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Old 02-15-2002, 01:04 AM   #81
Bruce MacCulloch
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I am sorry if I offended you Bruce. I had no intention of doing so. I am a Christian and know very little about witches of any variety.
No offense taken. [img]smilies/wink.gif[/img]
I just have a problem with people making definitive statements about things they don't know about. If you (or anyone else for that matter) would like to know what I actually believe, so you can make a knowledgable statement in the future, feel free to ask. However this forum isn't the proper place to discuss personal beliefs, so send me a Private Message.
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Old 02-15-2002, 10:25 AM   #82
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Actually, Androndo, the place where Abraham nearly sacrificed Isaac was called Moriah, not Moria. (Both my KJV and NIV Bibles confirm this.) Tiny little ticky detail, but the pronunciation is what's completely different -- second syllable stressed in the Middle Eastern locale, first syllable stressed in the Dwarven hall. And, Abraham renamed the place after his experience with God -- called it Jehovahjireh or some such. Not much parallel to Khazad-dum in that.

I hope my posts don't make me sound like a party-pooper. I'm not anti-Christian at all -- in fact, I've been a Christian for 23 of my 38 years on this planet. I just don't feel the need to stretch the bounds of logic to find parallels to the Bible in a fine piece of secular literature. God is God and that's good enough for me. As I've said before, by using such criteria as I've seen here, I could find Biblical parallels in everything from Star Trek to Gone With The Wind. I could even find parallels that would, um, "prove," that Tolkien was influenced by Margaret Mitchell. That doesn't make it true.

It's like that fellow a few years back who wrote a best-seller on how there was some sort of code hidden in the text of the Bible that predicted every event in history. Some university mathematicians said that was because, in any book the size of the Bible, statistics dictated that such phrases would pop out everywhere. They proved it by doing PRECISELY the same thing with Melville's Moby **** . Such comparisons neither devalue the Bible nor show parallels between it and Melville's work. But they do show that someone has gotten a bit overzealous with his desire to prove the value of the Bible. The Bible has value, period; I don't need some bogus mathematical hijinx to make me consider it more valuable. The same can be said about Lord of the Rings. And, pardon the broken record, but I'm not criticizing those who say they find personal religious fulfillment in LOTR. More power to ya! What I criticize is the belief that Tolkien intentionally inserted some sort of Biblical religious message in LOTR that should be obvious to all.

Okay, I digressed! But it felt good.
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Old 02-15-2002, 10:30 AM   #83
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ADDENDUM: So why was the second word of the Melville title magically asterisked out? How amusing! Methinks there's a bug in the anti-profanity software! Let me try it again and see what happens: Moby **** .
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Old 02-15-2002, 10:32 AM   #84
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HAHA! That's hilarious! Worthy of a thread to start somewhere.
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Old 02-15-2002, 09:57 PM   #85
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Bombadil, thank you. My feeling exactly.
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Old 02-15-2002, 10:55 PM   #86
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I guess Barrow Wight didn't want any cursing or innapropriate language on the forum. Taking out the word di-ck was done with good intentions, but it can have bad effects as well. [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img] Moby Di-ck

And I agree with you Bombadil.
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Old 02-16-2002, 09:36 AM   #87
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I sure pity all the Richards of the world!!!
Just a little question for yous--is there a heaven in Middle Earth? I'm not sure if the Grey Havens is it or not. Could someone clarify, please? Thanks so much!
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Old 02-16-2002, 10:29 AM   #88
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Here, Here, Bombadill! I second your thoughts as a sister Christian. [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]
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Old 02-16-2002, 02:46 PM   #89
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I agree Bombadil.
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Old 02-16-2002, 02:46 PM   #90
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I agree Bombadil.
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Old 02-16-2002, 04:20 PM   #91
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Tolkien

i dont understand the bible/LOTR same-book going on thing, if u get me. i dont get how you can compair them...i mean, sure they are both teaching us things about life, subtle or not, but one is about religion and following it closely and its preaching (obviously the bible) and of coarse it is likely only to be enjoyed by people of certain ethnics. Lord of the Rings can be shared with anyone, of any race or culture, and everyone can learn a little for life from it. On the other hand, fanatics could treat it like their religion...so there is fine line in my opinion depending on where your looking at it from.
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Old 02-19-2002, 11:28 PM   #92
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An Unholy Trinity?

