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Old 10-22-2005, 05:43 AM   #81
Bęthberry
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Originally Posted by davem
Well, not having proved that Eru is exactly the same as the loving God portrayed by Christianity, we cannot assume that He was acting out of mercy when He caused Gollum's death - He may have acted out of vengeance & consigned him to 'Hell' - same with the Numenoreans. Or simply caused them to cease to exist.
Um, I thought that we don't know what happens to Men when they die in Middle earth, that Tolkien merely adumbrated an eschatology for his Legendarium. Of course, I haven't read all of HoMe or even all of UT, so I could well be missing something. Did he envison Hell or a hell-like place or even a heaven-like place? Or do we just read the Crack of Doom as a gehenna-like place of fitting "Doom"?
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Old 10-22-2005, 07:56 AM   #82
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Um, I thought that we don't know what happens to Men when they die in Middle earth, that Tolkien merely adumbrated an eschatology for his Legendarium. Of course, I haven't read all of HoMe or even all of UT, so I could well be missing something. Did he envison Hell or a hell-like place or even a heaven-like place? Or do we just read the Crack of Doom as a gehenna-like place of fitting "Doom"?
We aren't told what happens to Men after death - which is the point I was making. If we confuse Eru with the Christian God we can attribute all kinds of things to Him which may not be valid.

Incidentally, I notice that in terms of number of posts this one is the third most popular, after the Foreword & Prologue. I also noticed that the one we're supposed to be discussing this week - The Field of Cormallen - has had just five responses, as opposed to eighty-two for this one. I wonder what that tells us about us Downers &/or about the nature of story & our response to it. Why is a chapter about death & destruction more interesting to us than one about victory & celebration?

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Old 10-22-2005, 09:35 AM   #83
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We aren't told what happens to Men after death - which is the point I was making.
hmm. No, I don't think you did make that point. Your point was rather to uphold a textually-based reading of Eru which does not bring in Primary World comparisons. You didn't say anything about Eru's eschatology or lack thereof.

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To me this is the central issue. If we just take the statements we have about Eru in the text, do we find a loving merciful Creator or something else entirely? His behaviour & actions must be judged on what we know of Eru Himself, not on what we know/believe about the Christian God.
And to a second point:

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I wonder what that tells us about us Downers &/or about the nature of story & our response to it. Why is a chapter about death & destruction more interesting to us than one about victory & celebration?
Speaking for myself, it merely demonstrates the fact that I have not kept up with the current reading--have not yet reread "The Field of Cormellan". I am simply following Estelyn's recommendation that we post on previous threads as our reading allows. No profound meaning of readerly psychology involved at all. Sorry to disappoint!
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Old 10-22-2005, 10:45 AM   #84
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hmm. No, I don't think you did make that point. Your point was rather to uphold a textually-based reading of Eru which does not bring in Primary World comparisons. You didn't say anything about Eru's eschatology or lack thereof.
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He may have acted out of vengeance & consigned him to 'Hell' - same with the Numenoreans. Or simply caused them to cease to exist.
I think that's a clear statement that we don't know what happens to (these specific) mortals after death, specifically what Eru might do with them.
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Old 10-22-2005, 11:26 AM   #85
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He may have acted out of vengeance & consigned him to 'Hell' - same with the Numenoreans. Or simply caused them to cease to exist.


I think that's a clear statement that we don't know what happens to (these specific) mortals after death, specifically what Eru might do with them.
Hmm. Logically, it is a statement which identifies two possible alternatives. It does not say that there are no other alternatives. In other words, it does not state that we don't know for sure.
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Old 10-22-2005, 11:56 AM   #86
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Hmm. Logically, it is a statement which identifies two possible alternatives. It does not say that there are no other alternatives. In other words, it does not state that we don't know for sure.
Well, as this is a debate, & as others (specifically H-I) had already suggested that Eru was acting out of compassion & mercy, & so, by implication, had accepted him back into the Divine bosom, I assumed that offering alternatives to that would be sufficient to make the point; clearly that was 'too simple for a learned lore-master in these suspicious days'.
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Old 10-22-2005, 12:12 PM   #87
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Well, as this is a debate, & as others (specifically H-I) had already suggested that Eru was acting out of compassion & mercy, & so, by implication, had accepted him back into the Divine bosom, I assumed that offering alternatives to that would be sufficient to make the point; clearly that was 'too simple for a learned lore-master in these suspicious days'.

I see that puts us on the same side of the razor.
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Old 10-22-2005, 01:18 PM   #88
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Apparently, the answer to my question is two.

Thanks for clearing that up davem and Beebs.
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Old 10-22-2005, 04:06 PM   #89
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If we just take the statements we have about Eru in the text, do we find a loving merciful Creator or something else entirely? His behaviour & actions must be judged on what we know of Eru Himself, not on what we know/believe about the Christian God.
Eru was patient with the disruptions of Melkor during the Music. Eru appears to be more interested in teaching Melkor than punishing him. The Ainur instantly “loved” the Children of Iluvatar when they first discovered them after the Music. I think it a reasonable assumption that a creator would not have put such feelings into the created unless the creator also possessed them. Without them existing in the creator, such things would not exist.

