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Old 09-14-2002, 12:07 PM   #41
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Tolkien

...Tolkien and Lewis-One of the most superb literary friendships of all time-I always thought so...

-::waves:: my kind greetings to you Mithual [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]
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Old 09-14-2002, 12:42 PM   #42
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:: Bows:: And you, Inkling Elf.

What's your favorite Lewis work? I think I can guess what everyone's favorite Tolkien work is, but I have several friends who like the Silmarillion much more than LotR. My favorite Lewis work is Til We Have Faces as I said before. I love Narnia and I adore the Science Fiction Trilogy, and let's not forget Mere Christianity and Screwtape Letters. All this talk makes me really want to read all their works again.
::wanders over to her bookshelf and picks up some of Lewis's poetry.:: Time for some reading, guys.
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Old 09-15-2002, 12:03 PM   #43
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Ok... so I was wondring. Do ya'll think that Denethor symoblizes, in a way, King Saul in the Bible? It sorta makes sense to me. Faramir and Aragorn are friends, Denethor is about to have his power taken away from him and he kinda gets knocked off his rocker and ends up killing himself. Jonathan and David are friends, Saul is about to have his power taken from him and he goes nuts and ends up killing himself also. Hm... kinda closely knit there. I'm not sure if Tolkein intended it to be that way but hey, look at the similarities. No one goes there anymore, it's too crowded." Yogi Berra
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Old 09-15-2002, 04:55 PM   #44
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Hey, in 2 Kings (I'm not sure of the chapter or verse right now, but I'll get back to you on it) there was a king that burnt himself in the same way Denethor did. I think that he definately symbolizes Saul, and I think Tolkien got a few of his ideas from the Bible.
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"And Maglor answered: 'If it be truly the Silmaril which we saw cast into the sea that rises again by the power of the Valar, then let us be glad; for its glory is seen now by many, and is yet secure from all evil.' Then the Elves looked up, and despaired no longer, but Morgoth was filled with doubt." -The Silmarillion.
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Old 09-15-2002, 08:48 PM   #45
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Quote:
What's your favorite Lewis work? I think I can guess what everyone's favorite Tolkien
work is, but I have several friends who like the Silmarillion much more than LotR. My
favorite Lewis work is Til We Have Faces as I said before. I love Narnia and I adore the
Science Fiction Trilogy, and let's not forget Mere Christianity and Screwtape Letters. All
this talk makes me really want to read all their works again.
::wanders over to her bookshelf and picks up some of Lewis's poetry.::
Well Mithual-let's just say I share your opinion in liking Lewis' and Tolkien's works [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]
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Old 09-16-2002, 02:39 AM   #46
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Yea, but the relationship between Denethor and Aragorn in no way resembles that of Saul and David so the similarities stop here.
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Old 09-16-2002, 11:16 AM   #47
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Alright, well, here goes, trying to phrase this very carefully (a little nervously)...

I'm not a Christian; I'm a Pagan. I'm curious to attempt more Lewis someday, but even as a child the ending of the Narnia series I felt essentially said to me, "This story is not for you. There's a clear line drawn here and you're on the other side." So when one encounters that feeling, what can one do but say "I'm sorry you feel that way," and walk away. There is nothing in Tolkien that gives me this feeling, however. To me, it's a mark of Tolkien's great generosity of spirit that he can work the _spirit_ of his faith into his work so thoroughly that the _letter_ of the writing does not exclude or insult those who are also of good will but of a different faith. The themes of struggle, sacrifice, humility, and wonder are Christian, but not EXCLUSIVELY Christian; they are universal no matter what name one calls the Inner Light by. A true moral code is one that comes from within and certainly can exist independent of faith (my atheist father is one of the most ethical and moral people I know).

Superficial speaking, Tolkien's Elven cosmology, with the sub-creative Valar under the One and the Maia beneath them who act as helpers and adversaries to the children of Arda, is as applicable to Pagan theology as to Christian, and yet dismissive to neither. Every artist, regardless of religion, can relate to the moral vicissitudes of those under Aule, and identify with Yavanna's love for all green and growing things, and the compassion and sorrow of Nienna (and her pupil Olorin). And I think it's very wise of Tolkien to leave the ultimate beyond-the-world fate of Man rather vague - as a writer and a Christian he understood humility well enough not to pretend to know.

Tolkien was well aware of the dangerous potential of remaining too attached to one's sub-creations, wasn't he? Once a work of art is released into the world, the artist must give up total control of how that work is received, and I think that knowledge enabled him to free his own work from the constraints of allegory (which suffers as art a lot of times because it has one explicit correct interpretation). The artwork that sustains multiple, possibly contradictory interpretations over time seems the greater to me.
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Old 09-16-2002, 12:14 PM   #48
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well Craban-I sort of understand why you would'nt feel so much "theology" In Tolkien's work....Tolkien doesn't really "show"-or how should I say this-When you comprehend it as a christian as myself and others on this forum-you begin to see the Theology in his owrk-but if your not-you typically don't see it...well someone else might give you a better explanation...Now on Lewis' case-It is easier to grasp-so to speak-the Theology-since there are many things in the bible that are in Lewis' work...

In addition to that-Tolkien was also well aware that non-christians wouldn't see the Theology...
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Old 09-16-2002, 12:18 PM   #49
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-Craban-please don't take anything I say in offense-I dont mean it to be so controversial....

-On Comparing Characters in The Lord of The Rings:
hmmm...I always thought of Gandalf to be like Micheal the Archangel in the Bible
-and Lucifer as Saruman...
Get it?-SInce Gandalf and Saruman were supposed to be heavenly beings-(sort of like angels)-I thought of that as I was laying on my bed last night...What do you think?
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Old 09-16-2002, 12:50 PM   #50
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Don't worry, InklingElf - I'm not offended! Thanks for your concern, though.

