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View Poll Results: Is Eru God?
Yes 43 66.15%
No 22 33.85%
Voters: 65. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 12-19-2005, 09:49 PM   #241
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Thanks, Heren Istarion, for the light to go with all the heat.

There is a quality of power, a rooted reality, a dynamic of the spirit in LotR that I find nowhere else, not in any other myth, except for the Bible. The two sharing a common root of reality. This demonstrates to me that they are harmonious at the deepest levels.
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Old 12-19-2005, 11:06 PM   #242
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Originally Posted by Roa_Aoife
So, the angels may not be able to refuse the will of their Creator, not even Satan, but that doesn't mean they have no free will. Satan is a minion of God only in that God uses him to create greater works, as Eru used the discord of Melkor to create even more beautiful Music.

We must nnot forget that Eru imparted the melody to the Ainur, so even the seemingly creative powers of the Valar are not really theirs, as a priest has no power of their own, and angels have no power of their own. It is all allowed by Eru/God (respectively). Melkor tries to create outside of Eru's design, and he can't. He is reduced to distorting the already present beings, which were in Eru's Music. In the creation of the dwarves, a fully living being cannot be made, and it is Eru who must give life.
Nice work collating all of the text. I would read it otherwise. Tolkien's angels, the Ainur, do not breed with men, nor do the 'lesser set,' the Maia. This group was able to breed with elves, though kin, are not men. And even that was a rare event, as were the elf/human and half-elf/half-maia/human marriages. However, it did take place.

I do not see any credible interpretation of any passage of the Christian Bible where angelic beings crossbreed with humans. The Nephilim citation is the most oft presented, but there is much evidence that angel/human mixing is an incorrect reading of the passage.

Noncorporal beings do not breed with corporal beings in either world. Elves, therefore, must be somewhere in between corporal and spirit.

The Ainur and Maia appear to humans seemingly without prior consulting with the One. There are even examples where not all of the Ainur are on the same page (Ulmo talking to Tuor). Angels, however, are on a short leash and do the exact bidding of the Lord. Text that sounds like the angels disagreeing with God etc is just the way the writer anthropomorphizes the event, makes the story more readable and/or attempts to express the point that 'even the Angels did such and such' to demonstrate something of God (His mercy, restraint, etc).

And consider, exactly who documents conversations between angels and the Christian God?
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Old 12-20-2005, 09:52 AM   #243
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Originally Posted by alatar
I do not see any credible interpretation of any passage of the Christian Bible where angelic beings crossbreed with humans. The Nephilim citation is the most oft presented, but there is much evidence that angel/human mixing is an incorrect reading of the passage.
However, Tolkien provided the answer by writing that the Valar who chose to enter Arda clothed themselves in forms befitting the Children of Ilúvatar. I think Tolkien got it right. The term "Nephilim" means 'Children of the Giants'. If you look elsewhere in the historic books of the OT, you discover many references to giants, such as the 'sons of Rafa'; Goliath; and many people living in Palestine (sorry for that anachronism but people understand that term better than Canaan) when the people of Israel spent 40 years tramping through the desert. So the angelic crossbreeding with humans is not so farfetched, and may in fact be closer to the truth (... and may explain to a large extent why Yahweh wanted Israel to kill off the people who lived there; that is, they were set in their ways evildoers who had placed themselves beyond redemption. But anyway....).

I think the angels had, and have, free will. Those who did not fall away earlier have no blinders on and can see the whole picture quite clearly, and know it would be abominably stupid to rebel against God.

Quote:
The Ainur and Maia appear to humans seemingly without prior consulting with the One. There are even examples where not all of the Ainur are on the same page (Ulmo talking to Tuor). Angels, however, are on a short leash and do the exact bidding of the Lord. Text that sounds like the angels disagreeing with God etc is just the way the writer anthropomorphizes the event, makes the story more readable and/or attempts to express the point that 'even the Angels did such and such' to demonstrate something of God (His mercy, restraint, etc).
I find it interesting that Tolkien "cleaned up" some of these less savory (to moderns) aspects of the OT story.

