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 09-01-2006, 08:49 PM   #161
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!
Shield

Quote:
Originally Posted by TORE
Does that mean that there are millions of different meanings out there?
Yes, although they will overlap to a very significant degree due to our common understanding of the language that he used.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TORE
But that doesn't make it so.
It makes it the only "true" meaning to me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TORE
Because we don't know (or at least there's significant debate) the author's intentions on these matters.
Actually, the author claimed that Frodo failed in his Quest. I disagree with him on that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TORE
But what would I use to support my side of the Balrog/wing debate for example? My opinion or my interpretation? Only if it was backed up by quotes from the book(s), possibly quotes from the Letters, etc.
I have always held that Durin's Bane had wings because, when I first read the book, that's how I imagined him. I was influenced, of course, by the words used by the author. But was it his intention that the Balrog be winged? Who can say? Irrespective of his intention, I see the Balrog with wings. That is my interpretation, the "meaning" that I give to that passage. I do not insist that others see it in the same way.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TORE
But "mark" is right - although this is Tolkien-related and also related to finding Christian elements in the books it really is not as much on topic as it should be I don't think.
Well, she is right that we have been through these arguments before (it's an eternal struggle ). But I disagree that it has no relevance to the ongoing debate (if not the original question). If one is claiming (or denying) that LotR is a Christian work, one must define the basis upon which such claim is made. Individual interpretation? Authorial intention? Or something else? If so, what?
__________________
Do you mind? I'm busy doing the fishstick. It's a very delicate state of mind!
The Saucepan Man is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-01-2006, 09:01 PM   #162
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

Myself: "Does that mean that there are millions of different meanings out there?"

Sauce: "Yes, although they will overlap to a very significant degree due to our common understanding of the language that he used."

True, I should have said does that mean there are millions of actual meanings to the book? No. There may be millions of opinions & interpretations out there (nay, billions more like it! ), but one book is incapable of that many meanings.

Quote:
It makes it the only "true" meaning to me.
False Sauce. Though that may be your opinion (which I can't take from you), even if the author communicates his meaning behind the book in such a way that we could not possibly find it does that mean my interpretation of the meaning is the book's meaning? No. It does make it a very poorly written book, however.

Quote:
I have always held that Durin's Bane had wings because, when I first read the book, that's how I imagined him. I was influenced, of course, by the words used by the author. But was it his intention that the Balrog be winged? Who can say? Irrespective of his intention, I see the Balrog with wings. That is my interpretation, the "meaning" that I give to that passage. I do not insist that others see it in the same way.
That is fine. Imagination is a wonderful thing.

But that does not mean that Tolkien meant the same thing. Do you suppose Tolkien created the Balrog not knowing if it has wings or not? Of course not. But since this matter is highly debatable it essentially does come down to reader interpretation because it is so difficult to discern the author's.

There is far more information out there (in Tolkien's own words even) on his intentions behind the book & any "Christian meaning" behind it. Plenty that we don't have to rely totally on interpretation.
The Only Real Estel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-01-2006, 09:20 PM   #163
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!
Sting

Quote:
Originally Posted by TORE
... but one book is incapable of that many meanings.
Why so?

Quote:
Originally Posted by TORE
... which I can't take from you ...
I am not asking you to.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TORE
Imagination is a wonderful thing.
Indeed it is. So why not embrace it and allow yourself to find your own meaning within the book, rather than limiting yourself purely by reference to what the author intended?

Quote:
Originally Posted by TORE
But that does not mean that Tolkien meant the same thing.
I am not saying that it does. I am saying that what Tolkien meant does not necessarily equate to the book's meaning.

Meaning, like truth, is subjective.
__________________
Do you mind? I'm busy doing the fishstick. It's a very delicate state of mind!
The Saucepan Man is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-02-2006, 01:58 AM   #164
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 TSpM
I am saying that the Letters are generally inconclusive as to his intention.
Well, I see you repeating this, but I see no valid reason given for their inconclusiveness. You mentioned that they are sometimes at odd with each other or the work - yet this occured due to the changes that happened to the work in progress. At some points in time, he had certain "feelings" about how the work would proceed, which didn't make it in the final form; that isn't, per se, an inconsistency. Moreover, even if such inconsistencies exist in some cases, that is no reason to call those letters in question as inconclusive to showing his mind at that moment; even more, even if so, the "hystorical" type of inconclusiveness of some letters (due to the changing aspect of his work), if it exists, shouldn't be extended to other letters, in which he expressely states his intent - that would be guilt by association, a logical fallacy.
Quote:
But the imposition of the parallel between the secret fire and the holy fire is not only unnecessary for the success of the story (qua story), but it is wholly at odds with "inner consistency", since it requires the imposition of a concept external to the story. If you wish to find "meaning" within LotR by equating the two, that's fine. But I think that you are wrong to suggest that it is necessary, or even complimentary, to the story's "inner consistency". And why do you refer to the story as a "subcreation"? Surely it is simply a creation.
Why is it wrong to suggest such a thing? I see a union between his work, this world and the christian mythology; the later two are real, according to him; about the first one, he whishes it to be real - obviously, real in correspondence with the world and Christianity.

As about creation and subcreation, I use this term because this is the supreme artistic achievement for Tolkien - a successful writer is a veritable sub-creator, whose Art reflects God's Truth.
Quote:
Can you give me any example of this occuring during LotR? Did Eru treat Orcs with mercy? Possibly, once they were dead. But allowing beings to be born within a disfigured body and a brutish, evil-serving society hardly seems merciful to me.
Frodo compares Gollum to an orc and states that he deserves death; Gandalf agrees about deserving (and the comparison, I might add) but also states that one should not deal out death in judgement, and that Gollum (and the orcs, by my extension) have a chance, however slight, of repentance. Is the life of orcs one of continuous unhappiness (at least to them)? I doubt it; they certainly derive pleasure from their fetishism with machines, or with whatever cruel art or deeds - no single race in Arda experiences only pleasure or only pain. The orcs may not even be held culpable for what they did, if they are indeed gifted with souls and not just (reduced to) beasts.

I would also like to mention the existence of sin in his creation (Myths Transformed):"Every finite creature must have some weakness: that is some inadequacy to deal with some situations. It is not sinful when not willed, and when the creature does his best (even if it is not what should be done) as he sees it - with the conscious intent of serving Eru".
Quote:
In the second version of the foreword to LotR, where Tolkien discusses the difference between allegory and applicability, he disavows the former but readily admits the latter.
It seems to me, firstly, that Tolkien was choosing between the less of wto evils, allegory and aplicability. Though subtle, the difference between inviting to applicability and accepting it bears huge influence to our discussion. If he does invite readers to anything it would be, in my opinion, the Christian Joy, the eucatastrophe - the apex of the story.
Quote:
Actually, the author claimed that Frodo failed in his Quest. I disagree with him on that.
I propose we put that into context:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Letter #246
Frodo indeed 'failed' as a hero, as conceived by simple minds: he did not endure to the end; he gave in, ratted. I do not say 'simple minds' with contempt: they often see with clarity the simple truth and the absolute ideal to which effort must be directed, even if it is unattainable. Their weakness, however, is twofold. They do not perceive the complexity of any given situation in Time, in which an absolute ideal is enmeshed. They tend to forget that strange element in the World that we call Pity or Mercy, which is also an absolute requirement in moral judgement (since it is present in the Divine nature). In its highest exercise it belongs to God. For finite judges of imperfect knowledge it must lead to the use of two different scales of 'morality'. To ourselves we must present the absolute ideal without compromise, for we do not know our own limits of natural strength (+grace), and if we do not aim at the highest we shall certainly fall short of the utmost that we could achieve. To others, in any case of which we know enough to make a judgement, we must apply a scale tempered by 'mercy': that is, since we can with good will do this without the bias inevitable in judgements of ourselves, we must estimate the limits of another's strength and weigh this against the force of particular circumstances.
And let us also state the true mission of Frodo, from the same source:
Quote:
His real contract was only to do what he could, to try to find a way, and to go as far on the road as his strength of mind and body allowed. He did that.
Raynor is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-02-2006, 03:26 AM   #165
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
This looks, to me, like a thread that's been hijacked. If you want to have a debate about whether making these connections is somehow forced or strained or immoral or illegal or what have you-- feel free to start your own thread.
But no 'connections' have actually been made between LotR & the Bible/Christianity. A few have been put forward, but there has been no agreement about them even among Christian posters. The best that has been put forward so far is the Secret Fire/Holy Spirit thing, & the best that can be said in support of it is that the two are rather alike & the concepts don't directly contradict each other.

LotR & the Bible don't directly contradict each other. Is that it?
It seems to me that the 'pro-Christian interpretation' camp want the rest of us to accept that there are specifically Christian elements to the story without any supporting evidence other than Tolkien saying in odd letters & interviews that there are. If they are there, what are they? What is specifically & uniquely Christian in the story, & in what way is it necessary to percieve those 'elements' as Christian in order to fully appreciate the story?

This is not an attack on the freedom of Christian readers to compare notes but more a request to know what 'notes' they are actually comparing.

