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Old 08-16-2002, 04:15 PM   #1
Gorothlammothiel
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Sting [Religion] Unintentional Religion in Tolkien's works?

Before I started this thread I used the search and found two similar threads "trilogy and the bible" and "(lack of) Religion in LOTR, I have to say the first was more helpful.

My reasoning for this thread is that I have been given a project to present how a religious theme is potrayed through a book/film/television drama etc. I know there is great controversy as to whether there was intentional religious meaning in Tolkien's works, but thought that as I have such a great intrest in Tolkien's works that it may be appropriate.

The work doesn't have to be definitive and I aim to give all views on the matter, including that Tolkien himself said that it was not meant to be a religious work, but to give morals etc.

I have collected a lot of notes from Tolkien's letters and from the books themselves. I also have other articles from online sources and opinions from religious groups. I would like however to inculde opinions and views from others like myself who apreicate the works and thought the best place was on the downs.

I would appreciate your views and I will post ideas and sections of what I write as it gets typed up. [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]

To start with there is the idea that Christianity (as an example) has the idea of good triumphing against evil and the ideas of there being a force for good (God) and the opposite being the devil and dark powers which is what we see in ME, although that is indeed the case in most stories of fantasy. The corruption of creatures by the ring could be considered to be sin I suppose...

[ August 16, 2002: Message edited by: Gorothlammothiel ]

[ June 24, 2003: Message edited by: The Barrow-Wight ]
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Old 08-16-2002, 05:01 PM   #2
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I think it's important to note, before we get going on Christianity, that almost ALL religions are about good and evil. It's not just a Christian thing.
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Old 08-16-2002, 05:04 PM   #3
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I appreciate that, thank you for pointing it out to me, perhaps i wasn't quite clear. What I had meant to say was that Christianity (amongst others) has the idea of good triumphing over evil, the idea of God and the Devil, heaven and hell. I will ammend my post.

Welcome to the Downs btw, may your rest be long and peaceful. An eternity amongst your fellow downers is simply not long enough... [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]

[ August 16, 2002: Message edited by: Gorothlammothiel ]
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Old 08-16-2002, 05:10 PM   #4
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First and foremost, you are right: no allegories. The man said it himself, and if we can't trust him, well, who's left?

Starting with The Hobbit, it's pretty straightforward: a child's story, nothing too deep. The closest thing we'd get in that is probably the very obvious Good and Bad, which is the first step in determining a moral code.

Moving on and changing tracks to LotR, things get a lot more fuzzy and complicated. Allegory aside, there is no getting around Tolkien's Christianity, Catholicism to be more precise. His works are so unique in the world of literature because, although the inherent evil of man is accurately portrayed, love and faith conquer all in the end. Discounting allegory does not discount the moral worth of the book. Karl Kroeber wrote of Tolkien's works:
Quote:
Happy endings are not just assured, they depend on luck, on chance, and for just that reason they bring a catch in the breath at finding in this harsh world a momentary deliverance or beauty's grace or the heart's desire.
That quote, I think, sums up how Tolkien uses his religion to enrich his stories. No, it does not take religion to have morals, but for some, one's belief system is the source of all things beautiful, and I think this is the case with Tolkien.

Now, in The Silmarillion, there are obvious references to Biblical occurences, especially with the Creation. What I like best about this part is how Tolkien remains faithful to his Christianity while still being so unique that peers are nonexistent even today. I also think an interesting thing to mark about The Silmarillion's relationship to religion is the fact that Tolkien's world is not exactly monotheistic. Ea is more comparable to Greek and Roman legend than Christianity when it comes to demigods and patron caretakers.

As for HoME and his various other scribblings, someone with more experience will have to chime in on that.

Edit: BeeBombadil, you're right, but we tend to focus more on Christianity most of the time because Tolkien himself was a very devout Catholic, as can be divined from my preceding post.

[ August 16, 2002: Message edited by: onewhitetree ]
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Old 08-16-2002, 05:21 PM   #5
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Sting

I had not seen that quote from Kroeber before Kate, but I agree, although I believe my Religious Education tutor would say otherwise.

