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Old 07-05-2014, 09:37 PM   #41
Lotrelf
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Originally Posted by jallanite View Post
In theory, Christians, in particular Roman Catholics, ought to appreciate The Lord of the Rings more than non-Christians. In fact Tolkien has more arguments and disagreements with obvious Roman Catholics in the book Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien than with anyone else.

The Lord of the Rings is obviously a fictional work. Manwë and Varda never existed, ever. The earth was never flat. Gandalf never existed. Hairy-footed hobbits never existed. Tom Bombadil never existed. Númenor never existed. Ents never existed. None of these things has any connection to Christianity.

But anyone who attempts to read The Lord of the Rings as though it were real is badly misreading it. Tolkien in his essay “On Fairy Stories” makes it clear that fairy tales, attract, to those who find them attractive, by their very unreality. The story The Juniper Tree is, according to Tolkien, an amazing tale. I agree. But it is not in the least realistic. It is not in the least Christian. Nor is it any kind of allegory. It is pure fantasy.
No character of Professor's books exist in real life. Reality in not derived from fiction, fiction comes from reality. The ideals Professor represents are those that exist in real life. No Hobbit existed in real life, no dwarf, no wizard, no one. But their ideals do. There are still people like Frodo and Gandalf. It does not mean they exist in real life; it simply means these characters' ideals are real. Numenor's did not exist, indeed, but they exist because of reality. I didn't talk about if these characters are real or ever existed; it's all about their ideals and spirituality. And spirituality does not belong to any religion.
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Lotrelf seems to miss that Christian theists are as ready to misread Tolkien as anyone. Anne Marie Gazzolo’s Moments of Grace and Spiritual Warfare in The Lord of the Rings I found to be hideous pious piffle, to take a recent example. And there are other well-known Tolkien fans who I find to my taste[...]
It's not just about one religion. Not only Christians readers have read the books. I'm Hindu if we go by the religion, and many other Hindus do not get Hindu Mythology at all. Again, something not concerning any religion but one's spirituality. Many Christians have read our Epics, and they understood them better than many Hindus. As for the book you mentioned above, I've read some of her essays and disagreed with many points she made. I haven't read any other book except two of Professor's LotR & TH. No other book concerning LotR, TH or The Silmarillion or Unfinished Tales. So how other authors interprete the text is something out of my understanding. Though I'd agree with you that it is easy to misinterprete the text because of the complexity and literary details. Probably those believers take things far too literally and see everything connected to One? This is what I found in Anne Marrie Gazzolo's essays.
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Old 07-06-2014, 03:52 AM   #42
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Originally Posted by jallanite View Post
devout Catholics are under no compulsion or necessity to believe in Valar, Elves, N鷐enoreans, Hobbits, Trolls, Balrogs, or Tom Tombadil. Indeed the default pure Catholic position seems to me to be not to believe in any of them.
Of course. And I can't see sense in anyone trying to argue that they should.

But if you think of concepts like providence, grace, forgiveness... it's not hard to find these key-concepts of Christianity embedded in the books as some of it's central motives.

Because I have read about them I can see them in the books and even grasp something of how they work there, but if I also believed in them (if they were part of my metaphysical identity), would I then also "feel" them more deeply (or at least differently) while reading the books?
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Old 07-06-2014, 01:08 PM   #43
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Originally Posted by Lotrelf View Post
No Hobbit existed in real life, no dwarf, no wizard, no one. But their ideals do. ... I didn't talk about if these characters are real or ever existed; it's all about their ideals and spirituality. And spirituality does not belong to any religion.
I’m sorry, but if the hobbits, dwarves, and wizards don’t exist, then neither can their ideals, except as fictions by Tolkien.

Also, I rather dislike the term spirituality. It has so many different and conflicting meanings. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spirituality . However I think I get what you mean. Basically I have encountered numerous cases of supposed Tolkien fans who are morally garbage, though others who are very much not. I have not found that a supposed belief in Christianity matters much.

I know and respect some people who greatly dislike Tolkien and want nothing ever again to do with some who claim the opposite. And I admit I may be misled in arriving at some of these evaluations. Basically you have probably found by now in this forum that being a professed Christian confers no status.
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Old 07-06-2014, 01:42 PM   #44
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Tolkien himself addressed the issue of shared experience between the author and reader, albeit on a different subject.
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It is also false , though naturally attractive, when the lives of an author and critic have overlapped, to suppose that the movements of thought or the events of times common to both were necessarily the most powerful influences.
Now, I realise that for Tolkien his religious beliefs genuinely were an important part of his life, and someone who shares them might find a deeper connection to those elements in his work that were inspired by or related to his Catholicism. It is after all one thing to understand a belief system and quite a different thing to accept it as truth and live by its tenets; but that would only be like a soldier finding a deeper resonance in those parts of Tolkien's writings that arose from his military service, or a linguist responding to his philological jokes. The only person who has ever understood Tolkien's work the way he did was J.R.R. Tolkien, and even he changed his mind a number of times, as his letters demonstrate. Any attempt to suggest that our own experiences somehow give us a greater insight than other readers will only look like an attempt to possess Tolkien and his work and make them a part of our own agendas, which is unhelpful for criticism and tiresome to see.
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Old 07-06-2014, 08:09 PM   #45
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I’m sorry, but if the hobbits, dwarves, and wizards don’t exist, then neither can their ideals, except as fictions by Tolkien.
Are you implying that strength, weakness, mercy, relationships, pride, honour, misunderstanding, despair, rage, madness, and humanity do not exist?
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Old 07-07-2014, 08:02 AM   #46
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Originally Posted by jallanite View Post
I’m sorry, but if the hobbits, dwarves, and wizards don’t exist, then neither can their ideals, except as fictions by Tolkien.
Why? Why their ideals can't exist in real life? Haven't you seen people like the characters in LotR? I'd be very suprised if you say "No". At many points I identify with these characters, have seen others too. How can their ideals and thoughts be alien to you?
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Also, I rather dislike the term spirituality. It has so many different and conflicting meanings. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spirituality . However I think I get what you mean. Basically I have encountered numerous cases of supposed Tolkien fans who are morally garbage, though others who are very much not. I have not found that a supposed belief in Christianity matters much.