Eru had “compassion” on the desires of Aule and granted life to the dwarves (knowing that dwarves would be needed to lend some tone to the proceedings).

We know of two times when Eru is indicated as having used violence and killing in the world. He destroyed Numenor after centuries of warnings to prevent the Numenoreans from wrecking havoc in Valinor and probably discover all sorts of things they should not know (even though they could not become immortal). Eru killed Gollum after Gollum refused to repent and used Gollum to destroy the Ring, which Gollum would not have done willingly.

At a bare minimum Eru seems the unhasty sort. Treebeard would approve.
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Old 10-22-2005, 04:52 PM   #90
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Kuruharan wrote:
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We know of two times when Eru is indicated as having used violence and killing in the world. He destroyed Numenor after centuries of warnings to prevent the Numenoreans from wrecking havoc in Valinor and probably discover all sorts of things they should not know (even though they could not become immortal). Eru killed Gollum after Gollum refused to repent and used Gollum to destroy the Ring, which Gollum would not have done willingly.
Woh, woh, wait a minute here. We know of one time when Eru used violence. You (and others) have a theory that Eru is to be viewed as responsible for Gollum's fall. Let's not confuse facts with matters that are subject to (legitimate) controversy. I, for one, don't think that Eru was particularly more involved in the incident at Mt. Doom than he was in any event anywhere and any time in Arda.
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Old 10-22-2005, 05:37 PM   #91
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You (and others) have a theory that Eru is to be viewed as responsible for Gollum's fall. Let's not confuse facts with matters that are subject to (legitimate) controversy.
This may be true, however, the particular strand of discussion I've been following is based on the idea Eru was involved.

Regarding this issue, the debate over whether Eru was or was not involved is irrelevant.

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I, for one, don't think that Eru was particularly more involved in the incident at Mt. Doom than he was in any event anywhere and any time in Arda.
To me this sounds like you are agreeing that Eru had something to do with it because you have to concede that he was involved in the destruction of Numenor and that is certainly an event at a point in time in Arda.
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Old 10-22-2005, 06:01 PM   #92
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This may be true, however, the particular strand of discussion I've been following is based on the idea Eru was involved.

Regarding this issue, the debate over whether Eru was or was not involved is irrelevant.
It seems to me that the discussion had become broader - an examination of Eru's relation with the Christian God. But I take your point.

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To me this sounds like you are agreeing that Eru had something to do with it because you have to concede that he was involved in the destruction of Numenor and that is certainly an event at a point in time in Arda.
You misread me. I mean that Eru was not any more involved with the incident at Mt. Doom than he was with any arbitrary event in Arda. That is, I tend to think that he was only involved with Gollum's death insofar as he was involved with everything. I honestly don't see much concrete evidence for his involvement with that particular episode.
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Old 10-22-2005, 06:03 PM   #93
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Kuruharan wrote:
Woh, woh, wait a minute here. We know of one time when Eru used violence. You (and others) have a theory that Eru is to be viewed as responsible for Gollum's fall. Let's not confuse facts with matters that are subject to (legitimate) controversy. I, for one, don't think that Eru was particularly more involved in the incident at Mt. Doom than he was in any event anywhere and any time in Arda.
I think the events at the Sammath Naur can be seen on two levels. On the first we see a nasty, squalid, brutal little struggle driven by violence, greed & desire. Two Hobbits fight over a possession, one wins by maiming the other, dances in exultation & trips & falls ito a volcano.

On the second we have a cosmic drama on which depends the fate of the world, both physical & spiritual. Good & Evil confront each other, Evil seems to win, but at the last moment defeats itself & Good is triumphant.

But the point is this is a single event which can be seen from both perspectives. Eru plays a part, He is not a passive figure. 'Eru' is that which sustains existence, which ensures there is something rather than nothing. It is that which wins out at the Cracks of Doom - art, creativity, beauty, knowledge, life. It is also that which overwhelms the 'Evil ' symbolised by Gollum holding aloft the Ring & exulting - the dehumanised 'animal' with the power of death in its claws, the 'Machine' about to crush all life.

'Eru' obliterates the life of Gollum. Art, creativity, beauty, knowledge, life destroys Smeagol.
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Old 10-23-2005, 01:46 PM   #94
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'Eru' obliterates the life of Gollum. Art, creativity, beauty, knowledge, life destroys Smeagol.
This is going a little too far, I think. Gollum's physical life ended. There is no reason to think that Gollum was obliterated and could not go on to Mandos and so forth afterwards.
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Old 10-23-2005, 03:39 PM   #95
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This is going a little too far, I think. Gollum's physical life ended. There is no reason to think that Gollum was obliterated and could not go on to Mandos and so forth afterwards.
But neither is there any reason to think that he did 'go on to Mandos and so forth afterwards.' All we know is that Gollum died at the Sammath Naur. We can speculate that because a spiritual power was brought to ruin there (ie Sauron) another, opposing, spiritual power (Eru) was also participant in the events. Sam, Frodo, Gollum & the Ring were the physical particpants in the drama. Two of them perished (Gollum & the Ring) two survived.

