The Barrow-Downs Discussion Forum


Visit The *EVEN NEWER* Barrow-Downs Photo Page

Go Back   The Barrow-Downs Discussion Forum > Middle-Earth Discussions > The Books
User Name
Password
Register FAQ Members List Calendar Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read


Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 08-29-2006, 10:08 AM   #81
The Only Real Estel
Raffish Rapscallion
 
The Only Real Estel's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Far from the 'Downs, it seems :-(
Posts: 3,025
The Only Real Estel has just left Hobbiton.
Pipe On Cloud Castles...

First off, I very much like your 'cloud castle' analogy, davem, because it was imaginative.

Second off, I want to make a few comments on it.

Going on the assumption that by 'castles' you mean Christianity & by 'cloud' you mean LotR, which is correct unless I am sadly mistaken:

Quote:
Originally Posted by davem
Ok. You look at a particularly impressive cloud formation & 'see' a castle. That's fine. However, if you then go on to claim there is something specifically 'castle-like' about that cloud, that it is necessary to know about castles in order to understand/appreciate that cloud...
I totally agree. However I don't think anyone is saying that it is necessary to know about Christianity to appreciate The Lord of the Rings. That would be utterly ridiculous. Even in a so clearly allegorical tale as The Chronicles of Narnia the reader doesn't need to know a thing about Christianity/Catholicism to appreciate the story. Would the reader appreciate it more if he did? Possibly. That lies in the individuality of the reader.

Quote:
Originally Posted by davem
...that that cloud can tell you anything about castles, or that only someone with a knowledge of castles can understand what that cloud really is I will argue with you, because I think we would no longer be dealing with a matter of personal opinion but a wrong opinion (& frankly a silly opinion).
Again, I don't think anyone is saying that LotR can tell you about Christianity (or any other religion for that matter). And certainly no one is saying you must have knowledge of Christianity/Catholicism to understand the books!

Quote:
Originally Posted by davem
To claim that only someone who believes that cloud castles are a real possibility has any valid opinion on clouds is not logical
Or to rephrase it (according to your own comparison: "To claim that only someone who believes that cloud castles (Christian themes in Tolkien) are a real possibility has any valid opinion on clouds (The Lord of the Rings) is not logical." Now I have no idea if that's the course you originally meant your comparison to go or not but I have to say I completely disagree with that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by davem
to think that believing in cloud castles means you will have a deeper experience of that cloud than someone who doesn't believe in them is a bit smug (as well as wrong).
I don't think people finding 'Christian themes' in Tolkien's work & so insisting they have a deeper experience of the books than you is really the issue here - because I don't think that's even remotely a problem. (correct me if I'm wrong)

Quote:
Originally Posted by davem
I'm sure he believed (ie convinced himself ) they were. Which means nothing as far as the works themselves are concerned. They are certainly 'vaguely Christian' but they are also 'vaguely' many other things.
Certainly! Is Christianity the only vague theme in Tolkien's book? Of course not. Forbid it if anyone should try to say that. But it was my understanding that at least this thread was created to talk about the 'vaguely Christian' them of the books. I have no problem with that as long as parallels aren't being wildly drawn with no regard to discuss brought against it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by davem
Or we could just read & enjoy the story as a story, stop trying to second guess, impose meanings, foist our own belief systems on the work & generally try & make it serve our own purposes…
*Raise your hand if you don't enjoy the story as a story*

Alright now *raise your hand if you've spent hours pouring over the text trying to pick out meaning & parallels, twisting everything in sight to make it 'serve your own purposes.'*

Are there those that might do that? Are there those Christians that you remarked about that try too hard to find things in the book 'just to get us all back in church?' Probably so. That's unfortunate, but like you said that will happen in many different circles (WWII, atom bomb, etc.). Discussing possible Christian themes is not equal to the charges you levied in that statement, davem.

However as long as the discussion here doesn't venture off into ridiculous twisting or using the thread to evangelize I don't see what the worry is. Christianity was not the theme of the books, but it is at least arguable that it can be found (without too much trouble) in the books.

And discussing things you've found (or think you've found) in the books is not in place of enjoying them it is a part of enjoying them.

Last edited by The Only Real Estel; 08-29-2006 at 10:12 AM.
The Only Real Estel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-29-2006, 11:46 AM   #82
davem
Illustrious Ulair
 
davem's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: In the home of lost causes, and forsaken beliefs, and unpopular names,and impossible loyalties
Posts: 4,256
davem is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.davem is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Only Real Estel

However as long as the discussion here doesn't venture off into ridiculous twisting or using the thread to evangelize I don't see what the worry is. Christianity was not the theme of the books, but it is at least arguable that it can be found (without too much trouble) in the books.

And discussing things you've found (or think you've found) in the books is not in place of enjoying them it is a part of enjoying them.
I'm sure anyone could find anything they wanted in LotR - but that's not to say its actually in there. Tolkien 'admits' to two specifically 'Christian' additions - the dates of the leaving of Rivendell (Dec 25th) & the Fall of Barad Dur (Mar 25th - the old date of Good Friday). However, a pagan could argue they are 'pagan' dates (Winter Solstice & Spring Equinox). For a general reader though they are merely the dates when the Fellowship left Rivendell & the date when the One went into the Fire & have no primary world connections.

The point is Christian readers of LotR keep coming back to the 'Christian' themes of LotR, & I think that behind that there is a desire to claim Tolkien & LotR as 'one of us', that there are things in the Legendarium which have a special significance to them alone, & that therefore an extra dimension is added to the work which is only accessible to them.

My point is that this is not (objectively) true. Each reader finds in the book something which resonates with them.

More importantly there are readers (Christians & others) who put forward their claims as 'facts' - they are not saying 'This character reminds me of Jesus' but 'This character is a Christ figure'.

If you read through my posts you will see I've repeatedly stated I have no problem with the individual reader's right to 'apply' characters & events in any way they wish. Where I do have a problem is when they state these 'applications' as facts about the story. As I said, this is to allegorise, to place the story in service of something else & thereby to denigrate it to an echo of something else. It is an argument about the nature of Art itself.

I can't see how applying Biblical figures & stories will deepen one's understanding of the story qua story, or of the individual's faith. What it will do, it seems to me, is blur the lines between the two & reduce both. But that's just me.

If you read LotR & think of Aragorn as a Christ figure you will risk missing the aspects of Aragorn's character which do not correspond to Christ. Same applies to Frodo or Gandalf or Elrond. They are not Christ figures (which Tolkien clearly stated). Morgoth's story (as Squatter mentioned earlier) may be close to the Biblical story of Satan, but Sauron's is not, hence the struggle between Aragorn & Sauron is not applicable to the struggle between Christ & Satan. The danger is that a reader who approaches the story as a 'Christian' story starts to 'fill in the gaps' & makes the story something it is not, makes it mean something it does not mean. Why is that a 'danger'? Because we then get the wholly erronious idea that LotR is a Christian allegory simply accepted without question by some readers. To me this is as unnacceptable as the idea that it is a racist work, or an allegory of WWII.

LotR is what it is. Your personal interpretation of it is something else. The two things are, & must be, different. I'm tired of various groups out there claiming the book & its author for their own. Whether Christians, pagans, racists, or accademic 'experts'.

Finally, I've seen no evidence for this 'Christian' interpretation of LotR that stands up at all.

Plus, I enjoy the debate (it will be noticed by some posters on this thread that the rep I have handed out in this debate has all been to those who have opposed me with good arguments...)
davem is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-29-2006, 01:13 PM   #83
The Only Real Estel
Raffish Rapscallion
 
The Only Real Estel's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Far from the 'Downs, it seems :-(
Posts: 3,025
The Only Real Estel has just left Hobbiton.
Pipe

Quote:
Originally Posted by davem
The point is Christian readers of LotR keep coming back to the 'Christian' themes of LotR, & I think that behind that there is a desire to claim Tolkien & LotR as 'one of us', that there are things in the Legendarium which have a special significance to them alone, & that therefore an extra dimension is added to the work which is only accessible to them.