That just goes with what I was saying about layers of interpretation - it makes sense that there would be layers in there that Christians would get and others might not. Honestly, I think it's impossible for a writer to keep his/her beliefs out of the work and it's dumb to try anyhow (it can only cheapen the work to try to keep out what's important to one's soul). I'm just admiring Tolkien's ability to create something that's beautiful and meaningful to Christians and non-Christians alike, that's all....but of course it might not be beautiful and meaningful in the exact same ways.
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Old 09-16-2002, 07:44 PM   #51
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I think that one of the obvious reasons that Christians relate so well to LotR, and why it's so special to them is that Tolkien was a Christian himself. I can relate directly to the author. I'm not saying that non-christians can't relate to him or to the books, because, yet again I remind you, that Tolkien never intended to write any sort of an allegory when he started. It just sorta happened. What I am trying to say is that I love the fact that I can relate to him adn his books.
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Old 09-16-2002, 09:43 PM   #52
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This is an interesting topic. I'm sorry I've only just gotten to it so late in the game. Oh well...

Child, you said that you felt excluded when you read the Chronicles of Narnia. How old were you then? Old enough to see that they were decidedly Christian?

When I read them I didn't understand Christ, Jesus' sacrifice, creation, etc. Those things were all empty myths to me, stories told to take up time in Sunday school class. To me, this Sunday school Jesus was a pale thing compared to Aslan. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was the first real book I read after reading primers, but my mother had read them to me many times as a baby and later as a small child. I loved Aslan just as Lucy loved him and revered him just as Jill did. He was my Jesus. I felt like he suffered and died at the hands of the White Witch not just for Edmund, but for me also. This speaks worlds for Lewis' incredible ability to convey wonder, trust and even love.

Most small children will not understand complex worlds like Middle Earth, but Narnia is like a gentle mother. It doesn't need sound mythology or sensible diction, the wonder shines through the cool green glades, the deep voices of the centaurs, and the gold of Aslan's mane.

Initially, I read the Space Trilogy as Sci-fi/Fantasy, but after reading it again it seems more like prophesy to my mind. I don't think it's allegory at all, it's "what-if" perspective. If other beings lived outside our orbit, why should they call Jesus "Jesus"? Why not Maleldil? Why should they be a fallen people too? Could not the human race be alone in its error? It really is the union of theology and science fiction, only renovated.

The truths that Lewis conveys in his trilogy reminded me of the conversation between Tolkien, Lewis and Dyson in Humphrey Carpenter's Tolkien biography. Tolkien asks why Lewis demands so much of the Christian "myth" when he asks so little of pagan myths. The "myth" of the Genesis temptation is played over again on Perelandra as truth. What then is the difference between truth and myth? Ransom asks himself if all myths on Earth might not be truth elsewhere in the universe.

[ September 16, 2002: Message edited by: The Silver-shod Muse ]
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Old 09-16-2002, 10:50 PM   #53
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Quote:
Child, you said that you felt excluded when you read the Chronicles of Narnia. How old were you then? Old enough to see that they were decidedly Christian?
Silver Shod Muse --

No, I believe you're mistaken here. That wasn't me who said that. I believe it was Craban.

I had no problem reading Narnia when I was younger, although I am not a Christian. I was very aware that the story was "Christian" but I don't like to shut myself off from a piece of literature just because it's a tradition different than my own. For me, there are too many hidden glimpses of truth in different places to put on blinders and pretend its not there.

Creban mentioned feeling that he felt there was a line drawn in the sand, but that's not how I connected with it. That's probably because I felt touched by it on a very personal level. For example, in my own neighborhood, I saw myself as a Lucy amid a whole gaggle of Susans.

Also, I think it's possible to be deeply touched by a work, even if you don't share its particular faith. To take two examples from my own tradition, many people who are not Jewish have found The Diary of Anne Frank, or Elie Wiesel's Night to be quite moving. So I guess that Creban and I had different experiences and responses.

Having said this however, I do prefer Tolkien to Lewis for the same reason that Creban alluded to. The story can be read and enjoyed on so many different levels---a good yarn growing out of ancient myths and legends, a tale which celebrates values prized by many people of good will, or a story which reflects, at least in some of its themes and allusions, the particular belief system of its author.

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Old 09-17-2002, 12:24 AM   #54
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Helen said:
Quote:
Many people that read Tolkien's work seem to come up with a desire to be more like Somebody Good that they read about in his books. I see many people wanting to be more elvish, more hobbit-like, or to be like Gandalf or one of the noble Numenoreans. I think that this would have pleased Tolkien, and I think that if those desires are allowed to flourish-- if we encourage the pursuit of that luminosity, the shining goodness, the glory, the beauty, the pursuit of truth and transcendance-- that is good theology of a completely different type; it is theology of the heart, which then, afterwards, slowly affects the mind.
an absolutly beautiful summation.

I have only read abit of Lewis outside of narnia.So Ican only speak to that a bit.
I was profoundly moved though to read about JRRT's part in lewis' conversion.And the Screwtape letters is sobering in the extreme.

I have read pretty much all of tolkien except some of the lotr drafts in HoME.

I'm a convert to Orthodox Christianity of 7 yrs or so. via taoist practices and a lot of other things. So I appreciate JRRT's Christian roots and how subtly they are woven into the LotR. They are much more visible in the Silm and quite pronounced in many of the HoME writings intended for the Silm but left out by CRT. I must say I got shivers reading Finrod declaim the need for Eru to become incarnate in order to purify creation.

I think Tolkien and Lewis have been some of the biggest missionaries in euro-american 20th cent. I know quite a few [ there must be millions] whom they felt played a key roll in their conversion.


A note about the Last Battle. This was always my favorite narnia book, even way before I was a Christian. It puzzled me but gave me hope. I have always had a sort of apocalyptic attitude towards modern life [ Revelations was the first book in the Bible I read] and the Last Battle presented that idea in a rather simple but profound package.

I read it again recently, this time to my 5 year old daughter and was seriously spooked by the whole 'Tashlan' business. Way to close to the mark. Of course Lewis was in England as the whole Ecumenical movement was gaining steam and saw the logical 'preogression' of thought.

JRRT is for me more like Christs parables; where in layer upon layer can be uncovered.

Lewis is more like the Episles of the Apostles, where what you see is what you get. A simplistic analogy I know.

