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Old 09-05-2006, 11:40 AM   #281
Lalwendë
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SpM
And if a diplomatic resolution had not been possible?

Of course, the point does not arise because, within the context of the story, Aragorn does have a divine right to rule (as evidenced by his "hands of a healer") and this is readily recognised and accepted by his putative subjects. (There was also the small matter of having saved their City from almost certain doom. )
Well, there were a lot of client Kings and princes (Eomer, Imrahil etc) on the side of Aragorn, so if he had needed to kick up an uprising then he'd have had the support. Then we might have had the Second Siege of Gondor (and it might've cost Peter Jackson a stack more cash in SFX). As it is, the story was nicely polished off when Ioreth told her old wives' tale.

Would Aragorn have had it in him though to resort to violent or forceful means to take his Kingship? I personally think that his experience in the Battle of the Pelennor taught him a cold hard lesson in warfare and leadership - its one thing to fight in a war, its another to lead your men into battle and take responsibility for their deaths. And I'm making that point because deep down Aragorn did have it in him to be ruthless, he was by no means perfect as shown by what almost happened at Meduseld.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Raynor
One other thought I will share with you is the council of Elrond; in the Bible, we have the wise men coming to greet Christianity's greatest hero, following certain signs. At the council of Elrond, emissaries from far off, following various "signs", arrive to a meeting which is, figuratively, the birth of Frodo as a hero
But so much happens to Frodo before Rivendell. Not least two 'deaths'. There's the near fatal stabbing at Weathertop, where he's attacked by the Nazgul and even before then, his imprisonment by the Barrow-wight, where he is almost sacrificed by the being which has chosen to inhabit the Barrow. Even earlier still, he is almost drowned by Old Man Willow.

Each of the three times he undergoes a rebirth. This has a direct link to the significance of the Number Three, which has modern symbolism in the Trinity, the Triquetra and much older symbolism in the Odin Knot and Trifold nature of the Goddess (older still is the Triple Spiral found at Newgrange, current thinking is that this is a shamanic symbol). In this latter symbolism it stands for water, earth and air. The three ways in which Frodo is attacked - almost drowned, entombed alive (like a Celtic warrior entering the fogou) and finally attacked on the hilltop of Weathertop by a Sword, symbol of the element Air. He's also attacked in turns in body, mind and spirit, yet more symbolism.
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Old 09-05-2006, 11:52 AM   #282
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Each of the three times he undergoes a rebirth. This has a direct link to the significance of the Number Three, which has modern symbolism in the Trinity, the Triquetra and much older symbolism in the Odin Knot and Trifold nature of the Goddess (older still is the Triple Spiral found at Newgrange, current thinking is that this is a shamanic symbol). In this latter symbolism it stands for water, earth and air. The three ways in which Frodo is attacked - almost drowned, entombed alive (like a Celtic warrior entering the fogou) and finally attacked on the hilltop of Weathertop by a Sword, symbol of the element Air. He's also attacked in turns in body, mind and spirit, yet more symbolism.
Interesting. I will forward this question to you too: can you follow all of the other events I pointed to in these religions too?
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Old 09-05-2006, 11:53 AM   #283
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I for one enjoyed the countering of Davem, Although I have not contributed much to this thread, I to withdraw, for a discussion with no passion or opposition is not for me.
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Old 09-05-2006, 12:07 PM   #284
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Originally Posted by Raynor
Interesting. I will forward this question to you too: can you follow all of the other events I pointed to in these religions too?
Maybe. Not everything will have parallels in x philosophical or religious 'system', some thing s will have no parallels at all but are only coherent within the text. But if you put some ideas out on here I might see something they have links to, and in which case I'll stick a reply on.

Anyway, one point you make where Tolkien talks of his inspiration for the 'End' of the Ring is interesting. I know exactly what Tolkien means here, and I've heard a lot of other writers talk about it too. It's the Muse. The Story Fairy. The Flash of Inspiration. For Tolkien it might have been God who gave him that flash of idea. It's different for everyone. I know when writing a tale or a poem how sometimes its as though the story totally takes you over and you find yourself writing almost subconsciously. Ever tried writing as you fall asleep? I have, and you see some truly inspired things on the page next morning. And wake up with an inky pillow, too.
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Old 09-05-2006, 12:08 PM   #285
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Raynor
One other thought I will share with you is the council of Elrond; in the Bible, we have the wise men coming to greet Christianity's greatest hero, following certain signs. At the council of Elrond, emissaries from far off, following various "signs", arrive to a meeting which is, figuratively, the birth of Frodo as a hero
I agree with Lal here. Frodo is already a hero before. His heroism changes at the Council of Elrond as it is here that he chooses to take the ring first. Until Rivendell, he had no other chance than to do what he did, he would have been killed otherwise.
Jesus still had a long way to go before he accepted his path.
All the wise men didn't come to see the birth of a hero. They came because they have been summoned to discuss some grave matter, or because they had news to tell, or because they dreamt of some freaky thing. Of course, you might say that Eru managed to assemble the bunch just in time. Where are the shepherds, by the way?
Just because there is no parallel to another religion doesn't make it a parallel in Christianity: it could be no parallel at all. Your proposed parallel doesn't strike me, at least not yet.