LotR is what it is. Your personal interpretation of it is something else. The two things are, & must be, different. I'm tired of various groups out there claiming the book & its author for their own. Whether Christians, pagans, racists, or accademic 'experts'.
I'm sure some readers do go at it from that point of view. I personally have never had an experience with a Christian Tolkien fan who tried to claim the books as works of Christianity or anything remotely like that, but that certainly doesn't mean that no one has ever done that. Most of the Christian Tolkien fans I know seem quite content to discuss 'possible connections' that they see without trying to attach too much to it.

But you're quite right that "every reader finds something which resonates with them." Therefore, a Christian reader might very well 'find' something that someone else would not. That doesn't mean that he's making it up or stretching for it, but neither does it mean that Tolkien specifically intended the connection or parallel or whatever you wish to call it.

Of course some people will put their opinion of what Tolkien intended forward as fact - but I don't think that 'Downers have had a whole lot of trouble with that on this particular topic (fortunately).

Quote:
Originally Posted by davem
The danger is that a reader who approaches the story as a 'Christian' story starts to 'fill in the gaps' & makes the story something it is not, makes it mean something it does not mean. Why is that a 'danger'? Because we then get the wholly erronious idea that LotR is a Christian allegory simply accepted without question by some readers. To me this is as unnacceptable as the idea that it is a racist work, or an allegory of WWII.
Very true. That is a real danger & a bit of a difficult thing to avoid because it's easy to slip into the "fill in the gaps" mode you mention. Again, I think this can be avoided if you take 'Rings' as 'Rings' - any parallels (of any kind) that might be discussed should be matters of opinion. Support those with what you can, but it's very difficult to actually say "I think Tolkien meant..."

Quote:
Originally Posted by davem
Finally, I've seen no evidence for this 'Christian' interpretation of LotR that stands up at all.
I typically just watch these discussions because I think Tolkien did a good job of not making any one thing possible to draw parallels to. As Hookbill said, there are some "Christ-like" characters, but none of them are indeed "Christ." The closest connection I see is indeed Morgoth=Satan, as Squatter brought up, in fact that might be the only one that I would argue much.

But it's still fun to discuss similarities of other characters to things in the Bible, just like it'd be fun for me to discuss similarities of the characters to any other thing I am familiar with.

Quote:
Originally Posted by davem
Plus, I enjoy the debate
Can't argue with that. The only thing is I don't want to commandeer a thread...it's difficult to tell whether this discussion is getting too far off the original topic or not. :/
The Only Real Estel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-29-2006, 02:23 PM   #84
davem
Illustrious Ulair
 
davem's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: In the home of lost causes, and forsaken beliefs, and unpopular names,and impossible loyalties
Posts: 4,256
davem is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.davem is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Of course, another danger in taking such a single minded approach to interpretation is that one misses or misinterprets events in the story which can't be explained from that angle of approach. How many readers pick up on the references to Northern myth & legend (for instance the way Bilbo passes Sting onto Frodo in his room in Rivendell by driving it into a wooden pillar is a direct 'echo' of an incident in the Volsungasaga). Such 'echoes' of Northern myth are far more significant & indisputable than the Christian ones - which are vague & general at best. I suspect they were also more important in Tolkien's mind as far as the actual storyline & events were concerned.

But all this is secondary. For the story to work it has to be self contained & not dependent on externals. The events must follow logically one from another, not simply be inserted to make a point, or illustrate a religious ideal. When they do this they are taken out of their original context & that context left behind. Tolkien may have chosen Dec 25th & Mar 25th for their Christian significance, but within the world of the story they actually take on a different significance & bear no relation to their original source. As soon as you see in Appendix B that the Fellowship set off on 'Christmas Day' you are in danger of finding yourself in another 'story' & out of Middle-earth. Tolkien disliked the Arthurian legends for their mixture of Christian & Pagan things. Here he was in danger of perpetrating the same mistake.

There have been numerous books & articles recently by Christians which focus exclusively on the Biblical themes & characters, & attempt to claim the story for the Church. The truth, however, is that Tolkien was inspired by many sources, & possibly least by the Bible in terms of actual events & individuals out of them. I note that he spent a great deal of effort in the Letters attempting to 'prove' the work's orthodoxy - many of his Christian correspondents challenged him on that point. Many of his replies show him pushing the boundaries of 'interpretation' of his work virtually to breaking point, seemingly inventing motives & background on the spot.
davem is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-29-2006, 02:25 PM   #85
Bęthberry
Cryptic Aura
 
Bęthberry's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 6,038
Bęthberry is a guest of Elrond in Rivendell.Bęthberry is a guest of Elrond in Rivendell.Bęthberry is a guest of Elrond in Rivendell.
Leaf

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Only Real Estel
Can't argue with that. The only thing is I don't want to commandeer a thread...it's difficult to tell whether this discussion is getting too far off the original topic or not. :/
Indeed. Christian Tolkien fans are not the only ones who ride hobby horses hard.
__________________
I’ll sing his roots off. I’ll sing a wind up and blow leaf and branch away.
Bęthberry is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-29-2006, 02:28 PM   #86
davem
Illustrious Ulair
 
davem's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: In the home of lost causes, and forsaken beliefs, and unpopular names,and impossible loyalties
Posts: 4,256
davem is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.davem is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bęthberry
Indeed. Christian Tolkien fans are not the only ones who ride hobby horses hard.
I wonder if this thread would have reached 86 posts & nearly a thousand viewings otherwise...

(I would also point fans of my 'equine tendencies' to my own Spun Candy thread & ask them to check out the number of posts & views there & ask them to recall the doldrums we were going through recently...)

Last edited by davem; 08-29-2006 at 02:53 PM.
davem is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-29-2006, 03:09 PM   #87
Bęthberry
Cryptic Aura
 
Bęthberry's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 6,038
Bęthberry is a guest of Elrond in Rivendell.Bęthberry is a guest of Elrond in Rivendell.Bęthberry is a guest of Elrond in Rivendell.
Quote:
Originally Posted by davem
I wonder if this thread would have reached 86 posts & nearly a thousand viewings otherwise...
It's amazing isn't it how quickly the delight in the critical pixies makes ambulance chasers of us Downers, eh?
__________________
I’ll sing his roots off. I’ll sing a wind up and blow leaf and branch away.
Bęthberry is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-29-2006, 03:52 PM   #88
The Only Real Estel
Raffish Rapscallion
 
The Only Real Estel's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Far from the 'Downs, it seems :-(
Posts: 3,025
The Only Real Estel has just left Hobbiton.
Pipe It all boils down to this...

Well I guess what it really comes down to then, davem, is that you are asserting that there are Christians out there who want to search Tolkien’s book for Christian-like themes so they can claim The Lord of the Rings “as their own” as you put it. I concede this. It is very likely that that isn’t just your perception of it, that there are actually those that are attempting that. It’s likely true because many circles of life are attempting to do that, as you’ve pointed out.

I am asserting that there is nothing that could even be considered remotely ‘wrong’ or out of place about discussing and debating possible parallels between Tolkien's great work and Christianity that fellow ‘Downers have discovered. As long as it is not trying to reduce it to a religious work (& it hasn’t been to this date) or have Tolkien’s motives dictated for him based solely on opinion then it’s simply individual readers discussing their individual interpretations.

Of course I’m not saying that interpretations should be offered and then shielded “because that’s just my interpretation of it and you can’t take that from me!”