1. There are posts on this thread that attempt to identify absolute links between the writings of Tolkien and parts or all of the Bible - citing characters, dialogue or scenes that apparently mirror Bible text.

2. There are also arguments that whilst Tolkien's books were not directly allegorical in intention, his Christian beliefs somehow suffuse the works with an explicitly Biblical morality.

3. There are also the hand-in-hand assertions that the Harry Potter books ARE allegorical (intentionally or otherwise) in their legitimising of immoral behaviour - including specifically the practicing of witchcraft - and that they represent a form of 'moral relativism' antithetical to Biblical truths.

I hope that I have summarised these various arguments reasonably. And let me add my respect for all those engaged in the search for spiritual truths.

However, with apologies for my diplomatic insensibility, all three of these arguments are just plain wrong. A number of eloquent counter-arguments have already been made, to which I add my own, as follows : -

1. To think an "invented mythology" such as Middle Earth deliberately mirrors an episodic 'true' history like the Old Testament or the Gospels is nonsensical. If you think Tolkien's Gandalf IS a Jesus-figure (or any similar allusion) then either the Bible is entirely fictional and we are talking plagiarism, or the stories of Middle Earth are simply a re-writing that actually mystifies the tenets of the Bible. After reading Tolkien have any of us felt like praying to Gandalf? Or somehow that Jesus' life can be given more meaning to us because he is embodied in the exciting (and not at all turn-the-other-cheek) personality of Aragorn? That's a NO on both counts, by the way. And if you think the Bible is itself allegory and metaphor, then any mirroring in LoTR becomes a sort of third-generation pastiche that does no justice to the original.

2. The 'essential Christianity' of Tolkien argument is no different to the 'essential Blackness' of any Black writer, or the 'essential Feminism' of any Female writer. Anything by Maya Angelou therefore becomes a piece of Black Women's writing first - and poetry second. This is a spurious, postmodern, cultural studies-style approach that deconstructs every artistic object into political and cultural reference points. And as far as Tolkien's Christianity itself goes, Anglican sensibility in pre- and post-war England was very - I mean VERY - different from any current American church movement. You can't have the Christian overlay on LoTR (intentional or otherwise) without all the other cultural aspects. In the end you may as well not bother reading the book.

3. Hmm, the evil Harry Potter ... well, let's see. There is Gandalf who wields the Secret Fire in his wooden staff, or directs the river to become a torrent with foaming horse-shapes that drives away ringwraiths, and the Galadriel who speaks inside people's minds and sees the future in a magic mirror - the distinction between these characters and the levitating wizards of Harry Potter seems minimal in terms of 'promoting witchcraft'. But there is certainly a modernity in Harry Potter in its interpretation of childhood as a time of insecurities and difficult choices. And yes, there is a "soft landing" in that perhaps no-one is all bad ... but again, Gollum for example is also an explicitly ambiguous figure in LoTR (as is Boromir), so the absolute good vs. evil analysis is selective and arbitrary. The fact is that in Biblical terms human beings are not qualified to make absolute judgements of right or wrong. Only God can do that. There is therefore plenty of moral relativism in every 'moral' artifice (literary or otherwise) including LoTR. Aragorn tricks Sauron to distract him from discovering Frodo ; Boromir and Frodo succumb to temptation ... and so on. I reckon the only real problem with Harry Potter is that it's so banal.

The end (for me, anyway). But compliments to all who have contributed to this lively, stimulating and impassioned debate.
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Old 02-20-2002, 01:22 AM   #93
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QUOTE 2. There are also arguments that whilst Tolkien's books were not directly allegorical in intention, his Christian beliefs somehow suffuse the works with an explicitly Biblical morality.

I guess that as LOTR in particular contains evident themes and truths which are obvious also in scripture it is easy to relate the two. Add to this the fact that Tolkien (by our understanding of a Christian) had a relationship with the living God and the two flow together! God's truths are going to be in LOTR - not in totality of course, but a reflection of them. They may not be obvious to everyone, but the inspiration for Tolkien's work would have been not only the language and historical texts he researched and loved, but the bible that he loved also. I find it an unavoidable conclusion!
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Old 02-20-2002, 07:34 AM   #94
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Thank you, goldwine.
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Old 02-20-2002, 12:48 PM   #95
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Greetings Kalessin! Excellent first post.