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And consider, exactly who documents conversations between angels and the Christian God?
Well, God. But now you're getting into the nature of divine revelation. Suffice it to say that God revealed to the prophets what He wanted them to write down.
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Old 12-20-2005, 11:33 AM   #244
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Originally Posted by littlemanpoet
However, Tolkien provided the answer by writing that the Valar who chose to enter Arda clothed themselves in forms befitting the Children of Ilúvatar. I think Tolkien got it right. The term "Nephilim" means 'Children of the Giants'. If you look elsewhere in the historic books of the OT, you discover many references to giants, such as the 'sons of Rafa'; Goliath; and many people living in Palestine (sorry for that anachronism but people understand that term better than Canaan) when the people of Israel spent 40 years tramping through the desert. So the angelic crossbreeding with humans is not so farfetched, and may in fact be closer to the truth (... and may explain to a large extent why Yahweh wanted Israel to kill off the people who lived there; that is, they were set in their ways evildoers who had placed themselves beyond redemption. But anyway....).
I will continue to respectfully disagree.
  • At a time when the average height may have been five feet (1.5 meter), seven feet (2.1), which we see even today, may have seemed to be gigantic. When I meet 'Merican football and basketball players, I feel dwarfed though I am over 2 meters in height. Anyway, I would have to see the bones to believe that actual giants existed. My point is that 'giants' can exist without the intervention of angels.
  • Exactly how do angels mate with humans? As stated previously, one has physicality whereas the other does not. To tread more lightly, biologically speaking, do angels therefore have DNA? Or is some other mechanism available? Surely God is not limited by anything, by definition, but I would assume that either angels can natively mate with humans or can only do so at the behest of and with the aid of God. Again, if they can whenever they can, what stops the evil set from doing so? Can we detect those people who carry this bloodline? And, hopefully with much respect, why then is the birth of the Christ so special? My assumption is that taking a physical body is a rare event in Christian theology, as is angels mating with humans.
  • Do we know if angels can 'cloak themselves in flesh?' I remember that there was an angel that wrestles with a human, and so I guess that it is possible, but yet again, why then is the Christ's physical resurrection so different? He asks his disciples to touch him, and He eats fish, all (I assume) to demonstrate evidence that He is not some wispy spirit but a physical object. There are examples where fallen angels inhabit a human, possessing the person as it where, but one of the same examples show the same demons asking permission to take up residence in a pig, which to me means that even the evil sort were not permitted to whatever they chose.

Again, I am no theologian and I do not intend any disrespect.

Anyway, I see no reason nor mechanism by which angels mate with humans. Tolkien explains how it works in ME, as stated, by having elves be the intermediary and, as you have stated, showing that these nonphysical beings take a physical form of their choosing in order to interact with the physical environment and beings therein. But does Tolkien have the equivalent, as you posit for the Christian world, spawn of the evil ones running around at any time? Melkor perverts the elves to beget orcs, yet I don't remember reading where Melkor or any on his side (like Sauron) mate with elves, men, dwarves etc.


Quote:
Well, God. But now you're getting into the nature of divine revelation. Suffice it to say that God revealed to the prophets what He wanted them to write down.
Understood. My point is that these 'conversations' may not be what they appear, and that God is making some point by showing a 'discussion' is taking place. At times they are utilized as a literary device to have (I assume) a 'question and answer' theme, if that makes sense. And surely an omniscient omnipresent etc God has no 'need' for angels.
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Old 12-20-2005, 01:48 PM   #245
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alatar
At a time when the average height may have been five feet (1.5 meter), seven feet (2.1), which we see even today, may have seemed to be gigantic. When I meet 'Merican football and basketball players, I feel dwarfed though I am over 2 meters in height. Anyway, I would have to see the bones to believe that actual giants existed. My point is that 'giants' can exist without the intervention of angels.
Fair enough, and had we no record of Goliath's height, I'd have to conceed. But we do know it.

Quote:
1 Samuel 17:4 (New International Version)
4 A champion named Goliath, who was from Gath, came out of the Philistine camp. He was over nine feet* tall.
*Hebrew was six cubits and a span (about 3 meters)
For comparison purposes.

Quote:
Tallest Man
The tallest man in medical history for whom there is irrefutable evidence is Robert Pershing Wadlow. He was born at Alton, Illinois, USA, on February 22, 1918, and when he was last measured on June 27, 1940, was found to be 2.72 m (8 ft 11.1 in) tall.
For us, a man near 9 ft is an amazing oddity. Goliath was over 9 ft, and he came from a whole tribe of people like that. Something was clearly different.

Quote:
Originally Posted by alatar
Do we know if angels can 'cloak themselves in flesh?' I remember that there was an angel that wrestles with a human, and so I guess that it is possible…
Anyway, I see no reason nor mechanism by which angels mate with humans.
Again, this is recorded in scripture.