They should still be debated...it’s just that it should be the interpretation, connection, or parallel that’s being debated and not a reader’s right to draw such.
The Only Real Estel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-29-2006, 05:14 PM   #89
Feanor of the Peredhil
La Belle Dame sans Merci
 
Feanor of the Peredhil's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: perpetual uncertainty
Posts: 5,956
Feanor of the Peredhil is a guest of Elrond in Rivendell.Feanor of the Peredhil is a guest of Elrond in Rivendell.Feanor of the Peredhil is a guest of Elrond in Rivendell.
Send a message via MSN to Feanor of the Peredhil
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Squatter of Amon Rűdh
If my free thought leads me to think that Gandalf was lifted from The Dukes of Hazzard, my knowledge that The Hobbit was out decades before the T.V. series ought to tell me that I'm wrong.
You know, I really want to expound upon this now. I'll resist the urge though... things to do and all that. But--

If your free thought allows you to make associations between Gandalf and Uncle Jesse, surely the activity will teach you more about both characters. Nobody's saying that your conclusions have to be right or wrong, but it's like comparing sunlight to shadow: to say that they are the same is logically dead wrong, but to search for similarities teaches tolerance and allows you to learn more about each by delving more deeply into them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by davem
I'm sure anyone could find anything they wanted in LotR - but that's not to say its actually in there.
I'm glad to see we have such a modest and brilliant expert on the matter of what meanings are allowed to be found within these texts. It would be such a sad waste of thought to be forced to seek out our own.

Quote:
Originally Posted by davem
The point is Christian readers of LotR keep coming back to the 'Christian' themes of LotR, & I think that behind that there is a desire to claim Tolkien & LotR as 'one of us', that there are things in the Legendarium which have a special significance to them alone, & that therefore an extra dimension is added to the work which is only accessible to them.
I notice that I am one of your more vocal opponents in this argument. Have you decided that I am a Christian trying to serve my own purpose?

Quote:
Originally Posted by davem
Plus, I enjoy the debate
You are certainly not the only one. There are few delights more delicious than to study what words a simple comment can draw from an opponent.
__________________
peace
Feanor of the Peredhil is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-30-2006, 01:12 AM   #90
Mansun
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Sting

Quote:
Originally Posted by davem
I'm sure anyone could find anything they wanted in LotR - but that's not to say its actually in there. Tolkien 'admits' to two specifically 'Christian' additions - the dates of the leaving of Rivendell (Dec 25th) & the Fall of Barad Dur (Mar 25th - the old date of Good Friday). However, a pagan could argue they are 'pagan' dates (Winter Solstice & Spring Equinox). For a general reader though they are merely the dates when the Fellowship left Rivendell & the date when the One went into the Fire & have no primary world connections.

The point is Christian readers of LotR keep coming back to the 'Christian' themes of LotR, & I think that behind that there is a desire to claim Tolkien & LotR as 'one of us', that there are things in the Legendarium which have a special significance to them alone, & that therefore an extra dimension is added to the work which is only accessible to them.

My point is that this is not (objectively) true. Each reader finds in the book something which resonates with them.

More importantly there are readers (Christians & others) who put forward their claims as 'facts' - they are not saying 'This character reminds me of Jesus' but 'This character is a Christ figure'.

If you read through my posts you will see I've repeatedly stated I have no problem with the individual reader's right to 'apply' characters & events in any way they wish. Where I do have a problem is when they state these 'applications' as facts about the story. As I said, this is to allegorise, to place the story in service of something else & thereby to denigrate it to an echo of something else. It is an argument about the nature of Art itself.

I can't see how applying Biblical figures & stories will deepen one's understanding of the story qua story, or of the individual's faith. What it will do, it seems to me, is blur the lines between the two & reduce both. But that's just me.

If you read LotR & think of Aragorn as a Christ figure you will risk missing the aspects of Aragorn's character which do not correspond to Christ. Same applies to Frodo or Gandalf or Elrond. They are not Christ figures (which Tolkien clearly stated). Morgoth's story (as Squatter mentioned earlier) may be close to the Biblical story of Satan, but Sauron's is not, hence the struggle between Aragorn & Sauron is not applicable to the struggle between Christ & Satan. The danger is that a reader who approaches the story as a 'Christian' story starts to 'fill in the gaps' & makes the story something it is not, makes it mean something it does not mean. Why is that a 'danger'? Because we then get the wholly erronious idea that LotR is a Christian allegory simply accepted without question by some readers. To me this is as unnacceptable as the idea that it is a racist work, or an allegory of WWII.

LotR is what it is. Your personal interpretation of it is something else. The two things are, & must be, different. I'm tired of various groups out there claiming the book & its author for their own. Whether Christians, pagans, racists, or accademic 'experts'.

Finally, I've seen no evidence for this 'Christian' interpretation of LotR that stands up at all.

Plus, I enjoy the debate (it will be noticed by some posters on this thread that the rep I have handed out in this debate has all been to those who have opposed me with good arguments...)

The point of the thread was really to stimulate discussion by comparing & contrasting two great & inspirational texts, drawing parallels where possible in order to understand characters in the LOTR better. Maybe I used the word ''steal'' to such an effect that it decieved you. I was never attempting to say that Tolkein used the Bible as his main purpose for the LOTR, but that there are similarities that can be made between them, even if Tolkein himself didn't intend for that to be the case.

There are other examples of this which spring to mind, for instance I found a lot of connections between The Speckled Band & An Inspector Calls, but who can prove that one author used the work of the other?. One could easily have compared those stories with the LOTR (although that may seem daunting at first), though they are not the subject of discussion here.

Last edited by Mansun; 08-30-2006 at 01:16 AM.
  Reply With Quote
Old 08-30-2006, 06:01 AM   #91
davem
Illustrious Ulair
 
davem's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: In the home of lost causes, and forsaken beliefs, and unpopular names,and impossible loyalties
Posts: 4,256
davem is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.davem is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Sounds fine but I notice no-one's actually come up with any direct correspondences that work. All the suggestions so far (Elrond or Gandalf or Frodo is a 'Christ figure' all seem to have been rejected. Morgoth's story is a 'bit like' the story of Satan, etc).

The general feeling seems to be that some people are vaguely reminded of Biblical figures/stories.

Where are the specifics?
davem is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-30-2006, 07:20 AM   #92
Feanor of the Peredhil
La Belle Dame sans Merci
 
Feanor of the Peredhil's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: perpetual uncertainty
Posts: 5,956
Feanor of the Peredhil is a guest of Elrond in Rivendell.Feanor of the Peredhil is a guest of Elrond in Rivendell.Feanor of the Peredhil is a guest of Elrond in Rivendell.
Send a message via MSN to Feanor of the Peredhil
Quote:
Originally Posted by davem
Where are the specifics?
Thus far it's been fun simply to antagonize you. The specifics will come when I have free time to think about it. As for anybody else's specifics... you'll have to wait for their responses.
__________________
peace
Feanor of the Peredhil is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-30-2006, 08:17 AM   #93
davem
Illustrious Ulair
 
davem's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: In the home of lost causes, and forsaken beliefs, and unpopular names,and impossible loyalties
Posts: 4,256
davem is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.davem is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Feanor of the Peredhil
Thus far it's been fun simply to antagonize you. The specifics will come when I have free time to think about it. As for anybody else's specifics... you'll have to wait for their responses.
So in other words you have abolutely nothing to back up your position as yet? It seems that the 'pro-Christian interpretation' lobby are demanding the right to do something they cannot actually do. Bit like demanding the right to turn lead into gold or fly to the moon on a bicycle....
davem is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-30-2006, 08:39 AM   #94
Feanor of the Peredhil
La Belle Dame sans Merci
 
Feanor of the Peredhil's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: perpetual uncertainty
Posts: 5,956
Feanor of the Peredhil is a guest of Elrond in Rivendell.Feanor of the Peredhil is a guest of Elrond in Rivendell.Feanor of the Peredhil is a guest of Elrond in Rivendell.
Send a message via MSN to Feanor of the Peredhil
Quote:
Originally Posted by davem
Bit like demanding the right to turn lead into gold or fly to the moon on a bicycle....
If it's possible, should it be forbidden to ride your bike to the moon? Surely not. If it's impossible, why are the con-lobbyists at all worried?
__________________
peace
Feanor of the Peredhil is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-30-2006, 09:04 AM   #95
davem
Illustrious Ulair
 
davem's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: In the home of lost causes, and forsaken beliefs, and unpopular names,and impossible loyalties
Posts: 4,256
davem is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.davem is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Feanor of the Peredhil
If it's possible, should it be forbidden to ride your bike to the moon? Surely not. If it's impossible, why are the con-lobbyists at all worried?
Who's worried? After all your demands to be allowed to do it we just want to see what kind of job you make of it.

