The Barrow-Downs Discussion Forum


Visit The *EVEN NEWER* Barrow-Downs Photo Page

Go Back   The Barrow-Downs Discussion Forum > Announcements and Obituaries > Haudh-en-Ndengin
User Name
Password
Register FAQ Members List Calendar Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read


 
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 08-15-2003, 10:13 PM   #1
Kaiserin
Wight
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Cair Paravel
Posts: 150
Kaiserin has just left Hobbiton.
Sting Parallels with Christianity, and their effect on his work

In other threads, it has been remarked that Toliken's Christian /Catholic background is reflected in his works, i.e. :

* Eru / Iluvatar - reflects his belief in God, and monotheistic theology.
* Divine intervention or "angelic beings" - as seen in the ainur, the valar, or
the eagles perhaps?
* Evil and corruption as the perversion of the will of Eru.

Im am not asking about symbolism. Tolkien has made it clear that he did not intend any symbolism or analogies. Niether am I asking whether his works are Christian literature or not. I would just like to open a discussion about readers' observed parallels with Christian / Catholic and Biblical themes - where they may be found in the books, most of all their overall effect on the entire work, and of course what you have to say about others' remarks on the topic.

Though Professor Tolkien did not intend any analogies, We know that his world view, his philosophy and theology were very much reflected in his writing. Bible-themes such as faith, hope and perseverance, for example are all over the plot lines.

I'd very much like to read your thoughts on this.

EDIT: I changed the title to streamline the thread a little bit.

[ August 18, 2003: Message edited by: Kaiserin ]
__________________
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
Kaiserin is offline  
Old 08-15-2003, 10:53 PM   #2
Iarwain
Pugnaciously Primordial Paradox
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Birnham Wood
Posts: 808
Iarwain has just left Hobbiton.
Boots

People can force whatever analogies on the books they want. Here are some I've encountered in friends and other people.

-The ring holds the idea of human weakness/temptation.

-Gandalf is ressurrected from the dead, though this would represent a more Johovah's Wittness point of view than Christian (my friend probably didn't realize that at the time).

-The Nazgul are demons (obviously)

That's all I can remember right now.

Iarwian
__________________
"And what are oaths but words we say to God?"
Iarwain is offline  
Old 08-15-2003, 10:57 PM   #3
Meneltarmacil
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
 
Meneltarmacil's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: The bottom of the ocean, discussing philosophy with a giant squid
Posts: 2,287
Meneltarmacil is a guest of Tom Bombadil.
Eye

Thought I'd add my two-cents' worth.

Morgoth was originally the most powerful Valar, but he rebelled against the will of Eru and wanted to usurp his place, so he was cast out with the help of Tulkas.

Satan was originally the most powerful angel, but he rebelled against the will of God and wanted to usurp his place, so he was cast out with the help of the archangel Michael.

Anybody see a parallel here?

[ August 16, 2003: Message edited by: Meneltarmacil ]
__________________
I ♣ baby seals.
Meneltarmacil is offline  
Old 08-15-2003, 11:14 PM   #4
Iarwain
Pugnaciously Primordial Paradox
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Birnham Wood
Posts: 808
Iarwain has just left Hobbiton.
Boots

Elves are deathless and live in a paradisial setting (Valinor).

Unfallen man would not be concerned with life and death, and would prosper in Eden.

Iarwain

P.S. Meneltarmacil, about Satan. What you said is not exacly Biblical. It branches from the works of Dante and Milton. If you actually look in the Bible itself, Lucifer is only mentioned by name in Isaiah 14, and even there it is a scant refrence. Search the Bible, and you will find very few mentions of Satan, or the Devil, or any such things. The history of Lucifer (most powerful angel, cast down into hell, ultimate tempter) has almost no solid background.

[ August 16, 2003: Message edited by: Iarwain ]
__________________
"And what are oaths but words we say to God?"
Iarwain is offline  
Old 08-15-2003, 11:16 PM   #5
Legolas
A Northern Soul
 
Legolas's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Valinor
Posts: 1,846
Legolas has just left Hobbiton.
Sting

Those listed so far are the exact sort of parallels that've been discussed before.

They're really not what the thread author was going for, I think. We're not speaking of such direct parallels (such as stating Gandalf is Jesus, Frodo is Jesus, Eonwe is Michael, etc.) He/she is speaking of more subtle appearances of principles and such that Tolkien found to be important in life creeping into his work, whether consciously or otherwise. At least, that's the best direction for this thread to take.