I know and respect some people who greatly dislike Tolkien and want nothing ever again to do with some who claim the opposite. And I admit I may be misled in arriving at some of these evaluations. Basically you have probably found by now in this forum that being a professed Christian confers no status.
I don't understand what's there to dislike in the term "spirituality". It might have different meanings--there should be. And yes, I understood from the start that to understand LotR you don't to be Christian, but morally good. I also said how a non-believer with a glance declared the books "crap". It was all because *my experience* and was true. Though I'm proved wrong here, and am glad for that.
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Old 07-07-2014, 04:10 PM   #47
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Are you implying that strength, weakness, mercy, relationships, pride, honour, misunderstanding, despair, rage, madness, and humanity do not exist?
Not in the least. I am implying only that fiction is fiction, nothing more

Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged also shows “strength, weakness, mercy, relationships, pride, honour, misunderstanding, despair, rage, madness, and humanity”. So do many other works.

I apologize that I have apparently written so poorly that you have misunderstood me so badly. Tolkien did not attempt to set up a cult around his book, unlike Ayn Rand. Such things, especially when set up by a third party, often go badly. See, for example, http://virtualstoa.net/2002/01/24/8983057/ . I have had very bad experiences with Tolkien fans in the past. Most Tolkien fans are fine. You I find exceptionally fine. But some are liars and thieves and very much not worth dealing with. As with any group, atheists or believers.

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Originally Posted by Lotrelf View Post
I don't understand what's there to dislike in the term "spirituality".
It is used by hypocrites in bad ways and the word has been ruined for me.

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Originally Posted by Lotrelf View Post
I also said how a non-believer with a glance declared the books "crap".
What does that show? A non-believer doesn’t like a book you like. *Sigh!*

In Letters of J.R. R. Tolkien, in letter 177, Tolkien writes:
I also thought [the poet W. H.] Auden rather bad – he cannot at any rate read verse, having a poor rhythmical sense; and deplored his making the book [The Lord of the Rings] ‘a test of literary taste’. You cannot do that with any work – and if you could you only infuriate.
In the Foreward to the Second Edition to The Lord of the Rings Tolkien writes:
Some who have read the book [The Lord of the Rings], or at any rate have reviewed it, have found it boring, absurd, or contemptible; and I have no cause to complain, since I have similar opinions of their works, or of the kinds of writing that they evidently prefer.
In Letters of J.R. R. Tolkien, in letter 294 Tolkien writes, unusually, about his normal reading. Tolkien mentions mainly “the S.F. of Isaac Azimov”, a mistyping for sf author Isaac Asimov, a popular atheist of Jewish birth who was also a fan of Tolkien’s work. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaac_Asimov . Tolkien then mentions the books of Mary Renault, especially The King Must Die and The Bull From the Sea. Mary Renault was known throughout her life as an openly gay writer. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Renault . I think she was also an atheist but am not sure. In any case Tolkien proudly relates that a couple of days ago he had unexpectedly received a card of appreciation from her which he calls “perhaps the piece of ‘Fan-mail’ that gives me most pleasure.”

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The only person who has ever understood Tolkien's work the way he did was J.R.R. Tolkien, and even he changed his mind a number of times, as his letters demonstrate. Any attempt to suggest that our own experiences somehow give us a greater insight than other readers will only look like an attempt to possess Tolkien and his work and make them a part of our own agendas, which is unhelpful for criticism and tiresome to see.
Totally agreed. People usually surprise you when you get to know them.

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Old 07-11-2014, 05:03 PM   #48
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Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings has often been banned, especially in religious schools, because the authorities wish to protect their charges from unreal tales of wizards and elves (and sex) and so forth. For a charmingly told account with a happy ending of how Lindale’s copy of The Fellowship of the Ring was confiscated by a teacher, see:
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Once upon a time in a strict all girls Catholic school where even Harry Potter was infamous, a little girl called Lindale who would have her tenth birthday in two weeks saw in the Sunday paper a comparison of JRRT and the forbidden Rowling. She hounded her father, who never really was able to resist her when she was pouting, and three days before her birthday she had a copy of TH, bought at an insane price in the expensive bookstore because the local bookstore currently had none in stock.

The following Christmas, Lindale asked for her usual Harry Potter (number four, I think) and for the complete Lord of the Rings. She got so excited about her Christmas presents, she didn't really think that shoving FotR in her school bag might catch the nuns' attention. When a teacher of home economics saw the poor little girl reading a book that advocated wizards, she confiscated the book. Lindale already had a record of reading HP. She was in bad trouble.

During lunchbreak Lindale was very scared; her Christmas present was gone! She tried not to remember Gollum back in TH screaming about his birthday present. Struggling with whatever wits she had, she headed to the telephone booths and called her mother

...and thus began the bothersome affair of this little girl's book, which included her father threatening the teacher and some of the nuns. And then Lindale thought, whatever trouble that book has caused! It must be good. When she got her book back, weeks later and with a formal apology, Lindale read it very carefully.

And that is how Lindale learned of JRRT, read TH and LotR, and learned about the Inquisition too.

Two years later Lindale hounded her aging father for a copy of Sil and UT. And a little over three months ago she had a tantrum again, claiming she was the last girl without a CoH. Predictably, that spoiled brat has all Tolkien books her father and she could find.
Such tales of confiscating are not so usual nowadays. But see:
  1. http://banninggandalf.weebly.com/satanism.html
  2. http://www.donaanacountyhistsoc.org/...%20banning.pdf
  3. http://bannedbooks.world.edu/2011/03...s-jrr-tolkien/
But there are still claims on the web that The Lord of the Rings should be not be read, at least by Christians:
  1. http://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/201...lkien-was.html
  2. http://www.ericbarger.com/lotr.c.c.2.htm
  3. http://bookofjeremiah1eighteenninete...n-front-of-god
Note that I personally do not agree with any of these posts. But even if any of them were totally correct, there is nothing illegal with any person stating his or her own religious feelings about The Lord of the Rings or about anything they wish. If they wish to make a fool of themself they are at liberty to do so.