The only place where I disagree substantially with you is in your second point, and even then I agree with the substance of your objection, just not the particulars in this case.

Here the author’s own words contradict you. We can’t trumpet his statements about his violent dislike of allegory and then selectively neglect his claim that LotR “is of course a fundamentally religious and Catholic work; unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision.”

I personally don't have much interest in finding parallels between LotR and the Bible, but that’s a fairly plain-spoken statement that is tough to deny. Numerous other references in Letters show a clear connection between Tolkien’s works and his beliefs.

As a general observation, I have noticed that many of our members have trouble making the distinction between allegory and mere symbolism or influence. Discuss a striking parallel between a certain myth and LotR, or note an interesting similarity between an historical incident and an incident in Middle-earth, and the knee-jerk reaction is the hue-and-cry of “Tolkien despised allegory!” Okay. We all agree that Tolkien had no overt intention to retell a particular story or to teach or preach in his work. LotR is first and foremost a rousing adventure tale. Good. But that doesn’t obviate inquiries into Tolkien’s mythological, philosophical, spiritual, historical, and literary influences. Based on the author’s own declaration, looking for biblical parallels is a more legitimate inquiry than many others that we’ve entertained here.

Therefore, I say – bring on the biblical parallels! Heap up the interesting influence of Nordic myths! Discuss the effects that Tolkien’s war experiences had on his writing! Speculate about the geographic parallels between Middle-earth and planet Earth! Plumb the depths of the Ring’s symbolic meaning! Why not? It’s all good!
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Old 02-20-2002, 04:11 PM   #96
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Thanks Mr Underhill (and others for taking up my points) ...

However, I would add that elves and talking (and walking) trees are just two examples of traditional, gently pagan (but pagan nonetheless) English folklore - that illustrate cultural influences in Tolkien's writing as quintessential as his Christian faith.

I am not arguing that as a (small c) conservative Christian, Tolkien would not basically have applied a moral sensibility in his storytelling. But I believe that the moral sensibility apparent in LoTR is not simply an explicit replication of Biblical tenets. For one thing, there are the other aspects of his personality and background that suffuse the work (as above); and in addition, as an academic with an interest in mythologies you can clearly see in LoTR an attempt to evoke the essence of other epic myths - Beowulf is one example, and in his construction of language and concepts such as the Grey Havens, there is what seems like an explicit acknowledgement of the Irish myth cycles of Cuchulain, the Tuatha de Danaan and so on.

And I come back to my original point. To say that his exploration of a cataclysmic struggle is - by virtue of its themes and a basic moral code in which honour, loyalty, truth and justice are the highest values - a kind of "baby" Bible, is reductio ad absurdam. And it kind of defeats the object of the book itself, or of literature in general.

Now I also have to raise a slightly more contentious issue. Is this attempt to establish an explicit Biblical connection in some way related to the popularity of LoTR - or that in recent years it has been devoured by generations of western readers who have found the mystic iconography and epic morality MORE appealing and accessible than the Bible itself?

I just throw this up speculatively ...

I hate to say it, but LoTR is not considered the pinnacle of artistic achievement. It is not Nabokov, Joyce, Orwell, it is not Gabriel Garcia Marquez, not Dylan Thomas, DH Lawrence or Steinbeck. I'm sure if you understand my point you can think of many others. Or, more prosaically, the film adaptation is wonderful but it is not The Shawshank Redemption, Casablanca or The Seventh Seal.

I would say that it is in a line of epic storytelling that is generally more populist, nostalgic and artistically cautious. It is not the sort of book that changes the world. Unlike the Bible.

So, in conclusion, I don't feel obliged to weigh my reading and re-reading of this entertaining book down with such responsibilities and subtexts, and again I come back to this point that the more you turn LoTR into some artifice or literal essence of the Bible, the less you need to read it. "Oh it's by Tolkien, he was a Christian, it's kinda like the Bible, 'cos he was a Christian you see, and it's about good and evil and it's kinda Biblical ..." Okay. Got it. No need to read it, then, because the Bible itself is brimming with such conviction, immediacy and spiritual force that it doesn't need or deserve to be soft-sold. It stands on its own, as it should.