Let's try to stick to that, else this thread will go down the same old roads that've been worn to death and be closed soon enough.
__________________
...take counsel with thyself, and remember who and what thou art.
Legolas is offline  
Old 08-16-2003, 01:35 AM   #6
Måns
Haunting Spirit
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Stockholm
Posts: 63
Måns has just left Hobbiton.
Sting

I just want to express that It think it is sad that it is not accepted what Tolkien himself says about it, that they are not, and cannot be gods, in any way since Eru is the one and irreplacable. When it comes to what is after all a written story, we have to, if we take it to the triarii, go down to what the author himself says. In this case, he clearly states that there are strong bonds between his christian beliefs (that I byt the way do not share, I am a hardened atehist, though, the thought of a God is not alien to me) and that the valar represent Angels, guarding over men and elves. I have all the time failed to see why we should distrust him? He is hte creator (sub-creator) of this world and I think we should trust that he knew it best.

Måns
__________________
"One death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a stastistic."

Josef Stalin
Måns is offline  
Old 08-16-2003, 03:19 AM   #7
Gwaihir the Windlord
Essence of Darkness
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Evermore
Posts: 1,420
Gwaihir the Windlord has just left Hobbiton.
Sting

Quote:
I have all the time failed to see why we should distrust him? He is hte creator (sub-creator) of this world and I think we should trust that he knew it best.
You wouldn't by any chance be referring to what I said in the recent thread about Eagles, by any chance? If you are, you have unfortunately misunderstood me.

In it I said that Eagles, in the instances where they have appeared, can be likened to angels. They commune between Manwe the King of Arda and the world, fly, are majestic and powerful and intervene on occasion for the help of Mena and Elves when there are in need. As I recall, you said this couldn't be true as the Valar were clearly the angels of Middle-Earth; and not the gods, as I and one or two others stated.

I said this there, but I'll repeat myself again now. Illuvatar, clearly, is the One God of Ea, with the Valar and Maiar a lower order of spirits and proceeding from this One God. They are not gods in the same sense that Illuvatar is. They are likened to angels, although the rigid statement that they are a direct representation of angels is in error.

They can be likened to angels, but they can also -- and this does in fact fit them better -- be likened to the deities of ancient Greco-Roman heathenism. (You say yourself in another thread that Tolkien had a classical education.) Can they not, now? They are neither, and in either case Illuvatar the Oneis the One God. Illuvatar is not really anything like the Ainur, as I'm sure we'll all agree, and is on an infinitely higher plane. I believe you may be taking my likening of the Ainur to 'gods' of Middle-Earth as something which it is not.

And the Eagles can be said to be angel-like figures in Middle-Earth. More so than the Valar in their imagery, which is what we were talking about in that thread.

At any rate, though, you should consider this if you are trying to over-parallel Ainu and angel -- in Christianity, and frankly I don't care whether you're 'hardened' in your atheism or not, the angels did not create the world. There was no Music of the Angels, and it was not the labour of the angels but God himself who spoke the Universe into being. The angels dwell with God, and the Valar and Maiar are enbedded within this world until it ends. As I said, the Ainur do not fit the quo of 'angels' all that well, while undoubtedly there are similarites, and are in fact a thing of their own that, in Middle-Earth, is rather more similar to deity.

The Powers of the World is their title. they are 'gods' in Middle-Earth as well as angels; however, they are not by any means Eru's or true Gods (with, as you'll notice, a capital 'G'). If you can understand it, this is what myself and others meant in the Eagle discussion thread.
Gwaihir the Windlord is offline  
Old 08-16-2003, 04:07 AM   #8
Kaiserin
Wight
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Cair Paravel
Posts: 150
Kaiserin has just left Hobbiton.
Sting

Just to clarify:

It's true that anyone and everyone can come up with endless symbols and analogies found in Tolkien's work. But anyway, let's focus on what the books convey about the writer, about his thought, his theology and philosophy, and how all this affected the literary content i.e. -

Tolkien's creation of Eru/Iluvatar reflects that he believes in a supreme, divine being from whom all originate (whether he is One God or many "gods" is irrelevant, as far as the books are concerned). Because of this Being, a concept of ultimate good was established in Tolkien's Ea. Now, with the existence of "good", its corruption is what is termed as "evil". With the existence of "good" and "evil" in Arda, there comes now a basis for a conflict and a very interesting plot...

The Valar and the Maiar are rather interesting. They could be likened to angels, "gods", demigods, whatever (Tolkien did not make any direct symbolism, so I personally don't think they are supposed to symbolize anything). Those Valar who still submit to the supremacy of Eru are those whom he uses to intervene in the lives of the mortals. This shows that the Creator of all keeps in touch and is still very involved with his creation - very much like Tolkien's God. Their presence in the stories provide a sense of the supernatural; elements of divine intervention and deux ex machina can then be present in the literature, without being "corny". Tolkien believed in a single God, Who has servants, and Who is very concerned with His creation, and intervenes in certain situations.