I could argue that there are similarities between Gandalf & that old bloke I see at the bus stop every morning because they both have two arms & grey hair, but I wouldn't expect anyone to take the point seriously. Surely a thread about similarities between the Bible & LotR has to have more going for it than such vague 'similarities' if it is to justify taking up space here.
davem is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-02-2006, 05:12 AM   #166
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
But no 'connections' have actually been made between LotR & the Bible/Christianity. A few have been put forward, but there has been no agreement about them even among Christian posters.
I do have comments on what has been put forward. But it's been difficult to get a word in edgewise for the past two and a half pages.

Quote:
Originally Posted by davem
This is not an attack on the freedom of Christian readers to compare notes but more a request to know what 'notes' they are actually comparing.
As I said, it's been difficult to get a word in edgewise.
__________________
...down to the water to see the elves dance and sing upon the midsummer's eve.

Last edited by mark12_30; 09-02-2006 at 05:18 AM.
mark12_30 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-02-2006, 09:42 AM   #167
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!
Boots

Quote:
Originally Posted by Raynor
You mentioned that they are sometimes at odd with each other or the work - yet this occured due to the changes that happened to the work in progress. At some points in time, he had certain "feelings" about how the work would proceed, which didn't make it in the final form; that isn't, per se, an inconsistency. Moreover, even if such inconsistencies exist in some cases, that is no reason to call those letters in question as inconclusive to showing his mind at that moment; even more, even if so, the "hystorical" type of inconclusiveness of some letters (due to the changing aspect of his work), if it exists, shouldn't be extended to other letters, in which he expressely states his intent - that would be guilt by association, a logical fallacy.
The Letters are good evidence of Tolkien's intent at the time each was written. If, however, one is seeking to divine the "meaning" of LotR by reference to authorial intent, I would regard them as persuasive (to the extent that they do not conflict with other material) but, overall, insuffuficient to allow any firm conclusion to be drawn.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Raynor
Why is it wrong to suggest such a thing?
Because it implies that those who do not percevie or accept such a connection have an inferior appreciation of the book.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Raynor
As about creation and subcreation, I use this term because this is the supreme artistic achievement for Tolkien - a successful writer is a veritable sub-creator, whose Art reflects God's Truth.
As I suspected. It implies the existence of a Creator and thus bases the dicussion on a premise which not all accept.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Raynor
Is the life of orcs one of continuous unhappiness (at least to them)? I doubt it; they certainly derive pleasure from their fetishism with machines, or with whatever cruel art or deeds - no single race in Arda experiences only pleasure or only pain. The orcs may not even be held culpable for what they did, if they are indeed gifted with souls and not just (reduced to) beasts.
You didn't provide any example of an orc being shown mercy. But that doesn't matter, because it's actually OK being an Orc. You get to play with cool machinery and be brutish and cruel and everything, and you don't get to feel guilty. You may not even be held responsible for what you do. Boy, Eru sure is a loving and merciful God to allow them to live such a life of Reilly.

As I read that passage about Frodo, it seems to me that Tolkien is saying the Frodo failed, but that his failure was negated or absolved by divine mercy. To my mind, Frodo didn't fail at all. He did all that was required of him (as stated in the second passage you quote which, funnily enough, appears to contradict the first ).
__________________
Do you mind? I'm busy doing the fishstick. It's a very delicate state of mind!
The Saucepan Man is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-02-2006, 10:28 AM   #168
littlemanpoet
Itinerant Songster
 
littlemanpoet's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: The Edge of Faerie
Posts: 7,049
littlemanpoet is a guest at the Prancing Pony.littlemanpoet is a guest at the Prancing Pony.
Quote:
Originally Posted by me
One reader's platitude may be another's way of life. That it is a mere platitude for one does in no wise lessen its centrality for the other.
Quote:
Originally Posted by davem
I suppose that means it's all subjective then, a matter of opinion?
You may of course suppose it if you wish, but it isn't the only logical possibility. An alternate logical possibility is that one may be correct and the other incorrect. Considering the topic at hand, the latter is the more likely.

While LotR is clearly Universal, it is a severe contortion to deny that there are specificially Christian themes just because such themes can also be found in Buddhism; this is so because Tolkien was Christian, not Buddhist.

Tolkien's use of Northern myth does not confound the Christian themes in LotR, because northern mythic themes have been transformed to fit a Christian world view. More on that later.

Those of us who have been born into, and nurtured on, Western civilization, have a very difficult job of deciphering what in our brain content is actually Christian-based and what isn't. So much of western culture is received from Christianity that to argue that it can't be found is like an ocean fish insisting that the water's not really salty; it's so used to the salt it can't tell when water's NOT salty.
littlemanpoet is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-02-2006, 10:52 AM   #169
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 SpM
Why So?
Because, for one reason, it's nowhere close to logical. Let’s look at it logically: the law of non-contradiction - "A is not non-A." How could non-A = A? It can't. By the same token a book can not have that many meanings - do you have any idea how many of those meanings would be contradictory? It is not logical to assume what you're suggesting.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Spm
I am not asking you to.
Good, because I would never try!

Quote:
Originally Posted by SpM
Indeed it is. So why not embrace it and allow yourself to find your own meaning within the book, rather than limiting yourself purely by reference to what the author intended?
First off - you are making a straw man out of my position Saucepan. You are misrepresenting (intentionally or not) me to be anti-imagination & that is not the case.

Imagination is fine & should be encouraged. You can imagine the size of Aragorn's nose - & many other much more exciting things - because there is no way we can know Tolkien's ideas behind these things. Of course I'm sure he had it in his head what his characters look like - but he purposefully didn't write down every detail so that we could imagine them. When the author's intent can not be discerned imagination is a perfectly acceptable recourse. I cannot accept that Tolkien's intent behind the 'Christian aspects' of his books is not attainable given the amount of verbage out there from him on this subject. And when the author's intention can be discerned, imagination does not trump it.

To say that it does is ridiculous. You can imagine the orcs to be little, furry pink teletubbies if you wish & no one can stop you from that but when you do that you're not reading "The Lord of the Rings" but "The Lord of the Rings - As Imagined by The Saucepan Man." You cannot disregard the author's clear intentions in favor of imagination.

Your imagination does not override the author's meaning behind the book Sauce. And neither does mine or anyone else’s. I've given many examples - you believing the author to mean something doesn't mean he did. You are saying that any human beings intentions are subjective to the interpretations of others and that is not true. If it were, I could simply 'interpret' that you have been agreeing with me all along and I would be right (though you most certainly haven't been ). You would also interpret the opposite to be true and you would be right. Surely you can see that this isn't logical, can't you?

Why would you bother to write a book that will simply be stripped of any meaning whatsoever and have the reader's interpretation (no matter how educated) be substituted? The reason for you writing has now entirely gone by the wayside.

What you are talking about is Deconstructionism - disregarding the author's original intent and making everything relative.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SpM
Meaning, like truth, is subjective.
Well first - that is highly debatable but that would be getting off topic so we won't go there. Second, that is a very weak analogy because you are attempting to prove that meaning is subjective by comparing it to truth - which you are assuming is subjective but you cannot prove that it is. Not to mention that the issue of truth being brought up at all is really a red herring. It's entirely inconclusive to this debate and you brought it up solely to "prove" that meaning is subjective by comparing it to truth when you should in fact be proving why meaning is subjective...

At any rate it's getting close to the 'agree to disagree' point. Firstly, I've stated & attempted to prove my position as logical & clearly as I can but it seems that you simply continue to fall back on circular reasoning to prove yours. And secondly (and more importantly), as mark pointed out, it's difficult for her or anyone else to get a word in edgewise & our little debate here (though on-topic as you have pointed out) is probably one of primary reasons for that.

Last edited by The Only Real Estel; 09-02-2006 at 11:23 AM. Reason: adding something
The Only Real Estel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-02-2006, 11:27 AM   #170
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 TSpM
If, however, one is seeking to divine the "meaning" of LotR by reference to authorial intent, I would regard them as persuasive (to the extent that they do not conflict with other material) but, overall, insuffuficient to allow any firm conclusion to be drawn.
But that would mean to disregard also all of the other Tolkien's statement about myths, Art and Truth.
Quote:
It implies the existence of a Creator and thus bases the dicussion on a premise which not all accept.
Is there a single hallucinating author who pretends to have writing premises who all will accept?? If you are arguing for this, of if you are arguing from the _position_ of atheism, then our disscussion is at a deadpoint; continuing it would mean to talk about something else.
Quote:
Because it implies that those who do not percevie or accept such a connection have an inferior appreciation of the book.
According to Tolkien, the highest function of the myth is to bring us into the [Christian] Truth. Can this be achieved in the case of someone who is not actually Christian? I will ask again, beyond what Fall will such a myth take you? Is it possible that such a myth can lead you to a Truth and beyond a Fall that are both not Christian? Of what kind are they? And is there any other Artistic achievement which is superior to, nay, equal, such a function of myth? These are, to me, rethoric questions, but I will be delighted with such a discussion.
Quote:
You didn't provide any example of an orc being shown mercy.
Point taken; I will ask you in turn: can you provide a single example of an unnecessarily unkind act towards an orc?
Quote:
As I read that passage about Frodo, it seems to me that Tolkien is saying the Frodo failed, but that his failure was negated or absolved by divine mercy.
I disagree; the quote states that saying that Frodo failed is a sign of shallow judgement and one which is not in accordance with morality.
Quote:
as stated in the second passage you quote which, funnily enough, appears to contradict the first
I disagree again; the essence of both passages is that one (Frodo) should do the most one can.
Raynor is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-02-2006, 12:05 PM   #171
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 littlemanpoet
While LotR is clearly Universal, it is a severe contortion to deny that there are specificially Christian themes just because such themes can also be found in Buddhism; this is so because Tolkien was Christian, not Buddhist.
No. If the themes which underlie LotR are universal then it is not a 'Christian' work. To be a 'Christian' work it would have to have underlying themes which are uniquely Christian. To claim that the 'universal' themes are somehow 'Christian' because they are in a story by a Christian author (ie the themes are Christian because a Christian set them out) is like claiming that if a Christian tells me its raining outside then the statement 'Its pouring down out there' is a 'Christian' statement. If a work contains themes that are 'universal' they are just that - universal - wherever the author got his knowledge of them from.