You seem to spend a great deal of time demanding to be allowed to do it & not actually doing very much is all...
davem is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-30-2006, 04:57 PM   #96
The Mouth of Sauron
Wight
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Barad-Dur
Posts: 190
The Mouth of Sauron has just left Hobbiton.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mansun
Does anyone think Tolkien effectively stole many of his ideas from the Bible? Examples are the Balrog - Satan; Saruman/Grima - Judas; Gandalf the White resurrection; Elrond - Jesus?


No .
The Mouth of Sauron is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-30-2006, 06:34 PM   #97
Mansun
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
1420!

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Mouth of Sauron
No .

Your contribution was been well established. I look forward to handing you the title for winner of ''The Post of the Barrow Downs Award''.
  Reply With Quote
Old 08-30-2006, 08:02 PM   #98
mark12_30
Stormdancer of Doom
 
mark12_30's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Elvish singing is not a thing to miss, in June under the stars
Posts: 4,396
mark12_30 has been trapped in the Barrow!
Send a message via AIM to mark12_30 Send a message via Yahoo to mark12_30
Quote:
Originally Posted by davem
So in other words you have abolutely nothing to back up your position as yet? It seems that the 'pro-Christian interpretation' lobby are demanding the right to do something they cannot actually do. Bit like demanding the right to turn lead into gold or fly to the moon on a bicycle....
Maybe reminiscing about what's been done in depth elsewhere.
__________________
...down to the water to see the elves dance and sing upon the midsummer's eve.

Last edited by mark12_30; 08-30-2006 at 08:11 PM.
mark12_30 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-30-2006, 08:45 PM   #99
Raynor
Eagle of the Star
 
Raynor's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Sarmisegethuza
Posts: 1,058
Raynor has just left Hobbiton.
Quote:
Originally Posted by davem
Sounds fine but I notice no-one's actually come up with any direct correspondences that work. All the suggestions so far (Elrond or Gandalf or Frodo is a 'Christ figure' all seem to have been rejected. Morgoth's story is a 'bit like' the story of Satan, etc).

The general feeling seems to be that some people are vaguely reminded of Biblical figures/stories.

Where are the specifics?
He admitted to Galadriel being linked, to a certain degree, to Mary:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Letter #320
I was particularly interested in your remarks about Galadriel. .... I think it is true that I owe much of this character to Christian and Catholic teaching and imagination about Mary, but actually Galadriel was a penitent: in her youth a leader in the rebellion against the Valar (the angelic guardians).
Earendil is linked more than etymologicaly to the concept of divine messenger:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Notion Club Papers, HoME IX
Its earliest recorded A-S form is earendil (oer-), later earendel, eorendel. Mostly in glosses on jubar = leoma; also on aurora. But also in Blickling Homilies, se niwa eorendel applied to St John the Baptist; and most notably Crist, eala! earendel engla beorhtast ofer middangeard monnum sended. Often supposed to refer to Christ (or Mary), but comparison with Blickling Homilies suggests that it refers to the Baptist. The lines refer to a herald, and divine messenger, clearly not the sodfaesta sunnan leoma = Christ.
He calls Elendil "a Noachian figure" - and I think that the comparison is rather accurate, seeing that he saved the remnants of an entire culture from deluge. As far as the story of Melkor being "a bit" like that of his Bible counterpart, he did call his rebellion as satanic, and commented on Melkor being "the inevitable Rebel and self-worshipper of mythologies that begin with a transcendent unique Creator", or more directly,"the Diabolos of these tales".

All in all, I don't think he disliked the presence (and the detection) of christian elements in his works; he stated that "I am a Christian (which can be deduced from my stories)" and he called LotR a "fundamentally religious and Catholic work".
Raynor is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-31-2006, 02:07 AM   #100
Lalwendë
A Mere Boggart
 
Lalwendë's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: under the bed
Posts: 4,804
Lalwendë is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Lalwendë is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Raynor

All in all, I don't think he disliked the presence (and the detection) of christian elements in his works; he stated that "I am a Christian (which can be deduced from my stories)" and he called LotR a "fundamentally religious and Catholic work".
Full quote goes thus:

Quote:
The Lord of the Rings is of course a fundamentally religious and Catholic work; unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision. That is why I have not put in, or have cut out, practically all references to anything like ‘religion’, to cults or practices, in the imaginary world. For the religious element is absorbed into the story and the symbolism.
So many people just include that first clause in discussions, but taken that way it loses its meaning. As Tolkien says above - he made the effort to cut out religious elements, leaving in only the most fundamental elements. The story itself - the battle of little people against big baddies - is the Christian element.

He was probably quite pleased when people wrote him letters saying "Oooh, such and such is like x biblical character", what with being Catholic and all. So no, he didn't dislike this. But the knots he ended up tying himself into over Galadriel at a later stage proved that some things, such as trying to 'build in' Mary Myth to his story weren't working; that whole struggle could even be why he never got round to finishing the Silmarillion, which began as a very pagan work, but which grew more and more thorny as he tried to 'Christianise' it.
__________________
Gordon's alive!
Lalwendë is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-31-2006, 02:44 AM   #101
davem
Illustrious Ulair
 
davem's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: In the home of lost causes, and forsaken beliefs, and unpopular names,and impossible loyalties
Posts: 4,256
davem is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.davem is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
My own feeling is that once the 'Christian' elements have been absorbed into the story (assuming of course the 'absorption' is successful ) they lose any specific Christian aspect & become a part of the Secondary world. Hence, they are no longer 'Christian'. To the extent that they are still identifiably Christian they have not been properly absorbed & the Secondary world is not truly self contained.
davem is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-31-2006, 03:33 AM   #102
Raynor
Eagle of the Star
 
