it is the way by which 'Elvishness' becomes wound in as a thread in human history
Quote:
Myths Transformed

It [Hope] cometh not only from the earning for the Will of Iluvatar the Begetter (which by itself may lead those within Time to no more than regret), but also from trust in Eru the Lord everlasting, that he is good, and that his works shall all end in good. This the Marrer hath denied, and in this denial is the root of evil, and its end is in despair
2. Melkor (Evil, Satan)

Quote:
Myths Transformed

Melkor is the supreme spirit of Pride and Revolt, not just the chief Vala of the Earth, who has turned to evil
Quote:
Silmarillion

"...(Manwe) was the chief instrument of the second theme that Iluvatar had raised up against the discord of Melkor
(parallel - Micheal as chief opponent of Satan)

Quote:
Myths Transformed

Morgoth had no 'plan': unless destruction and reduction to nil of a world in which he had only a share, can be called a 'plan'
Quote:
Myths Transformed

It does however seem best to view Melkor's corrupting power as always starting, at least, in the moral or theological level. Any creature that took him for Lord (and especially those who blasphemously called him Father or Creator) became soon corrupted in all parts of its being, the fea dragging down the hroa in its descent into Morgothism: hate and destruction
3. Evil as instrument of Good in the long run

Quote:
Silmarillion

And thou, Melkor, shalt see that no theme may be played that hath not its uttermost source in me, nor can any alter the music in my despite. For he that attempteth this shall prove but mine instrument in the devising of things more wonderful, which he himself hath not imagined
4. Strife of Good vs Evil

Quote:
Osanwe Kenta

How otherwise would you have it? Should Manwe and the Valar meet secrecy with subterfuge, treachery with falsehood, lies with more lies? If Melkor would usurp their rights, should they deny his? Can hate overcome hate? Nay, Manwe was wiser; or being ever open to Eru he did His will, which is more than wisdom".

5. Humankind

Quote:
AFaA

The Voice said: 'Ye are my children. I have sent you to dwell here. In time you will inherit all this Earth, but first ye must be children and learn. Call on me and I shall hear; for I am watching over you'".
Quote:
Silmarillion, Of Aule and Yavanna

That shall also be true of the Children of Iluvatar; for they will eat and they will build. And though the things of thy realm have worth in themselves, and would have worth if no Children were to come, yet Eru will give them dominion, and they shall use all that they find in Arda: though not, by the purpose of Eru, without respect or without gratitude
Quote:
Silmarillion, QS, Of the Beginning of Days

Behold I love the Earth, which shall be a mansion for the Quendi and the Atani!"

Quote:
Myths Transformed

For which reason it is said that whereas there is now great evil in Arda and many things therein are at discord... nonetheless the foundations of this world are good, and it turns by nature to good, healing itself from within by the power that was set there in its making; and evil in Arda would fail and pass away if it were not renewed from without: that is: that comes from wills and being [sic] that are other than Arda itself

Quote:
AFaA

'Matter' is not regarded as evil or opposed to 'Spirit'. Matter was wholly good in origin. It remained a 'creature of Eru' and still largely good, and indeed self-healing, when not interfered with: that is, when the latent evil intruded by Melkor was not deliberately roused and used by evil minds.
6. Freedom of Children of Eru

Quote:
Silmarillion

For the Children of Iluvatar were conceived by him alone; and they came with the third theme, and were not in the theme which Iluvatar propounded at the beginning, and none of the Ainur had part in their making. Therefore when they beheld them, the more did they love them, being things other than themselves, strange and free, wherein they saw the mind of Iluvatar reflected anew, and learned yet a little more of his wisdom, which otherwise had been hidden even from the Ainur"
7. Death

Quote:
Letter 153

Since 'mortality' is thus represented as a special gift of God to the Second Race of the Children (the Eruhini, the Children of the One God) and not a punishment for a Fall, you may call that 'bad theology'. So it may be, in the primary world, but it is an imagination capable of elucidating truth, and a legitimate basis of legends".
Yet