I was not able to find any sites in which arrogant atheists suggested that banning The Lord of the Rings would be a good thing. I did find three supposed illuminati sites whose supposed findings are, in my opinion, as bogus as that on the Christian sites I found:
  1. http://www.illuminati-news.com/tolkien-occult.htm
  2. http://www.illuminati-news.com/0/tolkien%281%29.htm
  3. http://www.crossroad.to/Quotes/spiri...kien-lewis.htm
I suppose that the writers of all six articles would believe that they are all being spiritual.

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Old 07-11-2014, 05:31 PM   #49
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In Tolkien抯 fables, Dorwinion is the kingdom of the dwarves. It is really the word 揇arwinian. So Tolkien had this idea that even Christ was inferior, because he was a Hebrew man.
Oh, this fellow is a hoot!

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It is also notable that Gollum, the most despised creature in Tolkien抯 imagination, was not only enslaved to seeking the master-ring, but was also the only person/creature in Tolkien抯 fable described as catching fishes.
In the Bible, God/Christ has eyes that go throughout all the earth (II Chronicles 16:9).
Ummm...bzuh?

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There is no resurrection in Tolkien抯 fable world. Humanity in his fables are doomed to only have existence in the natural world, without hope of joining the divine. Tolkien抯 overall theme is one of enjoy-the-moment (揾obbits, his idea of forever childhood), but hopeless melancholy about the long-term view of human existence (his description of grown adult men).
It seems he pulls more out of his posterior than just scraps of toilet paper.

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The whole 揕ord of the Rings is a perverted fable where, in Tolkien抯 foolish imaginations, the gods of his pagan religion triumphs over his distorted portrayal of Christ (the Lord of the churches).
For this poor buffoon, religion is not the opiate of the masses, rather it is a lobotomy.
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Old 07-12-2014, 03:55 PM   #50
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Yes

I am utterly indifferent to faith, spirituality, religion, what have you of any kind, and I still find LOTR to be a fascinating and inspiring piece of work. I'm of the belief that Tolkien deliberately wrote his work the be read by all kinds of different people.
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Old 07-12-2014, 04:11 PM   #51
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I find this quite curious

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Originally Posted by IxnaY AintsaY View Post
I'm a devout agnostic, and I'll admit that the dependence of LoTR's plot on miracles, faith, and divine inspiration bothers me somewhat. But the work has enough other themes that I understand better or more intuitively that the whole still resonates.

Whether I understand "the depth" of it as well as I would if were a person of faith, I have no idea. But I'd guess one might as well ask similar questions with regards to having "scholarly credentials in philology", or "experience fighting in World War I", or "a West Midlands English middle-class background circa the late 19th and early 20th centuries."

Jeeze, it's some kind of miracle any of us understands the book in the slightest.

I'm also agnostic, but I have to say that I find LOTR to be almost devoid of any faith or divine inspiration, at least in any obvious way. Characters certainly aren't going around praying to the Valar or anything. Miracles.....maybe, but only a few. Unless you were talking about subtext, in which case I would say it's debatable!
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Old 07-12-2014, 07:53 PM   #52
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I always wanted to read Frank Herbert's Dune while having sand under my feet and some kind of cinnamon nearby.

Which then made me wonder how people read LotR while living no where near a forest. Where I live, we take trees for granted. We also experience all four seasons, so I can imagine climbing Caradhras as well as escaping the Shire.

So surely an atheist can appreciate LotR, but it might feel a bit differently to someone with a more spiritual viewpoint.
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Old 07-12-2014, 07:58 PM   #53
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Characters certainly aren't going around praying to the Valar or anything.
Not as a formal action, no. But I think prayers are indeed present in LOTR.

When attacked by the Witch-king on Weathertop, Frodo cries:

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O Elbereth! Gilthoniel!
In The Two Towers, when Faramir's men Mablung and Damrod see the Oliphaunt, we see Damrod saying:

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'May the Valar turn him aside! M鹠ak! M鹠ak!'
The sense of that one, to be fair, might be more akin to a 'Lord help us!' as spoken today; an exited utterance in fear.

However, when facing Shelob alone, Sam resorts to Elbereth again:

Quote:
Gilthoniel A Elbereth!
And to escape the Watchers at the Tower of Cirith Ungol, Sam again, in desperation, cries:

Quote:
'Gilthoniel, A Elbereth!'
I think prayers to the Valar, Il鷙atar's governors in Arda, were not uncommon with the Eldar, and apparently not to the N鷐en髍eans in exile either.
At Henneth Ann鹡, Faramir and his men stand facing west for a moment of silence, as Faramir explains:

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'So we always do,' he said as they sat down. 'We look towards N鷐enor that was, and beyond to Elvenhome that is, and to that which is beyond Elvenhome and ever will be.'
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Miracles.....maybe, but only a few. Unless you were talking about subtext, in which case I would say it's debatable!
If by 'miracle' you mean something unexpected that accomplishes a great good, I think the book is rife with them. It seems to be a running theme that the players in the story are being directed by something other than their own conscious thoughts and goals, and that Purpose brings good from evil.
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Old 07-12-2014, 11:37 PM   #54
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The three examples I found of anti-Tolkien preaching by Christians are rather odd. All three authors claim that they only noticed what they say are discrepancies between what Tolkien’s writing tells and what their religion supposedly teaches recently. This suggests to me that all three writers do not know what their faith officially teaches, or they are deliberately lying.

That the Earth revolves around the Sun, not the reverse, was supposedly first proved by Aristarchus of Samos (c. 270 BCE), but only persisted as a minor theory. Then it was revised by Copernicus and supported and his version first fully published in 1543, the year of his death. Galileo Galliei using the newly invented telescope found that observations of planetary bodies fully supported the Copernican system. Arguments ensued, and Galileo was forced unwillingly to recant his theories by Rome in 1633. The Pope and the Magisterium were in the event shown to be utterly wrong in their condemnation of these theories. But not until 1753 did the Church cease to make fools of themselves by no longer listing any works supporting the then generally accepted Copernican theory in The Index of Forbidden Books. Pope Pius VII approved a decree in 1822 by the Sacred Congregation of the Inquisition to allow the printing of Copernican books in Rome.