By the way - let's not pick on other people's philosophies and theologies here [img]smilies/biggrin.gif[/img]

[ August 16, 2003: Message edited by: Kaiserin ]
__________________
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
Kaiserin is offline  
Old 08-16-2003, 01:44 PM   #9
Estelyn Telcontar
Princess of Skwerlz
 
Estelyn Telcontar's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: where the Sea is eastwards (WtR: 6060 miles)
Posts: 7,528
Estelyn Telcontar is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Estelyn Telcontar is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Silmaril

For additional discussions on the theme of Christianity/religion in Tolkien's works, please check out these threads (among others): Trilogy and Bible?, Bible and Tolkien?, Tolkien and Christianity, and Tolkien, Lewis & Theology. Please note that those threads which have stayed open are the ones in which discussion is polite and non-aggressive.
__________________
'Mercy!' cried Gandalf. 'If the giving of information is to be the cure of your inquisitiveness, I shall spend all the rest of my days in answering you. What more do you want to know?' 'The whole history of Middle-earth...'
Estelyn Telcontar is offline  
Old 08-16-2003, 02:45 PM   #10
Måns
Haunting Spirit
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Stockholm
Posts: 63
Måns has just left Hobbiton.
Pipe

Huh? Stayed open? Have there been any discussion carried out in a not so nice tone here? I hope I am not involved in taht, unknowingly, what else. I really don't care if you use capitol letters or no, simply put the word is still a word and in teh eyes of Tolkien, there could only be one God or god or god-like creature, even though the valar knew him better than men they were not Gods or gods or Godesses or godesses. One could say that men were more like Gods /gods since they ahd the power to create, in difference from the valar.

Måns

By the way, I appreciate that vote with a number one rating, I like such mature behaviour.

And Gwaihir, I am opposed to you calling htem god, not calling eagles angels, and I would appreciate some change in attitude.
Moreover, they can not be likened to the Greeek deities (not roman, the roman Gods were not personified), for several features. This comes out strongly if you read the theogony and Wor and Days by Hesiodos, the in ancient times greatest authority on the subject. The likeness you are talking aboiut exists only on the very uttermost surface. Zeus and his likes are not created, they are born, but still they have the power to create Zeus is the ruler of the world and at the top of the divine order, Manwë cannot be. Then, the valar are missing very human sides that the Greek gods have, they may indeed seem more distant and noble. If you haven't read anything by Hesiodos, I strongly recommend you go to a well-sorted bookstore, I think he is called Hesiod in the vulgar tongue.

Måns

[ August 17, 2003: Message edited by: Måns ]

Edit: Invitations for conflict won't be tolerated

[ August 18, 2003: Message edited by: Legolas ]
__________________
"One death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a stastistic."

Josef Stalin
Måns is offline  
Old 08-16-2003, 06:36 PM   #11
Meneltarmacil
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
 
Meneltarmacil's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: The bottom of the ocean, discussing philosophy with a giant squid
Posts: 2,287
Meneltarmacil is a guest of Tom Bombadil.
Eye

As a Christian, I would consider the Valar very powerful angels. Some people could call them gods, but they are not. They are mighty, but not all-powerful. Only God (or Eru, as he is called here) is, and Tolkien clearly did not mean for the Valar to be gods. For further proof...
Quote:
The Great among these spirits the Elves name the Valar, the Powers of Arda, and Men have often called them gods.
This quote from the Silmarillion states that the Valar are still only "spirits", very powerful, but not gods, although people have (mistakenly) called them gods.

[ August 16, 2003: Message edited by: Meneltarmacil ]
__________________
I ♣ baby seals.
Meneltarmacil is offline  
Old 08-17-2003, 12:11 AM   #12
Niluial
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
 
Niluial's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: In the darkness of white
Posts: 631
Niluial has just left Hobbiton.
Send a message via AIM to Niluial Send a message via MSN to Niluial
Boots

The fairest way to put the relationship between Tolkien's fictional writings and his Christianity may be this: In the characters and situations of his "new myth," Tolkien naturally reflected the Christian grace he had experienced in his own life as a devout Roman Catholic.

This grace emerges in the story not as an explicit apologetic or even an allegory, but rather in two other ways: First, in the long, legendary history of Middle-earth—a realm that had always dwelt under the threat of evil and the assurance of providential care. Second, in the trials, sins, and virtues of the characters themselves.

Tolkien's Silmarillion allows us to look inside the elaborately interwoven system of legends that provide the background for The Lord of the Rings. The former book begins with a creation story paralleling the Christian one. Iluvatar is God. Melkor is the devil. Melkor wants to corrupt and take for his own the Men Iluvatar has created.

The Lord of the Rings tells how, in Middle-earth’s Third Age, one such corrupting attempt by a lieutenant of Morgoth, the evil Sauron, is thwarted by the providence of Iluvatar and with the help of His servants. Among these angel-like characters sent from the West—a clear parallel to heaven—to watch over and finally to ensure the triumph of the land's struggling inhabitants, is Gandalf.