I will be sure to mention that it is perhaps moral that has a higher standing in Tolkien's works other than religion although his Catholicism seemed to have a profound influence on his stories.
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Old 08-16-2002, 06:35 PM   #6
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Would mythology be a better word to describe it?
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Old 08-16-2002, 07:10 PM   #7
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here is some stuff i was able to find in a few minutes

"The religious element is absorbed into the story and the symbolism," Tolkien wrote in one letter.

"A fundamentally religious and Catholic work. The religious element is absorbed into the story and the symbolism." this quote refers to the religious intent of the Lord of the Rings

There are no explicit references to God in Tolkien's fantasy, but he did confirm later in his life that religious themes are embedded in Lord of the Rings's symbolism and characters.

try reading Finding God in The Lord of the Rings for somemore thoughts

thats all for now
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Old 08-16-2002, 08:56 PM   #8
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I know that this has been touched on in several other posts, so I will be brief.
I think that when someone strongly adheres to or believes in a certain belief system or set of moral standards then it is evident in the way that person talks, acts, writes, etc. Since Tolkien was a rather devout Catholic, I think that it would make sense for his beliefs and standards to come out in his writings.

Now for a few other questions and comments:

onewhitetree wrote, "Ea is more comparable to Greek and Roman legend than Christianity when it comes to demigods and patron caretakers."
I'd like to propose another spin to this - take it or leave it. I had wondered if it wasn't the Catholic influence of the patron Saints that was the inspiration for such beings as the Maiar and Valar.

Arwen Imladris wrote, "Would mythology be a better word to describe it?"
I was just wondering what the word "it" was referring to.
 
Old 08-16-2002, 10:06 PM   #9
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Tolkien

i read somewhere, after a Poll done in Greater european areas of one declared religion, like 33% considered themselves Jedi Knite, i wonder if any declare to be "Lluvatarian" (sp) or Tolkienian i know the ME realm goes MUCH MUCH more in depth that the Star wars realm is MUCH more believable as a religion, sometimes i i toy with me own mind make believing that Every thin Tolkien knew about ME was some Devine intervention to lay upon the world the true Story of creation.
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Old 08-16-2002, 10:07 PM   #10
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Forgive me i meant to say the ME realm is much more in depth.
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Old 08-16-2002, 10:43 PM   #11
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Hail hildenyarvaEru,

Well met. * bows a greeting *

In support of your words, please allow me to simply cite the words of the Good Professor Tolkien himself, from Letter #213:

Quote:
Or more important, I am a Christian (which can be deduced from my stories) and in fact a Roman Catholic. The latter "fact" perhaps cannot be deduced; though one critic (by letter) asserted that the invocations of Elbereth, and the character of Galadriel as directly described (or through the words of Gimli and Sam) were clearly related to Catholic devlotion to Mary. Another saw in waybread (lembas) = viaticum and the reference to its feeding the will and being more potent when fasting, a derivation from the eucharist. (That is: far greater things may color the mind in dealing with the lesser things of a fairy story.)
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Old 08-17-2002, 10:55 AM   #12
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Welcome to The Barrow-Downs, Guildo and hildenyarvaEru. I hope you two remain dead a long while and post often. [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]

hildenyarvaEru, your point raising Catholic saints is not without merit, and I have considered it myself before. The reason I settled more on mythological gods and goddesses is that few of the Ainur actually spent lifetimes as mortal people in Ea.

Gandalf is one of the exceptions, and he is one of the most interesting characters to examine under the subtext of religion. There is no other occurence in the whole of LotR that is as blatantly referring to Christianity as his resurrection to turn the tides of fate. The fact that he goes from Grey (a "nothing special" colour, humble and everyday) to White (the presence of all colour, light, a symbol of rebirth and redemption) is, I'm going to refer to another great thread here, eucatastrophic to the utmost. I recommend you all read said thread (titled after the word). It may provide further enlightenment in this thread. It's in the Books near the top; shouldn't be too hard to find.