Quote:
Tolkien's use of Northern myth does not confound the Christian themes in LotR, because northern mythic themes have been transformed to fit a Christian world view. More on that later.
I could argue that Tolkien actually transformed his Christianity to fit a Northern mythic worldview (& I suspect I'd be more correct in that).

Quote:
Those of us who have been born into, and nurtured on, Western civilization, have a very difficult job of deciphering what in our brain content is actually Christian-based and what isn't. So much of western culture is received from Christianity that to argue that it can't be found is like an ocean fish insisting that the water's not really salty; it's so used to the salt it can't tell when water's NOT salty.
Sorry, but I can recognise Christian propaganda when I hear it. I know enough of pre-Christian North-Western European culture to know that, once again, the truth is the other way about. Christianity was very much an add-on. Western culture has its origin in the Roman Empire. Our laws & institutions, our cultural values, are classical/pagan (not a little Viking/Saxon) not Middle-eastern. You can't construct an entire culture from a crucifixion & resurrection.

All of which is a side issue.

The point is. LotR is not a Christian work. It is a work by a Christian, which does not contradict Christian teaching - which, I suspect, is all Tolkien meant by saying it is 'fundamentally' a Catholic work - simply that it is a work which is more or less in line with his faith.

Could you tell us (I ask yet again) what these 'specifically, uniquely' Christian aspects of LotR are, the things which make it a Christian story, rather than just a story by a Christian?
davem is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-02-2006, 12:51 PM   #172
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
Ahem.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Raynor
If you are arguing for this, of if you are arguing from the _position_ of atheism, then our discussion is at a dead point; continuing it would mean to talk about something else.
If atheism is the trouble, I can continue his argument for him. I am not atheist.

Quote:
Originally Posted by davem
Sorry, but I can recognise Christian propaganda when I hear it.
If Christianity is the trouble, I can continue his argument for him. I am not Christian.

This entire discussion smacks of, not intolerance for religion, but intolerance for opinion based upon its own congenital biases.

If it is believed that a Christian cannot argue without his words being tainted with Christian bias, or that an atheist cannot argue without his words being tainted with an atheist bias, or that a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Taoist, a Wiccan, a Hindu cannot view the world without a strictly idealistic bend, surely it is a logical conclusion that a man cannot write prolifically without his works being imbued with the same biases from which he, as a person, suffers?

If we cannot agree that objectivity is a possibility within debate, how can we possibly be arrogant enough to believe that objectivity is possible within a novel? Every experience you've had, every day you've lived, every breath you've taken becomes a part of you. A writer, though he may take what he believes and turn it upon its head for the sake of a story, has still written something that has come from the very beginning: him. A writer may be a writer, but everything created by him is created in his own image. This writer was not simply a Christian writing a book with secret Christian meaning. He was John Tolkien, and he wrote because he was a writer. If we are to take him at face value when he states that the book was not consciously a Christian book, it must be accepted that if there are Christian biases within it, they are there by accident.

But to say that they do not exist at all is the very same level of folly as to claim that they are blatantly apparent.

If it begins to appear that your opponent in your debate cannot seem to admit that he may have something to learn, perhaps it is best to step back and view one's own words thus far; it may be time to take one's own advice.

Now onward.

I would like to view the Bible through the lens of The Lord of the Rings. I want to learn more about all religions, but it seems easiest to start with the religion of my parents, the religion of most of my friends, the religion I grew up submersed, be it conscious or not, within.

Saruman has been labelled as a sort of a Judas figure within the story. This interests me. Who was Judas, who was Saruman, and what attributes do they share? Why has this connection been made?
__________________
peace
Feanor of the Peredhil is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-02-2006, 02:31 PM   #173
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
To be a 'Christian' work it would have to have underlying themes which are uniquely Christian
Why uniquely? This work doesn't set out to present the definition of Christianity, against whatever other beliefs or perspectives; as I presented three quotes so far, the author presents Christianity in its essence. Because, as I stated previously:

"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."
Quote:
Originally Posted by Feanor
If atheism is the trouble, I can continue his argument for him. I am not atheist.
My reason for singling out atheism is that it excludes from the start the very existence of the [Christian] Truth; if there is no such common base, how can the relation between Truth, Art and myth be discussed? It would be, first and foremost, a matter of proselytism, which breaks all the boundaries of this discussion (and my taste). The function of Tolkien's myths, to link back to the Truth, would, theoretically, not function.
Raynor is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-02-2006, 04:17 PM   #174
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.
I can see that a book which is written by a Christian & which generally conforms to the Christian faith can be called a 'Christian' book. At the same time I think it is essentially a meaningless label if it is to be applied to a story which actually contains nothing specifically Christian at all & is only generally in conformity with the mood of the faith (as it is in conformity with many other faiths & with secular humanism to a great degree).

In what way (other than authorial hope - one can't even say authorial intention as most of it was not invented consciously at all) can it be said to be 'Christian'? Is any book which is generally in conformity with Christianity to be called a Christian book. or only books written by Christian authors?

So, lets put forward a 'supposal'. Suppose you read a book which is in conformity with Christianity & as far as you are aware it was written by a Christian. Is it a Christian book? If LotR is a Christian book due to its general conformity with Christian faith (despite absence of specific Christian symbols & themes) then you would have to say this book was also a Christian book, wouldn't you?

But what, after accepting it as a Christian book, you later found out the author was not actually a Christian? Would the book then cease to be a Christian book?

Or suppose we found letters from Tolkien denouncing Christianity & saying it was all nonsense & he'd been faking all along. Would LotR suddenly stop being a Christian book?

So, the question is, is there something specifically Christian about the story itself which would make it a Christian story whether or not its author was Christian?

As to Fea's question:

Quote:
Saruman has been labelled as a sort of a Judas figure within the story. This interests me. Who was Judas, who was Saruman, and what attributes do they share? Why has this connection been made?
It seems to me that there is no similarity at all, other than that both are traitors. If there is a Judas figure in LotR it is rather Boromir. Yet the similarity is extremely vague & there are few real similarities. I have no idea what (of value) one would learn by doing such a comparison, either about Saruman (or Boromir) or Judas.

(BTW, my point re 'Christian propaganda' was specifically in response to LMP's claim that Christianity had somehow produced Western civilisation all on its ownsome. I'm reminded of a radio programme I heard by some American evangelical who said he was so grateful to St Paul for spreading the Gospel, because his own ancestors were from Scotland & before the emergence of Christianity all the Scots were running around naked in the forests. He clearly believed that just two thousand years ago Europeans were grunting neanderthals eating raw meat (a la the start of Kubrick's 2001). In fact the Celts, as is well known, were a highly advanced society, well respected for their learning even as far as Greece & Rome.)

Last edited by davem; 09-02-2006 at 04:31 PM.
davem is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-02-2006, 04:40 PM   #175
Nogrod
Flame of the Ainulindalë
 
Nogrod's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Wearing rat's coat, crowskin, crossed staves in a field behaving as the wind behaves
Posts: 9,051
Nogrod has passed beneath the Argonath.Nogrod has passed beneath the Argonath.Nogrod has passed beneath the Argonath.Nogrod has passed beneath the Argonath.Nogrod has passed beneath the Argonath.Nogrod has passed beneath the Argonath.
Send a message via MSN to Nogrod
Every intelligible discussion, every succesful exhange of ideas, every rational argumentation calls for a shared ground from which to make a point. The old Greeks and St. Thomas Aquinas in his time already made the point. I'm not the one to argue against their judgement here. The western culture and thought relies on those principles.

The question then becomes, where do we draw the limits of intelligible discussion? Some people like to narrow the categories "I will not take the arguments of the theists / atheists as they are profoundly misguided and unintelligible to me". After that the disagreements are solved with a sword (or rockets / smart bombs). As a reaction to this, there has developed a stance that everyone has her/his point of view and that's it. Call it subjectivism if you like.

But there's a void in here.

Subjectivism makes any meaningful discussion pointless.