Raynor's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Sarmisegethuza
Posts: 1,058
Raynor has just left Hobbiton.
Quote:
The story itself - the battle of little people against big baddies - is the Christian element.
Then again, what moves the battle to its happy ending is the Christian pitty, the one who saves Frodo and the world.
Quote:
But the knots he ended up tying himself into over Galadriel at a later stage proved that some things, such as trying to 'build in' Mary Myth to his story weren't working; that whole struggle could even be why he never got round to finishing the Silmarillion, which began as a very pagan work, but which grew more and more thorny as he tried to 'Christianise' it.
I am not sure, to what problems of Galadriel are you reffering to? If you mean whether her staying in ME in the Third Age is self-choice or a valar ban, then this isn't related to our issue. As for the later part of your statement, I agree; what started initially subconsiously as Christian, he would later emboss in his work even more evidently, should he had had the time.
Quote:
Originally Posted by davem
My own feeling is that once the 'Christian' elements have been absorbed into the story (assuming of course the 'absorption' is successful ) they lose any specific Christian aspect & become a part of the Secondary world. Hence, they are no longer 'Christian'. To the extent that they are still identifiably Christian they have not been properly absorbed & the Secondary world is not truly self contained.
We need to consider the fact that Tolkien tried _really_ hard to make his creation like our world. I mean, he try so hard that he almost destroyed his creation. This is true either concerning the phisical level:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Myths Trasnformed, HoME X
It is at any rate clear, for he stated it unambiguously enough, that he had come to believe that the art of the 'Sub-creator' cannot, or should not attempt to, extend to the 'mythical' revelation of a conception of the shape of the Earth and the origin of the lights of heaven that runs counter to the known physical truths of his own days: 'You cannot do this any more'. And this opinion is rendered more complex and difficult of discussion by the rise in importance of the Eldarin 'loremasters' of Aman, whose intellectual attainments and knowledge must preclude any idea that a 'false' astronomy could have prevailed among them. It seems to me that he was devising – from within it – a fearful weapon against his own creation.
The "real" creation, at least to Tolkien, is religious, religious as in Christian. I doubt he would try to depict something which is bereft of what he thinks is the central part, i.e. the christian part of it - or to depict it in such a way that it was unrecognisable. To emphasize my point, I also reffer to perhaps the most famous qoute of Humphrey's biography:
Quote:
Originally Posted by "He had been inside his language", Part Four, JRRT A biography
We have come from God (continued Tolkien), and inevitably the myths woven by us, though they contain error, will also reflect a splintered fragment of the true light, the eternal truth that is with God. Indeed only by myth-making, only by becoming a ‘sub-creator’ and inventing stories, can Man aspire to the state of perfection that he knew before the Fall. Our myths may be misguided, but they steer however shakily towards the true harbour, while materialistic ‘progress’ leads only to a yawning abyss and the Iron Crown of the power of evil.
His work evolved around mythmaking - which point to Truth. There is no doubt to my mind that he had but the deepest of respect for other religions, but the Truth, to him, is the one writen in the Gospels - the one he tried to convey, in his on way. After all, he did call the Gospels the greatest fairy story of them all...
Raynor is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-31-2006, 04:22 AM   #103
davem
Illustrious Ulair
 
davem's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: In the home of lost causes, and forsaken beliefs, and unpopular names,and impossible loyalties
Posts: 4,256
davem is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.davem is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
This is all a bit vague, though, & hardly specifically Christian. Pity, mercy, compassion are all essential to Buddhism, for instance. What is often cited as 'Christian' themes in these arguments are actually much more universal. Tolkien certainly found them in Christianity, but he could equally well have found them in other faiths. I think a Jew or a Muslim could equally well have written LotR, or a Buddhist or Hindu or Sikh. I'm also pretty sure that any readers of LotR who followed those faiths would have no issues with the philosophical underpinnings of the work or feel they were at all strange.

The specifics of Christianity (Incarnation, Sacrifice of God for the salvation of the World, Resurrection, etc) are absent from the story.
davem is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-31-2006, 04:40 AM   #104
Lalwendë
A Mere Boggart
 
Lalwendë's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: under the bed
Posts: 4,804
Lalwendë is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Lalwendë is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Raynor
I am not sure, to what problems of Galadriel are you reffering to? If you mean whether her staying in ME in the Third Age is self-choice or a valar ban, then this isn't related to our issue. As for the later part of your statement, I agree; what started initially subconsiously as Christian, he would later emboss in his work even more evidently, should he had had the time.
The problems over her motivation, over why she chose to do what she did. Tolkien's tinkerings with her in letters and later notes, adding elements of the Mary myth to her persona only serve to make her seem flat and one-dimensional, and deeply un-womanly, as though she is reduced to a mere cipher or symbol than a real character. Yet if we simply take the Galadriel we see in LotR she becomes a much more fascinating character, imbued with power and a desire for power. She has failings. What's more she has a more fascinating back story, with Celebrimbor's love for her, the idea of her rebellion etc.

It's not only Galadriel who got him into knots though, it was the Orcs too. He later agonised over whether it was 'moral' to have slaughtered so many Orcs. And he seems to have become alarmed when people saw the huge amount of pagan symbolism in the work (inevitable to me, that a Catholic writer's work would come across in such a way when deliberately avoiding religious allegory, considering that Christianity was built on the foundations of paganism); as a result he used his letters to explore the Christian side of the work and often muddled issues which were established in the secondary world he had created.

Tolkien was the God of Arda, he was the only one who could create it and give it life, and that is what he did. With the letters, it's as though on the 8th day he opened the door and let some other God from another part of the void in, and we know what they say about too many cooks.
__________________
Gordon's alive!
Lalwendë is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-31-2006, 05:11 AM   #105
Raynor
Eagle of the Star
 
Raynor's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Sarmisegethuza
Posts: 1,058
Raynor has just left Hobbiton.
Quote:
Tolkien's tinkerings with her in letters and later notes, adding elements of the Mary myth to her persona only serve to make her seem flat and one-dimensional, and deeply un-womanly, as though she is reduced to a mere cipher or symbol than a real character.
Considering her deeds in the first age, no amount of later "tinkering" would make her one-dimensional (to me).
Quote:
Tolkien was the God of Arda, he was the only one who could create it and give it life, and that is what he did. With the letters, it's as though on the 8th day he opened the door and let some other God from another part of the void in, and we know what they say about too many cooks.
Well, I am sure the professor would preffer the term sub-creator. In the On fairy-stories essay, he states that a work is believable and can produce "willful suspension of disbelief", or more accurately, secondary belief, only if it achieves inner-coherence, which is what he tried to do all the time with his work. If you are saying that what he did was the opposite, i.e. destroying an existing coherence between the form and essence of his work, I will have to politely disagree.
Quote:
This is all a bit vague, though, & hardly specifically Christian. Pity, mercy, compassion are all essential to Buddhism, for instance. What is often cited as 'Christian' themes in these arguments are actually much more universal. Tolkien certainly found them in Christianity, but he could equally well have found them in other faiths. I think a Jew or a Muslim could equally well have written LotR, or a Buddhist or Hindu or Sikh. I'm also pretty sure that any readers of LotR who followed those faiths would have no issues with the philosophical underpinnings of the work or feel they were at all strange.
If what you imply is that if you want to make a christian/catholic work you must use only elements that are specific to this religion, then I disagree
Quote:
The specifics of Christianity (Incarnation, Sacrifice of God for the salvation of the World, Resurrection, etc) are absent from the story.
Having those in the original form would have been as much as an allegory as you can possibly have. Of course, I could point out to the presence of the Gods who are Incarnate and whose eyes are not dimmed and whose hearts are not hardened; or to the foretold coming of Beren who descends into hell and brings out the light; to the sending of the imperishable flame at the heart of the world, making its foundations good and healing creation from inside; or to the second coming of Turin, who will slay Morgoth; or to the foretold coming of Eru himself, to heal all Creation.
Raynor is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-31-2006, 05:21 AM   #106
davem
Illustrious Ulair
 
davem's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: In the home of lost causes, and forsaken beliefs, and unpopular names,and impossible loyalties
Posts: 4,256
davem is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.davem is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Raynor
. Of course, I could point out to the presence of the Gods who are Incarnate and whose eyes are not dimmed and whose hearts are not hardened; or to the foretold coming of Beren who descends into hell and brings out the light; to the sending of the imperishable flame at the heart of the world, making its foundations good and healing creation from inside; or to the second coming of Turin, who will slay Morgoth; or to the foretold coming of Eru himself, to heal all Creation.
As to Beren we have Orpheus/Orpheo, Innanna, Gilgamesh & others. Turin is hardly a 'Christ figure' (incest, murder, suicide). As to the Incarnation of Eru in Hinduism we have Krishna as the incarnation of Vishnu the Creator.