Anyway, I've gone on at inordinate length, so I'll end with this ... I could, of course, be quite wrong [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]
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Old 02-20-2002, 04:17 PM   #97
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er ... but I agree, there is NOTHING wrong with the ongoing debate, or any others. The respectful and free exchange of ideas, passionate disagreements, mutual adoration and so on - bring it on, it's wonderful! I am really very pleased to have discovered this site.

Peace
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Old 02-20-2002, 09:53 PM   #98
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Thank you, Kelessin, oh Wizard of Earthsea. Welcome to the Downs.

That is an excellent question. I find many automatically recast the LotR into their own background. Mithadan earlier brought up the point that this is the real cause of the seeming 'biblical themes' in the Lord of the Rings. The context for the LotR has faded in many respects, and younger readers in particular have trouble grasping for example the master/manservant relationship between Frodo/Sam.

I think all of us at the Downs are guilty of artifically inflating the importance of Tolkien's work to a scale of its importance to us. I think it's a vain attempt to explain our own fascination with the story.

On the other hand, what is the measure of literary impact? In the short term it's the uniqueness and quality of the work. But over the long term I've noticed many of those Greats turn out to simply be markers of a new or 'the best of' a current fashion, and they fade, while the real cultural impact is made by 'lesser artists.' We assume we know what the Greats of our era will be, when we don't even know what they will be measured by. Who of Elizabethan times could have predicted that Shakespeare's plays, blatant commercialism held in as little esteem as sitcoms, would be heralded today?

Mr. Underhill, my respected friend, the free exchange of ideas includes room for disagreement, and if one is proven wrong (as I have been on occasion) then that's that. But that doesn't preclude enjoying ones theory for its own sake. [img]smilies/wink.gif[/img] Go right ahead. Of course, the last time I tried to do that, some Christian extremists trampled the thread, wouldn't leave well enough alone, and didn't seem to comprehend the word "subtext." So I doubt you're going to find much more consideration (or intelligence).

-Maril

[ February 20, 2002: Message edited by: Marileangorifurnimaluim ]
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Old 02-20-2002, 10:54 PM   #99
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Maril, what a stimulating reply, I really appreciate that.

I hadn't considered the rather archaic manservant aspect you rightly mentioned (perhaps I'm just rather archaic too), that's another excellent example of cultural assumptions that don't fit the Biblical artifice.

Anyway, if we are going to take it all a bit too seriously, I guess a Tolkien website forum is the place to do it ... likewise, as a general rule I would encourage trainspotting near a railway line ... so count me in (not for the trainspotting).

Your comments about what makes Great Literature illustrate the ongoing debate about whether the idea of objective aesthetic criteria is at all valid. But whilst I agree that novelty, ingenuity or fashionability are often hyped up as 'artistic triumph', I reckon that, as far as Tolkien's era goes, writers like Orwell, Steinbeck and Dylan Thomas will retain critical credibility - whilst being outsold many times by LoTR for many years to come - and that books like Wright's Invisible Man, Lolita, Catcher In The Rye etc., will continue to have seminal significance beyond LoTR. Shakespeare is a different kettle of fish, having had such a profound effect on the English language that his critical position is pretty unassailable (just as some of the plays are pretty unreadable).

Why were you 'trampled' before? I'm intrigued, do tell. You gotta watch out for extremists of any hue, and as I said before Tolkien's conservatism and essentially nostalgic, even chivalric moral code might be well be subject to misappropriation.

Thanks for the warning anyway, hopefully I'm battle-hardened by philosophy chatrooms and regular visits by Jehovah's Witnesses [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]

Peace

[ February 20, 2002: Message edited by: Kalessin ]
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Old 02-21-2002, 03:48 PM   #100
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Ah, it's all kind of comic when you think about it. Not to worry, from what I've seen the reaction to that thread is not common for the Barrow-Downs.