But the thrive for "objectiviness" on behalf of some particular cultural principles or ideologies (atheist, lutheran, evangelical, catholic, orthodox, Shia, Sunni, ...) leads easily to narrow-mindedness and "the agreement of us" against the others. In the worst case to outward racism and hate, as we have seen too clearly nowadays.

Let's find the common ground from something more basic than ideologies centering around mere religious beliefs?


Just to tease (leaping across a few associative bridges): why should we ask the question what the author meant while writing? Why should we care? For many people of the 21st century Shakespeare's Macbeth is a story that so greatly depicts the horrors of totalitarian states and the problems our century has raised in front of (and with a thrive for) absolute rule and power. Shakespeare could not have thought of these as he lived in the 17th century (if there was the person "Shakespeare" to begin with). Are we wrong about his works now?

Is an author an omnipotent being, able to create meaning into the world like God which we should either understand or fail? Are you a God of your utterances? If all the other people take your utterances in a way X while you yourself have tried to explain them as Y, who is correct: all the others or you alone? (Be honest here!) Can we make a question of someone being right concerning meaning in the first place?
__________________
Upon the hearth the fire is red
Beneath the roof there is a bed;
But not yet weary are our feet...
Nogrod is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-02-2006, 10:29 PM   #176
Boromir88
Laconic Loreman
 
Boromir88's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: USA
Posts: 7,065
Boromir88 is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.Boromir88 is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.Boromir88 is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.Boromir88 is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.Boromir88 is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.
Send a message via AIM to Boromir88 Send a message via MSN to Boromir88
White Tree

Just a little comment that may be a bit off track, but I promise I'll stay on topic.

Quote:
As I read that passage about Frodo, it seems to me that Tolkien is saying the Frodo failed, but that his failure was negated or absolved by divine mercy.~SpM
I beg to differ, and agree with Raynor, the 'as conceived by simple minds,' is I feel a great importance. Tolkien acknowledges that the 'simple-minded' (which he didn't mean to insult anyone) may see Frodo as a failure, because he gave in, he chickened out, he 'ratted.' But, Tolkien never said he believed Frodo failed, but that the simple-minded may see Frodo as a failure. In fact he goes on to explain why he felt like Frodo succeeded.

So, here we have the classic example of the argument of the thread. Tolkien acknowledges that some people may see Frodo not fulfilling his quest as a failure, but he went out and explains as to why he felt like Frodo should not be labelled as a 'failure' and why he deserves all honour.

Which brings to the biggest question does authorial intent matter? And if so, exactly how much should it matter?
Quote:
“The LotR exists, apart from what Tolkien said at one time or another it was supposed to mean. It was largely a product of the realm of fantasy in the unconscious: that was the ultimate source. Therefore, what Tolkien later consciously thought about it is interesting, but not authoritative as to the work’s meaning”~Norman Cantor
That's Cantor's take on it, but let's see what Tolkien talks about:
Quote:
“I do not ‘know all the answers’. Much of my own book puzzles me; and in any case much of it was written so long ago (anything up to 20 years) that I read it now as if it were from a strange hand.’~Letter 211
Quote:
I think that many confuse ’applicability’ with ’allegory’; but the one resides in the freedom of the reader, and the other in the purposed domination of the author."~Interview with BBC Radio, 1971
Then on the other side:
Quote:
"But if we speak of a Cauldron, we must not wholly forget the Cooks. There are many things in the Cauldron, but the Cooks do not dip in the ladle quite blindly. Their selection is important. The gods are after all gods, and it is a matter of some moment what stories are told of them"~Tolkien's essay on Faerie Stories.
It appears Tolkien is contradicting himself. He talks about his dislike of allegory (allegory is a 'domination of the author'), the 'freedom of applicability' that is with the readers, reading the book for enjoyment. Then at other times he tells us his intentions with his books, and I am intrigued by the parallel he draws with 'cooks.'

How about we view this quote:

'But if we speak of a Cauldron, we must not wholly forget the Cooks. There are many things in the Cauldron, but the Cooks do not dip in the ladle quite blindly. Their selection is important.

And alter it a bit to this:

'But if we speak of a book, we must not wholly forget the author. There are many things in the book, but the author does not write a story blindly. His/her selection is important.'

Puts an interesting spin on things? It seems like there is some conflict, we have the applicability of the reader vs. the intent of the author. But, I don't see a conflict, there is a delicate balance between the two.

I think Tolkien brings up a very interesting parallel, authors don't write, just to write. They don't write 'blindly.' One of the biggest fuels for authors is purpose. What is their purpose? They're writing for a reason, they're not writing for absolutely no purpose at all. So, the author shouldn't just be cast aside and say 'ahh forget the old coot, who cares about him, I will believe what I want.' Which, of course anyone can believe whatever they want, but I'm afraid that means you've missed the author's purpose.

Then comes in the reader applicability, and the reader's freedom. After Tolkien's books were released, he mentions taking a deep interest in seeing how they develop, which is probably why Tolkien in Letter's and elsewhere starts talking about his intentions. It's after the fact, after his stories were published, and taking an interest in how the public viewed his works, is when and why we start seeing what he intended his works mean.

Which brings us back to the delicate balance between the author and the reader. The author is the mastermind behind his books, and above anyone else knows what his books are about, and what his purpose is, or what his purpose was. The reader will read the book and apply their own meaning when reading, and this meaning may conflict with the author's intentions. But, 'intentions' is the key, there's this tone of acceptance...It's like "That is not what I had intended, but I can certainly understand how you see it that way."

I call it a delicate balance, because if there is too much "authorial intent" it falls into 'domination of the author,' which I feel that Tolkien didn't want to do. He didn't want to 'dominate' over his readers. However, if there is too much freedom of the reader, the entire reason and purpose of the author is cast aside. As Roland Barthes notes in "The Death of the Author":
Quote:
We know that to give writing its future, it is necessary to overthrow the {Authorial} myth: the birth of the reader must be at the cost of the death of the Author.”
Not all stories are as unique as this one, but with Tolkien it was a balancing act. The cooks are just as important as the cauldron...Tolkien did not just blindly write, there was a reason and a purpose. Then there is the reader's applicability, but too much freedom and the author is left behind in the dust, and the true meaning, the true purpose is lost.
__________________
I used to be for flip-flopping. Now I'm against it.

Fenris Penguin

Last edited by Boromir88; 09-02-2006 at 10:39 PM.
Boromir88 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-03-2006, 12:19 AM   #177
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 has turned into yet another Canonicity argument. For myself, I accept that Tolkien has greater insight into his invented world & the 'meaning' of his stories than anyone else. However..

This is not a discussion on Canonicity. It is not an argument about who knows more about Middle-earth, the creator or the audience? It is not even an argument about whether Tolkien believed LotR was a 'Chritian' work - clearly he did (or at least that it conformed to Christianity).

This is a discussion on whether there are similarities between LotR & people/events in the Bible. My argument all along has been that, beyond a general 'mood' or 'tone' of style, language & morality, there is no one-to-one correspondence. Said 'mood' or 'tone' is not, however, uniquely or specifically 'Christian/Biblical' enough, in & of itself, to constitute a 'Christian' work - unless negatively: its not a 'not-Christian' work (ie it doesn't actually contradict anything in the Bible).

For some here it seems that the fact that a) Tolkien was a Christian & his 'moral value system' was inspired by his faith (but see Shippey on Tolkien's Northern theory of courage - Tolkien's 'moral value system' was not uniquely Christian, & definitely not pacifistic) & b) the work is generally in conformity with Christian belief, is enough to justify calling it a Christian work, & therefore to start looking for parallells between events & people in LotR & the Bible.

For others, such a 'negative' correspondence does not justify such 'parallell-seeking' because LotR is about as much (& as little) in conformit with the Bible as it is with WWII. One can say that 'To me Saruman is a Judas figure', but one can also say 'To me Saruman is a Hitler figure'. & no-one has any problem (well, I don't anyway). However..

This is equivalent to saying Tolkien was an Englishman, writing during the 1940's when Hitler's armies were on the verge of over-running his country & destroying everything he loved, so his hopes & fears must automatically have gone into his work, & therefore he could not help but write a story which had an underlying WWII theme, & that an analysis of, say, the similarities between Hitler & Saruman will give us an insight in to both Saruman's character & Hitler's as well. Personally, I think that the Characters & motivations, the origins, & most importantly the desires, of Saruman, Judas & Hitler are so different as to cancel out any percieved similarities between them.

I'm still not sure whether the 'pro-Christian interpretation' side are just looking for a chat along the lines of 'Ooh! 'x' (Saruman/Frodo/other character) is a bit like 'y'(Judas/Jesus/other biblical figure) isn't he? Which is all fine as far as I'm concerned - I just don't think that kind of thing belongs in Books - which is intended for serious & rigorous debate - but rather in Novices & Newcomers. If it is to remain in Books then the participants should expect to be challenged on their statements & be asked to offer some justification for them.
davem is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-03-2006, 04:58 AM   #178
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
davem: you seem frustrated that you have to keep repeating yourself. There's a simple solution: just type "ibid" and let it go.

If you really think this discussion belongs in N&N then take it up with the mods.
__________________
...down to the water to see the elves dance and sing upon the midsummer's eve.