[ August 17, 2002: Message edited by: onewhitetree ]
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Old 08-17-2002, 11:00 AM   #13
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Well, anybody who writes a book can't do so whitout putting a bit of themselves in it. So Tolkien as a Catholic of course wrote the books from an Christian point of wiev, the books would probably have been different if they were written by eg a hindu, but to what degree it is difficult to say.
But to say that Tolkien had any religius intentions when writing the books is totally wrong.
Silmarillion is in fact a blend of many religions and myths, you have the great flood at the end of the 2. age, this you can find in many religions around the world including the old testamente and the Koran. He stated himself that Numenor could be compared to Atlantis. The gods are clearly influenced by old Europen myths, and you can actually find an almost simmillar story on how men and elves awoke in the relegion of the Inuits on Greenland (wonder if Tolkien knew this). Tolkien was creating a world with it's own myths and gods, but I would not say that it is a very Christian influenced world, more a world influenced world if you understand what I mean.
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Old 08-17-2002, 11:28 AM   #14
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Quote:
I had wondered if it wasn't the Catholic influence of the patron Saints that was the inspiration for such beings as the Maiar and Valar.
I see where you are coming from, but I have to disagree. The Ainur are much more akin to the host of angels. Tolkien calls them "angelic beings" several times in Letters, etc.
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Old 08-17-2002, 04:59 PM   #15
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Hullo Baran:

* bows a greeting *

When you say that Tolkien's world is not to your mind "a very Christian influenced world" ... it appears that you have overlooked Orome's post above, wherein he quotes Tolkien quite clearly from Letter #142 as saying that "The Lord of the Rings is of course a fundamentally religious and Catholic work."

In fact, if you read the entire paragraph from Letter #142, of which Orome quoted only a part, you will see Baran, that Tolkien himself disagrees with your claim that "... to say that Tolkien had any religius intentions when writing the books is totally wrong."

Below please find the relevant paragraph from Tolkien's Letter #142 in its entirety:

Quote:
The Lord of the Rings is of course a fundamentally religious and Catholic work; unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision. That is why I have not put in, or have cut out, practically all references to anything like "religion', to cults or practices, in the imaginary world. For the religious element is absorbed into the story and the symbolism.
Please note, Baran, that Tolkien states that The Lord of the Rings is a Catholic work "consciously so in the revision." Therefore, the factual evidence of Tolkien's own letters documents that indeed, to say that Tolkien had any religius intentions when writing the books is, as a matter of fact, quite correct.

If you can provide a quotation with evidence to the contrary that supports your views, Baran, I encourage you to post it.

Looking forward to a productive intellectual discussion and the further exchange of views,

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Old 08-18-2002, 04:01 AM   #16
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Unfortunatly I have not had the chance to read Tolkiens letters yet, so I have to defend my views on the quotes you bring forth.

Quote:
Or more important, I am a Christian (which can be deduced from my stories) and in fact a Roman Catholic. The latter "fact" perhaps cannot be deduced; though one critic (by letter) asserted that the invocations of Elbereth, and the character of Galadriel as directly described (or through the words of Gimli and Sam) were clearly related to Catholic devlotion to Mary. Another saw in waybread (lembas) = viaticum and the reference to its feeding the will and being more potent when fasting, a derivation from the eucharist. (That is: far greater things may color the mind in dealing with the lesser things of a fairy story.)
Tolkien is a Christian, and of course wrote his books from a christian point of view. As he states here, we can put all sort of meanings in to his books which he never intended, but non the less can be traced back to him being a christian.

When I wrote that Tolkien didn't have any religius intentions when writing his books I meant that he wasn't trying to make christian allegories. I should have wrote "christian intentions", I'm sorry.