I did not start the notorious thread, but was trampled by a teeming mob when I leapt to the defense of the one who did. She fled, leaving others to uphold her end of the heated debate, threw rocks at her attackers from a different thread, and then at the Barrow-Downs in general from another Forum. I tried to perhaps change the subject (some interesting points had come up, and the subject of the 'notorious' thread was going in fast, furious circles) but that was not a good idea. After the reaction I got from some, I retired from the Barrow-Downs for a week to keep from firing my own artillery rounds.

The whole subject was eventually shut down for lack of politeness on all sides, while Mithadan and others had to write to complaining Hobbit moms that yes, others had a right to their opinions.

The blame for the ferocity was laid on the one who started the thread, but I think the thread name caused most of the trouble. It was too blatant, and didn't invite either the subtlety or humor the subject needed. Out of consideration for the biblical subject of the current thread (see, Mr. Underhill, there is some in this world) I'll not mention the actual subject many (absurdly) found so offensive. [img]smilies/wink.gif[/img]

[ February 21, 2002: Message edited by: Marileangorifurnimaluim ]
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Old 02-21-2002, 04:00 PM   #101
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No not the typical Barrow-Downs reaction at all, unfortunately. "Controverial" subjects tend to generate "controversial" responses. In contrast, this thread has proceeded politely notwithstanding the highly divergent opinions expressed. My compliments to all.
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Old 02-21-2002, 07:45 PM   #102
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I agree that what I am sure are areas of profound disagreement on this thread have been discussed in a restrained and amicable manner, which helps to stimulate further debate and indeed stops people from becoming entrenched by the atmosphere of confrontation.

So, in that spirit, I am going to say that my stance has changed slightly. I am willing to accept that the underlying morality of LoTR is a reflection of Tolkien's Christian beliefs. And that, whilst Tolkien avoided allegory, he consciously established a conceptual framework of good and evil behind the story that is entirely consistent with traditional Christianity.

However, I maintain that is a very different thing to drawing explicit Biblical parallels. This exercise seems futile to me, as world mythos contain endless repetitions and variations of magical or heroic episodes, echoes or apparent re-workings of which can be found throughout LoTR. There is nothing 'uniquely' Biblical about his narrative or characters. And I also believe this reading of LoTR does the author a disservice, casting him as a subtle plagiarist or spin doctor, rather than the tremendously attentive creator of an alternate mythology that I believe him to be.

It is also necessary to see Tolkien's application of moral concepts as rooted in his own time and culture, and NOT as timeless propaganda for today's range of evangelical interpretations. I believe the moral tenets are, if they are anything, explicitly chivalric - romantic, nostalgic and idealist - in the vein of Mallory's Arthurian saga. There is plenty of that Arthurian 'courtly love' between squires and kings (Pippin and Theoden), or brothers in arms (Eomer and Aragorn), for one thing. And the sacrifices and risks undertaken by the heroes of LoTR are not 'insured' by their faith in everlasting life, nor do they act with the knowledge that their good deeds have the 'backing' or approval of an omnipotent power. There is a right and wrong, that is all, an essential standard of honourable conduct to which all should aspire.

The story is fairy tale, not moral fable. It is Christian in its underlying tenets but eclectic in its sources and inspirations, and not bound by fundamentalist orthodoxy (hence the rural English pagan elements, the Irish and Norse, the use of magic). In addition, it is elitist in a somewhat English way - everyone knows and has their place, Kings and Princes take their crowns by heredity - and hugely ambitious in its scale.

It is epic narrative, wonderfully executed, yet no more than that. And as such it is probably not Great Literature. But it is a Great Book! I have been reading and re-reading it along with watching the movie over the last couple of months, and have enjoyed it more than anything I've read for years.

But as narrative it is consciously and deliberately archaic and conservative in style (as all epic stories should be). Whilst there is clearly an ingenious cosmology in place, the book does not challenge or broaden the way in which we perceive the world (the real world). If you read Wright's Native Son, for example, from that point on you may have the tools - the words themselves, or the ability to identify situations - with which to empathise and experience what it is to be dispossessed, regardless of your own advantages. And perhaps your future actions may change with that new perception.

Tolkien does not give us any greater insight than we had before reading the book (I'm not talking about axioms like "even the smallest person can change the world" which is basically unarguable). Nor did he intend to do so.