We have no idea what happened to Gollum after the ending of his physical existence - we do know he threw away his chance of redemption on the stairs. Hence, he died in his sins, unrepentant. Unlike Frodo he never got the chance to be healed. Where there's life there's hope, as the Gaffer used to say. If Eru used Gollum as the means to His (laudable & necessary) end, thereby removing his chance of a 'deathbed' confession & repentance, does that oblige Eru to give him another chance, or did he have his chance & throw it away for good (or evil)?
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Old 10-23-2005, 06:10 PM   #96
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But neither is there any reason to think that he did 'go on to Mandos and so forth afterwards.'
Oh yes there is. It is presented as fact in Tolkien that the souls of the departed go to Mandos whatever fate awaits them beyond that or if they are able and wish to, they can refuse the call. (I'm afraid I can't recall off the top of my head if Men are able to do this. I think Elves can but I'm not sure about Men. I'd be inclined to think they can't, but that is just a hunch). There is no reference to a soul being destroyed before The End. Sauron's spirit was not destroyed. Not even Morgoth's was destoryed (yet). Barring explicit statement to the contrary, we have to assume Gollum's soul endured as well.

The burden of proof here is entirely on your side. I await any evidence you can present with great anticipation.

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Unlike Frodo he never got the chance to be healed. Where there's life there's hope, as the Gaffer used to say. If Eru used Gollum as the means to His (laudable & necessary) end, thereby removing his chance of a 'deathbed' confession & repentance, does that oblige Eru to give him another chance, or did he have his chance & throw it away for good (or evil)?
I would say Gollum refused his chance. A finite creature can only have a limited number of chances after all.
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Old 10-23-2005, 06:48 PM   #97
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On the second we have a cosmic drama on which depends the fate of the world, both physical & spiritual. Good & Evil confront each other, Evil seems to win, but at the last moment defeats itself & Good is triumphant.
Yes, but I would be very careful about transmuting this metaphorical/spiritual/symbolic point into a literal one. Yes, Eru was involved in the events at Mt. Doom, in both that He is involved in all things in Arda and that He and the Good with which He can be identified are triumphant there.

But it is a huge leap to go from this to questions about Eru "murdering" Gollum. To bridge that gap, you'd have to show that Eru was literally and directly involved, on the most concrete level. In other words, as I see it there is a profound difference between the fall of Numenor and the fall of Gollum. In the former case, Eru directly intervened. The proximate cause of the fall of Numenor was an act of Eru. The proximate cause of Gollum's fall was the step Gollum took. Of course, you could argue that Eru caused him to take that step, but then you'd be denying Gollum's free will. But if you remove Eru any farther from the events, then I think you have to accept my point of view - that Eru did not "intervene" at Mt. Doom (any more than he "intervened" in any and every event in Arda).

In short, I think that unless one wants to deny the free will of Gollum, Frodo, and Sam one must refrain from attributing to Eru any kind of direct agency in the death of Gollum and the destruction of the Ring.
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Old 10-24-2005, 08:06 AM   #98
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Barring explicit statement to the contrary, we have to assume Gollum's soul endured as well..
I accept what you say regarding Mandos. I should have been clearer. A while back I speculated that the fires of Mount Doom (which we are told welled up from the Heart of the Earth) are the same as the Secret Fire which Eru at the beginning set to burn at the Heart of the World. If this is the case, then if Gollum falls into the Secret Fire we cannot speculate whether he continues to exist or not, as his fate would be unique.

But, as I say, that's my own theory. I can't back it up with any proof.
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Old 03-14-2019, 01:50 PM   #99
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Appropriately enough, considering its pivotal role, "Mount Doom" has seen more discussion in this thread about metaphysics and ethics than pretty much any other CbC thread--and scarcely any other discussion besides!

This chapter is almost brief--certainly the final, climactic moment in Orodruin is brief: mere paragraphs. This is not just appropriate, as suggested far above, because the story isn't about Frodo so much as it's also about the Return of the King, the passing of the Elves, and the scouring of the Shire--it's also true to life. Major moments in life can pass suddenly, how ever long they take in the anticipation and however wide their consequences ripple.

The "failure of Frodo," source of so much discussion above, is somehow surprising the first time you meet it, even though Tolkien basically tells us right back in "The Shadow of the Past" (and prefigures it the chapter before--the VERY FIRST CHAPTER) that Frodo couldn't do it. It simply isn't that common for the "hero" to fall AND for the story to have a happy ending (and in simplistic "good guy wins" terms this book has a happy ending). But once you've read it, it's nigh impossible to imagine an alternative resolution.
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