Quote:
Letter 212

In this mythical 'prehistory' immortality, strictly longevity co-extensive with the life of Arda, was pan of the given nature of the Elves; beyond the End nothing was revealed. Mortality, that is a short life-span having no relation to the life of Arda, is spoken of as the given nature of Men: the Elves called it the Gift of Iluvatar (God). But it must be remembered that mythically these tales are Elf-centred, not anthropo-centric, and Men only appear in them, at what must be a point long after their Coming. This is therefore an 'Elvish' view, and does not necessarily have anything to say for or against such beliefs as the Christian that 'death' is not part of human nature, but a punishment for sin (rebellion), a result of the 'Fall'. It should be regarded as an Elvish perception of what death - not being tied to the 'circles of the world' - should now become for Men, however it arose. A divine 'punishment' is also a divine 'gift', if accepted, since its object is ultimate blessing, and the supreme inventiveness of the Creator will make 'punishments' (that is changes of design) produce a good not otherwise to be attained: a 'mortal' Man has probably (an Elf would say) a higher if unrevealed destiny than a longeval one. To attempt by device or 'magic' to recover longevity is thus a supreme folly and wickedness of 'mortals'. Longevity or counterfeit 'immortality' (true immortality is beyond Ea) is the chief bait of Sauron - it leads the small to a Gollum, and the great to a Ringwraith
But still, from human perspective

Quote:
AFaA

Not so" I say indeed,' answered Andreth. 'We may have been mortal when first we met the Elves far away, or maybe we were not: our lore does not say, or at least none that I have learned. But already we had our lore, and needed none from the Elves: we knew that in our beginning we had been born never to die. And by that, my lord, we meant: born to life everlasting, without any shadow of any end.'
=====================

The selection of quotes I derive from dispute that ocurred some years back between people who would accuse Tolkien of being gnostic and those who defended Christianity of his writing. More quotes can be dug if need and will and time be, but these suffice for the purposes of comparison.

It seems to me (yet again) that it would be hard to find much deviation between Tolkien and Christian Theology. At the most - Valar, but than again, it is explicitly stated they are not 'creating' per se, but rather 'creating as form of art', 'sub-creating' (Hence 'working' of my previous posts). Besides, there is even a division between Ainur corresponding with division of Angelic Order - why not assume that Auinur that stayed back in Halls of Eru, correspond with first two choirs (Supernals, Celestials, Illuminations, Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones), since they are with God always, Valar correspond with Third Choir - Dominations - Virtues - Powers (mark words) and Maiar with Fourth Choir - Principalities - Archangels - Angels. (It is even easier when comparing with Orthodox teaching, where there are Three Choirs only, First choir being Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones). But I digress. What I was pointing at:

Therefore, I assume, Eru is God, seen through prism of sub-creative work. That Tolkien's 'sub-created' world should not concur with Bible word to word is obvious - would not it than be a parody rather than independent work of Art? But in principle, the one is image of Another.
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Old 12-16-2005, 03:02 AM   #238
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What I still see is a conflict in Tolkien between 'Imagination' & 'Orthodoxy', & that this 'conflict' is what produces his Art (the conflicting 'forces' of thesis & antithesis producing synthesis, if you like). Without that 'conflict' he would have produced nothing (or nothing worth having). The fact that he could not leave the Legendarium alone, & had constantly to return to it, to 'make it right', to 'find out what really happened' speaks to this inner conflict as plainly as can be.
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Old 12-18-2005, 06:54 AM   #239
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This is a radio interview with Tolkien (hope the link works) where he discusses some of the religious aspects of LotR.

http://www.daisy.freeserve.co.uk/jrrt_int.htm
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Old 12-18-2005, 07:21 AM   #240
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Wonderful link, davem! I suppose for this thread the relevant bits involve his comment on The One, but these were the comments I found the most interesting:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tolkien
G: It seemed to me that Middle-earth was in a sense as you say this world we live in but at a different era.

T: No ... at a different stage of imagination, yes.

. . .

G: This seems to be one of the great strengths of the book, this enormous conglomeration of names - one doesn't get lost, at least after the second reading.

T: I'm very glad you told me that because I took a great deal of trouble. Also it gives me great pleasure, a good name. I always in writing start with a name. Give me a name and it produces a story, not the other way about normally.
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