Quote:
When you say that Tolkien's world is not to your mind "a very Christian influenced world" ... it appears that you have overlooked Orome's post above, wherein he quotes Tolkien quite clearly from Letter #142 as saying that "The Lord of the Rings is of course a fundamentally religious and Catholic work."
I am now Talking about Arda and middle earth, I don't think that the world Tolkien describe to us in his works is very "christian". This is of course my subjective opinion, if you can find a lot of things in Middle earth that resemble the christian faith I can't say you're wrong, I just can't. We all take his work an twist it so it suits our own point of view don't we? So racists who say they like LOFR because there are no black people there are not entirelly wrong, even though Tolkien was not a racist. By the way, my full quote was
Quote:
Tolkien was creating a world with it's own myths and gods, but I would not say that it is a very Christian influenced world, more a world influenced world if you understand what I mean.
Tolien states in his letter
Quote:
The Lord of the Rings is of course a fundamentally religious and Catholic work
He was trying to make a believable world and universe, he was creating myth, and into that myth he took pieces from myths and religions already excisting in our world.

Quote:
My reasoning for this thread is that I have been given a project to present how a religious theme is potrayed through a book/film/television drama etc
There is not just one religius theme in his books,
Quote:
That is why I have not put in, or have cut out, practically all references to anything like "religion', to cults or practices, in the imaginary world. For the religious element is absorbed into the story and the symbolism.
he is not trying to make the imaginary world a christian world, but a world with it's own religion based on the myths he loved so much, including christianity.
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Old 08-18-2002, 02:32 PM   #17
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Quote:
There is not just one religius theme in his books,
Indeed there is not Baran, and I have not stuck to just one. I was simply saying that the given task was to write about how a theme has been portrayed. That is not to say that I cannot go on further into the subject, for I will, however much my RE tutor dislikes it, (she thinks I write too much).
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Old 08-18-2002, 03:01 PM   #18
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excuse me but christianity is not a myth!
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Old 08-18-2002, 03:05 PM   #19
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Greetings, fellow dead.

I myself was part of a group presentation very similar to the project being discussed. We chose to focus on the prevalent themes of community, sacrifice, atonement, and providence.

These are simple themes to sift from the narrative of LOTR, as they were very intentionally placed there by the good Professor, treasure to be found by those that look closely enough.

Also, these themes present crucial clues as to Tolkien's intent, to create a "fundamentally religious and Catholic work". And contrary to ever-increasingly popular belief, the author's intent IS what dictates meaning. It is impossible to truly learn anything from a written work without first extrapolating the message the author meant to convey. Now, in the case of "postmodern" writing, which disavows this concept of "metanarrative", or all-encompassing meaning, there is still a rhyme and reason, namely to show that rhyme and reason don't really exist at all. As nonsensical as that message is, it is still the message being conveyed.

So, my conclusion is that Tolkien, while definitely not an allegorist, purposefully set out to create a moral epic in LOTR, an epic firmly entrenched in the pseudo-pagan mythology he had already been working on. Being a Christian, the moral truths he chose to express were decidedly Christian in nature. He was in no way contradicting himself by doing this. Thank heaven we have primary sources like the "Letters" available to us to aid in uncovering that intended meaning. I believe it's something that Professor Tolkien would not want lost.

[ August 18, 2002: Message edited by: Greyhame ]
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Old 08-18-2002, 03:10 PM   #20
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I'm sorry Orome, I don't believe any of us had the intention of offending anyone. What was being discussed was the thought that there was religion in LOTR, which may be betterly named Myth, because it is not knoen for sure. We weren't calling Christianity a myth within itself, at least I don't think that was what was meant. I do apologise.
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Old 08-18-2002, 04:43 PM   #21
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Hail Baran, Arwen Imladris, Orome, Gorothlammothiel, Greyhame, ...

and all other interested parties. I am very much enjoying this discussion, and am especially thankful to you Baran, for your thoughtful reply to me. * bows a cordial greeting to all*

Both in answer to Baran, as well as in keeping with the evolving direction of this discussion, now appears to be a good time to discuss Tolkien's concept of the True Myth.