Last edited by mark12_30; 09-03-2006 at 06:13 AM.
mark12_30 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-03-2006, 06:35 AM   #179
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
davem: you seem frustrated that you have to keep repeating yourself. There's a simple solution: just type "ibid" and let it go.

If you really think this discussion belongs in N&N then take it up with the mods.
It seems no-one, for all their demanding the right to do it, can actually provide any direct correspondences between LotR & the Bible, or indicate out how, or in what way, LotR is a 'Christian' work.

I think its now perfectly clear that either LotR is not a 'Christian' work in any real sense, or that no-one on the Downs at present can show it is.

I'm happy to leave the whole thing here - unless someone asks me for a response on any point.
davem is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-03-2006, 06:42 AM   #180
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

TORE, the discussion between you and I can be boild down to our different definition of the word “meaning” in the question: “What is the meaning of LotR? I define “meaning” as the meaning of the story to the individual reader, as influenced by what the author meant to convey. You define it as what the author meant by the story, as supplemented by the reader’s imagination.

I do not deny that the author “meant” something by the story, although I would argue that it is impossible to ever settle on an accurate and complete picture of what that might be, and I am not sure that Tolkien himself would bhave been ablke to do so either (hence my debate with Raynor over the Letters). You do not deny (it would appear) that the story can have different meanings to different individual readers.

The essence of our difference is that, when we consider whether there is one single, objective meaning to LotR, your position is that there is and that it is the meaning that the author intended to convey, while my position is that there is no single, objective meaning. The book can, as far as any individual reader is concerned, only carry the meaning that that reader attributes to it.

And to pick up the assertion that I am disregarding the author’s intent, as supplemented by the point which Boromir88 makes, I am doing no such thing. Of course individual meaning does not disregard the author. The author selects words, imagery, symbolism specifically to convey a particular meaning. In most cases (such as in the “factual” events depicted, certain elements of the descriptions give etc) we will all pick up on that intended meaning and incoporate it as part of our own meaning. Hence there will be broad, if not unanimous, consensus on many points. A skilfull author, such as Tolkien, may be able to convey much more of his intended meaning to a greater number of readers.

My point is that each individual reader will still find his or her own “meaning” within LotR. That’s fine by me and I am more than happy to listen to, and discuss, the opinions of others. Where a strong case is put forward for a particular “meaning” , for example on the basis of the text itself and/or extraneous material indicating authorial intention, I am generally quite happy to absorb it within my own understanding of the book, provided that it does not conflict with my own individual intepretation or even, occasionally, if it does - if it makes more sense within the context of my overall understanding of the book.

Where I draw the line is the insistence that I should accept as “fact” the individual understaning of others, or even of the author, where it does not, and will not, fit with my own understanding of the book.

I should probably concede the “Frodo issue”. I had thought that there was a definitive statement by Tolkien that Frodo had failed. I may be wrong. I do not have the Letters to hand. It does not alter the fact that there are statements made by Tolkien, published since I first read the book, which do not accord with my understanding of the book and which I do not feel bound to accept. The example that I usually give is the assertion that, under a certain set of circumstances, Gollum would willingly have sacrificed himself and the Ring by throwing himself into Mount Doom with it. I do not accept (within the context of my understanding of the character) that he would ever have done so under any circumstances.

That sets out my position. I do not expect everyone to agree with it. But it is pretty much immutable, as far as I am concerned.

So why is that relevant to the topic at hand?

If someone is to assert that Gandalf is a Christ figure, Sauron is a Lucifer figure or Saruman is a Judas figure or that the Secret Fire equates with the Holy Ghost, or whatever, then that may well be very interesting as an academic discussion point. But it is an individual interpretation, and not one which I feel obligation (morally, academically or otherwise) to accept. Even had Tolkien himself stated that it was his intention that these parallels be drawn by his readers, I would not accept them. They are not necessary to my understanding and appreciation of the story.

And what really draws me from my slumber and perks my interest, such that I feel the need to set out on the dangerous course of articulating my position (as above) once more, is when I am (expressly or implicitly) told that I must accept LotR as a fundamentally religious and Catholic story simply because Tolkien himself was a Catholic and because he said that it was his intention (unconsciously at first, but consciously in the revision) that it be so.

Hence, when it is said that the story undeniably reflects a fundamental and universal “Truth”, I object. I feel perfectly entitled to challenge that, at least until some adequate explanation of what this “truth-with-a-capital-T” is. If it is said to be the essence of the “one true (Christian) myth” or the existence of God or whatever, then I cannot accept that either as I do not accept that the Chrisitian myth, as set out in the Bible for example, is true or that God (at least in the sense depicted within Christianity and, indeed, most major religions) exists.

If you want to believe that, as part of your understanding of LotR, I have no problem with that. But I do have a problem when I am told that this “Truth” (whatever it may be) is undeniable and that, if I do not accept it as part of my understanding of the “meaning” of LotR, then I have an inferior appreciation of the book to those who do or that I am otherwise somehow “wrong” in my reaction to it.

Finally, on the side-issue of Orcs (and in response to Raynor), I would suggest that it is a basic premise of the book that it is “right” to treat Orcs without kindness or mercy (contrast the treatment, for example, of the Haradrim and Dunlendings). I have no problem with that, as a feature of the fictional fantasy world. But I do object to any parallel being drawn (as Tolkien did) between Orcs, portrayed as such, with trecutters and bikers.

PS If these points are not considered relevant to the ongoing debate, then feel free to ignore them and carry on. I will be happy of the opportunity not to have to keep repeating myself.
__________________
Do you mind? I'm busy doing the fishstick. It's a very delicate state of mind!
The Saucepan Man is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-03-2006, 07:20 AM   #181
narfforc
The Dank-lord Sourone
 
narfforc's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Asfahawayasikan
Posts: 1,303
narfforc is a guest of Tom Bombadil.
There is nothing uniquely Christian in LotR, and furthermore I believe there is nothing unique in the bible. Other religions/cult/sects have all the same stories but with different names. The Creation, Virgin Birth, Ressurection, Miracles, Demons and lots of old wise men with white beards, occur all over the Religiuos/Mythologies. Being the Son of a God is also widespread. Good fighting Evil is not a Christian monopoly. Pointing to LotR and saying: This is a Christian work is wrong, what it does have are principles portrayed in the bible, and those very same principles occur in other religions. I am not religious, I do not need a book or Ten Commandments to tell me how to be a good person, I am one, and I have hundreds of commandments of my own. What I read in LotR is Good fighting Evil, and that is mirrored in all sorts of things non-religious. Gandalf fighting The Balrog in Moria smacks of Frey fighting Surt at Ragnorak, Shadowfax compares to Skinfaxi, now the Vikings would be really upset by people calling LotR Christian. I agree that as Tolkien was a Christian some of his beliefs have filtered into the book, however because he was Christian does not make him holier than the next guy, if I had wrote the book and said the same things, how could you then call it a Christian work.
__________________
THE LORD OF THE GRINS:THE ONE PARODY....NOW ON FACEBOOK.... SOON TO BE A BOOK
narfforc is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-03-2006, 07:23 AM   #182
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.
First of all, this is a very interesting debate to follow, though it still seems to come down to what we accept as a definition of the term 'Christian work'. I agree so far with the arguments, though not on all occasions with the tone, of davem.

I have just a little to add to the side issues of this discussion.


Some time ago Fea wrote
Quote:
The problem with that idea is saying that I should be concerned with logic when making associations.
and Mansun agreed on this. On this background I'd like to add to
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Saucepan Man
My point is that each individual reader will still find his or her own “meaning” within LotR. That’s fine by me and I am more than happy to listen to, and discuss, the opinions of others. Where a strong case is put forward for a particular “meaning” , for example on the basis of the text itself and/or extraneous material indicating authorial intention, I am generally quite happy to absorb it within my own understanding of the book, provided that it does not conflict with my own individual intepretation or even, occasionally, if it does - if it makes more sense within the context of my overall understanding of the book.
that the reader is not entirely free in his/her meaning of LotR or any book. A meaning or opinion needs to satisfy coherence and conclusiveness in order to not be, well, meaningless.



Quote:
Originally Posted by The Saucepan Man
I would suggest that it is a basic premise of the book that it is “right” to treat Orcs without kindness or mercy
I would disagree on this on the basis of Gandalf's words to Denethor: "As for me, I pity even his slaves"
It is not absolutely clear who he refers to with 'slaves'. I picture all the tiny, miserable snagas, but it could well also only refer to the men under Sauron's knout.
If we agree on the former, then orcs are to be pitied - at least in theory.
__________________
D'ici bas je perçois ma demeure, ses prairies éternelles perdues dans les nuées.
Là où naissent les couleurs nouvelles,
Là où mon coeur et mon âme sont restés.
Macalaure is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-03-2006, 07:31 AM   #183
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.
Ok, so I got dragged back in...