A beautiful thread folks at a wonderful board. How lucky we are!
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Old 09-17-2002, 01:04 PM   #55
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-lindil-Yes, I too like The Last Battle---It has always been my favorite Lewis work---as oppose to his other works...I always had that "Revelation" feeling from the Bible---even when I was 8 or 9 then-I'm 13 now....I'm glad you like this thread too [img]smilies/biggrin.gif[/img]

-Craban- No problem [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img] ::smiles::
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Old 09-17-2002, 08:33 PM   #56
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Muse, I heard you mention that Aslan was Jesus to you in your childhood. I found it fascinating that someone else would share the same opinion that I had as a child. Aslan was my king, my friend; he was my Jesus, but even as young as I was I realized that a story is a story and is not real. I knew what fiction was, and it broke my heart to think that Aslan wasn't "real." My mother, who was very religious explained to me that Aslan was "real." I had been introduced to Jesus when I was tiny, but I never really made the connection of Jesus and Aslan until much later, when all was explained to me. This experience created a more personnel and real relationship with Jesus, as small as I was, that I may never have experienced had I not read the C. of Narnia. If Lewis were still alive I would write him a long thankyou note, and I thank God often for using the books to reach a little girl. There was a time when I outgrew Jesus a little, just as Susan outgrew Narnian and Aslan. I never fell away completely, but I was rather scornful of what I called "churchy stuff." Then I read the science fiction trilogy, and my eyes were opened a second time. It not long after, that I encountered LotR and again my faith was linked with someone else's through literature, and I was in awe. I find it so interesting all the ways God uses literature to speak to us. When I was in my "too old for this Jesus" faze I thought God only spoke through the Bible, so I suppose I avoided it as much as possible. I was terribly wrong. lol.

I heard someone say that many are moved by the Diary of Ann Frank and Night by Elie Weisel. I would find it interesting to hear what people think about a loving God (an Aslan, a Maleldil, Valar, Jesus etc.) existing in a world filled with so much pain. I don’t want you to get the wrong idea, because I listed Jesus among a group of fictional characters, because I personally believe that Jesus is real, but anyway, I know it doesn’t directly relate to Tolkien, and it’ll probably start some killer controversies, but I really want to hear some of your thoughts on this subject: How can God and Suffering co-exist?
May I open with one of my favorite quotes. C.S. Lewis said in The Problem of Pain, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains; it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
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Old 09-18-2002, 06:39 AM   #57
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Well, not to stray too much away from the main course, on this subject same C.S.Lewis'
"The Problem of Pain" should be recommended. It's a series of the esseys chapter by chapter concerning each particular kind of suffering. As usual with C.S.L, highly logical and supplied with the profound argument
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Old 09-18-2002, 07:45 PM   #58
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Craban, I hope you are not offended when I tell you that I am praying for you. Some people are. But I will, whether you are offended or not. Dear one, you may have seen a clear line drawn that you were on the wrong side of, but remember that it is a line and you can step over it. Also remember that even some who had opposed Tirian the King were allowed through the Door. And the Calormene boy! I love that part of the story! He knows your heart, Craban. And whether you know it or not you may be seeking Him as eagerly as He is seeking you. I will assume you are relatively open-minded and suggest that you read the story of the Lost Son in Luke. (I can't remember the verses exactly, but someone here can tell you certainly) And whatever happens, if you feel like you need to find something out, don't not do it because people will think it is out of character or whatever. If all else fails, you can email or PM me. I champion tolerance and non-predjudice, so I WILL NOT judge you. If you have any questions...

Anyway. As that l-o-n-g paragraph revealed, I am a lover of Christ and Lewis, and of course Tolkien.
Hi! Everyone!

Just adressing a few topics:
Even though some of my christian friends think I am abandoning my faith for fantasy (how absurd!), I read them to see the parallels. Sort of a supplement.
All the x-references you guys made *Gandalf=Michael* *Saruman=Satan* etc, were really good. I never really thought about that...
I also waver between wanting to a hobbit and an elf...that's why in my full pseudonym...Merlilot Fealin Earien...The first is a hobbit name, the second is Quenya, and the third (so I am told) is Sindarin. So I can be whatever I feel like being that day.

I know there were more things I wanted to touch on, and I will certainly be back on this thread.

Kudos to all on the thread!

(Oh, and consider this my formal introducton to all the Christians and otherwise theological experts. I love deep convos, so if you wanna talk, I check my email roughly every day)
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Old 09-19-2002, 12:19 AM   #59
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merlilot [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]

as to the problem of pain, I think I can draw a quick outline.

Pain is unnatural. But considering our current situation, Man as he is is unnatural as well - Man has fallen. Consequently, as before his fall there was no pain, and afterwords there is, it must be seen as a result of it. c.f Tolkiens Athrabeth Finrod Ah Andreth. (HoME X)
Quote:
Yet among my people, from Wise unto Wise out of the darkness, comes the voice saying that Men are not now as they were, nor as their true nature was in their beginning
Elswhere is stated that whole essence of Arda contains some “melkorian” element, therefore is not as it ment to be, is Arda Marred.

But as it is a result of the fall, it is also the means of redeeming. It’s not clearly stated with JRRT, but implications run through (for instance, Frodo through great suffering becomes nobler than he was before)

Yet the pain is not remedy unless it’s recepient shows right attitude towards it. It’s forbidden to judge because we are not omniscient. (cf “even very wise can not see all ends” of Tolkien. Again, not written stictly about pain, but applicable in this case as well) Consider Turin’s case – his sufferings are as great as Frodo’s (or even greater), yet the end is diffferent, the reason being Turin’s pride. Strictly speaking, both of them were receiving sufferings from Dark Lord. Quite true – all suffering is Satan’s invention. but:
Quote:
(Eru to Melkor in Silm77)
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.
After that strict samples are given of showers and fogs impossible if Melkor has not attacked water with frost, yet it’s applicable to all else as well.

The pain is direct means of redeeming in case of Boromir. How do you think he would develop if not Saruman’s orks?