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1 The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city. When he saw them, he got up to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground. 2 "My lords," he said, "please turn aside to your servant's house. You can wash your feet and spend the night and then go on your way early in the morning."
"No," they answered, "we will spend the night in the square."
3 But he insisted so strongly that they did go with him and entered his house. He prepared a meal for them, baking bread without yeast, and they ate. 4 Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom—both young and old—surrounded the house. 5 They called to Lot, "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them."
Genesis 19:1-5
The angels deviated from their original plan, ate, washed their feet (a Hebrew tradition), and were capable of being raped by the locals. If they could be raped, it stands to reason they could also have sex willingly, and therefore reproduce.

Quote:
Originally Posted by alatar
Understood. My point is that these 'conversations' may not be what they appear, and that God is making some point by showing a 'discussion' is taking place. At times they are utilized as a literary device to have (I assume) a 'question and answer' theme, if that makes sense.
While I do not deign to argue divine revalation, I will point out the Tolkien, as a Catholic, would have accepted these passages as wholly true and literal.

Quote:
Originally Posted by alatar
And surely an omniscient omnipresent etc God has no 'need' for angels.
Fair enough, but He would have no need for humans either. As to why both were created, I have no idea. Why should Eru bother creating anything at all? Why create the Music? Why should God create humans who would only turn away from Him time and again? That's deep theology, and not a question anyone could really answer here with out getting waaaaaay off topic.
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Old 12-20-2005, 02:12 PM   #246
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Originally Posted by Roa_Aoife
Fair enough, and had we no record of Goliath's height, I'd have to conceed. But we do know it. For comparison purposes. For us, a man near 9 ft is an amazing oddity. Goliath was over 9 ft, and he came from a whole tribe of people like that. Something was clearly different.
Understood, but as I question a person's ability to reliably judge height (especially at a distance), the lack of a universal standard of measure (unlike the meter, a 'span' could in theory vary), some skepticism as to when Goliath was measured (before he was killed, he was an enemy; when killed by David, there is the possibility that Goliath's height was inflated), and the lack of any evidence of this large race ever existing (though with the finding of 'hobbit' bones, I'm willing to concede that we just haven't uncovered anything yet), I will have to stand by my original argument. Even if we had a race of humans that averaged over 3 meters, this characteristic does not verify spiritual DNA. Occam's razor would suggest that if we were to encounter such a race that we might posit that they are "sons of angels" without evidence if we believed in such things.

It'd be better than just admitting that they are tall and we short.


Quote:
The angels deviated from their original plan, ate, washed their feet (a Hebrew tradition), and were capable of being raped by the locals. If they could be raped, it stands to reason they could also have sex willingly, and therefore reproduce.
Disagree. The actions of the mob do not impart sexuality to the angels. For example, I may see a movie with an attractive woman. I may say that I would really like to kiss her. This does not give this electronic image flesh and blood lips.


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While I do not deign to argue divine revalation, I will point out the Tolkien, as a Catholic, would have accepted these passages as wholly true and literal.
Many people accept their scriptures as "wholly true and literal," yet vary greatly on exactly what that means. Isn't this the reason that religions have many sub-divisions? And some people, even those skilled, do not always interpret a particular passage correctly.


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Fair enough, but He would have no need for humans either. As to why both were created, I have no idea. Why should Eru bother creating anything at all? Why create the Music? Why should God create humans who would only turn away from Him time and again? That's deep theology, and not a question anyone could really answer here with out getting waaaaaay off topic.
Agreed. But my point was that in Arda, Manwe is King. He runs the place, with some help. So if we assume that there's a reason for Arda in the first place (unknown to us), then maybe we can say that Manwe and his tribe were created as caretakers so that Eru could get in some golfing . In the Christian world, to me it seems that angels aren't exactly needed.
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Old 12-20-2005, 04:28 PM   #247
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Angels have carried out actions just as the Valar did. Neither are absolutely necessary. Both still exist in their respective texts, and carry out actions in the name of God. I think I've missed where this tangent started...what point are you trying to make?
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Old 12-20-2005, 09:38 PM   #248
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roa_Aoife
He would have no need for humans either. As to why both were created, I have no idea. Why should Eru bother creating anything at all? Why create the Music? Why should God create humans who would only turn away from Him time and again? That's deep theology, and not a question anyone could really answer here with out getting waaaaaay off topic.
Actually, I must strongly disagree with this one particularity, although, Roa Aoife, you and I line up pretty much on everything else. There is a reason trumpeted loudly throughout the Bible why God created it all. He wanted creatures to love and to be loved by. Everything, absolutely everything originates and hinges on this most central aspect of who God is, according to the Hebrew and Christian traditions. This is NOT way off topic because precisely the same motivation is to found in Eru. Why else does anyone create anything? For the sheer love (and joy) of seeing the thing do what it was meant to do, which in the case of God/Eru, was delight in all that is/was/shall be.