It is in the details of that great trilogy's plot and characters that most readers sense Tolkien's Christian conviction. Here are self-sacrifice, courage, and pity, set over against greed, vainglory, and the lust for power. The "moral compass" is never in doubt. And it is not generic—it is deeply Christian. For example:

At key moments several characters recognize that although they must do deeds of valor for the greater good, it is only through a mysterious providence, beyond their understanding, that good will triumph over evil. This reflects the gospel's saving priority of grace over free will.

Seemingly weak, insignificant Hobbits help to bear the burden of the evil One Ring until it can be destroyed. This echoes the gospel theme of the foolish confounding the wise and the weak conquering the strong.

The pity of Frodo for Gollum clears the way for the final moment when the Ring is cast into the furnace of Mount Doom. This affirms the gospel's good news of God's mercy providing salvation to an undeserving humanity.

And so on. Writing against the backdrop of two chaotic, evil World Wars, Tolkien created each of his characters, as he once said to W. H. Auden, to embody "in the garments of time and place, universal truth and everlasting life."

True, such parallels as those just listed may often have been, as Tolkien himself avowed, unconscious. But given Tolkien's beliefs about the nature of Myth, they were inevitable. In a famous lecture titled "On Fairy Stories", Tolkien argued that in mythical tales a reader may gain a "fleeting glimpse of Joy, Joy beyond the walls of the world." Such glimpses, said Tolkien, are reflections of the one True Myth: the coming, dying, and rising of Christ.

[ August 17, 2003: Message edited by: Niluial ]
__________________
Life is not about how many breaths you take but about how many times it leaves you breathless.
My rants, moans and groans in other words my Blog
My Magical Site
Niluial is offline  
Old 08-17-2003, 02:28 AM   #13
Gwaihir the Windlord
Essence of Darkness
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Evermore
Posts: 1,420
Gwaihir the Windlord has just left Hobbiton.
Sting

I'm not going to join this discussion overly much, just until my debate with Mans has conluded itself (probably with neither himself nor -- certainly not [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img] -- myself having changed our opinions, but all the same).

Quote:
there could only be one God or god or god-like creature...
Exactly what I said, and this is Illuvatar. I may as well copy and paste the sections of my post that said this, actually (sorry about this but I think it summed it up ok)
Quote:
Illuvatar, clearly, is the One God of Ea, with the Valar and Maiar a lower order of spirits and proceeding from this One God. They are not gods in [anything like =)] the same sense that Illuvatar is... however, they are not by any means Eru's or true Gods (with, as you'll notice, a capital 'G').
There really should be a different word for the two 'types' of 'god' we are talking about. One, the One, is Eru, the real God; the other is an Earth-deity, similar to the 'gods' of Olympus. There can indeed be no more than one Illuvatar or Illuvatar-like 'creature' (funny way to put it though [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]) in Tolkien's work.

(What you say about the difference between Ancient Greek gods and Valar is true. They are not the same thing -- the point of my post was that neither are they the same as angels.[/i])

Since time is short for me here, if I may, I'll just give one more quote of yours which I didn't quite understand:
Quote:
And Gwaihir, I am opposed to you calling htem god, not calling eagles angels, and I would appreciate some change in attitude.
I am no more 'calling' the Ainur gods as I am 'calling' the eagles angels. A simple comparison is all I see between them, and neither of these analogies directly represents the other. I am not accusing either of being either, as I in turn would say that you are doing with the Valar-angels paralell.
If you aren't opposed to my likening of eagles to angels, you must have changed your mind about it... you certainly were, at any rate. [img]smilies/rolleyes.gif[/img] But that's fine, of course, and if you like I will try not to include eagles in this thread.

Ok, that's it from me for now.
Gwaihir the Windlord is offline  
Old 08-18-2003, 10:46 AM   #14
Legolas
A Northern Soul
 
Legolas's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Valinor
Posts: 1,846
Legolas has just left Hobbiton.
Sting

Tolkien's direct thoughts on the matter:

Letter No. 131
Quote:
The cycles begin with a cosmogonical myth: the Music of the Ainur. God and the Valar (or powers: Englished as gods) are revealed. These latter are as we should say angelic powers, whose function is to exercise delegated authority in their spheres (of rule and government, not creation, making or re-making). They are 'divine', that is, were originally 'outside' and existed 'before' the making of the world. Their power and wisdom is derived from their Knowledge of the cosmogonical drama, which they perceived first as a drama (that is as in a fashion we perceive a story composed by some-one else), and later as a 'reality'. On the side of mere narrative device, this is, of course, meant to provide beings of the same order of beauty, power, and majesty as the 'gods' of higher mythology, which can yet be accepted – well, shall we say baldly, by a mind that believes in the Blessed Trinity.
[...] The Knowledge of the Creation Drama was incomplete: incomplete in each individual 'god', and incomplete if all the knowledge of the pantheon were pooled. For (partly to redress the evil of the rebel Melkor, partly for the completion of all in an ultimate finesse of detail) the Creator had not revealed all. The making, and nature, of the Children of God, were the two chief secrets. All that the gods knew was that they would come, at appointed times. The Children of God are thus primevally related and akin, and primevally different. Since also they are something wholly 'other' to the gods, in the making of which the gods played no part, they are the object of the special desire and love of the gods.
Throughout the rest of the letter (and the other letters contained in the compilation) he refers to Eru as 'God' and 'Creator' while he refers to the Valar as 'gods', 'Powers', and even 'Gods' and 'Gods of the West'... Noted in bold.

Quote:
The main body of the tale, the Silmarillion proper, is about the fall of the most gifted kindred of the Elves, their exile from Valinor (a kind of Paradise, the home of the Gods) in the furthest West, their re-entry into Middle-earth, the land of their birth but long under the rule of the Enemy, and their strife with him, the power of Evil still visibly incarnate.
Quote:
The sons of Feanor take a terrible and blasphemous oath of enmity and vengeance against all or any, even of the gods, who dares to claim any part or right in the Silmarilli.
Quote:
The jewels are recovered (by the final intervention of the gods) only to be lost for ever to the Elves, one in the sea, one in the deeps of earth, and one as a star of heaven.
Quote:
For the most pan these are 'good Men' – families and their chiefs who rejecting the service of Evil, and hearing rumours of the Gods of the West and the High Elves, flee westward and come into contact with the Exiled Elves in the midst of their war.
__________________
...take counsel with thyself, and remember who and what thou art.
Legolas is offline  
Old 08-18-2003, 12:15 PM   #15
Legolas Greenleaf
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Eye

I have great interest in this topic but I have to be very careful not inject my strong religious beliefs. However, the symbolism doesn't appeal to me as much as do the virtues. How often is the concept of Mercy so out front in popular culture? From Frodo and Gollum to Faramir, who to paraphrase said to Sam that he only slays those who deserve it and even then with a heavy heart. Even to the needless felling of trees by the orcs is portrayed as a crime against nature.

I think that even in this story of battle and honor, the mercy and compassion for all living things does more to represent the views of Jesus than anyone coming back fromn the dead or parting seas etc.

Not to belittle that side of the discussion as I also find that very interesting.
 
Old 08-18-2003, 10:00 PM   #16
Kaiserin
Wight
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Cair Paravel
Posts: 150
Kaiserin has just left Hobbiton.
Sting

I enjoyed reading your post, Niluial. [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]
True, the "moral compass" defines a standard. Scrupulousness and righteousness are often (if not always) favored; vainglory and lust are rarely (if not never) admired.

Mr. Greenleaf: Of course, when we refer to Christianity, we don't just refer to doctrines but more importantly the virtues (Niluial has mentioned quite a lot). [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]

I just came to thinking, though... Although certain virtues (i.e., mercy, etc.) are strongly held by Christianity, these virtues are not exclusively Christian, are they? - It's not really relevant to this discussion, but I was just thinking.
__________________
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
Kaiserin is offline  
Old 08-18-2003, 11:35 PM   #17
Lush
Fair and Cold
 
Lush's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: the big onion
Posts: 1,803
Lush is a guest of Tom Bombadil.
Send a message via ICQ to Lush Send a message via AIM to Lush Send a message via Yahoo to Lush
Sting

The nature of mercy in Professor Tolkien's work reminds me of the role it plays in Mikhail Bulgakov's Master and Margarita which itself links back to good old Faustus. *wink wink*

The climax of Bulgakov's novel largely depended upon a single act of mercy, just as, to a certain extent, did the LotR.

And while mercy has never been trademarked by Christianity, it's presence, to me, is of the highest importance in two of my favorite books (LotR & Margarita) that deal with the re-telling of certain Christian themes.

A bit off the original topic, I fear. Back to your regularly scheduled posting now.
__________________
~The beginning is the word and the end is silence. And in between are all the stories. This is one of mine~
Lush is offline  
Old 08-19-2003, 02:32 AM   #18
Gwaihir the Windlord
Essence of Darkness
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Evermore
Posts: 1,420
Gwaihir the Windlord has just left Hobbiton.
Sting

The most profound of the Christian paralells, I feel, in Tolkien's work is the most obvious one of Illuvatar. The One God. I feel that the mythology is a fascinating -- and enlightening -- exploration of the nature of God.