As far as the Flame Imperishable which enters into the Heart of the World, I don't at all see any similarity with Christian belief - unless you're referring to the fires of Hell....
davem is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-31-2006, 05:31 AM   #107
mark12_30
Stormdancer of Doom
 
mark12_30's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Elvish singing is not a thing to miss, in June under the stars
Posts: 4,396
mark12_30 has been trapped in the Barrow!
Send a message via AIM to mark12_30 Send a message via Yahoo to mark12_30
Quote:
Originally Posted by davem
This is all a bit vague, though, & hardly specifically Christian. Pity, mercy, compassion are all essential to Buddhism, for instance. What is often cited as 'Christian' themes in these arguments are actually much more universal. Tolkien certainly found them in Christianity, but he could equally well have found them in other faiths. I think a Jew or a Muslim could equally well have written LotR, or a Buddhist or Hindu or Sikh. I'm also pretty sure that any readers of LotR who followed those faiths would have no issues with the philosophical underpinnings of the work or feel they were at all strange.
He could-- if he was from another faith. But he was, as we know, a devout and focused Catholic; so why bring the other faith systems up at all?

The question at the beginning of the thread was whether Tolkien took material from the bible, not whether he took it from the Upanishads, the Koran, or any other text.

Quote:
The specifics of Christianity (Incarnation, Sacrifice of God for the salvation of the World, Resurrection, etc) are absent from the story.
Of course they are absent from the war of the Ring; Tolkien said they were, and also he said why.

They showed up in his writings much later, in Athrabeth an Andreth.

Quote:
Originally Posted by davem
As far as the Flame Imperishable which enters into the Heart of the World, I don't at all see any similarity with Christian belief - unless you're referring to the fires of Hell....
Denying connections between two works assumes you are familiar enough with both works to make the denial. Here, then, lies your greatest weakness in this whole argument-- ignorance of the main themes of Christianity. If you cannot see the Flame Imperishable within Christian theology and biblical exegesis-- even the simple phrase by itself, let alone the way Gandalf uses that simple phrase on the bridge!-- then your opinion that there are no connections loses its weight within this context.
__________________
...down to the water to see the elves dance and sing upon the midsummer's eve.

Last edited by mark12_30; 08-31-2006 at 06:04 AM.
mark12_30 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-31-2006, 06:09 AM   #108
mark12_30
Stormdancer of Doom
 
mark12_30's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Elvish singing is not a thing to miss, in June under the stars
Posts: 4,396
mark12_30 has been trapped in the Barrow!
Send a message via AIM to mark12_30 Send a message via Yahoo to mark12_30
You know, I'm cheered to see some of you making new discoveries and new associations; please don't let us old, wheezing geezers discourage you from setting out on your explorations.

I'm off to work shortly, and there alas I have no Barrow Downs access. But I'll toss this out for discussion among the newer set.

Picture Gandalf's last stand on the Bridge of Khazad Dum.

Think over the phrase, "Flame Imperishable."

Now-- free-association time; without fretting about reactions and other's opinions... biblically, what comes to mind?
__________________
...down to the water to see the elves dance and sing upon the midsummer's eve.
mark12_30 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-31-2006, 06:14 AM   #109
Raynor
Eagle of the Star
 
Raynor's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Sarmisegethuza
Posts: 1,058
Raynor has just left Hobbiton.
Quote:
Originally Posted by davem
As to Beren we have Orpheus/Orpheo, Innanna, Gilgamesh & others. Turin is hardly a 'Christ figure' (incest, murder, suicide). As to the Incarnation of Eru in Hinduism we have Krishna as the incarnation of Vishnu the Creator.

As far as the Flame Imperishable which enters into the Heart of the World, I don't at all see any similarity with Christian belief - unless you're referring to the fires of Hell....
Again, it seems to me that the main difference between us is that for you a Christian work is one in which there are refferences to only what is absolutely unique in Christianity - if the work would evolve solely around that, it would be rather barren. [Btw, IIRC, in hinduism, it is Brahma who is the creative aspect of God, not Vishnu]
Raynor is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-31-2006, 06:26 AM   #110
davem
Illustrious Ulair
 
davem's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: In the home of lost causes, and forsaken beliefs, and unpopular names,and impossible loyalties
Posts: 4,256
davem is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.davem is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Quote:
Originally Posted by mark12_30

They showed up in his writings much later, in Athrabeth an Andreth.

A great deal shows up in the later writings - much of it, if included in the Legendarium would cause major problems. Even if accepted we are only dealing there with an Elvish belief, not a fact.



Denying connections between two works assumes you are familiar enough with both works to make the denial. Here, then, lies your greatest weakness in this whole argument-- ignorance of the main themes of Christianity. If you cannot see the connection for the Flame Imperishable within Christian theology and biblical exegesis, then your opinion that there are no connections loses all its weight within this context.
A belief in 'Sacred' fire at the heart of the earth is hardly original to Christianity. The whole point, which I made earlier, is that once an element is successfully absorbed into a Secondary World it becomes part of that world. The things Tolkien 'absorbed' into M-e are Religious universals, rather than specifics. If one didn't know he was Christian & had only the works I don't think - much as he might have hoped - anyone would be able to tell what religion, if any, he followed.

Hence, it is not a 'Christian' work.

Last edited by davem; 08-31-2006 at 07:50 AM.
davem is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-31-2006, 06:29 AM   #111
The Squatter of Amon Rűdh
Spectre of Decay
 
The Squatter of Amon Rűdh's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Bar-en-Danwedh
Posts: 2,188
The Squatter of Amon Rűdh is a guest at the Prancing Pony.The Squatter of Amon Rűdh is a guest at the Prancing Pony.
Send a message via AIM to The Squatter of Amon Rűdh
Pipe Flame imperishable?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark12-30
biblically, what comes to mind?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Judges I, 12
And Caleb said: He that shall take Cariath-Sepher, and lay it waste, to him will I give my daughter Axa to wife.
Perfect match.
__________________
Man kenuva métim' andúne?

Last edited by The Squatter of Amon Rűdh; 08-31-2006 at 11:38 AM. Reason: Can't leave the wrong name on that quote
The Squatter of Amon Rűdh is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-31-2006, 06:33 AM   #112
Lalwendë
A Mere Boggart
 
Lalwendë's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: under the bed
Posts: 4,804
Lalwendë is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Lalwendë is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Raynor
Again, it seems to me that the main difference between us is that for you a Christian work is one in which there are refferences to only what is absolutely unique in Christianity - if the work would evolve solely around that, it would be rather barren. [Btw, IIRC, in hinduism, it is Brahma who is the creative aspect of God, not Vishnu]
If the work contains equally strong elements of other faiths/beliefs (as it does, if anyone wishes to get into some alternative reader-resonse research) then can we still call it a Christian work? Shouldn't we really be calling it an Ecumenical or Universal work?

The fact still remains that the books do not contain that one major (in fact, pretty damn fundamental) aspect of Christianity. Christ.

Hmm, I wonder has anyone considered that perhaps Tolkien, as a devout Catholic, recognised that the Bible, as the Word of God, was the only definitive Christian text. Why would he have sought to demean the real Bible by attempting to create his own version? Wouldn't that be blasphemous?
__________________
Gordon's alive!
Lalwendë is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-31-2006, 07:16 AM   #113
Bęthberry
Cryptic Aura
 
Bęthberry's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 6,038
Bęthberry is a guest of Elrond in Rivendell.Bęthberry is a guest of Elrond in Rivendell.Bęthberry is a guest of Elrond in Rivendell.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lalwendë
Hmm, I wonder has anyone considered that perhaps Tolkien, as a devout Catholic, recognised that the Bible, as the Word of God, was the only definitive Christian text. Why would he have sought to demean the real Bible by attempting to create his own version? Wouldn't that be blasphemous?
Tolkien mentioned this aspect in one of his letters. Unfortunately, I don't have them at hand right now.