I do not try to convince you that JRRT has written all the bulk of his mythologies just to express this. I only want to say it’s in one of the layers.
As a conclusion – pain is a “heavy cross”, but if considered as one of the trials of God becomes “light burden”.
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Old 09-19-2002, 08:43 AM   #60
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Ah, Helen, you've just given me an insight into myself, what I am and who I want to be:

Quote:
Many people that read Tolkien's work seem to come up with a desire to be more like Somebody Good that they read about in his books. I see many people wanting to be more elvish, more hobbit-like, or to be like Gandalf or one of the noble Numenoreans. I think that this would have pleased Tolkien, and I think that if those desires are allowed to flourish-- if we encourage the pursuit of that luminosity, the shining goodness, the glory, the beauty, the pursuit of truth and transcendance-- that is good theology of a completely different type; it is theology of the heart, which then, afterwards, slowly affects the mind.
In all the fanfictions or RPGs I've ever been in, I have never been an Elf. A hobbit, a human, an animal, and even an Ent, but never an Elf. Now why is that? Because in all my wildest dreams, I could never imagine having that shining goodness and luminosity which is so apparent in the "very best" Elves. Now, I'm not talking about the corrupted ones--I suppose I could certainly manage to be one of those on my bad days, but who'd want to?

That's not to say I'm not attracted by it. So I fear I am a hobbit or, most likely, a hobbit-chasing-after Elves, a bit like Sam and Frodo!

Does anyone else see this in Tolkien, and identify with a particular character in the way Helen has mentioned? Or are there characters in Lewis which have this same impact on you, as a model of personal goodness and light?

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Old 09-19-2002, 09:34 AM   #61
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Extremely interesting thread, and the posts are absolutely extraordinary! From my experience you will often find kinder, more faith filled posts on forums not directly related to websites devoted to the subject. This is certianly true as regards this forum. I've spent the last two hours reading and re-reading the posts on this thread. I think that all of you who have posted here are intelligent, wise, and brave.

I really appreciate Craban's post, and what he says highlights the danger in calling Tolkien a theologian. As a Catholic, I can see decidely Catholic themes, such as original sin, the communion of saints, faith and works, the Virgin Mary, liturgy, etc in Tolkien's works, as well as aspects of more general Christian mythology and cosmology. However, like JRRT, himself, I wouldn't characterize his Middle Earth as a Christian allegory, especially to the extent that C.S. Lewis allegorizes in his books.

These elements are present in Tolkien because, like all writers and storytellers, he wove his story from what he knew and experienced. JRRT was a devote Christian, so obviously his experiences as a Christian come through. He was also to one degree or another an archiologist, historian, linguist, student of mythology, and a lover of Anglo-Saxon England. All these elements of the author's life shine equally with his Christianity. In my mind, that makes Tolkien's Middle Earth a land for all peoples.

If Tolkien can be called a theologian to any degree, he would have to be characterized as a moral theologian. The one consistent theme through all his many weaves is the enduring and unrelenting will of the virtuous soul in the face of evil. Despite all the fury of hell, there is in the heart of all the ability to do good as long as one keeps faith. That is a Catholic notion, a Christian notion, a religious notion, a spiritual notion, a human notion no matter what greater power one may perceive.
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Old 09-19-2002, 09:41 AM   #62
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Craban,
Quote:
Honestly, I think it's impossible for a writer to keep his/her beliefs out of the work and it's dumb to try anyhow (it can only cheapen the work to try to keep out what's important to one's soul).
That might sound obvious, but it's amazing how many times as a writer I've felt somehow obligated (for whatever reason) to stifle what's important to my soul. Thanks for putting it so clearly.

Incidentally, it's amazing to me how much of an impact the release of the movie had on me on those terms. Tolkien created his myth in such a way that 28 years ago, I walked in and settled down immediately, and I've been there ever since despite numerous efforts to leave it behind. Realizing that perhaps I should relax and explore and enjoy my old home was a huge breakthrough in my own Christianity, and while I'm still sorting it out, it's been a relief to realize that in a sense, it meshes with what Tolkien intended all along, and PJ & Co gave me a shove "Backwards" into Tolkien that I needed.

I'm very grateful for that shove. As imperfect as the movie was, it was a doorway into my past that I needed to move more fully into my future and my calling.

[ September 19, 2002: Message edited by: mark12_30 ]
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Old 09-19-2002, 11:52 AM   #63
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-Child of the 7th Age-
...On good days...Always wanting to be an Elf like Galadriel, Wizard-like Gandalf, a wise Ent....or as heart -warming as a hobbit...
On bad days maybe an orc, a dark elf, or
even a balrog....

In my case I've never been and I never tried to be anything else but an elf...Maybe it's because of the longing to be as wise and graceful as them...I don't know.
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Old 09-19-2002, 12:18 PM   #64
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In response to Sharon--Lately I seem to be all elf-hunting hobbit. I love the elves, and I want to imitate the elves, and learn from the elves-- but there's no way I could fool anybody into thinking I WAS an elf. (No matter how I braid my hair.)

[ September 19, 2002: Message edited by: mark12_30 ]
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Old 09-19-2002, 01:52 PM   #65
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I agree with Child; it is hard for me to imagine being an elf because they are so often portrayed as being nearly perfect, both physically and ethically. In RPG's I have always played a hobbit, for I can relate to them more than to the other races, although at times I feel more fit to play an orc. Hobbits are portrayed as a generally good and gentle people, but they are not perfect by any means. The typical hobbit may be gluttonous, grudging, cowardly, and uninterested with the rest of the world, content to live out a comfortable life (by the way, I love the hobbits, but I'm being a bit hard on them for the purpose of the discussion). I can relate, for although the people I know, to my knowledge, would describe me as kind and friendly, I am perpetually struggling with what are often considered small, petty sins, but problems nonetheless. I tend to want to sit in my room and enjoy myself, comforted by the fact that I am in the good opinions of my friends, when I know that there are so many things that ought to be done for others. I am afraid to step out of my comfortable, familiar routine and tend to be selfish by default, too self-righteous and self-centered to notice my own errors. This is why I like C.S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters so much; it gives insight into the little things that a Christian might do every day and never think about that are actually detrimental to his relationship with God. They can be more deadly than the "big sins" because they go largely unnoticed.