Actually, it is probably this feature of Tolkien's work that holds the greatest attraction for me.
Gwaihir the Windlord is offline  
Old 08-20-2003, 03:34 PM   #19
Evisse the Blue
Brightness of a Blade
 
Evisse the Blue's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: wherever I may roam
Posts: 2,740
Evisse the Blue has just left Hobbiton.
Send a message via MSN to Evisse the Blue Send a message via Yahoo to Evisse the Blue Send a message via Skype™ to Evisse the Blue
Sting

Reading Tolkien's works you get the idea that their writer believed in God using his creatures for His greater purpose.

Quote:
But Ilúvatar knew that Men, being set amid the turmoils of the powers of the world, would stray often, and would not use their gifts in harmony; and he said: ''These too in their time shall find that all that they do redounds at the end only to the glory of my work.'
Also, in LOTR even the apparent mistakes that are made by characters who are innerently good turn out to be fortunate events. Take for instance Pippin's looking into the Palantir, or Barliman's delay in sending the letter to Frodo.

What's more, even dreadful things that happen (Gandalf's fall in Moria, Frodo's capture) serve only to ensure the quest's success, and all events and actions fall together like one giant puzzle, that completes the fool's hope that hangs by a thread.

Like Tolkien said in one of his minor works (Leaf by Niggle, I think): "Things could have been different but they couldn't have been better."

I think this is a very optimist view of the world and a profoundly Christian one. It implies hope and faith in your path in life, not excluding free will but holding on to the belief that someone will watch over you.
__________________
And no one was ill, and everyone was pleased, except those who had to mow the grass.
Evisse the Blue is offline  
Old 08-25-2003, 03:10 PM   #20
HCIsland
Zombie Cannibal
 
HCIsland's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Ontario, Canada
Posts: 1,000
HCIsland has just left Hobbiton.
Sting

The heirarchy of devinity seems very Christian to me. As has already been mentioned, the one God in Iluvatar but then the Valar seem Arch-angels with Morgoth the fallen Valar as Satan is a fallen Arch-angel. Of course, one has to be careful not to carry these analogies too far.

Perhaps this only occured to me, but Earendil leaving Middle-Earth for Aman that eventually resulted in, amoung other things, the Noldor being able to return to Valinor, has similarities with Christ leaving Earth to open the Gates of Heaven.

H.C.
__________________
"Stir not the bitterness in the cup that I mixed myself. Have I not tasted it now many nights upon my tongue, foreboding that worse yet lay in the dregs."
-Denethor
HCIsland is offline  
Old 08-26-2003, 04:17 AM   #21
Amarie of the Vanyar
Wight
 
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Valinor
Posts: 215
Amarie of the Vanyar has just left Hobbiton.
Sting

Yes, HCIsland, I thought the same about Eärendil, and his re-opening of the 'Gates of Aman' [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]

There is also a parallel in that Tolkien uses the word Hope (Estel) to refer to both of them. Eärendil is called Gil-Estel when seen for the firt time from Middle-Earth, and the coming of Christ is called the 'Old Hope' in the Athrabeth. [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]
__________________
But it is said that not until that hour had such cold thoughts ruled Finrod; for indeed she whom he had loved was Amarië of the Vanyar, and she went not with him into exile.
Amarie of the Vanyar is offline  
Old 08-27-2003, 10:55 PM   #22
Lyta_Underhill
Haunted Halfling
 
Lyta_Underhill's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: an uncounted length of steps--floating between air molecules
Posts: 844
Lyta_Underhill has just left Hobbiton.
Sting

Quote:
Reading Tolkien's works you get the idea that their writer believed in God using his creatures for His greater purpose.
Indeed this appears to be so, Evisse, even unto Melkor himself:
Quote:
And thou, Melkor, shalt see that no theme may be played that hath not its uttermost source in me, nor can any alter the music in my despite. For he that attempteth this shall prove but mine instrument in the devising of things more wonderful, which he himself hath not imagined.
--Iluvatar to the Ainur in the Ainulindale.

Thus, the concept of "evil will will evil mar," that seems to run through the entire mythos appears to postulate that there is nothing, not even the greatest evil known, that can overthrow the One God, Eru Iluvatar. Even evil will work to the good, so to speak and be "better to have been...and yet remain evil." (its a quote, but I can't find it!) The great paradox of evil here shows in the fact that those perpetrators are actually working, unknowingly, to the good, while still ending in "persistent wickedness." (i.e. Gollum, who tried SO hard to reform and yet never let go of the one great evil influence in his life and so perished in a state of un-grace, although his actions provided the aforesaid grace to Frodo.)

The message, it would seem, is those possessing a pure good spirit can experience the grace of Iluvatar, whereas those who work against the good are constrained to his plan, but do not gain that personal grace that the Faithful do.