Rather than using the word blasphemous, he chose the word parody, which he wanted to avoid. When I can find the letter, I'll edit this post with the proper BD reference.
__________________
I’ll sing his roots off. I’ll sing a wind up and blow leaf and branch away.
Bęthberry is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-31-2006, 07:41 AM   #114
Raynor
Eagle of the Star
 
Raynor's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Sarmisegethuza
Posts: 1,058
Raynor has just left Hobbiton.
Quote:
As far as the Flame Imperishable which enters into the Heart of the World, I don't at all see any similarity with Christian belief - unless you're referring to the fires of Hell....
What about the fire form that God assumed before Moses? Or the fire with which Jesus baptises and cleans? The pillar of fire which God assumed as a form, to lead Moses' people? The Holy Spirit as Holy Fire?
Quote:
If the work contains equally strong elements of other faiths/beliefs (as it does, if anyone wishes to get into some alternative reader-resonse research) then can we still call it a Christian work? Shouldn't we really be calling it an Ecumenical or Universal work?
Take some Christian prayer or text that doesn't use terms which are _uniquely_ Christian. Does that make it less Christian to Christians, even if its terms & values have a universal ring to it? In general, even if one doesn't know these specifics, one can't exclude it can be christian; but if one does know them, why hold on to a hypothetical ignorance of them?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bęthberry
Tolkien mentioned this aspect in one of his letters. Unfortunately, I don't have them at hand right now.

Rather than using the word blasphemous, he chose the word parody, which he wanted to avoid. When I can find the letter, I'll edit this post with the proper BD reference.
Well, as I pointed previously, he called the Gospels the greatest fairy story (letter #89) - nonetheless, he did maintain that myth-making in fairy stories is a path to the Truth, which is quite the opposite of blasphemy
Raynor is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-31-2006, 07:59 AM   #115
davem
Illustrious Ulair
 
davem's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: In the home of lost causes, and forsaken beliefs, and unpopular names,and impossible loyalties
Posts: 4,256
davem is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.davem is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Raynor
What about the fire form that God assumed before Moses? Or the fire with which Jesus baptises and cleans? The pillar of fire which God assumed as a form, to lead Moses' people? The Holy Spirit as Holy Fire?
What about Surtr, Hephaestos & Brigid, what about Agni. What about Wayland Smith. Fire has long been a symbol of the Divine.

It doesn't matter where Tolkien found the elements he used, what matters is what he did with them. Their final form is not a Christian form. The specifically Christian corners have been knocked off & those elements have been given a non-Christian form. Arguing that LotR is a 'Christian' story, or one with Christian elements is rather like arguing that the book you hold in your hands is a tree because it was made from wood pulp.
davem is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-31-2006, 07:59 AM   #116
Lalwendë
A Mere Boggart
 
Lalwendë's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: under the bed
Posts: 4,804
Lalwendë is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Lalwendë is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Raynor
Take some Christian prayer or text that doesn't use terms which are _uniquely_ Christian. Does that make it less Christian to Christians, even if its terms & values have a universal ring to it? In general, even if one doesn't know these specifics, one can't exclude it can be christian; but if one does know them, why hold on to a hypothetical ignorance of them?
That would be a very different thing, as Christian prayers are written for Christians, so even if they do take up universal ideas then they are necessarily framing them within the specifically Christian context. As I've said many posts ago, perhaps the longest spin we can put on Tolkien's work in terms of 'promoting' ideas of Christianity is that it is a book by a Christian and definitely a book suitable for Christians (in that it is sympathetic to the tenets of the faith) but it cannot be ring-fenced as a Christian book, as it simply was not written with that purpose in mind.


Quote:
Well, as I pointed previously, he called the Gospels the greatest fairy story (letter #89) - nonetheless, he did maintain that myth-making in fairy stories is a path to the Truth, which is quite the opposite of blasphemy
Quote:
Originally Posted by Raynor
What about the fire form that God assumed before Moses? Or the fire with which Jesus baptises and cleans? The pillar of fire which God assumed as a form, to lead Moses' people? The Holy Spirit as Holy Fire?
Quote:
'You cannot pass,' he said. The orcs stood still, and a dead silence fell. 'I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the flame of Anor. You cannot pass. The dark fire will not avail you, flame of Udun. Go back to the Shadow! You cannot pass.'
Note that Anor is The Sun. Someone wielding the flames of the Sun? The power of Light given by the Sun? Using it to chase away Darkness? That is an incredibly powerful Pagan image.
__________________
Gordon's alive!
Lalwendë is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-31-2006, 08:12 AM   #117
Macalaure
Fading Fëanorion
 
Macalaure's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: roaming the forests of Nan Elmoth unmindfully
Posts: 2,749
Macalaure is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Macalaure is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Quote:
Originally Posted by davem
The whole point, which I made earlier, is that once an element is successfully absorbed into a Secondary World it becomes part of that world. The things Tolkien 'absorbed' into M-e are rather Religious universals, rather than specifics. If one didn't know he was Christian & had only the works I don't think - much as he might have hoped - anyone would be able to tell what religion, if any, he followed.

Hence, it is not a 'Christian' work.
Which has me thinking, what is a 'Christian' work?

If it is only something which contains christian specifics, in the plot, the characters or the symbolism, then Tolkien's works are not christian.

If it is something which contains christian themes and christian ethics, without solely consisting of them, then they are.
But since most works contain the ethics of their authors, and Tolkien's ethics were deeply influenced by christianity, this is not much of a surprise.

Is it a work which has a christian message?
This is a little difficult, since Tolkien's work does not have a specified message and everything depends on the individual application.
Can you apply Tolkien in a christian way? - obviously you can.
Can you apply Tolkien in a way that is not christian? - obviously you can.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Raynor
Having those in the original form would have been as much as an allegory as you can possibly have. Of course, I could point out to the presence of the Gods who are Incarnate and whose eyes are not dimmed and whose hearts are not hardened; or to the foretold coming of Beren who descends into hell and brings out the light; to the sending of the imperishable flame at the heart of the world, making its foundations good and healing creation from inside; or to the second coming of Turin, who will slay Morgoth; or to the foretold coming of Eru himself, to heal all Creation.
Raynor, please elaborate. This is what the thread was about - in the first place.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Raynor
What about the fire form that God assumed before Moses? Or the fire with which Jesus baptises and cleans? The pillar of fire which God assumed as a form, to lead Moses' people? The Holy Spirit as Holy Fire?
I always understood the Imperishable Flame as the source of the indepentent life, contrary to the lives of animals, the source of the fëar of elves, men and dwarves, making their fëar imperishable in Arda. Gandalf refers to it when he calls himself a servant of the secret fire and I see it as a symbol for Eru in this place, whom he serves via serving the Valar.
I cannot see a resemblance to this in your examples.
__________________
D'ici bas je perçois ma demeure, ses prairies éternelles perdues dans les nuées.
Lŕ oů naissent les couleurs nouvelles,
Lŕ oů mon coeur et mon âme sont restés.
Macalaure is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-31-2006, 08:13 AM   #118
davem
Illustrious Ulair
 
davem's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: In the home of lost causes, and forsaken beliefs, and unpopular names,and impossible loyalties
Posts: 4,256
davem is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.davem is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lalwendë
Note that Anor is The Sun. Someone wielding the flames of the Sun? The power of Light given by the Sun? Using it to chase away Darkness? That is an incredibly powerful Pagan image.
A little Norse myth:

Quote:
The world will be in uproar, the air will quake with booms, blares and echoes. Amid this turmoil, the fire giants of Muspelheim, led by Surtr, will advance from the south and tear apart the sky itself as they too, close in on Vigrid. Surtr will brandish a fierce fire sword, the Sword of Revenge, that consumes everything in his path with flames. As Surtr and the others ride over Bifröst, the rainbow bridge will crack and break behind them. Garm, the hellhound bound in front of Gnipahellir, will also get free. He will join the fire giants on their march.

So all the Jotuns and all the inmates of Hel, Fenrir, Jörmungandr, Garm, Surtr and the blazing sons of Muspelheim, will gather on Vigrid. They will all but fill that plain that stretches one hundred and twenty leagues in every direction.