[ September 19, 2002: Message edited by: ElanorGamgee ]
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Old 09-20-2002, 02:38 AM   #66
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Quote:
by ElanorGamgee

the little things that a Christian might do every day and never think about that are actually detrimental to his relationship with God. They can be more deadly than the "big sins" because they go largely unnoticed.
Appaling truth, yet truth all the same. Lewis is very sobering in that aspect indeed
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Old 09-20-2002, 11:14 PM   #67
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Wow - I'm sorry I've been away for a bit, I've missed a lot.

I do appreciate the prayers - I believe that good will is good will no matter what. But I am quite confident in my own faith as you are in yours.

When I read the Narnia books through the second time (because that was the time that gave me the twitches) I was in my teens and was well aware of the Christian allegory, and that's what hurt, actually. The Last Battle specifically (although I still find The Horse and His Boy kind of...if I dare say...racist, perhaps? Or at least intolerant of another culture). Because I went through a Christian phase prior to that. Had to - everyone I knew was Christian, it was sheer peer pressure; had to go to church to have a social life at all. My parents were very indulgent and dropped me off at the door and picked me up when it was over. I felt Spirit in church, no doubt. I met Jesus and still consider him a friend; I think we have an understanding. But none of the feelings I met in church were anywhere near as strong as the ones I felt in the woods, and the Voices there answered to other Names.

So anyway, all through high school and college I studied comparative religion and read many holy books and did much prayer and meditation, and that's how I came by the path I'm now on (fifteen years ago, that was). I'm very deeply convinced and no one will shake me of this: there is Truth in every path.

And as I was saying, that's why I still after all these years respect Tolkien so much: because he insults no one, and because people all over the world, of many faiths, have found meaning and beauty in his work. I have met Buddhists and Muslims and Hindus and atheists and Pagans and Christians and Jews who love his books for deeply spiritual reasons that ring true for all of them in different but no less "right" or "wrong" ways, although Tolkien himself was a Catholic who remained always true to that. That is rare and important. That was what I was trying to say.

The theologian Matthew Fox once wrote that the most important difference between the demons and the angels is that Demons do not/cannot _praise_. But to be able to honor creation and its Creator: only those entities with a beauty of spirit can do that.

(BTW, I'm female. Not that it matters online. [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img] )
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Old 09-21-2002, 01:08 AM   #68
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OOoooo, Craban, now you've got my mind chugging. I've just come from an intensive search of Google under the terms "Tolkien + Joseph Campbell". You gave me the idea! I found some wonderful links, several in fact, of Lewis's relationship with Tolkien. Here's a quote which I loved:

Quote:
I happened to encounter ("The Power of Myth") while at Magdalen College in Oxford, home of C. S. Lewis, who was himself fascinated with myth. In fact, it was along Addison's Walk in that college one autumn night in 1931 that Lewis engaged his friend J. R. R. Tolkien in a conversation on myth. Lewis, who had not yet been converted to the Christian faith, experienced that night something of a pre-evangelical conversion to the power of myth. Tolkien had been arguing that the mythic language of silver elves and moon-lit trees carried a far richer truth than Lewis the rationalist had been willing to admit. As they spoke a gust of wind swept the fall leaves around them in a flurry of enchantment, as if to authenticate what had just been said. Lewis never forgot that night and the experience that gave birth to his love of myth, his openness to Christian faith, and his later forays into the land of Narnia.

Belden C. Lane is professor of theological studies and American studies at Saint Louis University, St. Louis, Missouri.
I also found this class on Gnosticism and Tolkien, and found it highly entertaining. Get out your pens and pencils kiddies, this is one to listen to and take notes on:

Dr. Hoeller - "J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings: Gnosis for Our Day"
http://www.gnosis.org/981002.ram
(Realplayer format, 75 minutes.) He starts out slow, and turns in a very lyrical poetry reading as well as several laughs that are sure to please. Very informative as to certain subjects, such as the different types of souls and Sufi tradition. Touches on Joseph Campbell and Jung for a moment or two.

And for those who want more of this fellow, and his Gnostic views: http://www.gnosis.org/lectures.html

I am rather happy after finishing the lecture. Many of my theories are cemented by Dr. Hoeller! He brings up points which I'm sure we will want to discuss.

****OH! as a treat, I offer you this link to Joseph Campbell Online: http://www.jcf.org/
Membership is free, so register so that you can listen to his lectures for free! There is also a bboard that discusses Myth. I'm going back there now to do some reading. *sigh* I love the internet.

[ September 21, 2002: Message edited by: Tirned Tinnu ]
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Old 09-21-2002, 02:37 PM   #69
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First of all, I am Christian. I was baptized by a Lutheran church but I do not like the use of denominations to describe one's faith. What I mean by Christian is this:

ONE WHO IS CHRISTIAN...
believes in the Trinity - Father Son and Holy Ghost - Three persons in One God
believes that Jesus Christ is true God and true man.
believes the only way to heaven is by believing in Christ and his death on the cross - not by anything man has ever done. Ephesians 2:8-9
believes the Holy Bible is the true and infalliable Word of God and everything in it is absolutely true.

I am not trying to set myself apart from others by stating the fact that I am Christian, but I do believe that true Christianity as defined above is the true way to glorify God and attain heaven through faith. Denominations such as Lutheran, Episcopal, Methodist, Baptist, etc are not needed. It should just be Christian, used as a collective term for those who fill the definition.

Christianity is not a denomination. Denominations are sections of the church that have modified (extensively or minimally) the true Bible and teach certain aspects of it (and ignore others) whether actually contained in the Bible or not.

If you disagree, please do not take offense. None was meant.

I am Christian (by the above definition) and when I say that Tolkien and Lewis do include Biblical principles and ideas from the Holy Bible I am not being critical of other religions. On the other hand, I do not have to say "Well, if Tolkien and Lewis have Christian principles in their works then they also contain principles from other religions because if they don't then that's not fair." Just because a famous writer decides to use a Christian source as an inspiration for their works doesn't mean that he has to "be fair" to other religions. If he doesn't believe in Buddhism, for example, does he have to teach/imply priniples of Buddhism through his writings? No! Saying something is Christian is not being unfair to other religions or detrimental in any way. Saying something is Christian does not say "Ha ha I am right and all other beliefs are wrong." What Christianity is is a person's belief in the Bible unmodified by denominations. It is essentially truth.