As far as I'm aware Tolkien hardly ever at made any one-to one connections between his fictional world & the Bible, merely stating on various occasions that something in his writings was 'like' a Biblical event, or in his opinion 'played out' a certain Christian truth (he did refer to Satan as Sauron occasionally, so it seems the two were interchangeable in his mind. As were Orcs & men with chainsaws - personally I think both analogies are flawed & certainly don't stand up to scrutiny). Certainly he was pleased when correspondents drew analogies with Christianity, but one suspects that was because so many readers & critics denied there was any Christian meaning there at all.

Out of respect for the author I think we should refrain from stating 'what Tolkien believed' about this or that. He rejected any allegorical interpretation, & only reluctantly accepted applicability because it was inevitable readers would find their own meanings & interpret the work in their own way. The repeated pleas on his part for people not to interpret the thing, or allegorise it in any way were perfectly understandable in that he did not want a particular interpretation or 'meaning' to be imposed on it, & he himself to be held responsible for a particular 'teaching' or ideological stance. I suspect he would have been appalled by all the books & essays out there which purport to reveal the truth behind LotR.

Now, as someone who is open to the possibility of 'Truth' & suspects that Tolkien was perfectly correct when he agreed that he had 'broken through the veil' I have no problem at all with the idea that a work like LotR can give us a glimpse of something 'more' (or even 'Something More'). Where I get irritated is when people start telling me exactly what that something more is, & that the key to understanding LotR is to read the Bible (or the Koran or the Bhagavad Gita, etc, etc).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Macalure
I agree so far with the arguments, though not on all occasions with the tone, of davem.
'He only does it to annoy
Because he knows it teases'
Lewis Carroll

Last edited by davem; 09-03-2006 at 07:38 AM.
davem is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-03-2006, 08:00 AM   #184
Boromir88
Laconic Loreman
 
Boromir88's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: USA
Posts: 7,065
Boromir88 is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.Boromir88 is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.Boromir88 is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.Boromir88 is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.Boromir88 is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.
Send a message via AIM to Boromir88 Send a message via MSN to Boromir88
White Tree

Quote:
This has turned into yet another Canonicity argument.
Sorry if you've missed the point of my last post.

Quote:
It is not an argument about who knows more about Middle-earth, the creator or the audience?
Oh, but that's what it appears the argument was all about. Should we accept what Tolkien interpretted and intended for his own books, or should the readers freely apply their own meanings even if it is in contradiction to what Tolkien 'intended?' That has been the whole argument since post number 2 it seems.

It very much so centers around the author's intent vs. the reader's freedom. Did the author want to make this a Christian work or didn't he? And if he did, should the reader accept and agree with this interpretation? What makes a Christian Work?

I'm pointing out that all though what Tolkien had 'intended' for his stories may not be taken as authoritative. His purpose should not be utterly cast aside because the reader chooses to believe whatever he feels like. If Tolkien comes out and tells us certain instances which have a religious element, and religion is within the symbolism of Middle-earth, than it's the reader who must accept that Tolkien was trying to say something, and not just throw it off to the side.

If Tolkien comes out and says that a particular moment in his books was like a scene from the Bible, than his meaning should not be cast off as foolishness. The reader may not see it the same way as Tolkien, but I think the reader must accept what the author had wanted to portray, and his intentions should not be thrown out the door.

Quote:
Where I get irritated is when people start telling me exactly what that something more is, & that the key to understanding LotR is to read the Bible
That is simply what I've been trying to argue all along. I don't think we can just toss out and ignore religion (specifically a Christian one), because it was something that was important to the author of the story. And something that can be found in the story. It's perfectly ok for the reader not to see eye to eye with Tolkien, or agree with what he thought about after writing the stories, but he should not be forgotten. The author is also an important factor in the story, like cooks are when making food. What they use, and why they use it, because there is a purpose for each item, should not be ignored.

It was not the author's purpose to dominate over his readers and say 'this is how it is.' But, the reason for creating the stories, and the purpose behind it (whether there's a christian one or not, I don't know) should not be ignored because the reader chooses to.
__________________
I used to be for flip-flopping. Now I'm against it.

Fenris Penguin
Boromir88 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-03-2006, 09:07 AM   #185
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!
Pipe

Quote:
Originally Posted by Macalaure
On this background I'd like to add to ... that the reader is not entirely free in his/her meaning of LotR or any book. A meaning or opinion needs to satisfy coherence and conclusiveness in order to not be, well, meaningless.
Of course the reader is entirely free in his meaning of the book. Whether he will find anyone that agrees with him is another matter. If someone seeks to assert that LotR is all about a rebellion by the evil Free Peoples of the West against a good Sauron, then he is entirely free to do so. If he genuinely believes that, then it is the "right" meaning for him. But most of us would disagree, on the basis that we are heavily influenced by the meaning that the author intended to convey (and so the words, imagery etc that he chose).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Macalaure
I would disagree on this on the basis of Gandalf's words to Denethor: "As for me, I pity even his slaves"
Whatever individual characters may have said, there is not one example of Orcs being shown pity or mercy, in contrast to the Haradrim and the Dunlandings. The closest we get to an approximation of sympathy for Orcs is in the individual characterisations, such as Ugluk, Shagrat and Gorbag. We can possibly understand their desires and motivations here, even if we do not agree with them. But, in essence, Orcs are there to serve evil and be slaughtered by the "good guys". Treecutters, bikers, and even thugs and criminals in the real world are a different kettle of fish entirely.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Boromir88
It was not the author's purpose to dominate over his readers and say 'this is how it is.' But, the reason for creating the stories, and the purpose behind it (whether there's a christian one or not, I don't know) should not be ignored because the reader chooses to.
Why not? Most of us pay great heed to what the author intended through our reading of the words on the page and our interpretation of them. We accept the events portrayed, the descriptions, the motivations of the characters as depicted because of our mutual understanding and acceptance of the language Tolkien used and the manner in which this is to be interpreted (although, even there, there is scope for differing interpretation). But why should we accept that LotR is a Christian work just because the author tells us it is (if indeed that is what he has told us) if it is not necessary for our appreciation of the story? And, if you were to tell me that it is necessary to my appreciation of the story, I would reply that, as far as I am concerned, it is not.
__________________
Do you mind? I'm busy doing the fishstick. It's a very delicate state of mind!
The Saucepan Man is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-03-2006, 09:17 AM   #186
Raynor
Eagle of the Star
 
Raynor's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Sarmisegethuza
Posts: 1,058
Raynor has just left Hobbiton.
Who is to say what are the necessary elements of a story in order to be Christian? Why isn't the intent and the general impression sufficient?

Let's take a zen koan (esspecially one with no significant relevance to oriental geography, culture or religion). Now, we may view this as just another fine story; we may even laugh, I know I did several good times. Now if we know the source and intent of these stories, does anyone have any problem to call them zen stories, even though they may be understood in an infinite number of ways? Even if they may have some (excuse me) lower function, such as to teach, perhaps, morality, good manners, or maybe even to relax, isn't their purpose, actually, to link back to the [zen/buddhist] Truth? Why do we have problems then with Tolkien's work, if, just the same, we know the source, the intent, and the best possible destination to which the author wishes us the story takes us?

If someone wants to convey a message and we understand something else, isn't this understanding, irregardless of how coherent, in fact, an error of communication? How could such an understanding be the prevalent one? Maybe the "tools" used, maybe the "environment" in which we perceived the messaged have distort it. For all of us who admire this work, can Tolkien make an excellent work, and still transmit the wrong message, not the one he intended? Can he be gloriously wrong?
Raynor is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-03-2006, 09:53 AM   #187
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 The Saucepan Man
Of course the reader is entirely free in his meaning of the book. Whether he will find anyone that agrees with him is another matter. If someone seeks to assert that LotR is all about a rebellion by the evil Free Peoples of the West against a good Sauron, then he is entirely free to do so. If he genuinely believes that, then it is the "right" meaning for him. But most of us would disagree, on the basis that we are heavily influenced by the meaning that the author intended to convey (and so the words, imagery etc that he chose).
Well, of course one is free to do whatever one wants to. Still, if his meaning is not coherent and conclusive, then it is invalid and of no substance. Of course, nobody can be punished for having an invalid opinion. (at least not where you and I live)
However, I agree on your second point. A reader can of course maintain a valid meaning that was not intended by the author. The less the author forces his intention upon the reader, the more probable this is.

We have agreed, I think, that the LotR conforms with Christian faith. If you agree on the values that the book carries (you don't agree on all, I know) then this means that on these cases, your values coincide with christian values. Does it suffice for a 'Christian work', that those who agree on its values in consequence agree on christian values? Sorry I keep on asking things like this, but I think that as soon as we all agree on a definition, we're halfway done.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Raynor
Who is to say what are the necessary elements of a story in order to be Christian?
I don't know. As it seems that even we few are unable to come to a common point, somebody should go look it up in an encyclopedia.