Meanwhile, Heimdall, being the first of the gods to see the enemies approaching, will blow his Giallar horn, sounding such a blast that it will be heard throughout the nine worlds. All the Gods will wake and at once meet in council. Odin will then mount Sleipnir and gallop to Mímir's spring and consult Mímir on his own and his people's behalf.

Then, Yggdrasil, the world tree, will shake from root to summit. Everything on the earth, in the heavens, and Hel will quiver. All Ćsir and Einherjar will don their battle dresses. This vast host (432,000 Einherjar - 800 from each of Valhalla's 540 gates) will march towards Vigrid and Odin will ride at their head, wearing a golden helmet and a shining corselet, brandishing Gungnir.
I think we can see the Balrog on the Bridge of Khazad Dum, Boromir blowing his horn & Odin in his 'sun-god' aspect here (wearing a golden helmet & shining corslet...
davem is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-31-2006, 09:13 AM   #119
The Saucepan Man
Corpus Cacophonous
 
The Saucepan Man's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: A green and pleasant land
Posts: 8,467
The Saucepan Man has been trapped in the Barrow!
Silmaril Here we go again ... :/

Well, this all just goes to prove the primacy of the individual reader as the determinant of a book’s meaning.

Davem said earlier:

Quote:
LotR is what it is. Your personal interpretation of it is something else. The two things are, & must be, different.
True, as far as it goes. But what is LotR, taken in a vacuum as it were, without the individual’s reaction to it? It is simply a collection of pages with words printed upon them. Those words can mean nothing without a reader to read them.

Of course, you might say that they mean what the author intended them to mean. But that only holds true as far as the author is concerned, together with those who are aware of such intended meaning (to the extent that it can be determined) and inclined to accept it. That again comes down to individual choice and individual reaction.

Ultimately, therefore, it all comes down to personal reaction.

Many here are arguing that LotR is a fundamentally religious and Catholic work. Others are arguing that it is nothing of the sort, because it does not contain specific Christian symbolism. Well, in my view, both camps are right and both camps are wrong.

For those who perceive LotR as a fundamentally religious and Catholic book, then it is just that - for them. But it is neither fundamentally religious nor fundamentally Catholic to others. It depends upon your individual perspective, which informs and shapes your individual reaction.

For those who insist that it cannot be a fundamentally religious and Catholic book, well you are right to suggest that it cannot be fundamentally religious or Catholic to those who do not perceive it as such, but you are wrong to deny the reaction of those who do perceive it in that way.

Of course, there will be areas where our individual reactions overlap, where some of us can reach some measure of agreement as to the “meaning” of LotR, but that does not mean that such “meaning” will hold true for everyone. So, for example, Catholics may agree that there are Catholic themes and Catholic symbolism within LotR, although they may sometimes disagree on the specifics. Similarly, Muslims may agree that there are Muslims themes within LotR, while those of us without any strong religious belief may simply focus on what the book has to tell us about the human condition.

Or, as davem has suggested, we may simply enjoy it as an entertaining story. Even then, our differing experiences and perspectives mean that we will have different individual reactions to it – in terms, for example, of how much we enjoy a particular aspect or how we interpret a character or event within the context of the fictional world. In this regard, therefore, I think that none of us can fully comply with davem’s entreaty to “leave our baggage behind”. Our individual experiences and perspectives will always be there, lurking in the background, influencing our reaction to the story. To a greater or lesser degree (and perhaps even only in very subtle ways) my vision of Middle-earth and my experience of the War of the Ring will always be different to yours.

Davem suggested that the Christian interpretation of LotR is at its most objectionable when it seeks to evangelise or to preach, in effect to insist that this approach is the (only) correct one. Well, I might say that it is equally objectionable to seek to persuade those who do apply a Christian interpretation that they are wrong to interpret it in such a way, since that is in effect doing exactly the same thing. But, as a general principle, I would agree that it is wrong for anyone to insist that there is only one possible approach to a book like LotR and to use this to persuade others to subscribe to their “world-view”. Nothing wrong with expressing one’s reaction to LotR and attempting to delineate areas of agreement, perhaps even to find whether it strikes a chord with others. Quite wrong in my view to attempt to insist that one’s reaction is the only proper reaction or that it gives you a better appreciation of the book than others. Sometimes, though, it can be a fine line between the two.

In my experience, it is a line which is crossed quite frequently here, particularly in discussions of religion and LotR. I have no doubt that this is usually unintentional. The subtle phrasing of a sentence to suggest implicitly that one has a superior understanding of LotR because one shares Tolkien’s faith. Or through seeking to define the terms of the discussion by reference to words which may appear quite neutral on the face of it, but which have implicit religious connotations. A prime example of this is the frequent bandying about of “truth-with-a-capital-T”, a word for which (despite many requests) I have never received a satisfactory explanation. As I understand it, it denotes the existence of some objective, eternal “truth”, independent of mankind, which cannot be denied. But I don’t necessarily accept that as a concept and so cannot accept it as a “given” in a discussion. Another example is “Eucatastrophe”, a word which I understand Tolkien himself coined. I am happy to discuss it in terms of what Tolkien meant by it. Similarly, I am happy to use it by reference to its simple, literary meaning – denoting a piece of writing which produces sudden joy in the reader at an unexpected and significant upturn in events. But I am uncomfortable with it when used implicitly to refer to the undeniable existence of that “truth-with-a-capital-T”, whatever it is. And a final example is those frequent references to the “sub-created world” when talking about the fictional world, since that phrase necessarily implies that the world within which we live, the “primary” world, was wilfully “created” by some sentient supernatural being. Again, that is a concept to which I do not necessarily subscribe.

So, I see nothing wrong in discussing the possible biblical themes and symbolism within LotR. But I think that those whose reaction to LotR leads them to perceive it as a fundamentally Christian work should be careful not to insist that this is the only, or even the “best” or “correct”, interpretation of the book. Similarly, those who do not accept this approach should be careful not to deny the genuine and honest reaction of others who do. We all have our individual reactions to LotR. There are some that most, or even all, of us can probably agree on. There are others that some of us will never agree on. But, whether we can agree or not, it does not follow that any one particular reaction is the “right” or “correct” or “best” one.
__________________
Do you mind? I'm busy doing the fishstick. It's a very delicate state of mind!

Last edited by The Saucepan Man; 08-31-2006 at 09:18 AM.
The Saucepan Man is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-31-2006, 09:32 AM   #120
The Only Real Estel
Raffish Rapscallion
 
The Only Real Estel's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Far from the 'Downs, it seems :-(
Posts: 3,025
The Only Real Estel has just left Hobbiton.
Pipe

Quote:
Originally Posted by Saucey
A prime example of this is the frequent bandying about of “truth-with-a-capital-T”, a word for which (despite many requests) I have never received a satisfactory explanation. As I understand it, it denotes the existence of some objective, eternal “truth”, independent of mankind, which cannot be denied. But I don’t necessarily accept that as a concept and so cannot accept it as a “given” in a discussion.
Truth: Truth is the matching relation between a truth bearer (me saying that the world is round) and a truth maker [reality] (the world being round). The matching of those two is 'Truth.'

As for the text of The Lord of the Rings being Christian or non-Christian this really is a ridiculous discussion. It does not depend on the reader's point of view. It has nothing to do with the reader. If you're asking if the text is Christian for davem, for Fea, for yourself, or for myself - then it depends on how we interpret the text.

But the actual meaning of a text is not dependant on a reader's interpretation, it depends on the author's intentions. To decide if "Rings" is a Christian work or not (which really shouldn't be the issue here) you have to go back to Tolkien's intentions.

Tolkien did not intend for the books to be "Christian." Are there Chrisitan elements in them? That's what the discussion should be - I think there are. There are also many other elements in them.

But the books are not Christian works because Tolkien didn't intend them to be.
The Only Real Estel is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 05:56 PM.



Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.9 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.