Below please find an article on this very topic:

The following quote is from an article called "True Myth: The Catholicism of The Lord of the Rings." The article, written by Joseph Pearce, appeared in the December 2001 issue of The Catholic World Report:

"When Lewis and Tolkien had first met, Lewis was beginning to perceive the inadequacy of the agnosticism into which he had lapsed, having previously discarded any remnants of childhood Christianity. By the summer of 1929 he had renounced agnosticism and professed himself a theist, believing in the existence of God but denying the claims of Christianity. Essentially this was his position when, in September 1931, he had the discussion with Tolkien and their mutual friend, Hugo Dyson, which was destined to have a revolutionary impact on his life. After dinner the three men went for a walk and discussed the nature and purpose of myth. Lewis explained that he felt the power of myths but that they were ultimately untrue. As he expressed it to Tolkien, myths were 'lies and therefore worthless, even though breathed through silver.'

"No," Tolkien replied, "They are not lies."

"Tolkien argued that, far from being lies, myths were the best way of conveying truths which would otherwise be inexpressible. We have come from God and inevitably the myths woven by us, though they contain error, reflect a splintered fragment of the true light, the eternal truth that is with God. Myths may be misguided, but they steer however shakily toward the true harbor, whereas materialistic 'progress' leads only to the abyss and to the power of evil.

"Building on this philosophy of myth, Tolkien and Dyson went on to express their belief that the story of Christ was simply a true myth: a myth that works in the same way as the others, but a myth that really happened. Whereas pagan myths revealed fragments of eternal truth through the words of poets, the True Myth of Christianity revealed the whole truth through the Word himself. The poets of pagan antiquity told their story with words, but God, the omnipotent Poet, told the True Story with facts -- weaving his tale with the actions of real men in actual history.

"Tolkien's arguments had an indelible effect on Lewis. The edifice of his unbelief crumbled and the foundations of his Christianity were laid. Twelve days later Lewis wrote to a friend that he had 'just passed on from believing in God to definitely believing in Christ -- in Christianity. ... My long night talk with Dyson and Tolkien had a good deal to do with it.' "

-- Catholic World Report
December 2001

[ August 18, 2002: Message edited by: Gandalf_theGrey ]
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Old 08-18-2002, 06:57 PM   #22
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Sorry guys, I think that my post was misinterpreted.

Orome, I did not mean that Christianity was a myth, I ment LOTR. It seamed to me that it was written more like a history, some myths are like that. If you listen to the preloud to the movie, the voice says something like "...legend into myth" that is what made me think of it. We studied mythology in english class and LOTR sort of sounds like some of the things we read. I am a christian myself, I agree that it is not a myth. Sorry for the confusion.
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Old 08-18-2002, 07:53 PM   #23
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sorry arwen by brain is on vacation, i should have been able to figure that out a bit better :confused
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Old 08-18-2002, 08:08 PM   #24
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Great replies, everyone.

Baran, you are right that the Christian fundamentals in LotR come from Tolkien's point of view. I read somewhere, don't recall where, that he wrote the books for himself, not for the public eye. He probably viewed them as sort of an extension and completion of himself. I find it curious that nowhere in LotR do the characters express adherence or acknowldgement of any sort of religion, especially the hobbits, as the old man likened himself to them.

If anything, the "God" in LotR is Fate. In Fate do the members of the Fellowship place their hope and faith. Even the smallest actions, Bilbo's fumbling hand finding a small piece of metal in the dark, have impacts upon the world of ME. Gandalf's quote to Frodo, "you were meant to have the Ring" is said as a comforting assurance. Fate seems to be omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, and all those other omni- words. Not until The Silmarillion are we introduced to the ruling sentients of Ea.

I agree, and really there is no ground to disagree, that the world of ME is the world of a Christian, but it is surprisingly pagan, at that. What with tree-people, river-women, and assorted other patron entities, one sometimes feels in the midst of Bulfinch's Mythology! In this way, Tolkien's stories are very similar to the aforementioned Lewis', and I imagine such characters were discussed at length over many a pipe. What I would give to have been a fly on the wall.