Since the Galileo fiasco, the Roman Catholic Church has been very careful about making pronouncements on findings of scientists. For what is taught by the Roman Catholic Church, see http://www.catholic.com/tracts/adam-eve-and-evolution or http://americamagazine.org/issue/786...ntal-challenge. The three authors’ insistence that the account of creation in Genesis is to be considered to be complete and to be taken literally is not part of current official Roman Catholic teaching. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholi..._and_evolution .

These authors pounce on Tolkien’s avowed fiction rather than on the numerous purportedly factual writers who have proven that the Earth was created long before 6,000 BCE and have proven the theory of evolution, as much as anything can be proven. The Roman Catholic Church no longer denies this officially. These writers are cranks who are pushing an agenda of Biblical inerrancy which not supported by their own church.

Nor, as one of the authors claims without providing support, is Tolkien’s creation story particularly Gnostic. The author does not bother to indicate which of the many Gnostic texts he finds to be similar to Tolkien’s creation story. I think he is just making this up.

They claim that nothing in the Bible is a myth is a least arguably untrue. These author state that position, but don’t bother to provide support for that position, I presume is because they prefer not to get into the doubts which many Roman Catholic theologians have put forth, as well as those that non-Roman Catholics have put forth. It’s much easier to just pronounce your sources as entirely true without looking at any evidence, and then blame Tolkien for not following completely a creation story which the Roman Catholic church itself no longer officially believes to be necessarily fully true.

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Old 07-14-2014, 11:33 PM   #55
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I'm also agnostic, but I have to say that I find LOTR to be almost devoid of any faith or divine inspiration, at least in any obvious way.

By divine inspiration, I mean things like Gandalf and Elrond deciding that Merry and Pippin tagging along with the Fellowship was a good idea; or Gandalf again, suspecting Bilbo's ring to be The One and that Sauron would be a-hankering after it, concluding it would be safe enough with an unwitting Hobbit for a couple of decades.

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Miracles.....maybe, but only a few. Unless you were talking about subtext, in which case I would say it's debatable!
Hmmm, I'm not sure how sub into the text you have to get. Let's put it this way: counting the history in "The Hobbit", the storyline of LoTR can be seen as bookended by two events. The first is Bilbo blindly putting his hand on the One Ring while lost under the mountains. The second is Gollum biting it from Frodo's hand at what would otherwise have been the moment of his ultimate ruin and the ultimate triumph of Sauron. But as Inziladun said, the tale is rife with miracles.

You know though, "providence" would have been a finer fit to my meaning than "miracles", since I wasn't talking about flashy talking-topiary type stuff.
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Old 07-15-2014, 07:29 PM   #56
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The unnamed priest who is responsible for the tirade at http://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/201...lkien-was.html had much to say about miracles, but in fact, there is not much done by Moses, Elijah, Elisha, or Jesus in the Bible that could not just as well be called magical or miraculous, if one chose.

Good magicians were commonplace in medieval legends: Menw son of Teirgwaedd in medieval Welsh Arthurian tales, Merlin and Gansguoter in continental Arthurian tales, Maugis of Aigremont in tales of Charlemagne, Arrow-Odd in Norse saga, and numerous others who appear occasionally.

Nor do modern times appear more dangerous than former days when teachers like Eliphas Levi, Madame Blavatsky, Rudolf Steiner, Samuel Liddell MacGregor, and Aleister Crowley were at their height. Wolfgang Smith and Louis de Wohl are indeed odd modern people to be searching for truth. Perhaps the priest wanted to believe what these people wrote just because he wanted to believe it, until he caught them obviously claiming to be dabbling in the occult, which should not have taken much searching. Then he starts his fear-mongering.

The apocryphal book Judith is commonly thought to be unhistorical by Protestants and Roman Catholics alike. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Judith . More importantly most critics believe the Book of Daniel is also unhistorical and was written during the reign of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, not during the last days of Babylon and the beginning of the Persian period as it claims. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Daniel . These Biblical books have long been believed to be not history. Information agreeing with this was included in the Roman Cathlic Jerusalem Bible translation, for which J. R. R. Tolkien aided in translating the Book of Jonah. This information can also be found on the web in the conservative Catholic Encyclopedia, originally published in print in 1917. See http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04621b.htm .

The anonymous priest who wrote the Tolkien article either did not know this, which I think unlikely, or is simply neglecting to include anything that disagrees with his claim that the Bible contains no myths. Or perhaps this priest means something odd by myths.

Why this priest goes on and on about Gnosticism I do not know. See http://gnosis.org/library/advh1.htm which contains almost everything known about Gnosticism until the Nag Hammadi Library was discovered 1945. The most coherent account is in chapter XXX. The high God gives birth to a number of beings, and the last of these is named Sophia (Wisdom). She gives birth to Ialdabaoth, the name apparently derived from Aramaic yalᵊd- (‘begetter of’) [s]abaʼōt (‘hosts’). In this heresy Ialdabaoth becomes the Hebrew God, but is rather an evil being. Ialdabaoth subcreates the physical universe and 365 angels. He also creates the human race. In them some of the divine sparks from the original heavenly Father are to be found. Jesus Christ is then sent by the ultimate Father and Sophia to obtain this heavenly matter and return it to heaven.

This does not resemble Tolkien’s imaginings very closely. The Zoroastrian story of the creation of the universe is closer. See http://wisdomlib.org/zoroastrianism/...shn/index.html . The anonymous priest probably is not aware to this story. He wouldn’t like it either, even modified.