This seeming "paradox" of evil would seem to negate the presence of true evil in a realm where Eru's will is all, and yet there is the concept of grace that affects the individual and overrules the nebulous poles of good and evil in this view. How can evil be a part of the good and still remain evil? The intent to usurp the position of the One God, to rule over others, to bend others or a realm to one's own will, i.e., to play God. And, of course, this is never possible in Eru's realm.

Well, I can't think of anything else to say, and I hope I haven't bored the room! [img]smilies/wink.gif[/img] Thanks for your indulgence!

Cheers,
Lyta
__________________
“…she laid herself to rest upon Cerin Amroth; and there is her green grave, until the world is changed, and all the days of her life are utterly forgotten by men that come after, and elanor and niphredil bloom no more east of the Sea.”
Lyta_Underhill is offline  
Old 08-28-2003, 09:55 PM   #23
Corwyn Celesil
Haunting Spirit
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: The House of the Fountain, Gondolin
Posts: 57
Corwyn Celesil has just left Hobbiton.
Silmaril

A paradox is something that appears contradictory, yet is not. God/Eru using the evil that is done to bring about His plan while not negating free will is a theme in both the Bible and LOTR, and one that has always delighted me (I love paradoxes).
Another very strong theme is divine intervention in the characters' lives. All through LOTR runs the thread of 'This was meant to happen,' or 'It seems like a coincidence, but it isn't.' When Iluvatar and the Ainur made Middle-earth, there were things that Iluvatar hid from the Ainur, and I think one thing that was to come as a surprise was His close intervention in the happenings and lives of Middle-earth, at least in LOTR. Divine intervention is one of the most basic themes in the Bible.
Have any of you noticed Tolkien's delight in beauty? While this is not overtly a Biblical/Christian theme, it is a sort of tip of the hat to the Creator of that beauty. I wonder if Tolkien was familiar with Gerard Manley Hopkins, a Jesuit Priest who wrote poetry that gloried in the beauty of God's creation. His descriptions of beauty seem to have that same kind of joy.
__________________
Then came there from the south of the city the people of the Fountain, and Ecthelion was their lord, and silver and diamonds were their delight; and swords very long and bright and pale did they wield . . .
Corwyn Celesil is offline  
Old 08-29-2003, 12:39 PM   #24
Evisse the Blue
Brightness of a Blade
 
Evisse the Blue's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: wherever I may roam
Posts: 2,740
Evisse the Blue has just left Hobbiton.
Send a message via MSN to Evisse the Blue Send a message via Yahoo to Evisse the Blue Send a message via Skype™ to Evisse the Blue
Sting

Quote:
Have any of you noticed Tolkien's delight in beauty? While this is not overtly a Biblical/Christian theme, it is a sort of tip of the hat to the Creator of that beauty.
Lovely said! yes, what better way to praise God than praise his creations? Also, you are right, Hopkins's poetry is also full of charming paradoxes that ultimately praise the God that made them possible. Like Tolkien's stories, thjey inspire the same feeling of joy in the reader.
__________________
And no one was ill, and everyone was pleased, except those who had to mow the grass.
Evisse the Blue is offline  
Old 09-05-2003, 06:45 PM   #25
Maeglanthirion
Animated Skeleton
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Atlanta
Posts: 47
Maeglanthirion has just left Hobbiton.
Send a message via AIM to Maeglanthirion
Tolkien

As a Christian, this makes the series even more appealing. I see many parrallels also, as well as my pastor. This is just a thought, but what if Gandalf represented Jesus, and when he fought the balrog and "died", he died to save the others; for the good of the fellowship and for the good of the world. Then he "returns from the dead" and helps defeat Sauron. That's just a thought, but I also agree with the parallel with Melkor and Satan. I'm trying to read the Silmarillion, but its a difficult book. Too many names; hard to remember. Well, just throwin some things out there.
__________________
"I see in your eyes, the same fear that would take the heart of me. A day may come, when the courage of men fails, and we break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day. This day, we fight!..."
Maeglanthirion is offline  
Old 09-06-2003, 11:02 AM   #26
Arothir
Wight
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: the Realm of Nargothrond beyond Narog
Posts: 163
Arothir has just left Hobbiton.
Eye

Don't worry, you'll make it through the book.
__________________
Then Felagund upon the head
of Arothir set it: "Nephew mine,
till I return this crown is thine."
Arothir is offline  
Old 09-06-2003, 11:13 AM   #27
Gurthang
Sword of Spirit
 
Gurthang's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Oh, I'm around.
Posts: 1,507
Gurthang has just left Hobbiton.
Tolkien

Well, I haven't seen a specific key parallel in this forum yet. The strong contrast between good and evil, and the fight that it causes.