As a side: Orome, this discussion is not meant to offend anyone, nor is it meant to make any claims. Don't take any of the views expressed herein personally, as this is meant to be an open discussion of Tolkien, not of personal beliefs. [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]
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Old 08-18-2002, 08:41 PM   #25
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umm i already adressed my mystake so........

on the whole fate thing i think that it is Eru who is doing the "Fating". i dont know how that works in to all that but hey.
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Old 08-18-2002, 08:46 PM   #26
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Providence.
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Old 08-19-2002, 10:01 AM   #27
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Gandalf the Grey and others --

I'd like to raise one other question that is related to this. Ganalf brought forward the well known letter where Tolkien says that LotR was Christian, "especially in the revisions."

It seems to be there is a fascinating question here. We have HoMe which shows the different drafts the book went through, and, if someone wanted to be really ambitious, they could even journey up to look at Tolkien's papers which are mainly at Marquette University. The interesting thing to me is that no one, and I mean NO ONE, has systematically looked at the different drafts to see just where and when the explicitly religious and explicitly Christian themes come in. Were they there at the orgin, did they come in gradually, or only in the very final drafts?

First, you'd have to make a list to identify such ideas and themes, and then you'd have to compare that with the actual drafts of the book. There was an earlier thread on this started by Littlemanpoet several months ago. We actually started to make such a list (it was quite long). In one or two cases, you could see where that point had originated. But most of them were up for grabs. You'd have to do a lot of serious research.

Anyway it's an interesting idea for a project.

One point that may relate to this ....some of Tolkien's very last writings which relate more to the Legendarium and Silm. have some explicit religious/Christian themes there. I'm thinking of the Andreth/Finrod debate in Morgoth's Ring (my favorite) and the osanwe-kenta stuff on mind to mind communication. All of that was very late in Tolkien's career and most of it didn't get put in the published Silm, much to the dismay of some of us! (Lindil in the Silm project is the expert on this.)

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Old 08-22-2002, 01:49 AM   #28
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I agree with those saying that there is no consciousChristianity in LOTR - since Toliken edited it out.
But that does not mean that there are not some underlying Christian ideas, that are not immediately obvious:
Quote:
"How shall a man judge what to do in such times?"
"As he has ever judged", said Aragorn. "Good and evil have not changed since yesteryear(...) It is man's part to discern them, as much in the Golden Wood as in his own house.
I think that this quote is one of the few that make LOTR a basically Christian - or better said religious - work. This idea is profoundly religious and moralistic and it is the same that numerous theologians are trying to get through. They basically say that even though times change, God's commandments stated in the Bible stay the same, and there is no circumstance that would warrant not obeying them.
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Old 08-22-2002, 07:28 AM   #29
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Just in case anyone's interested, for research purposes, I'm bringing current that thread Child of the 7th Age mentioned.
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Old 08-25-2002, 08:43 PM   #30
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I was watching this show called "World Over" and it was all about Tolkien and the books he wrote, and about his whole life. I don't noe if sumone had already said this, but i didn't have enough time to read all of your answers.
The anchor of the show was interviewing a man that wrote "Tolkien Man and Myth" (i think that's what it's called) and i recorded it so when i get time to watch it again, i can tell u all about it. I know it was a very in depth conversation, and all about how Tolkien incorporated Christianity in lotr.
everyting from Gandalf to Galadriel to the ring itself was talked about and it's tie to religon. even at the end when Frodo said the ring was getting to heavy to carry, it symbolized Jesus on the cross and how it got heavier 4 him to carry. When i watch it again i hope i understand it all! hope it helped, Jeli Baggins [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]
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Old 08-26-2002, 08:35 AM   #31
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I've read that Tolkein was rather critical of C.S. Lewis's (his close friend) Cronicals of Narnia because of the rather obvious symbolism. Can someone confirm/refute this?