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Old 07-16-2014, 07:00 PM   #57
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Hmmm...based on the hereticating rhetoric from various fanatical religious sites presented here in the last several posts, perhaps a better title for this thread should be:

Can Christians appreciate/understand The Lord of the Rings?
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Old 07-16-2014, 08:08 PM   #58
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These Christians are to the majority of Christians approximately as giant, man-eating robots are to the majority of atheists.
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Old 07-16-2014, 08:36 PM   #59
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These Christians are to the majority of Christians approximately as giant, man-eating robots are to the majority of atheists.
Indeed. Broad-brush generalizations are unwise, whatever side of a debate one happens to be on.
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Old 07-17-2014, 12:14 PM   #60
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Indeed. Broad-brush generalizations are unwise, whatever side of a debate one happens to be on.
My post was meant to be ironic, given the original poster's utter disbelief in atheists appreciating the books. Perhaps an emoticon, that modern age marvel of internet writing, should have been inserted to alleviate any comprehension issues.

And Ixnay, I am a giant man-eating robot. Pass the mustard, m'dear.
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Old 07-17-2014, 05:55 PM   #61
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Note that nothing I have posted in this thread was intended to prove or disprove any scientific theory.

What I did try to show is the results of a search on the web for oppositions to Tolkien where supposedly Tolkien’s teaching in his fictional work was against what according to some thought Tolkien ought to have believed.

I found only three such articles, very view indeed, none of which, in my opinion, actually pointed out anywhere where Tolkien really disagreed with Roman Catholic doctrine. Tolkien can be accused of inventing much, if one wishes. But Tolkien has proclaimed in many places that he was writing or intending to write fairy stories.

Tolkien was writing imaginative fiction, for the enjoyment of readers, not works of Roman Catholic doctine—though part of his intent was that his tales should not specifically contradict Roman Catholic doctrine, as he understood it. Tolkien, for this purposes, was quite justified in setting his tale before 6,000 BCE, introducing angelic beings in a role somewhat corresponding to pagan deities, and introducing Elves, Dwarves, Hobbits, Ents, Orcs, and Trolls into his story. He was quite justified in producing pterodactyl-like creatures from an older geological age, regardless of whether some Biblical literalists would also wish to deny that any such era existed in reality. Roman Catholic teaching did not deny an age of dinosaurs long before Mankind existed.

What seems to have bothered Tolkien more was his story of the creation of the Sun and Moon and that the Earth was at one time physically flat, and that seems to have bothered him more from a scientific point of view than theologically. In The Lord of the Rings itself Tolkien did not mention anything of this late creation of the Sun and Moon. In the last three books in the HoME series Tolkien restricts this account to a supposed Silmarillion proper, but otherwise imagines his early Elves as living under the Sun, the Silmarillion proper being purportedly partially derived from inaccurate Mannish legend.

Tolkien appears to have drawn his beliefs from Pope Pius XII who held the papacy from 1939 to 1958, as to what is allowed, though Tolkien began writing his Silmarillion fantasies much earlier.

If indeed Tolkien did stumble on occasion I note how few readers seem to care.

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Old 07-17-2014, 07:25 PM   #62
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My post was meant to be ironic, given the original poster's utter disbelief in atheists appreciating the books. Perhaps an emoticon, that modern age marvel of internet writing, should have been inserted to alleviate any comprehension issues.
Ya, and (if there was any doubt) mine was meant to be amusing not admonishing. Thread is now about pointing out irony after the fact, yay! <-- That last bit may not have been completely serious, by the way. <-- Totally serious.

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And Ixnay, I am a giant man-eating robot. Pass the mustard, m'dear.
A kindred robot, and mustard-lover, I knew it. <--This was typed in solemn tones.
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Old 07-18-2014, 01:08 AM   #63
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This is my first post on an interesting topic. I'm about as hard/strong/positive atheist as is possible and I have no problem understanding or appreciating Tolkien. There seems an obvious difference between understanding an ideology and believing it. Most atheists in my experience have a pretty good understanding of the dominant faith in their culture as they really need to understand it to reject it rather than take a neutral agnostic position. Besides, there are obvious differences, e.g. God moves in mysterious ways but Eru mainly uses eagles.
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Old 07-18-2014, 08:40 PM   #64
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God moves in mysterious ways but Eru mainly uses eagles.
Hey, I've seen that bumper sticker!
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Old 07-19-2014, 04:17 AM   #65
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Hey, I've seen that bumper sticker!
This one is better.

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Old 07-31-2014, 07:52 AM   #66
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Thumbs up Yes

This thread has been a very interesting one so far, though I think it got sidetracked for a while.

My own answer, based on my experience of fellow fans, is 'Yes'. Those I have been involved with have been of various faiths, none, or agnostic. All appeared to be very appreciative or understanding of The Lord of the Rings, and other works by Tolkien.

Obviously, to have such an appreciation or understanding, a person should develop a knowledge of the writer, a Roman Catholic in that part of the United Kingdom called England, born to a particular social background, and in a particular period in history. He believed his faith to be a fundamental part of who he was, including his writings. In my opinion, while Middle-earth was a pre-Christian world, it was one influenced by Catholic moral teaching.

Anyone can develop such a knowledge, regardless of his or her feelings towards the faith Tolkien professed and believed in. Someone raised as a Roman Catholic may have an initial advantage over others in beginning to appreciate or understand Tolkien, regardless of whether he or she continues in that faith in later life, as long as he or she pays attention at the time.

That's my personal opinion.
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Old 08-08-2014, 02:12 AM   #67
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I think the only element of Tolkien's fictional world that I find awkward (rather than appreciate or understand) as an Atheist is the Tale of Adanel with Eru speaking to men as a voice in their hearts but not providing any answers to their questions. I find this awkward because it's a familiar argument used to explain why the Abrahamic God requires blind faith and punishes skeptics with eternal damnation transposed to Tolkien's world. It's also even more illogical in Middle Earth because men are required to have 'faith' and are punished for seeking knowledge whereas Orome is sent to the elves and they are given proof, taken to Valinor and given knowledge by the Valar. That said, it's probably intended by Tolkien to be a mannish myth/parable.
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Old 08-16-2014, 10:19 AM   #68
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White-Hand Welcome!