Quote:
Originally Posted by The Saucepan Man
Whatever individual characters may have said, there is not one example of Orcs being shown pity or mercy, in contrast to the Haradrim and the Dunlandings. The closest we get to an approximation of sympathy for Orcs is in the individual characterisations, such as Ugluk, Shagrat and Gorbag. We can possibly understand their desires and motivations here, even if we do not agree with them. But, in essence, Orcs are there to serve evil and be slaughtered by the "good guys". Treecutters, bikers, and even thugs and criminals in the real world are a different kettle of fish entirely.
Closest would be Aragorn's speech on the wall of Helm's Deep, but I would't count that. Yet Gandalf's words are at least something. He doesn't say "Only a dead orc is a good orc".
Concerning the equalisation of orcs and treecutters, I don't like this, too. I would only agree so far as to call unnecessary violent or rude behaviour etc., like treecutting, orcish. In the real world, it's Men who commit orcish acts, which is maybe even sadder.
__________________
D'ici bas je perçois ma demeure, ses prairies éternelles perdues dans les nuées.
Là où naissent les couleurs nouvelles,
Là où mon coeur et mon âme sont restés.
Macalaure is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-03-2006, 10:25 AM   #188
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 Macalaure
We have agreed, I think, that the LotR conforms with Christian faith. If you agree on the values that the book carries (you don't agree on all, I know) then this means that on these cases, your values coincide with christian values. Does it suffice for a 'Christian work', that those who agree on its values in consequence agree on christian values? Sorry I keep on asking things like this, but I think that as soon as we all agree on a definition, we're halfway done.
Well even if Barrow-downers agreed that the book at least was in sympathy with the Christian faith (and I don't think all will) then it still wouldn't necessarily be aptly labelled a 'Christian' work. I wonder how the great numbers of Christians out there who consider LotR to be a work of the devil would feel? I knew a few people who were like this and while at school had someone tell me I'd go straight to Hell for reading "a book of Demonic Intent like that". I happen to think that LotR is in broad sympathy with Christian values, but that we still could not label it a "Christian Book" as it is not specifically Christian.

And leading on from that, a quick contrast sprang to mind when reading posts where people talk of LotR signposting readers to "The Truth". One series of books did set out to do this and that was Narnia. So, in what ways is LotR the same as Narnia?

Anyway, some of this thread reminds me of a little old pub called The Eagle and Child. Not the Oxford one, but one in which I spent many happy hours getting sozzled before it was turned into a Gastropub. In the old days it was run by one formidable Mrs Gill, whose Word was Law. Above the bar was a large sign proclaiming "No Religion or Politics To Be Discussed In This Pub!". Well we haven't got one of those signs at the Downs (but we do have a "Mrs Gill" who will tell us off if we're rude or personal about said topics) so threads like this one are able to spring up from time to time. Of course, as soon as you do mention one of those topics people will necessarily want to argue their case (which is why the formidable Mrs Gill had said sign up in her pub). So, when opening cans of worms the birdies will inevitably follow. Controversial ideas will attract rigorous debate.
__________________
Gordon's alive!
Lalwendë is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-03-2006, 10:29 AM   #189
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.
May I return to my analogy of the 'Christian' car? A Christian mechanic makes a car, which he tells me in all seriousness is a 'Christian' car. He assures me that in the manufacture, the materials, the electronics, everything about it, it is in conformity with the scriptures (he never worked on the Sabbath, etc). He is not lying to me. From his perspective it is a 'Christian' car.

But suppose, when I go into the showroom this 'Christian' car is parked next to another one which is exactly the same model, same colour - absolutely identical, but made by a Muslim mechanic. It is a 'Muslim' car. Beside it is a 'Jewish' car, & making up the set is a 'Pagan' car & a 'godless commie pinko liberal bed-wetter' car .

Now, as I say, they are all exactly the same in terms of appearance, performance, everything. In what way is the 'Christian' car unique, or special, other than in the intent, or perception of the mechanic? That intent/perception is entirely subjective. All the cars have been built according to the same plans, in the same way, & are designed to do the same job.

Now I, not being a 'Christian' am unable to percieve any difference between the 'Christian' car & the others. They all seem exactly the same to me & the only difference the belief systems of the individual mechanics.

My question is, is the 'Christian' car actually a Christian car?
davem is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-03-2006, 11:00 AM   #190
Raynor
Eagle of the Star
 
Raynor's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Sarmisegethuza
Posts: 1,058
Raynor has just left Hobbiton.
Quote:
My question is, is the 'Christian' car actually a Christian car?
I doubt any car could be a Christian car, due to the fact that, according to you, it should somehow actually have a refference to Jesus, the resurrection or other Christian themes you mentioned - but I interpret this to be un- (or even anti-) Christian thing to have on a car. Christianity requires, as a first commandment, to love the Lord "And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength" Mark 12-30 (hint)

And this is what Tolkien actually does; the work reffers, first and foremost, to the grace of the One, and this is more Christian than whatever "idolatry of other Christian movites" he could have put.

To continue your analogy with "hypothetical real life", what if Tolkien, the carpenter , set out to make an altar (put whatever other religious object here, if this doesn't come your way), but what he ends up with you consider to be a chair; useful for you to read a book in, to enjoy landscape in, to have a conversation in it, because this is what it is for you... Aren't you in fact missing the point? Isn't it that in this case, your are to say that "hey, go to that Tolkien gentleman, he is a great carpenter, he thinks he makes altars, although he may not realise he makes chairs?"
Raynor is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-03-2006, 11:12 AM   #191
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

And this is what Tolkien actually does; the work reffers, first and foremost, to the grace of the One, and this is more Christian than whatever "idolatry of other Christian movites" he could have put.
No it doesn't. It refers, first & foremost, to an individual's self-sacrifice for the good of others, & his subsequent suffering & rejection by that same community.

On second thoughts, it refers, first & foremost, to the ennoblement of the humble.

On third thoughts, it refers, first & foremost...(fill in the blank)

Quote:
To continue your analogy with "hypothetical real life", what if Tolkien, the carpenter , set out to make an altar (put whatever other religious object here, if this doesn't come your way), but what he ends up with you consider to be a chair; useful for you to read a book in, to enjoy landscape in, to have a conversation in it, because this is what it is for you... Aren't you in fact missing the point? Isn't it that in this case, your are to say that "hey, go to that Tolkien gentleman, he is a great carpenter, he thinks he makes altars, although he may not realise he makes chairs?"
No, I'm not missing the point at all. An altar would be supremely useless (& quite meaningless) to me. If I use the object as a chair at least I am getting something of value out of it. The fact that I can use it as a chair means that it is not specifically & uniquely an altar.
davem is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-03-2006, 11:41 AM   #192
Raynor
Eagle of the Star
 
Raynor's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Sarmisegethuza
Posts: 1,058
Raynor has just left Hobbiton.
Quote:
No it doesn't. It refers, first & foremost, to an individual's self-sacrifice for the good of others, & his subsequent suffering & rejection by that same community.

On second thoughts, it refers, first & foremost, to the ennoblement of the humble.

On third thoughts, it refers, first & foremost...(fill in the blank)
Even if you are right, and I am not saying that you aren't, none of these would be possible withouth the Grace, that other power at work, which is refferenced several times in the very work.
Quote:
An altar would be supremely useless (& quite meaningless) to me.
Then, if I follow you, you admit that you do not want to use it for its highest (and intended) function. Though your other use may be accepted by the author, it is, by no means, the most proper use possible; not necessarily an mis-use, but an "under"-use.
Raynor is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-03-2006, 11:57 AM   #193
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
Even if you are right, and I am not saying that you aren't, none of these would be possible withouth the Grace, that other power at work, which is refferenced several times in the very work.
Yes they would. An individual can sacrifice themselves for others without God being involved, a humble individual may be ennobled without God. In Lotr what we see is not the presence of God as such, but rather a lot of characters who believe in God & refer things & events to Him. Maybe they're just a superstitious bunch...


Quote:
Then, if I follow you, you admit that you do not want to use it for its highest (and intended) function. Though your other use may be accepted by the author, it is, by no means, the most proper use possible; not necessarily an mis-use, but an "under"-use.
No, I'm saying it 'highest & intended function' has no relevance to me. Therefore it cannot be a 'mis-use' as I could not use it for the intention it was designed. To imply that I would be 'under-using' it is to assume that which is to be proved - that somehow the object is 'more' of an altar than a chair. In what way, beyond the builder's wish/intent, is it specifically an altar?I think your analogy is based in the idea that the 'true' meaning of LotR is 'Christian', & that if I do not pick up on that, if, in effect, I do not use the book as a devotional work to aid in my specifically Christian prayers & meditations, I am not using it to its fullest, & am missing something. Needless to say I disagree ...
davem is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-03-2006, 12:17 PM   #194
Raynor
Eagle of the Star
 