An dedicated author of any religion or creed conveys some slice of his covictions in his writings, either subconciously or conciously.
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Old 08-31-2002, 05:58 PM   #32
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Hi guys, interesting discussion. I can suggest two resources for further info on this subject. One, a website that has a good article on Tolkien's life and the influence of his faith on his writing: www.hobbitlore.com

Second, the book _Orthodoxy_ by G.K. Chesterton. Chesterton is not as well known as C.S. Lewis and Tolkien, but he influenced both of them. He was a generation or two ahead of them and like them, was a great writer of fantasy and philosophy. You can clearly see his influence on the Inklings from the above book, especially the first few chapters (one of them called "The Ethics of Elfland"!) This should give some background on the Christian idea, the very positive idea, of myth and truth. Gandalf the Grey provided a good article on this subject above.

Ok, I did have some [img]smilies/eek.gif[/img] moments when reading through the thread. Tolkien edited out the Christianity?? The God of ME is Fate?? Please, look deeper. I don't mean to sound trite. Tolkien's works are not allegory, and he writes in the style of ancient and medieval epics (which blend history and fantasy, while being less uptight about the difference than we are... for one thing, a poet assumed his listeners knew the difference between the two!). However the ME works are thoroughly Christian. Veritably soaked with Christianity. It is often subtle, no doubt, but it goes far beyond good vs. evil and "is Frodo a Christ figure." This may only be apparent if one is both well-versed in Tolkien and in the Bible (which you don't have to be a Christian to be; well-educated people used to know the Bible better than many devout Christians do today- but I digress!). Since that takes much time and effort and some of you have projects due, hopefully the above resources will be helpful. They can probably help to explain things better than I can in this post.

P.S. Yes, it's my understanding Tolkien was lukewarm about the Chronicles of Narnia. They're much more straight symbolism, especially "The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe," but still great stories. I actually like some of the other books better than LWW.

P.P.S. Here's an article on a Christian website that explains some of the deeper connections of Christianity and Tolkien's work. It's written from the perspective of persuading Christians of Tolkien's value. http://www.credenda.org/issues/14-2thema.php

[ September 02, 2002: Message edited by: Genandra of Mirkwood ]
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Old 10-29-2002, 10:20 PM   #33
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Quote:
I know there is great controversy as to whether there was intentional religious meaning in Tolkien's works, but thought that as I have such a great intrest in Tolkien's works that it may be appropriate.

The work doesn't have to be definitive and I aim to give all views on the matter, including that Tolkien himself said that it was not meant to be a religious work, but to give morals etc.

First, I'll say that topics like this never fail to interest me... many thanks for bringing this up.

Almost everyone gets something different out of Lord of the Rings, whether Tolkien meant these things or not. And, like they say, what really matters is what we get out of the work, regardless of what the author's original intent/ideology was.
Since Tolkien was a Christian, there is some argument for the opinion that his works purposefully reflected certain Christian ideals, even if he said that he was not inspired by his religious beliefs. In my opinion, whatever his driving ideas were behind the production of LOTR are of secondary inportance, though they are nonetheless an interesting topic for debate. This is because the ideals brought forth in LOTR are not necessarily Christian. Indeed, they are not constrained to any set religion--they are ideas that transcend the concept of religious worship and God and extend to all creeds, all of humanity. These ideals-- courage to rise up and defend one's world and way of life, devotion and loyalty to friends, hope for an end to suffering, to name a few--are ideals that all can understand and aspire to, regardless of religion. I am agnostic, yet the "Christian" ideas presented in LOTR have given my mind a different perspective and my life an added meaning. This, to me, is the real power of LOTR--the ability to reach out to all people, Christian or not, which is what I think Tolkien really wanted. So, to sum this up, I'll agree with Tolkien himself and tack a bit on, too: although his Christian ideals may have (and they almost certainly did) influenced his work on LOTR, the themes that he presented in the trilogy reached beyond "the bounds" of Christianity and religion and, whether he meant it or not, became ideas that any and all could find meaning with.
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Old 10-29-2002, 11:39 PM   #34
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In my opinion Tolkien's faith was so much a part of who he was, he could not invent a good that did not reflect his truth about good. His theological position on evil and temptation manifests itself in Mordor, the ring and it's effect on every character. LOTR is no allegory. It goes beyond symbolism to a synthesis of theology and invented myth. The particulars are covered well in the sources mentioned above.