What he intended, he achieved spectacularly. And probably much more. And has given me and countless others great pleasure.

By the way, I'd still love to know what this earlier contentious thread was about. Could you message me in Elvish? I promise not to tell [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]

Peace

[ February 21, 2002: Message edited by: Kalessin ]
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Old 02-21-2002, 09:01 PM   #103
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wow. i am just butting in here, and i haven't read any of your replies and conversations yet, so i'm probably just repeating things that others have said, but i am just going to say that there is a book out now about this. i have been reading it, and it is really interesting. it mostly just compares some of Tolkein's figures to Biblical figures. for example, the One Ring may represent sin, as man is continuously trying to get rid of it. When it is finally gone though, the scars of the journey are left behind forever. Just like our mistakes, and of course the Creation is another good example of Biblical stand points. But who is to say if he meant for his books to be symbolic of God's Word? It is deffinately an interesting thought, to say the least, and I sure wish, if that's what he meant to do, that I could write such a beautiful expression of Biblical teachings.
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Old 02-21-2002, 10:12 PM   #104
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Non-conformist? Hm ...

If you think the nature of any relationship between Lord of The Rings and The Bible is an interesting subject, please read all the posts on this thread. There are a range of well-reasoned arguments (and well-mannered disagreements), and direct references to Tolkien's expressed intentions, his religious ethic, the other influences in his writing, the nature of morality by inference or allegory, to which I have added my own critique of his work in this context.

There are some really stimulating and well-written entries from all sides of the debate.

I would be really interested in your thoughts about the issue, as I have concerns about 'appropriation' ... which basically means taking works of art, or actions, or people, out of their time and framing them in a new context, in order to give validity or appeal to a particular agenda. For example, in this way the Nazis appropriated the philosophy of Neitzche and the music of Wagner to shopfront their ideology. Equally, some new age groups have appropriated (cherry-picked and blended) ancient belief systems and rituals (such as Native American) into a fuzzy lifestyle choice. Or again, poststructural feminists have appropriated cultural or religious rituals and edicts as explicit parables of oppression. And there are many more examples.

Now, there is some merit in the disciplined analysis of any cultural artefacts, and a role for postmodernism. But there is also the danger of propaganda, which is my concern - that is to say, where the primary purpose is establishing and legitimising an intolerant paradigm. Sadly, art and religion have been notorious bedfellows throughout history in this regard.

I'm not making any particular accusations in this case, only saying that the more absolute, explicit and inflexible the linkage and the interpretation, the more I worry. The end result is normally "ownership" and exclusive authority, whilst I believe that Lord of the Rings is a wonderful gift, and should be allowed to maintain it's gentle universality. Buying and liking the book should NOT mean that you are (or should be) signed up to a particular worldview.

By the way, if you do read the thread you'll notice I can't say anything in less than 3 million words. Bit like JRRT maybe (that's my excuse) [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]
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Old 02-21-2002, 10:34 PM   #105
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Aaaaah! Too many smart people on one thread!
[img]smilies/biggrin.gif[/img]
Excellent posts everyone. I bow before you. I have admit, the LotR certainly made my heart beat faster each time I picked up what I thought was a hint at Christianity. But overall, looking back on it, what made the book enjoyable was the spirit of mystery and wonder, and the kind of subtle proddings that go over much better than a Bible being thumped on one's head. I distinctly heard an echo of a sermon, but it was quiet one.
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Old 02-22-2002, 03:54 AM   #106
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Hi Lush! How's the writer's block? (I had a thought later - write the opposite of what's you immediately think, just to rattle your mind loose.)

What is it that draws me to the heaviest topics around, like being sucked down a black hole?

Kelissen, I sent you a private message. As far as long posts, why make things simple and direct when they can be complex and wooooonnnnnderfulll?