Raynor's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Sarmisegethuza
Posts: 1,058
Raynor has just left Hobbiton.
Quote:
Yes they would
I disagree; the Grace is evident at all the important steps: Bilbo finding the ring, the winning of the game by Bilbo, the elves finding the hobbits in the forest, Gandalf reluctance to talk to Saruman, the coming of the ring to Frodo, the coming of all of the fellowship to Rivendell, etc ETC - and these all are recognised, in the books, as manifestation of, what I call, Grace.
Quote:
No, I'm saying it 'highest & intended function' has no relevance to me.
Then why do you have a problem with the fact that your understanding is not the highest possible?
Quote:
To imply that I would be 'under-using' it is to assume that which is to be proved - that somehow the object is 'more' of an altar than a chair
If the most of its applicability, for you, is a chair, fine by even the author. Not the best intended and possible use though..
Quote:
In what way, beyond the builder's wish/intent, is it specifically an altar?I
In its potence to give access to the Truth. To take you back before the Fall. That is, if you accept the likes of such concepts. If you don't, it will most likely forever remain a chair.
Quote:
I think your analogy is based in the idea that the 'true' meaning of LotR is 'Christian', & that if I do not pick up on that, if, in effect, I do not use the book as a devotional work to aid in my specifically Christian prayers & meditations, I am not using it to its fullest, & am missing something.
Not in your prayers; its cathartic effect should directly come from simply reading it. Enjoying this aspect should not require any other ingredient.
Raynor is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-03-2006, 12:30 PM   #195
Boromir88
Laconic Loreman
 
Boromir88's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: USA
Posts: 7,065
Boromir88 is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.Boromir88 is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.Boromir88 is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.Boromir88 is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.Boromir88 is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.
Send a message via AIM to Boromir88 Send a message via MSN to Boromir88
White Tree

Quote:
But why should we accept that LotR is a Christian work just because the author tells us it is (if indeed that is what he has told us) if it is not necessary for our appreciation of the story? And, if you were to tell me that it is necessary to my appreciation of the story, I would reply that, as far as I am concerned, it is not.~SpM
I think part of the confusion has been that I haven't been all that clear. Now that I have some more time, perhaps I can speak (or type?) with some more clarity.

Some have been mentioning an irritation of having others tell them the 'meaning' of LOTR and shoving it down their throats. Personally, I find that irritating as well. But is it not just as irritating to deny that religion, that christianity, was an important influence in Tolkien's life, and absolutely cannot be found in his books? For one to even imagine something as 'Christian' in LOTR is flawed, useless, and serves no purpose

One of my good friends is a minister, and we both share the same passion for LOTR. He is able to connect things with the bible that I never thought of, nor would I ever have considered. And we have had some interesting conversations over the years. One of which he compared the friendship between Sam and Frodo like that of Mary and Joseph's. I don't see it that way, and I don't agree with him, but I understand where he's coming from, and I understand how he sees that. For more information check out this old, old, old thread...

History and literature are big passions of mine. So, I see things that my friend would not, and vice versa. The question is who is right, who is wrong, which is the intent of the author?

The answer is neither, neither of us is more right than the other. And as far the intent of the author goes, personally I think both can be in line. Tolkien as well as being a professor and a historian, was also tied closely to his faith, so I certainly understand why two different people, can see things from Tolkien's books two different ways. Perhaps, if I give an example of a flawed interpretation, it may be a little clearer. I've heard often that the Ring is a representation of Nuclear power, and the Nuclear threat...Tolkien comes out and says in a TV interview on BBC Radio:
Quote:
'May I point out that I wrote these stories before the H bomb was even heard of.'
Whoever, believes that the Ring is a representation of nuclear power, quite frankly, in this case is wrong. It is completely conflicts with the author's purpose and designs. The person may keep going on to believe that the ring is Tolkien representing nuclear power, but bottom line is, this is something Tolkien comes flat out and denies.

The vast majority of the time, we don't have a case like this. But we do know what Tolkien was passionate about, what influenced him, and what he loved, and therefor we can draw our own conclusions.

So, to my friend, to christians, or anyone who chooses to see it that way, LOTR is a 'Christian book.' To me, it's not a Christian book, but it's a historical fantasy adventure. To others it may look like a Hindu book...etc. Which one of us is right? No one is more or less right than the other.

Eventhough to me I don't see it as a Christian book, I see no purpose to be stubborn and say, "whoever believes it is, is wrong, flawed, and it is useless to read it as a Christian book." Because that would deny one of the very many and passionate influences of the author.
__________________
I used to be for flip-flopping. Now I'm against it.

Fenris Penguin
Boromir88 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-03-2006, 12:56 PM   #196
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 disagree; the Grace is evident at all the important steps: Bilbo finding the ring, the winning of the game by Bilbo, the elves finding the hobbits in the forest, Gandalf reluctance to talk to Saruman, the coming of the ring to Frodo, the coming of all of the fellowship to Rivendell, etc ETC - and these all are recognised, in the books, as manifestation of, what I call, Grace.
Only by some. They aren't categorically 'moments of grace' by a long way. In fact there have been several threads on here discussing whether the Ring itself is sentient and has deliberately betrayed its bearer or left them. There is also the thorny topic of fate vs free will to consider, including whether all the actions of the characters are fated (or determined by Wryd, considering the influence on Tolkien, too, of Beowulf), which would necessarily have implications for both characterisation and on the significance of events such as Frodo's acceptance of Gollum.
__________________
Gordon's alive!
Lalwendë is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-03-2006, 01:54 PM   #197
Raynor
Eagle of the Star
 
Raynor's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Sarmisegethuza
Posts: 1,058
Raynor has just left Hobbiton.
Quote:
Only by some.
Well, if some of those are Gandalf and Elrond, the chief lore masters of Middle-Earth, then I would call this rather representative.
Quote:
They aren't categorically 'moments of grace' by a long way.
It is in tone with Tolkien's statement in the Silmarillion, Letters and the Atrabeth about Eru's ever-present action.
Quote:
In fact there have been several threads on here discussing whether the Ring itself is sentient and has deliberately betrayed its bearer or left them.
Even if so, "behind that there was something else at work, beyond any design of the Ring-maker; I can put it no plainer than by saying that Bilbo was meant to find the Ring, and not by its maker; in which case you also were meant to have it. And that maybe an encouraging thought." Shadow of the Past
Quote:
There is also the thorny topic of fate vs free will to consider
How do you consider fate would refute the position I am arguing for? Its very existence would be a manifestation of Grace, given Eru's intent - the only one who could actually decide fate.
Raynor is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-03-2006, 02:50 PM   #198
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
Well, if some of those are Gandalf and Elrond, the chief lore masters of Middle-Earth, then I would call this rather representative.
It is in tone with Tolkien's statement in the Silmarillion, Letters and the Atrabeth about Eru's ever-present action.
Even if so, "behind that there was something else at work, beyond any design of the Ring-maker; I can put it no plainer than by saying that Bilbo was meant to find the Ring, and not by its maker; in which case you also were meant to have it. And that maybe an encouraging thought." Shadow of the Past
How do you consider fate would refute the position I am arguing for? Its very existence would be a manifestation of Grace, given Eru's intent - the only one who could actually decide fate.
Even if we accept that the incidents you describe are a consequence of 'grace' this merely means that the behaviour of Eru is similar to the behavour of the Christian God. That does not prove that LotR is a Christian work, merely that it doesn't contradict Christian teaching. Allah, Vishnu, the 'God' concieved by many cultures & religious traditions could be represented by Eru. If a non-Christian read the book they would have no reason to take it as a Christian work. Hence, only a Christian is likely to interpret such general references to Deity as references to the Christian God. That means that only in the mind of its author & its Christian readers is it a Christian work. To other readers it isn't. I'm quite sure many Christians don't regard it as a Christian work - it does not evangelise, does not mention Jesus or the crucifixion & resurrection of Christ, or the need for repentance & acceptance of His sacrifice. If it mentioned, either directly or indirectly (as in Aslan's death & resurrection on LWW) I would happily accept it as a Christian work. It doesn't, therefore it isn't.

Last edited by davem; 09-03-2006 at 02:54 PM.
davem is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-03-2006, 03:59 PM   #199
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
How do you consider fate would refute the position I am arguing for? Its very existence would be a manifestation of Grace, given Eru's intent - the only one who could actually decide fate.
Because Fate would take away the important choices which characters must make in order to do the right thing. If Fate had it pre-ordained that they were going to choose to act in a certain way then there would be no point in choosing to do the right thing, there would be no point to Frodo's behaviour, nor any point to his suffering. This reduces the whole tale to just a sick game played by a creator who wants the beings he has created to go through the mill for some unknown reason, whereas when events are determined by their actions alone, it is up to them to do right and act in the way that will please Eru.
__________________
Gordon's alive!
Lalwendë is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-03-2006, 06:10 PM   #200
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!
White-Hand

Strike me down! Well I do declare! Am I imagining things or are davem and I arguing from the same position on this thread ... !!??

Will wonders never cease?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Boromir88
So, to my friend, to christians, or anyone who chooses to see it that way, LOTR is a 'Christian book.' To me, it's not a Christian book, but it's a historical fantasy adventure. To others it may look like a Hindu book...etc. Which one of us is right? No one is more or less right than the other.

Eventhough to me I don't see it as a Christian book, I see no purpose to be stubborn and say, "whoever believes it is, is wrong, flawed, and it is useless to read it as a Christian book." Because that would deny one of the very many and passionate influences of the author.
You'll find no argument from me there. I have no objection to people having their own interpretation. I only object when they try to foist it on me, either directly or indirectly by implying that my appreciation of it is inferior to theirs because I do not share their view of it.
__________________
Do you mind? I'm busy doing the fishstick. It's a very delicate state of mind!
The Saucepan Man 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 01:54 PM.



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