Thanks for reading my long winded explanation. If I was too harsh, I apologize. No offense was meant.

[ September 21, 2002: Message edited by: TolkienGurl ]
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Old 09-21-2002, 08:21 PM   #70
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TolkienGurl - you said "What Christianity is is a person's belief in the Bible unmodified by denominations. It is essentially truth."

I'm glad that you ended your post that way. Indeed, each religion essentially seeks that same goal, truth. I'm glad that you're not prejudiced towards other religions.
Too often I am rocked by the attitude of "One God, and you who don't like him get to go to Hell." It's nice to hear that you are non-biased on that issue. True, the writer is under no obligation to explain myth in all forms, especially if his particular specialty is of his own religion.

Anyway, I hope that people will avail themselves of the nice sites I put up in my last post, and I offer another now because it's so darling and contains so much valuable information.

Sacred Texts Website

There is a link to the sacred texts that Tolkien was known to have studied. Good reading to you.

[ September 22, 2002: Message edited by: Tirned Tinnu ]
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Old 09-22-2002, 06:33 PM   #71
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Thank you for the link to Dr. Hoeller’s lecture. I am very familiar with many of Dr. Hoeller’s works especially The Fall of Sophia: A Gnostic Text on the Redemption of Universal Consciousness, Freedom: Alchemy for a Voluntary Society, The Royal Road: A Manual of Kabbalistic Meditations on the Tarot, and a number of books he wrote about Jung. To be honest, I read these books in order to write a treatise in grad school refuting Hoeller and modern gnosticism.

In the interests of clarity, I think it should be pointed out to any one who may be interested in the lecture provided by Tinnu, that Dr. Hoeller’s notions about Jesus Christ, redemption and eschatology are not Christian according to any established doctrinal norms, Catholic, Orthodox or Protestant. Many of his views are also at odds with TolkienGurl's personal Christian creed above. In fact, many established Christian churches and modern theologians have characterized Hoeller’s modern gnostic movement as occultism. Not that I’m putting down anyone out there who might be an occultist! Not that I’m blindly upholding Christianity! Its just that Hoeller and his devotees sometimes neglect to mention that their views are at odds with the doctrines of nearly every established Christian church out there. So if you are member of one of these established Christian faiths, beware.

Tolkien said himself that he was not into the business of allegorizing the real world, theological or otherwise. If Hoeller sees an allegory between Tolkien and modern gnosticism, then I'm pretty sure the only person putting that allegory there is him, especially since Tolkien's personal beliefs and faith couldn't be more different than those held by Hoeller or gnostics, modern or ancient. For any of you who have ever studied early Christian gnosis, you would know that gnostics are very good at accepting everything as their own, even obviously contradictory ideas and traditions. The parallels that Hoeller draws between his brand of gnosticism and Tolkien are contrived at best.

As I said before, making Tolkien into a theologian is dangerous, because he never intended to write theology, especially gnostic theology! Its alright, in my opinion, to point out obvious parallels in Tolkien’s writings to his Catholic faith. Just as it is alright to point out parallels between Middle Earth and Anglo-Saxon, Icelandic, and Scandinavian culture and history. It is fine to see Scandinavian and Anglo-Saxon mythology at work in Tolkien’s Middle-Earth, but just because Tolkien was a student of pre-Norman Europe, knew and loved the mythology and languages, and used them extensively in his works, certainly doesn’t make him or his works pagan. This seems to be the argument that Hoeller makes, based on his exercise of forcing his gnostic worldview onto Tolkien’s Middle Earth.

Don't get me wrong! Its not my intention to attack anyone or anyone's beliefs. However, to make Tolkien and his books into something they are not is to do violence to him and his genius.

[ September 22, 2002: Message edited by: Bill Ferny ]
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Old 09-23-2002, 06:09 AM   #72
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Well met, Bill Ferny.
There are just three points I do have to make about religion and myth. We all take the written word as fact, do we not? Certainly you must agree that The Bible is a group of stories written by many men and told from differing points of view. To understand it as a whole, one must take into account that there will be discrepancies. Seeing how we tear into Tolkien's works parallels the way we compare the Apostle's views in The Bible.

I will not argue here the validity of such works, handed down by mouth and translated umpteen times for a voratious public. Each group has their own opinions on what is fact and what is fantasy. You make the statement
"I am just blindly backing up Christianity".
That is exactly what I fear. Blindness is a sort of disease, it leads people unaware into alleys and drags them to a spot where they cannot see other views and blindly declares that Gnosis and other forms of Chrisitanity are "Pagan".

We would do well to understand what the word "Pagan" really means. The actual translation of the word is "rural", referring to those that live in the country, and practice religions alien to city-living.

I find the term rather awkward. In today's society it is the Victorian (as Dr. Hoeller mentioned to my joy) attitiude of closedmindedness that pervades our religion. Anything different is thus chaulked up to being "Pagan" or - "devil worship!" Oh, yes, I eat babies everyday for breakfast. Hmph!
Tolerance is something that has to be learned. Using the word "Pagan" only enforces the belief that anything other than what you believe is evil.

Now getting to Mythology, would you not say that Myths themselves are "Pagan"? look at the miriad of myths Tolkien used. Finnish Gods and Goddesses, Roman ideals, Norse Gods...all renamed and retold so that they are "harmless" to the general public. He was in fact, making them accessable to those who might otherwise have labeled LOTR and The Silm "dangerous!"

I find it strange and rather foolish that people believe that by reading Lewis and Tolkien that they are "safe" from "harm".
That was not the intention of their works. Rather, they had an open-minded view of religion that allows for a comparision and a union between other religions and Christianity. Learning about the origins of your religion is not a "bad" thing. It merely allows one to be more tolerant of others.

I do not ascribe to the belief that Tolkien had much to do with Christianity in his works. That the Silm is much like The Bible does not seem likely in the light of having read The Kabbalah, Irish myth such as The Toyne, Persian Poetry and Finnish sagas.
It is a mish-mash of religions and myths.