Quote:
Originally Posted by alatar
But my point was that in Arda, Manwe is King.
I think it would be more appropriate to say that Manwe is Viceroy in Arda, and Elbereth/Varda Viceroyess (if there's such a word).
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Old 12-21-2005, 09:36 PM   #249
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Originally Posted by littlemanpoet
He wanted creatures to love and to be loved by. Everything, absolutely everything originates and hinges on this most central aspect of who God is, according to the Hebrew and Christian traditions. This is NOT way off topic because precisely the same motivation is to found in Eru. Why else does anyone create anything? For the sheer love (and joy) of seeing the thing do what it was meant to do, which in the case of God/Eru, was delight in all that is/was/shall be.
Not sure if this places me in the skeptic, cynic or 'just to be a pest' group, but why does an omniscient being have need or a want of anything? It's like God is 100% and yet isn't complete or needs something else.


Quote:
I think it would be more appropriate to say that Manwe is Viceroy in Arda, and Elbereth/Varda Viceroyess (if there's such a word).
Maybe someone can help me out here with some back up text, but I thought that Manwë was Eru's CEO.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Legolas
I think I've missed where this tangent started...what point are you trying to make?
Point!?! As can be seen in my SbS posts, any point that I happen to make can be attributed to random chance...

Anyway, this tangent (or at least the one in my mind) started when I pondered foreknowledge in Arda and in the Christian world. After that, we looked at angels/ainur, and then other minutia.
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Old 12-21-2005, 10:55 PM   #250
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Originally Posted by alatar
Not sure if this places me in the skeptic, cynic or 'just to be a pest' group, but why does an omniscient being have need or a want of anything? It's like God is 100% and yet isn't complete or needs something else.
Who knows, but the question is equally valid for the Catholic God as it is for Eru, and is so is a factor proving the sameness of the two.

Quote:
Maybe someone can help me out here with some back up text, but I thought that Manwë was Eru's CEO.
Tolkien definitely states that Manwe was Eru's Vicegerent. I don't think the term CEO is ever used.
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Old 12-22-2005, 09:23 AM   #251
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Originally Posted by Formendacil
Who knows, but the question is equally valid for the Catholic God as it is for Eru, and is so is a factor proving the sameness of the two.
Much agreed.


Quote:
Tolkien definitely states that Manwe was Eru's Vicegerent. I don't think the term CEO is ever used.
I was just being facetious . My point is that Arda has a Boss/King/Viceregent/CEO/etc. Does the Christian world have the same? And doesn't the Bible state who the prince of this world is?

And to go off on another tangent: In Arda, we have the drowning of Númenor - the Gift taken back. I used to think of this event as a shadow for the Noachian Flood, but more detailed analysis would show that these two events aren't very similar.

In Arda, only a specific island is destroyed. Though survivors, on boats, leave Númenor before the drowning, they do not have to take anything but the tunics on their backs and any artifacts that they might treasure - the rest of the world and all of the flora and fauna therein are not threatened. Elendil's family, loyal to the Valar and respecting the Ban, leave as it is prudent (they are threatened by the King's men) and not because Manwe tells them that it might be a good idea. Many other differences can be cited, and so maybe only I thought that the two were concordant somehow.

Anyway, the question then is: Is Eru God? The God of the Bible has destroyed mankind, locally and globally at times. Seemingly Eru has only done this once locally. To me YHWH has intervened, not only it little ways, but also on a global massive scale. Eru seems to sit back and watch, taking a less active role, and if he does act, then it may be in some small way (as when it is assumed that he pushes Gollum over the edge).

Is Eru a less stern/punishing God?
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Old 12-22-2005, 09:44 AM   #252
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Originally Posted by littlemanpoet
There is a reason trumpeted loudly throughout the Bible why God created it all. He wanted creatures to love and to be loved by. Everything, absolutely everything originates and hinges on this most central aspect of who God is, according to the Hebrew and Christian traditions. This is NOT way off topic because precisely the same motivation is to found in Eru. Why else does anyone create anything? For the sheer love (and joy) of seeing the thing do what it was meant to do, which in the case of God/Eru, was delight in all that is/was/shall be..
My own understanding (& I think this comes through perhaps more strongly in the Legendarium than in the Bible) is that God creates because it is in His nature to create. God is a creator, that is His essence: He creates because creating is what He does.

Of course, He may have other aspects which we don't know of (can't ?? know of) but in terms of His relationship to us (as creatures) He is primarily our Creator, & its difficult to know/experience Him as anything else.

That said, He is also a destroyer of what He creates (in certain circumstances).