Throughout the books, there are many characters who fight the strong desire to do what is easy, enjoyable, or quickly beneficial. Most of them overcome this desire and do what is right. They are continually faced with the tempting desires of the earth, but won't give in because they must fight for the greater good.

Many Christians(me for one) can say that they long to escape this continual fight. But we know that we must go on to fulfill some purpose for God.

The fight seems never ending--for us and the JRRT characters--but good will prevail. Despite the setbacks, the tempation is overcome, and a glorious ending awaits the victor.

In the FotR this good/evil contrast is very evident. The hope of a victor is a strong motivator for some characters(Boromir, for ex.) but that can lead to a misgiving of the correct choices. Even when hope is minimal, Frodo must make the right choice, because giving in means disaster for the entire world.

Well that's all I've got. Hope you enjoy.

[ September 06, 2003: Message edited by: Gurthang ]

[ September 06, 2003: Message edited by: Gurthang ]
__________________
I'm on a Mission from God.
Gurthang is offline  
Old 09-06-2003, 08:47 PM   #28
Knight of Gondor
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
 
Knight of Gondor's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Kentucky
Posts: 744
Knight of Gondor has just left Hobbiton.
Send a message via Yahoo to Knight of Gondor
Shield

I've found many parallels myself, as far as Christianity and Tolkien's works. Actually, I probably wouldn't like the series as much if it weren't for the inherent themes of Christianity that prevail in the books and films.

Some comments: I find it interesting the marriage of mythology allowing for many "gods" with Eru, who I do believe is the God figure. (Obviously) But I think there's a lot more to be gleaned from the series than just the beginning.

For instance, while one certain person does not embody the figure of Christ, you find traits of him in different characters. Gandalf equals the Prophet, one of three offices held by Christ. Frodo represents the Priest, carrying the Sin away from the "camp". Aragorn is, who else? The king. He brings not only defeat to the enemy, but healing to those who are injured. Aragorn also makes a great parallel as a Last Adam in comparison to the First Adam (Romans 5:-21 speaks on the subject of Jesus equals Last Adam, etc.) which was Isildúr, the first to succumb to the temptation of the Ring. Aragorn rejects the Ring and goes on to restore the world of men to its original greatness. Not to mention the fact that Aragorn had to pass through the Paths of the Dead, sort of defeating death by exiting them successfully.

Of course, there is more to Gandalf than just Prophet. Not only did he sacrifice himself to save the Fellowship (yes, and I suppose it's an accident that when Gandalf tumbles into the abyss of Khazad-Dûm, he falls in the shape of a cross!), but when he was killed, he stayed dead for three days, resurrecting at the peak of Zirakzigal on the third day.

There's also some parallels I read in The Book of Lost Tales 1, about how Illúvatar created Man to have the ability to make his own music, even if it be against the designs of Eru. Similar to Man being created with a Free Will.

I should mention an overall theme in the book (and this was put into the movie too). Many things that happened were governed by Providence. Bilbo was "meant" to find the Ring and Frodo was "meant" to have it.

Of course, there are also the plain virtues that exist, such as mercy.

Lastly, I find it interesting that there is such an obvious line between Good and Evil in Middle-Earth. The only ones who try to question Good or Evil are the ones who are trying to subject one to evil purposes. Other than that, everyone seems to know what the Right thing to do is.

Anyway, sorry to make this post so long, but being a Christian, I find lots of enjoyment in picking out the themes found in Tolkien's book, whether he meant them or not!
__________________
Eagerly awaiting the REAL Return of the King - Jesus Christ! Revelation 19:11-16
Knight of Gondor is offline  
Old 09-07-2003, 04:14 PM   #29
Evisse the Blue
Brightness of a Blade
 
Evisse the Blue's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: wherever I may roam
Posts: 2,740
Evisse the Blue has just left Hobbiton.
Send a message via MSN to Evisse the Blue Send a message via Yahoo to Evisse the Blue Send a message via Skype™ to Evisse the Blue
Sting

Quote:
I find it interesting the marriage of mythology allowing for many "gods" with Eru, who I do believe is the God figure.
I had a small revelation reading these lines. Maybe Tolkien meant to 'bring together' mythology and religion, since he believed one to be the source of the other: as in 'all great stories have their roots in the One true Story told in the Bible."
__________________
And no one was ill, and everyone was pleased, except those who had to mow the grass.
Evisse the Blue is offline  
Old 09-08-2003, 08:34 PM   #30
Knight of Gondor
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
 
Knight of Gondor's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Kentucky
Posts: 744
Knight of Gondor has just left Hobbiton.
Send a message via Yahoo to Knight of Gondor
A revelation! Wow, I caused one!
__________________
Eagerly awaiting the REAL Return of the King - Jesus Christ! Revelation 19:11-16
Knight of Gondor is offline  
 

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 09:26 PM.



Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.9 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.