Welcome to the Downs, Tar-Verimuchli!

What you said here was very interesting:

I think the only element of Tolkien's fictional world that I find awkward (rather than appreciate or understand) as an Atheist is the Tale of Adanel with Eru speaking to men as a voice in their hearts but not providing any answers to their questions. I find this awkward because it's a familiar argument used to explain why the Abrahamic God requires blind faith and punishes skeptics with eternal damnation transposed to Tolkien's world. It's also even more illogical in Middle Earth because men are required to have 'faith' and are punished for seeking knowledge whereas Orome is sent to the elves and they are given proof, taken to Valinor and given knowledge by the Valar. That said, it's probably intended by Tolkien to be a mannish myth/parable.

The issue with the elves was that the Valar wanted to encourage them to come to Valinor, in order to protect them; so their leaders were brought there in the hope that they would persuade their people to go there. While many do, some do not. As we know, some of those who came there later rebelled and returned to Middle-earth, showing the strategy to be unsuccessful.

Also, Valinor is a hallowed place, hallowed because of the deathless (later including elves) being present. Elves live as long as Arda, but the downside is that they become burdened by its sorrows, and envy the Gift of Men, given by Eru to the latter, which allows them, after death, to go beyond Arda and the Music of the Ainur.
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Old 08-16-2014, 10:50 AM   #69
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Thanks for the welcome, Faramir Jones. I was particularly referring to the part of the tale of Adanel which implies that men were originally intended to be immortal or very long lived as they only start dying when they all bow to Melkor and are judged by Iluvatar. As an atheist, I find the notion that all men are punished due to original sin/'sons bearing the sins of the fathers' inherently unjust and the notion that a omnipotent/omnipresent God would speak to everyone as an internal voice which non-believers refuse to hear an excuse for unreasoning faith. That said I think either Finrod or Andreth or both acknowledge that it may be a parable or not accurate due to successive retellings through generations. That would fit with Tolkien considering making 'unscientific' elements of the history of Middle Earth elements like the flat world into mannish myths.
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Old 08-22-2014, 02:50 PM   #70
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When the OP says 'atheist' does he/she mean someone who doesnt believe in modern organized religion like Christianity. or ALL religion? I suppose an atheist doesnt believe in God, but do they have spirituality of any kind? I am not sure about the definitions. Can one be a Druid and an atheist?
Anyway I think its perfectly possible to be an atheist and understand Tolkien, the moral codes Tolkien writes about are cultural as well as Catholic, its not mutually exclusive. If Tolkien was inspired by Viking/Nordic myths, they arent Christian are they, they are probably pagan.
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Old 08-23-2014, 06:23 AM   #71
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It's the rejection of God beliefs. An atheist may believe in some form of spirituality so many Buddhists as well as non-theistic Druids are theoretically atheists. However, self-identifying Atheists tend, in my experience, to be skeptics in that they require evidence before they believe in something so they would probably reject any form of spiritualism.

I agree about moral codes, very little of the values that are usually considered Christian are original to the bible. They have value because they have their origins in human culture and thought rather than in unsubstantiated claims of personal revelation.

I suspect the obvious response to the OP is that knowledge of Christian beliefs (and the various other theology/mythology Tolkien was influenced by) is important to understanding Tolkien but belief is not.

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Old 08-23-2014, 07:33 AM   #72
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Question No Eru

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Originally Posted by Tar-Verimuchli View Post
Thanks for the welcome, Faramir Jones. I was particularly referring to the part of the tale of Adanel which implies that men were originally intended to be immortal or very long lived as they only start dying when they all bow to Melkor and are judged by Iluvatar. As an atheist, I find the notion that all men are punished due to original sin/'sons bearing the sins of the fathers' inherently unjust and the notion that a omnipotent/omnipresent God would speak to everyone as an internal voice which non-believers refuse to hear an excuse for unreasoning faith. That said I think either Finrod or Andreth or both acknowledge that it may be a parable or not accurate due to successive retellings through generations. That would fit with Tolkien considering making 'unscientific' elements of the history of Middle Earth elements like the flat world into mannish myths.
Glad to have you here.

There are a lot of issues with the tale of Adanel, which have been discussed on the Downs, including on this thread:

http://forum.barrowdowns.com/showthr...ghlight=Adanel

As you said, the teller and listener are aware that, even if the former is accurately telling the latter what she was herself told, the tale may have changed significantly over generations due to the successive retellings.

There's also the fact that the text we have was not intended for publication by Tolkien, being a rough draft, and not therefore an accurate expression of his views. This is quite apart from the fact that he wanted to overhaul the whole matter of the awakening of Man and what followed.

Looking at the issue of atheism in Tolkien's world, I recall that Sauron, after surrendering to Ar-Pharaz鬾, being brought captive to N鷐enor, then becoming that king's favourite, eventually argued that Eru didn't exist, being merely an invention of the Valar. This argument appears to have won over Pharaz鬾 and most of his people, the Downfall being the end result.
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Old 08-23-2014, 11:25 AM   #73
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It's the rejection of God beliefs. An atheist may believe in some form of spirituality so many Buddhists as well as non-theistic Druids are theoretically atheists. However, self-identifying Atheists tend, in my experience, to be skeptics in that they require evidence before they believe in something so they would probably reject any form of spiritualism.

I agree about moral codes, very little of the values that are usually considered Christian are original to the bible. They have value because they have their origins in human culture and thought rather than in unsubstantiated claims of personal revelation.

I suspect the obvious response to the OP is that knowledge of Christian beliefs (and the various other theology/mythology Tolkien was influenced by) is important to understanding Tolkien but belief is not.
hem.. I like your forum name. I say Tar-Verimuchii a lot back home. I am a very polite Hobbit.
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Old 08-23-2014, 02:17 PM   #74
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Thanks for the link Faramir Jones, it's interesting to know that Tolkien thought about having myths in his pseudo-mythology and the comparison of Elvish and Mannish memory and history is also interesting. I do remember HOME recounting his attempts to remove the flat world and light from trees elements and make them mannish myths.