So, God (& Eru) creates not so much out of a desire for something to love (which implies a deficit or lack in God) but because He (being a Creator) can do no other - its kind of spontaneous with Him. Hence we're not told anything about Him pre-Creation.

Which is not to say that He doesn't do other stuff as well - its just that the only aspect of Him that we can know, the only 'relationship' we can have with Him is the Creator/Created one.
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Old 12-22-2005, 09:51 AM   #253
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Originally Posted by alatar
Not sure if this places me in the skeptic, cynic or 'just to be a pest' group, but why does an omniscient being have need or a want of anything? It's like God is 100% and yet isn't complete or needs something else.
Once upon a time, "to be in want" meant the same thing as "to be in need", but now, no longer. As currently used, there is a very significant difference between "to want" and "to need". This difference, methinks, is key to understanding lmp's point.
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Old 12-22-2005, 10:09 AM   #254
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Originally Posted by alatar
My point is that Arda has a Boss/King/Viceregent/CEO/etc. Does the Christian world have the same? And doesn't the Bible state who the prince of this world is?
My understanding is that Lucifer was appointed as Viceregent/Archangel of Earth; thus, his rebellion left Earth in darkness, and thus the need for the kinds of intervention described throughout the Bible.

Quote:
And to go off on another tangent: In Arda, we have the drowning of Númenor - the Gift taken back. I used to think of this event as a shadow for the Noachian Flood, but more detailed analysis would show that these two events aren't very similar.
Right. I don't see them as similar either. The Numenor saga is more akin to the Atlantis myth, which Tolkien was trying to "correct" as received from traditional myths.

Quote:
Is Eru a less stern/punishing God?
I see little difference, and see Eru as more involved, as I've explained earlier in this thread, than others seem to believe.

My right clicker isn't working so I can't bring up a quote from a different post. Anyway, davem, Eru is revealed to the people of Middle Earth to a much lesser extent than Yahweh is to us. Nevertheless, the likeness is quite evident to me. In either case, I see a Deity that is not merely a creator, certainly not instinctive as you seem to suggest. Even his creative activity is within the context of his love.

Yes, Helen, wants to. He wants relationship with us puny little bits of self-aware matter. He wants us to last forever, and not merely last but enJoy him forever. Omniscience seems to fit okay with that.
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Old 12-22-2005, 10:54 AM   #255
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Yes, Helen, wants to. He wants relationship with us puny little bits of self-aware matter. He wants us to last forever, and not merely last but enJoy him forever. Omniscience seems to fit okay with that.
But surely 'want' implies desire, which implies a lack, that something is felt to be missing in order for a sense of completion?

Such a God may well be Omniscient & Omnipotent, but is Imperfect by nature of missing something.

By contrast, a God who creates because it is His nature to create is not Imperfect in creating things, but is rather expressing His nature fully. This does not deny that such a God would love what He had created (is God's Love separated from His Creativity, or are they 'one' & the same?). Meister Eckhart took the idea of God as Creator so far that he stated that God had not only created all things, but was constantly creating them, that past, present & future (& all things in them) are being created by God, are in a constent state of being created - otherwise they would not exist (ie even the past must be created by God 'NOW'- that is in 'Eternity'- in order for it to exist (or have existed from our perspective) ie, if God wasn't constantly 'creating' the past it would cease to exist & we would have no memory of it.

If any of that makes sense....
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Old 12-25-2005, 08:53 PM   #256
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What you say is not without merit, davem, from my perspective. The upshot of what I understand from your post is that God maintains all Creation and that God's activity, in Eternity, in doing so, is constant. For humans to say that God wanted and needed to create humans is probably particularizing God's activity and being in terms of humans.

I seem to recall that alatar raised a remonstration regarding angels "clothing" themselves in human form, probably right down to DNA, including the capability for reproduction and the continuation of a human line through many generations: how, then, is the humanity of Christ, who is God, according to Christians, special? The answer is that Jesus is God, not merely an angel, and that he did not "clothe" himself (no matter how completely that may be done) in humanity, but was conceived in Mary's womb by the Spirit of God, was carried to term through pregnancy, and was BORN fully human AND fully God. Exceptional. Beyond that, Jesus' purpose was his own death (and resurrection) in order to satisfy the justice of God. Only a man who was God could accomplish that. Qualitatively different from angels clothing themselves in human form for the sake of their self-glorification.
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Old 12-25-2005, 10:24 PM   #257
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Originally Posted by littlemanpoet
I seem to recall that alatar raised a remonstration regarding angels "clothing" themselves in human form, probably right down to DNA, including the capability for reproduction and the continuation of a human line through many generations: how, then, is the humanity of Christ, who is God, according to Christians, special? The answer is that Jesus is God, not merely an angel, and that he did not "clothe" himself (no matter how completely that may be done) in humanity, but was conceived in Mary's womb by the Spirit of God, was carried to term through pregnancy, and was BORN fully human AND fully God. Exceptional. Beyond that, Jesus' purpose was his own death (and resurrection) in order to satisfy the justice of God. Only a man who was God could accomplish that. Qualitatively different from angels clothing themselves in human form for the sake of their self-glorification.
Please do not misunderstand my question. I am completely familiar with Christianity, Jesus and related materials. My point, held by many in the faith, is if angels have the power of physicality, what's to stop a dark angel, such as Lucifer, from mascarading as the Risen Christ? He could do all, seemingly, that Jesus did (except, of course, wash away our sins with his blood) during the last three years of his earthly life, including the 40/50 days of Pentecost. And my POV would be, say Peter or Thomas or the Centurion at Capernaum, not Jesus or the Father.