I recognise your interest, Ferny, in "warning" people not to listen to Dr. Hoeller's and Joseph Campbell's works. However! I do have the urge to make known that your point of view will make sure that many will ignore and become more ignorant of their own religious backrounds. (Just what the Mother Church wanted from the beginning, more paritioners to keep her fantastic machine of money and power running.)
I find that sad." Myths are to be shared in innocence and wonder, not to be dashed against the walls of Christianity as Paganism.
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Old 09-23-2002, 07:06 AM   #73
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Tirned, You state,

Quote:
To understand it as a whole, one must take into account that there will be discrepancies.
This statement neglects one of the central doctrines of mainline Christain churches (and I believe Jewish theology as well) which is that God's Spirit orchestated, unified, and directed all of those separate writers, and therefore anything that looks like a discrepancy would be clearly resolved if the unified whole could be seen from God's point of view.

This is of course a central catholic doctrine, which Tolkien would have held. And on this pivotal issue rests much of the rest of the arguement. Those who hold this stance may not be able to dispute a particular logic, but their belief in God's ability to orchestrate the scriptures as inerrant would override that. As a solid Catholic, Tolkien would have staunchly defended the inerrancy of the scriptures. And he certainly would not have held the viewpoint that all belief systems are equally valid.

For instance, (and I say this ONLY to illustrate the importance of Tolkien's belief system to him, and his non-relativistic outlook) his biggest dispute, as I understand it, with C. S. Lewis was that C. S. Lewis got a divorce. Tolkien believed that divorce was wrong-- not wrong for some, not wrong depending on your viewpoint; he held, as Catholics did and do, that the scriptures firmly stated that divorce is just plain wrong. And that drove a permanent and lasting wedge into the middle of a wonderful, fulfilling, friendly, prosperous and helpful relationship.

I say this **NOT** to bring up a debate about divorce-- let me repeat, I do ***NOT*** intend nor wish for a debate about divorce-- and if anybody does bring up a debate about divorce, I'll point to these sentences! I say this only (only!!!) to illustrate that Tolkien did not hold a relativistic point of view, but held that there were right views and wrong views, right beliefs and wrong beliefs, good doctrines and bad doctrines, good texts and bad texts. And he felt strongly enough about that to lose a friendship over it. This was not something Tolkien held lightly.

Neither is he alone in believing that some texts and belief systems hold more credibility than others. I do not intend to start a debate on this, and I suspect that it is extensively covered elsewhere; but in response to the statement quoted above, I do feel that a reply was needed. As a staunch catholic, Tolkien would have disagreed with it. Other texts may be interesting, entertaining, enjoyable, challenging, or what-not, but one should not assume that all readers will-- or should-- find all texts equally valid and truthful; they will not.
Tolkien himself would not have.

Tolkien himself is frequently quoted as saying that the Gospel was the only completely true myth. He enjoyed and used and wrote many others, but to none of these others did he ever give the distinctive that they were "completely true."

[ September 23, 2002: Message edited by: mark12_30 ]
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Old 09-23-2002, 09:23 AM   #74
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Just one correction, mark12_30; C. S. Lewis was not himself divorced - he married a divorcee. I too have read that this caused a rift in the friendship between Tolkien and Lewis.
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Old 09-23-2002, 09:30 AM   #75
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Thank you very much, Estelyn, for clarifying that.

I find the rift in the friendship sad, myself. I loved that they were friends. But I cetainly understand the intense doctrinal standings and feelings involved.

Thanks again, Estelyn.
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Old 09-23-2002, 10:58 AM   #76
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Quote:
Does anyone else see this in Tolkien, and identify with a particular character in the way Helen has mentioned?
Helen and Child, this is interesting. I have never, ever wanted to play or be an elf. Hobbit, yes; dwarf, yes; elf, never. I have never been impressed by all their alleged luminosity. This morning, while waiting for my daughter in the orthodontist's office and reading the Letters I came across this, for me, utterly fascinating quotation:

Quote:
But I kept him [Tom Bombadil] in, and as he was, because he represents certain things otherwise left out. I do not mean him to be an allegory--or I should not have given him so particular, individual, and ridiculous a name--but'allegory' is the only mode of exhibiting certain functions: he is then an 'allegory', or an exemplar, a particular embodying of pure(real) natural science: the spirit that desires knowledge of other things, their history and nature, because they are 'other' and wholly independent of the enquiring mind, a spirit coveval with the rational mind, and entirely unconcerned with'doing' anything with the knowldgedge: Zoology and Botany not Cattle-breeding or Agriculture. Even the elves hardly show this: they are primarily artitists. (Letter 153)
Right there is explained why "I" am a Bombadil and lack any sympathy with elves. Also fascinating in that I spent years studying this very idea of artistic creation as a false desire to control, frame, limit or dominate life by turning it into an aesthetic object. I'm not sure if this will make sense to any of you, though. And I guess this takes the discussion completely off-topic.

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Old 09-23-2002, 11:12 AM   #77
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Great! So we have established the fact that he didn't like divorce. We have not established the unexplained oddity of his liking Myths and Legends ie: The Religions of Other Peoples.
ie: Paganism.
How does it all work out? In the mind of a Catholic, or a Christian?
Hmmm?

Here, let me give you an example. I was born into a family that was made up of an Irish Catholic mother, and a Protestant father who converted to Roman Catholicism for my mother. They went to church every day, they taught me the values of Christianity and Catholisism.

But here's where they differed from the norm - they were artists. As artists they saw the need to educate me in myth and legend. They recognised the great British and American writers, and made sure that if I could not read them myself that they read and explained them to me. This was a Bohemian view, and not right in the eyes of the church. They sinned, in teaching me these pagan myths.

I was allowed to watch movies that asked the question, "What is God?" without being dragged from the tv set. I was encouraged to find my own way, and for a long time I found myself blindly being led down the alley of "tradition" and respect. I even wanted to become a nun. (Not because of my staunchness of heart, but because the church taught me that men and women could do many sins unto themselves, and rather than face that I wanted to run away to the "sanctity" and "purity" of her convents.) I even had the curious interest in being a soldier of God, like Jean, who was a favorite saint of mine.