On Ar Pharazon's beliefs, that sounds a bit like the Middle Earth version of saying that Hitler was an atheist. I'd say he was more of a satanist (Ar Pharazon, not Hitler, he was probably a deist). When atheists start giving blood sacrifices and worshiping Richard Dawkins then that comparison might be made.

Thanks for the compliment, FerniesApple, although I didn't really give it much thought.
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Old 12-07-2014, 04:20 AM   #75
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I do remember HOME recounting his attempts to remove the flat world and light from trees elements and make them mannish myths.
Tolkien did more than make attempts to make some of the unscientific parts of the Silmarillion into Mannish myths. In The Lord of the Rings Tolkien has Gimli recite a poem beginning with the lines (emphasis mine):
The world was young, the mountains green,
No stain yet on the Moon was seen,
No words were laid on stream or stone
When Durin woke and walked alone.
This conflicts with all Silmarillion accounts in which Durin and the other first Dwarves wake before the first rising of the Moon and Sun.

Gandalf later sings a short poem about the Ents (emphasis mine):
Ere iron was found or tree was hewn,
When young was mountain under moon;
Ere ring was made, or wrought was woe,
It walked the forests long ago.
Here the moon predates the first cutting of trees, presumably by Elves.

Also, in The Lord of the Rings, in Tolkien’s summary of early days in the Appendices, Tolkien makes no mention of the late creation of Moon and Sun from flower and fruit or of the tradition that the Earth had been flat before the drowning of N鷐enor.

In the The Hobbit in the chapter “Flies and Spiders”, Tolkien had originally written:
In the Wide World the Wood-elves lingered in the twilight before the raising of the Sun and Moon; and afterwards they wandered in the forests that grew beneath the sunrise.
In the revision of 1966 this was changed, removing all mention of a “raising of the Sun and Moon”:
In the Wide World the Wood-elves lingered in the twilight of our Sun and Moon, but loved best the stars; and they wandered in the great forests that grew tall in lands that are now lost.
In the last three HoME volumes, except for text which is represented as part of the Annals or of the Silmarillion, in all mentions of the days before the return of the Noldor to Middle-earth, the Elves who appear as living in Middle-earth dwell under the Sun, where this is mentioned.

In Morgoth’s Ring (HoME 10), page 370, Tolkien makes clear his dissatisfaction with the tale of the late creation of the Moon and Sun from flower and fruit. Attempts to revise this did not work, and so Tolkien’s decision was to consider the Silmarillion to have been a legendary document in which Mannish tradition, sometimes false, has been mixed with Elvish tradition. This seems to have been Tolkien’s final and permanent opinion on the matter, perhaps first arrived at when he was considering publishing the Silmarillion for Milton Waldman.

On page 374 of Morgoth’s Ring (HoME), note 2, Tolkien writes:
The cosmogonic myths are N鷐en髍ean, blending Elven-lore with human myth and imagination. A note should say that the Wise of N鷐enor recorded that the making of the stars was not so, nor of Sun and Moon. For Sun and stars were all older than Arda.
Here Tolkien seems to imagine The Silmarillion eventually being published much as his son eventually did, but also including some notes, attributed to “the Wise of N鷐enor”, indicating that the account of The Silmarillion is not be taken as true on all points.

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Old 12-07-2014, 09:18 AM   #76
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Attempts to revise this did not work, and so Tolkien’s decision was to consider the Silmarillion to have been a legendary document in which Mannish tradition, sometimes false, has been mixed with Elvish tradition. This seems to have been Tolkien’s final and permanent opinion on the matter...
I agree with this. And in addition to the verse examples in The Lord of the Rings, I think part of Treebeard's description of the Entwives at least suggests that the Sun existed very early on, although I believe there is a way to interpret his words in light of the 'Silmarillion myth' of the Sun and Moon. I also think (with admittedly scant references and no way to certainly prove it) that Tolkien 'authorized' The Drowning of Anadune as a late text, because as written, it fit nicely into his Elvish versus Mannish tradition, and even provides a different way to think about the term 'Straight Road'

Some bring up certain Bombadil references, but I'm not sure these are being read without being influenced by other flat world descriptions -- descriptions that do not appear in the books Tolkien actually published. Granted that argument is probably based more on the idea that, despite what Bombadil says, if the reader knows nothing about Tolkien's ideas outside of The Lord of the Rings, how likely is it for a first time reader to certainly conclude, from Bombadil's remarks, that the world the Hobbits live on was once flat?

There is also the argument that Bombadil was just echoing Mannish Myth, although I would admit that's a bit of an 'easy out' to say: well Bombadil really knew the 'truth' but he just didn't report it here to his Hobbit audience... and on a similar note some have argued that the verses in The Lord of the Rings are poetic works of art, and thus need not reflect the 'truth' of the Silmarillion matter.

I think, but haven't gathered up 'all' instances lately to really look at them again, but I think the Appendices (and possibly the story proper of The Lord of the Rings) include references to the Twilight, or a Twilight or time of Twilight, or similar... and so I can't recall if each is easily explainable in the context of the pre-existing Sun notion. Although again, if pressed Tolkien might have explained that a given description could be stamped with: that's part of the Mannish ideas or tales getting woven in, no matter what was meant originally.

I believe also that the 'Change of the World' need not refer to Eru altering the actual shape of the World, which phrase does appear in the Appendices if I recall correctly.
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Old 12-07-2014, 12:51 PM   #77
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I believe also that the 'Change of the World' need not refer to Eru altering the actual shape of the World, which phrase does appear in the Appendices if I recall correctly.
In Appendix A the actual wording is (emphasis mine):
But when Ar-Pharaz鬾 set foot upon the shores of Aman the Blessed, the Valar laid down their Guardianship and called upon the One, and the world was changed. N鷐enor was thrown down and swallowed by the Sea, and the Undying Lands were were removed from the circles of the world.
I think the world was changed is simply a summary of what is immediately said following: N鷐enor is thrown down and swallowed and the Undying Lands are removed from the circles of the world. There is no specific mention then or at any point in The Lord of the Rings that the Earth was formerly flat.