To say that angels, with the permission/help of God, clothe themselves in bodies is one thing, but to say that all angels can at will 'be' in the physical world and mate with humans is, to me, beyond the pale.

Tolkien's angels weren't exactly thus.
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Old 12-26-2005, 10:16 PM   #258
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Good points, alatar. Christ's victory over death, sin, and hell, was over fallen angels as well. Things changed regarding what fallen angels could do upon Christ's harrowing of hell.

With that power and authority available to any believer (according to the final verses of the gospel of Matthew), not only has the liberty of fallen angels been significantly curtailed, but may be further impeded whenever believers take their faith seriously enough to wield it according to the power and authority given to them. So a fallen angel clothing itself in human flesh couldn't happen anymore.

Admittedly, I don't have Scriptural backing ready to hand to defend my thoughts, but it seems to account for things, especially if you consider all the things that are recorded in the Old Testament and the old myths. My hunch is that there's more reality in those old myths than we care to credit them with.
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Old 12-30-2005, 04:56 AM   #259
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I always figured he was.

The way I see it is you have to keep in mind that much is taken or inspired by Christianity without directly referring or relating to it. It is fantasy, after all. Much is used in abstract metaphor and analogy with Tolkien's own storytelling and originality. The similarities come and go, though. If you notice there's much Norse and Celtic influence as well. So I think it's definantely there, but so is a great deal of other things.
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Old 01-01-2006, 01:40 PM   #260
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Originally Posted by Eluchíl
If you notice there's much Norse and Celtic influence as well.
Well, that's an interesting point. And welcome to the Downs, Eluchíl. Like I was saying, an interesting point. I've been reading Shippey's Author of the Century book over the holidays, and some of the things he points out have led me back to a very basic part of the furniture in my personal cultural living room, as it were.....

Western culture is made up, by and large, of Hebrew, Greek, and Germanic (read both Teutonic and Celtic there) influences. Everything (perhaps until recently with Eastern influences gaining ground) produced in Western culture has been an admixture of these three influences. So as davem says, Nordic deities and pagan influences are reflected in LotR; also, Christian influences are there.

One point that Shippey makes, which seems to bear directly upon this discussion, is that Tolkien could see that the Greek and Christian influences on Western culture were waning, and would continue to, and part of what we have in LotR is a presentation of Germanic culture at its best and most noble, even with the potential outlook of doom and despair found in Ragnarök: "So we have no hope; let us continue to do what is right because it is right."

Are, then, Aragorn, Gandalf, Eomer, Faramir, Frodo (a most unhobbitish hobbit) and the rest, exemplars of Germanic noble thought as it would have/could have been had there been no Hebrew/Greek overbearing influences? Who can say?

What bearing has any of this on the question first laid forth in this thread? Is Eru God? I still think so, and always have. I can however (and could before) see how others would see Eru as less the Hebrew/Christian God and more an Odin or Jove, or perhaps none of the above but Eru as described within the Legendarium, culled form the particular mind of a man heavily influenced by Germanic thought in its purist form (language and myth).

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Old 02-01-2006, 08:09 PM   #261
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No.