-Maril
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Old 02-22-2002, 04:43 AM   #107
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I have really enjoyed the learned comments and polite debate on this thread too. Ultimately there will be no definitive answer to the debate. Even if Tolkien were alive he would probably find it hard to ascertain exactly what influences were at work in various parts of the plot and its writing! It is obvious that everyone sees truth in it. Christians will obviously see that truth as coming from God.
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Old 02-22-2002, 07:46 AM   #108
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Althouh I'm not christian, I've read the buble for school, and I doubt it has much to do with it. Though I will admit, it is an interesting observation. You've a sharp mind
 
Old 02-22-2002, 07:47 AM   #109
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Althouh I'm not christian, I've read the buble for school, and I doubt it has much to do with it. Though I will admit, it is an interesting observation. You've a sharp mind
 
Old 02-27-2002, 01:19 AM   #110
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I am often tempted to read Tolkien over scripture myself! It is fascinating and absorbing!Then I remember that my faith is about a relationship with Jesus.
I guess the difference for me between the bible and LOTR is that whilst we can gain much from Tolkien's work - receiving comfort, drawing parallels between Middle Earth and our own world in a spiritual and moral sense, it cannot replace knowing God. Middle Earth is a wonderful place to visit, but God wants us to know Him and the bible helps us to do that. And there are some ripper tales in the bible too!
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Old 02-27-2002, 07:37 AM   #111
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Well, it was a serious point, and is my belief. I didn't want to offend anyone and apologise if it was thoughtless. I have read a good deal of this thread and believe everyone has a valid point, but everyone is writing from their own point of view, whether they be Christian, non Christian, a strict atheist or merely worship Tolkien! I respect everyone's beliefs, if they find it helpful to be Christian or any other religion, then nothing but good luck to them - I myself ask only two things. That they don't try to impose their religion onto me, and that they don't consider themselves morally superior to me because I have no religious denomination. Nor do I believe in God. But that it my belief, and I would certainly never try to persuade someone that does believe to change their minds. However, it has been my experience so far in life that I am constantly pulled back and forth with pressure to believe one thing or another, and if I refuse, instantly become some kind of non-human heathen person with no morals because I don't happen to believe in God. So, to that end, I would much rather believe in Tolkien. I'm sorry if I caused any offense!

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Old 02-27-2002, 05:37 PM   #112
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This thread has really taken a magnificent turn. After my previous posts I've been content to just read and thoroughly enjoy myself.

Noncon, I'll say again what I've said a couple of times already. If to you the Ring represents sin, or evil, or badness, or green popsicles or whatever, I salute you for your interpretation and think it's wonderful that you find that meaning in LOTR. But, as I and others have said, it's important to recognize the difference between your personal interpretation and Tolkien's conscious intent. I believe Tolkien encoded no religious message in LOTR, and many here have echoed those sentiments. I further maintain that the evidence in the book itself and in Tolkien's writings overwhelmingly support my position.

But whatever meaning you personally might find is your business. And, I thank you for sharing it with me! I might never find such meaning in LOTR, but it's fun to hear other perspectives.
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Old 02-27-2002, 06:56 PM   #113
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actually, the Bible is what i base everything in my life on. it is God's direct word to us, and tells us eveything we'll ever need to know. so actually, the Bible is the book that has the main effect on my life. other books certainly can offer many different things, but the Bible is always first on my list.

okay, i have actually had a chance to read through all of your posts, and can i just say, wow! this is the most amazing debate i have read through in a long time. it’s great! i had reapeated alot, and there really isn’t anything else i could say other than a few side notes. going back to the wizzards using witchcraft. i strongly disagree here, because of two reasons. first, God says that witchcraft is not only spells and the ocult, but relying on any power other than Him to control your life. Gandalf using his “magic” to hold back evil and encourage others, is not witchcraft, because he is not RELYING on it. he doesn’t just wisper magic words for everything. he often pulls out his sword to get the job done. also, magic in this mystical world may have different standards, no? it seems almost everything in Middle Earth has some sort of “magic” second, witchcraft is usually used to try to control circumstances and changing them to fit the users OWN wishes. i don’t see any similarities with Gandalf’s power and furthering his own personal interests. there’s no break for tea and a nice, relaxing chair for him. if i were him and were using witchcraft, i think that would be the first thing on my list. <stress> Using his power to confront evil, or just to chastise the foolish is not witchcraft. God tells us that we are supposed to be using His power and strength for those things ourselves! <relying solely on Him, of course> It is He who gives us the strangth to go on, not ourselves, which is the very root of Withcraft, self. I know what i just typed is going to upset alot of people, but it had to be said. go ahead and feel free to tell me what you think. <non_conformist13@gmail.net>
also, since evil vs. good is such a common theme, it would be hard to compare it to the Bible, by itself, but since the Bible is the First Authority on everything anyway (i believe that!) you could say that evil vs. good in any story is based on the Bible.
But what you are comes out in what you make, no matter how hard you try otherwise, what you believe will come out in your writing. as you can see in mine! (lol) sorry for rambling on for so long...
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Old 02-27-2002, 09:21 PM   #114
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Oh dear... Khalil Gabran is a good example of Khalil Gabran. Dudjom Rinpoche is an example of Buddhism. Alas, he passed away in January, 1987.