I agree that many readers try to interpret The Lord of the Rings according to The Silmarillion, but such interpretation disagrees with what Tolkien actually writes, when not writing The Silmarillion proper or The Book of Lost Tales or the material printed on The Lays of Beleriand. Tolkien makes it quite clear that he plans to cut out non-scientific material from his legendarium, except as part of this Silmarillion which he explains as being polluted by Mannish legend.

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Old 12-08-2014, 12:25 AM   #78
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Tolkien

To address the original topic, I think it's quite clear that one does not need to be religious to appreciate all of the symbolism and references that Tolkien has included.
One just needs to understand the religion being referenced and symbolized. Being of that religion shouldn't really mean anything if you understand what is going on.
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Old 12-08-2014, 11:26 AM   #79
Galin
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Originally Posted by jallanite View Post
In Appendix A the actual wording is (emphasis mine

Without checking what I probably should have said is even if the specific phrase I mentioned is somewhere published by Tolkien, the phrase itself need not refer to a flat world becoming round at the fall of Numenor.

Anyway I not only agree with your interpretation of the actual passage, but if Akallab阾h is meant to be a 'mixed' tradition (Elvish and Mannish), I think it too can surely contain the idea of a world made round, at the time of the fall of Numenor, according to certain Men, in distinction to the World being originally made round. And if The Drowning of Anadune had been published by Tolkien as a Mannish version, as I believe JRRT might have done, then the seeming 'truth' of certain statements in Akallab阾h could arguably be read in a different light.

And not that you asked or anyone cares, but the passage I was thinking about regarding Bombadil is where he refers to the bent seas. As for twilight: in Appendix A Twilight appears to refer to a place, West Over Sea (Tale of Aragorn and Arwen) but there are at least two references to a seeming time period: a time of 'twilight' (not Twilight)... one with respect to trolls, the other connected to a reference to Thingol in the language section. I think both are in Appendix F.

I don't know how these might be explained if the pre-existing sun is the truth, if they need explaining in some way other than mannish ideas seeping in that is, but in my opinion they do seem to suggest the time before the Sun arose -- again at least when thinking of, or being influenced by, the Silmarillion tale.

Last edited by Galin; 12-08-2014 at 04:05 PM.
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Old 12-11-2014, 05:33 PM   #80
jallanite
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Originally Posted by Galin View Post
And not that you asked or anyone cares, but the passage I was thinking about regarding Bombadil is where he refers to the bent seas.
In Fellowship, page 131, Tolkien writes:
When they [the hobbits] caught his [Tom’s] words again they found that he had now wandered into strange regions beyond their memory and beyond their waking thought, into times when the world was wider, and the seas flowed straight to the western Shore; and still on and back Tom went singing out into the ancient starlight, when only the Elf-sires were awake.
That the Undying Lands were once on Earth is part of Tolkien’s thought in all his writing. The removal of the Undying Lands from the circles of the world at the time of the drowning of N鷐enor is being referred to here. Tom is telling of days before the Undying Lands were removed.

In Morgoth’s Ring (HoME 10), page 377-78, Tolkien writes of the waking of the Elf-sires:
From the far North (where [they are] dense) to the middle (Endor) great clouds brood. Moon and stars are invisible. Day is only a dim twilight at full. Only light [is] in Valinor.

Varda arises in her might and Manw of the Winds and strive with the Cloud of Unseeing. But as fast as it is rent Melkor closes the veil again – at least over Middle-earth. Then came the great Wind of Manw, and the veil was rent. The stars shine out clear even in the North (Valakirka) and after the long dark seem terribly bright.

It is in the dark just before that the Elves awake. The first thing that they see in the dark is the stars. But Melkor brings up glooms out of the East, and the stars fade away west. Hence they think from the beginning of light and beauty in the West.
In The War of the Jewels (HoME 11), beginning on page 420, Tolkien relates an Elvish legend of the waking of the first Elves, in which several groups of Elves awake on different days, each beneath the stars of early twilight before the dawn.

In Fellowship, page 131, Tolkien has Tom claim:
When the Elves passed westward, Tom was here already, before the seas were bent.
This refers to later accounts in which after the drowning of N鷐enor and the removal of the Undying Lands from Earth, Elves could still sail there following the old track whereas the vessels of Men normally followed the bent seas and were therefore bound to Earth, no matter how far they sailed.

At least this is how I interpret these references.
Quote:
As for twilight: in Appendix A Twilight appears to refer to a place, West Over Sea (Tale of Aragorn and Arwen) but there are at least two references to a seeming time period: a time of 'twilight' (not Twilight)... one with respect to trolls, the other connected to a reference to Thingol in the language section. I think both are in Appendix F.
The reference to Thingol on page 1128 of Return reads:
There Thingol Greycloak of Doriath was their king, and in the long twilight their tongue had changed with the changefulness of mortal lands and had become far estranged from the speech of the Eldar beyond the Sea.
Twilight literally refers to the light in the sky just preceding full sunrise or just following full sunset. Metaphorically it may refer to light that is similar in some way. The reign of Thingol before the raising of the Moon and Sun in the Silmarillion is literally a reign under the darkness of night, not a reign illuminated by literal twilight. As already mentioned, in The Hobbit, Tolkien had originally written, “the Wood Elves lingered in the twilight before the raising of the Sun and Moon” but in the edition published in 1966 changed the text to, “the Wood Elves lingered in the twilight of our Sun and Moon”. I think this later text represents the metaphor intended by Tolkien here, that Thingol reigns under what is a long twilight in comparison to the Undying Lands beyond the Sea illuminated by the Two Trees.

Tolkien’s reference to Trolls on page 1132 of Return reads:
In their beginnings far back in the twilight of the Elder Days, these were creatures of dull and lumpish nature and had no more language than beasts.
Here I think Tolkien is metaphorically referring to the years of cloudy darkness brought on by Morgoth.

I admit that neither of these meanings can be proved from the texts.

Last edited by jallanite; 12-11-2014 at 05:55 PM.
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