One of the first things that came to mind was, the boundary between polytheism and monotheism. Sometimes it is hard to say which is which. All of the Abarhamic religions are, of course, montheist, and then Eru shows the Tolkien world as montheist. However, with the addition of the Valar, namely Manwe and Melkor, there is a little rebuttle.
Eru created Ea, and Arda, and all the Ainur. It seems though, for the most part, after letting Ainu enter Arda, Eru does not come back into the histories. The only exception I can think of would be with the Akabellath, and then it is in action, not in dialogue. I do not think Eru had any part in the council that chose the Heren Istarion. And count the Dwarf incident with Aule if you want, but Eru was involved with the creation of all the Free. (c'mon, hobbits dont count...) So Eru seemed to be, because of the Music, that he was a director in a band/orchestra, and they met for a week, then he let the players go off without him and 'practice' i guess for a year, and at the end of the year he would bring them back and see what they learned and make a greater Music. So although Eru created the Ainur, Ea, and Arda, he virtually left it alone, except for the very beginning, and the very End. So he did not govern Arda, the Valar did.
So while Eru is the (THE) creator of Arda, he did not intervene with The War of the Powers, the First War/Battle, or the War of Wrath, or the the coming of the three elves to Valinor, or even shoving Melko through the Door of Night(not that we're told anyway, but since there is so little recorded about direct confrontation with Eru, it should be assumed he did not take a part in it).
So one way you can compare the Valar (or the Maiar too if you can fit them) is to the Greek Pantheon. The way the Greek Gods came about was, first there was nothing, and that was Chaos. Unlike common religion, the universe created the gods instead of vice versa. The motif that makes it work is that "Things create their opposites." So first there was nothing, and that nothingness created Something. That something was a few things: Love, Dark[ness] (Erebus), and Gaia. Then Darkness has to create its opposite, wich is Light. Then Love comes in, and a way to put is that Gaia wanted a boyfriend. (Gaia is considered the terrestrial Earth) So Gaia had a child, Ouranus (yes pronounced like Uranus, whoch is ironic...just keep reading ) Ouranus becomes the Heavens. So Ouranus + Love + Gaia = more stuff. So borne from Gaia is the Hecatoncries (sp?), who are hundred handed and fifty fingered or something like that , then three Cyclops, then finally the Titans. Now then the Gods are born from Cronus who takes the throne of the Titans by slicing off Ouranus', erm, anus, and Gaia makes him king Titan basically. So Cronus and another Titan have Zeus and other gods, then the gods rebell.....pointbeing, the gods were not first, yet they governed the Earth. In a sense, Eru might be identified as a 'Chaos', or some metephorical being (like stated in my post about Tom Bombadil) and even though he spoke to the Valar (omitting the fact of Eru being the universe or something) only the Valar can account for that.
Also, ideally, the terrestial earth was already present when the Christian God pulled the 'Let there be Light!', so while Yaweh created everything, the Earth is not mentioned, but surely it must have though, and then Manwe did not create Arda. (though a single command, like you cannot say Aule created Middle-Earth but he did.
Perhaps that is why the Free hold the Valar in high esteem, yet do not mention Eru like they would if they were praying (they would probably pray to Manwe, or the Valar in general).
Eru seemed to be impartial. While he knew Melko was the discord, he didnt go and throw him through any door. So Eru knows what Melkor will do, and it is part of the Plan, really. Because if he got rid of Melko (which he surely held that power) there would be no need for a Second Music, or Arda Marred, and that would eliminate Mandos' prophecy and the existance for all the Tolkien books.
Another thing to think about: With Good vs Evil (i.e. religion of salvation) the scenario is the Creator vs an ally turned Evil (with exception to the fact the evil was always there). But Eru is the creator, and Melko is the Evil. But in no way are they on the same level, for example Melko can not create new things. His real equal (and he is still mightier) is Manwe his brother. Manwe can not create his own things either, because as shown through Aule none of the Valar have access to the Flame Imperishable. And Manwe is the Lord of Arda, and Melko wished to have Arda for his own. Melko had no intention to overthrow Eu, and that is because he cant. Only through Ea could he be equal with Eru, and then still not. So the real struggle is with Manwe, not Eru.

So to answer the poll, I say No, because I say the Valar (namely Manwe) are the true Lords of Arda, and because of that there is struggle, but if Eru was the main opposition of Melko, Eru could 'remove' him from Ea, or perhaps remove Ea from him!