As a Christian I find in LOTR encouragement to remain true when I find myself on the road to Mordor with the ring hanging heavy around my neck. Someday I hope to thank JRR Tolkien for that.
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Old 10-30-2002, 08:23 AM   #35
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The reason Tolkien included many gods in his stories is because he was very interested in mythology, especially Norse. I don't think that he was in any way supporting other religions (if he was Christian, why would he preach about other religions so very different from his?), but was taking mythology and Christianity along with other elements and combining them for the purpose of a story. That's all they are - stories. And very good ones as a matter of fact. [img]smilies/biggrin.gif[/img] When I read the Lord of the Rings, I can't help but think "Oh, that sounds like this Bible story," but I shouldn't do that. I believe Tolkien wanted to be unique in his writings and not sound like what has been written before.

I am a Christian, by the way. I didn't mean to sound like I was criticizing the Bible or anything!

Maybe I'm posting in topics way over my head. Oh well, its fun! [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]

If you are interested inother discussions like this one, read: Tolkien, Lewis and Theology also in the Books forum. [img]smilies/wink.gif[/img]

[ October 30, 2002: Message edited by: TolkienGurl ]
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Old 02-18-2003, 06:06 PM   #36
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Tolkien

Quote:
The reason Tolkien included many gods in his stories is because he was very interested in mythology, especially Norse. I don't think that he was in any way supporting other religions (if he was Christian, why would he preach about other religions so very different from his?), but was taking mythology and Christianity along with other elements and combining them for the purpose of a story. That's all they are - stories. And very good ones as a matter of fact. When I read the Lord of the Rings, I can't help but think "Oh, that sounds like this Bible story," but I shouldn't do that. I believe Tolkien wanted to be unique in his writings and not sound like what has been written before.
Excellent point. I agree with Tolkien Gurl. Tolkien, though religious is very mythopoetic in his writings [i.e., The Lord of the Rings, the Silmarillion etc.].

I also believe, that even though LOTR contained a whole lot of Biblical Allusions, that it is indeed a fantasy that reflects the real world, how one progresses through hard times in life [i.e.,Frodo], and how that one person defeats evil/darkness.

Like Melichus said:
Quote:
Almost everyone gets something different out of Lord of the Rings, whether Tolkien meant these things or not. And, like they say, what really matters is what we get out of the work, regardless of what the author's original intent/ideology was.
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Old 02-19-2003, 06:20 PM   #37
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Here is an interesting article about Spiritual Connections in LOTR.
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Old 03-21-2003, 06:28 PM   #38
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I have read the posts in the topic Unintentional Religion in Tolkien's works?. And I am of the opinion that,lots of people read Tolkien and are looking to find comparisons with religion. I think that Tolkien was a very clever man writer,as he used themes that everybody would understand, good verses evil, the free will to choose weather or not you do any thing or just ignore what is going on around you. I think that who ever reads Tolkien will find that it fits with there religious beliefs.
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Old 03-22-2003, 08:32 PM   #39
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I found a book called Finding God in The Lord of the Rings and it addressed bunches of stuff. But, seeing as how my memory isn't all that special, I've forgotten most of it. It was really informative, though. I remember that much. Oh, I also forgot who the author was, but I'm sure you can find it in most Christian book stores. I highly reccommend it! [img]smilies/biggrin.gif[/img]
 
Old 03-22-2003, 08:55 PM   #40
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I don't think that Tolkien purposefully made Lord of the Rings a religious thing. He has said it himself, that there was no allegory intended. However, it was always my knowledge that Tolkien was a very religious, devote Catholic and so maybe there are some religious stories underlying Lord of the Rings that Tolkien didn't even realize he put there.
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