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Old 02-27-2002, 10:27 PM   #115
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Is that me? I didn't say Khalil Gibran was an example of buddhism, I don't think he really represents any established faith (I think he was a 'lapsed' Muslim).

I was really making the point about literature providing spiritual guidance, explicit or otherwise, and perhaps putting LotR into perspective in this regard. Whether you go for 'Zen and the art of ...' or 'Women Who Run With The Wolves', or my earlier examples, the purpose and nature of such work is different to LotR.

I don't know why there is a need to imbue the book or its author with messianic or torchbearing properties, perhaps I'm missing something here ... I've been wrong before [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]

(and in a case of what must be Divine Intervention, all my hard work on page 3 of this thread seems to have disappeared ... sob)
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Old 02-27-2002, 10:46 PM   #116
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I know. I just wince at all-too-common misrepresentations of Buddhism, what I call Disney Dharma.

I put a note in to the administrators about the tech problem in this thread. The pages are clearly still there (there, there, Kali), you just can't access them once you've selected the thread.
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Old 02-27-2002, 11:08 PM   #117
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Misrepresentation is a whole different issue!

I did a performance last year at Taplow Court, one of the primary Buddhist centres in the UK, and had the opportunity to meet and work with a number of practising buddhists. It was a very fulfilling and loving experience, and something I will always remember.

I think that among those buddhists, as among Christians or those of any faith, I have found such a range of interpretations, and a diversity of explanations, for their act of faith, that I acknowledge the uniquely personal nature of spiritual commitment. Perhaps that's a comment on the times we live in as well.

Khalil Gibran's work is 'spiritual' in the broad sense of the word. I don't think it diminishes any existing faiths, or attempts to supplant them with a new worldview ... but it is quite haunting, and lonely, and in some ways in tune with modernity (or the modernity of its time). I would say there is arguably a kind of attempted distillation of the major world religions at work, which was my original point.

The world of rational science has its own acts of faith too, with which I have some serious problems. We all acknowledge an unseen light in our different ways.

I am currently wading through The Silmarillion, which I am finding hard going. The Biblical parallels, or perhaps style, are very much to the fore, and there is something more distant and "stony" about it. I'm told it picks up later on.

But in the introduction in my print there is a letter from Tolkien to Milton Walden, which seems to me to answer with clarity and some humility most of the assertions in this thread, and I stick with my incursions on Page 3 (now losssst, the preciousss writingses). Evangelical? - No! Traditional Christian essence of morality? - Yes. Specific Biblical allegory? - NO! Mythmaking in the ancient (non-Christian) tradition? - Yes.

Peace

[ February 28, 2002: Message edited by: Kalessin ]
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Old 02-28-2002, 04:02 PM   #118
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Thanks for your post, Airetauriel. I don't believe anyone can persuade with words, no matter how eloquent, that God exists! Faith is believing in that which you cannot see or words interpret for you.
I still believe that a faith that was so fundamental to Tolkien would not have an obvious outcome in his writing. I know that it is not a purely allegorical storyline, and that Tolkien probably had no intensely Christian agenda to permeate his texts, but he couldn't help revealing his beliefs in his writing - the consuming task of so many years.
We each reveal much about our beliefs in these brief commentaries - both intentionally and unintentionally.
Don't ya just love a good debate!
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Old 02-28-2002, 06:41 PM   #119
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Believing is seeing! [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]
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Old 02-28-2002, 09:42 PM   #120
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but then what's the point in believeing if you have obvious proof? you would just know if you saw it, but believing, i think, is trusting that something is there without having to see it.
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