Eru is not the equivalent of the Christian God, rather it is Manwe, who is the closest thing to it.
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Old 02-02-2006, 03:27 PM   #262
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So although Eru created the Ainur, Ea, and Arda, he virtually left it alone, except for the very beginning, and the very End.
I disagree; :
Quote:
Originally Posted by Atrabeth Finrod ah Andreth, HoME X
He must as Author always remain 'outside' the Drama, even though that Drama depends on His design and His will for its beginning and continuance, in every detail and moment
[And in the letters, we are told that the cases of Luthien and Tuor are an act of divine intervention; the reincarnation of Gandalf is also an act of Authority, not of the valar; there are countless others refferences made by various characters which hint to divine intervention, but they don't necessarly count as a positive proof of Eru's involvment]
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or even shoving Melko through the Door of Night(not that we're told anyway, but since there is so little recorded about direct confrontation with Eru, it should be assumed he did not take a part in it).
But we are told :
Quote:
Originally Posted by Notes on motives in the Silmarillion,iii, Myths Transformed, HoME X
We read that he was then thrust out into the Void. That should mean that he was put outside Time and Space, outside Eä altogether; but if that were so this would imply a direct intervention of Eru (with or without supplication of the Valar).
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Perhaps that is why the Free hold the Valar in high esteem, yet do not mention Eru like they would if they were praying (they would probably pray to Manwe, or the Valar in general).
In Letter #297, Tolkien says that Eru is mentioned in the (unspoken) prayer by those of the Numenoreans.
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So to answer the poll, I say No, because I say the Valar (namely Manwe) are the true Lords of Arda, and because of that there is struggle, but if Eru was the main opposition of Melko, Eru could 'remove' him from Ea, or perhaps remove Ea from him!
In Finrod's debate, reffered to above, it is stated that Eru himself will phisically inhabit Ea at one time, exactly to remove Melkor's marring completely and that "the designs of Eru...governed all the operations of the faithful Valar". Moreover, the valar explicitly requested Eru's counsel in the matters of Luthien, the severance of marriage or the reincarnation of the elves.
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Old 02-03-2006, 05:12 AM   #263
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Quote:
Originally posted by Elu Ancalime:
So to answer the poll, I say No, because I say the Valar (namely Manwe) are the true Lords of Arda,
In addition to Raynor's arguments from the HoME, some quotes from the letters of JRR Tolkien, about Eru and the Valar:

Quote:
from letter #153:
The immediate "authorities" are the Valar (the Powers): the "gods". But they are only created spirits - of high angelic order we should say, with their attendant lesser angels - reverend, therefore, but not worshipful.*
*There are thus no temples or "churches" or fanes in this "world" among "good" peoples. They had little or no "religion" in the sense of worship. For help they may call on a Vala (as Elbereth), as a Catholic might on a Saint, though no doubt knowing in theory as well as he that the power of the Vala was limited and derivative . But this is a "primitive age": and these folk may be said to view the Valar as children view their parents or immediate adult superiors, and though they know they are subjects of the King he does not live in their country nor have there any dwelling. I do not think Hobbits practised any form of worship or prayer (unless through exceptional contact with Elves). The Númenóreans (and others of that branch of humanity , that fought against Morgoth, even if they elected to remain in Middle-earth and did not go to Númenor: such as the Rohirrim) were pure monotheists. But there was no temple in Númenor (until Sauron introduced the cult of Morgoth). The top of the Mountain, the Meneltarma or Pillar of Heaven, was dedicated to Eru, the One, and there at any time privately, and at certain times publicly, God was invoked, praised, and adored: an imitation of the Valar and the Mountain of Aman. But Númenor fell and was destroyed and the Mountain engulfed, and there was no substitute.
Among the exiles, remnants of the Faithful who had not adopted the false religion nor taken part in the rebellion, religion as divine worship (though perhaps not as philosophy and metaphysics) seems to have played a small part; though a glimpse of it is caught in Faramir's remark on "grace at meat".
Quote:
from letter #181 :
It is, I should say, a monotheistic but "sub-creational" mythology. There is no embodiment of the One, of God, who indeed remains remote, outside the World, and only directly accessible to the Valar or Rulers. These take the place of the "gods", but are created spirits, or those of the primary creation who by their own will have entered into the world.
But the One retains all ultimate authority, and reserves the right to intrude the finger of God into the story
I find the comparison of the people of ME calling on the Valar as the Catholics call to the Saints, very interesting! Many Saints have retained the qualities of older, pagan deities, as they replaced them.

As littlemanpoet wrote:
Quote:
Tolkien created his myth to predate the old testament; thus, it is no surprise that it presents an even more limited view of the creator. This does not lessen who the creator really is, only the knowledge of the creator amongst his creatures.
Quote:
originally posted by Child of the 7th age

But why restrict God to these particular points in history? Is he not the same God, even when he is described from another point of view? More precisely Tolkien describes God from the point of view of those individuals who lived before the covenant with Avram or before the gift of the Messiah. What changes is not God but the point of view from which he is seen and understood.
Exactly. If we believe that God has created the world, he was there from the beginning - before the existance of Christianity and even Judaism. And even then, people expressed some "truth" in their myths.
Tolkien managed to merge in his works the ancient truths he found in legends and myths with his Christian faith and I find the result very convincing!
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