I was told that Jean was not a fully confirmed saint, and such that he was not approved by our bishop for confirmation names. I baulked. This saint has a resting place near me - In the Cloisters. I had touched his tomb! He was a symbol of purity from the Middle Ages, one of my favorite times in history. He was a feudal knight who gave his lands and title to The Church, and went off to battle in the Crusades! I was crushed.
Then I decided to change it to Joan, who also fought in God's name. She too was medievalist and fierce. But there was one problem. She had just recently been beatified. Her "voices" and the fact that she was "mistakenly" burned by Mother Church was enough to make me wonder. So I did a little recearch, and I grew up. I learned about the Inquisition and the Papacy. I learned about all the things that Mother Church and my public school refused to teach due to the "violent nature" or "explicit nature" of the history. Too horrible for little ears, no less. Never mind history, you'll learn it in college. (Even then, it has only been of late that anyone has dared to write down or research and accurate portrayal of the Birth of Chrisitanity.) I had to find a course on it at another college.

I understand that other denominations do not recognise the Saints. It pains me that the things that I have studied have brought me to the state I am in, that of distrust in the Church as a whole, and the distrust of the very dogma that they preach. I am rather (to take as a for instance) like Mel Gibson, who, for reasons of his own has had a church built upon his property and celebrates the Eucharist alone, with his family. His belief is that he can do it better for himself. I understand that. It puts a pit in the bottom of my stomach, but I understand it.

Now that's where I am angry - if Tolkien disaproved of Lewis marrying a divorced woman, it was against church doctrine, but it was also in bad taste. My grandfather was a divorcee. My grandmother waited until she was on her deathbed to reveal that fact, she was so ashamed. She went to her death feeling that she had sinned against God and her family. She kept it secret for 50 years. Can you imagine the sorrow that keeping mum about that caused her? It was a thing done in bad taste, and she did not wish to bring misery to her family. Here we are today, when people do it all the time, and she was still ashamed. We never got to know Grandfather's other family, and I find that sad. I have half-aunts and uncles somewhere in the UK, and I shall never find them. I doubt they would want to meet me, the product of two generations of sin.

Does the fact that I am the product of sin leave me blameless, or am I to burn, to be shunned by revealing the fact?
Were my parents sinners for teaching me about the religions of other peoples?
Am I a Pagan for understanding Joan of Arc and her teachings?
Please, I believe the question here is one of ignorance and waiting on the church to get up to speed with their attitudes. It's very sad that Tolkien had to break off his relationship with Lewis because he sinned.
It's disgusting to me, actually. We shun the sinner, when inactuality Christ preached -love the sinner for he is closer to God than you and me...I guess that doesn't count with marriages with divorced women. Rather, I think Tolkien sought not to stain his perfect image in society. One cannot associate with "that sort" of people.
By the way, did anyone see "Dogma"?
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Old 09-23-2002, 12:11 PM   #78
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Tirned,

Have you read Tolkien's own brilliant essay, "On Fairy Stories"? Perhaps that might answer some of your questions. I would heartily recommend it as an essential peice for understanding Tolkien's outlook on faerie and mythos.

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Old 09-23-2002, 12:51 PM   #79
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Yes, in fact, I'm looking right at it. In it Tolkien brings up some decidedly "pagan" attitudes, as it has been put in this thread. To believe in "The Path to The Land of Faery" is far and away a "pagan" belief. What I am getting at here is that anything other than what is taught in the Bible is considered by many to be blasphemy. What I have wanted to know throughout my postings is why people can believe one thing and yet do another. That is heretical. In my opinion Tolkien was reaching far outside his "beliefs" in order to continue to live his dreams. I cannot speak for him but to quote him:
"Art has been verified. (Speaking of the validity and history of The Gloria) God is Lord of Angels, and of men - and of elves. Legend and history have met and fused."

So here we see Tolkien making obvious reference to the fact that The Bible is mythos just like any other legend. He states that "it has been proved". So he is making the assumption that since the validity of The Bible is "no longer in question" then God is there, presiding over even elves, Tolkien's work, even his world. Apparently he did not shun the idea that we can walk around in a world of our own making and yet can still be redeemed. Why then, as I have asked before, how then, in fact, does Tolkien gain the power to rewrite the attitudes of many Christians? Or CS Lewis, who now since we know he married a divorcee and has sinned - how can we take his word for it either?
Do you see what I'm getting at?

If we shun the myths or the doctrin of other beliefs from our minds (Because they are pagan) we limit our belief in God. We limit the way in which we get to know Him. Tolkien wrote about Faery and myths as a path to knowing God. So, in essence, to label other people as Pagan is not what Tolkien sought to do. He sought to make up his own world, with decidedly Paganist ideas (the middle road of imagination), that others might learn about myths and compare their origins to the way the Bible was made up, to see the actual pieces unfold, and understand why Christianity as a whole operates so efficiently! I wonder, though, as I have said before, why anyone in this thread would seek to tell others to "listen at their peril" to the teachings of men, who in my opinion, have done more for myth and Christianity than any others. Do any of you doubt that Lewis and Tolkien were not redeemed? And what of Campbell, who in his very presence seemed to give off peace and harmony, a completeness with the universe, an innocent and loving heart for God? Was he not taken into the loving embrace of Christ, even though he may have gone by a different name?
I realize these questions are hard to face. but face them as Christians we must, in order to understand only a small portion (that which man can try to comprehend) of the mind of God.

[ September 23, 2002: Message edited by: Tirned Tinnu ]
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Old 09-23-2002, 01:10 PM   #80
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Tirned,

You wrote:

Quote:
If we shun the myths or the doctrin of other beliefs from our minds (Because they are pagan) we limit our belief in God. We limit the way in which we get to know Him. Tolkien wrote about Faery and myths as a path to knowing God.
I would say that he wrote about Faery and Myths as a method of showing some truth in another setting; but he did not intend that the "other setting" be mistaken for the truth. Nor did he mistake it to be so. He still held that the gospel is the one entirely true myth. Therein lies the difference.
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