edit: cross-posted with Lal, of course.
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Old 09-05-2006, 01:05 PM   #286
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Quote:
But if you put some ideas out on here I might see something they have links to, and in which case I'll stick a reply on.
Well, I would firstly reffer to my post #247:
Quote:
- the saviour, a godly being is sent to rekindle the hope in good; he is "despised" [or put whatever word fits you] in two of the most powerful kindgoms of Men, (Gondor + Rohan); he sacrifices himself so that evil may not prevail and returns to seal the the faith of the incarnation of evil; one of his inner circle, who for a time fell to temptation, repents;
- the King of Men returns to what might be called the holliest [or significant, or whatever] city of Middle-Earth; he heals the wounded and calls back the humans from the dead
- of all the human race, the only two ones who are allowed into the "kingdom of heaven" are the humble ones ("Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" - Matei 3:5)
- the saviour is tempted by the power of evil, who promises all the riches of the world; he goes up the mountain, carrying a tremendous burden; for a while, a faithful one carries that burden for him.
Some refferences to the likes of the figures of Noach and Mary would also come handy, for the sake of the discussion, though I don't consider them to be "core contingency".
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Originally Posted by Macalaure
Just because there is no parallel to another religion doesn't make it a parallel in Christianity:
I wouldn't necessarily say that the only foundation for calling it a Christian parallel is that there are no parallels to other religions; some existing Christian ones do stand trial.
Quote:
it could be no parallel at all.
A religious message which is entirely new, independent of any previous revelation? It would strike me as very full of "vanity", if I can so use the term. Or would you say there is no religious message at all? Either case, I am looking forward to your arguments.
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Your proposed parallel doesn't strike me, at least not yet.
I agree it's not the best one, to be mild .
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Old 09-05-2006, 01:35 PM   #287
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Satans, Saurons and stuff.

I read some of the parallels concerning Satan/Sauron/Melkor. I've often thought, like others, of Melkor as being a bit like the Lucifer who was cast out of Heaven for being too smart (in the bad sense). But there's a Hell (sorry ) of a lot missing in this analogy.

In the Bible, Satan sends evil into the world by tempting Adam and Eve who had previously been Good and lived in Paradise. He is the cause of The Fall - or you could argue that Adam and Eve are. Either way, the world was inherently Good and then Satan brought Evil into it with The Fall. In Tolkien's cosmology however, our 'Satan' is there causing trouble before any people inhabit Arda. There is no period of Good. Melkor adds his own theme to the Music and thus the world is created complete with inherent evil. It suffuses everything, even the land itself, and the Elves! Letter 286 goes into this. So right away, Melkor is a different kettle of fish.

There are also some incredibly strong correspondences with Norse mythology. In this we find Loki the Trickster, and while Tolkien has no amoral Trickster (unless its Ungoliant), there is a strong link with what happens to Loki, who is eventually chained down, to be kept that way until the end of time and Ragnarok. As is Melkor, who is chained and cast into the Void until the end of time, at which point he will re-enter Arda and fight one last battle. Melkor will do this with his own followers. Loki will come down from the North in his ship with Hel and all her subjects. This can be found in the Eddas, which Tolkien knew backwards.

And now for the 'stuff'. The concept of Satan was taken from Zoroastrianism, when the Jews were in exile in Babylon; Zoroastrianism followed a system where there was a constant conflict between good/evil, which is why they had Satan. Interesting that Islam, which grew up in the same area as Zoroastrianism, also includes Satan as a mythical figure.

Didn't mention Sauron but I liked the sibilance.
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Old 09-05-2006, 01:55 PM   #288
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I am not familiar with Norse mythology; is Loki involved in any manner in the corrupting/Fall of humans, as Melkor is? From what I read online, he voluntarily helps the gods too. I am looking forward to your comments on Sauron, since he, as the last "mythological form of evil", is more relevant to our discussion
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Old 09-05-2006, 02:24 PM   #289
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Raynor
I am not familiar with Norse mythology; is Loki involved in any manner in the corrupting/Fall of humans, as Melkor is? From what I read online, he voluntarily helps the gods too. I am looking forward to your comments on Sauron, since he, as the last "mythological form of evil", is more relevant to our discussion
Loki indeed helps the Gods, well some of them anyway. He's the Trickster and does what he will. As I say, Melkor has corrupted the world before its even made, unlike Satan, who corrupts an inherently Good world. Arda on the other hand has Evil in-built as t'were.

You can find Sauron in Odin's bad aspects. And you might also find Gandalf in Odin's good aspects, which is interesting given that Sauron and Gandalf are supposed to be equals in terms of 'power'; so the two sides of Odin come into conflict with each other in the form of Sauron and Gandalf.

Odin is one-eyed. He is a God of war and death and destruction. He has a Ring which spawns other magical rings and can see all from his kingdom. Odin travels about dressed as an old man with a staff, grey beard, cloak and hat. He uses magic and rides the greatest of all horses.

I didn't promise any sauron, I really did put his name there just for the sound of it. But you've got some all the same.

Quote:
- the saviour, a godly being is sent to rekindle the hope in good; he is "despised" [or put whatever word fits you] in two of the most powerful kindgoms of Men, (Gondor + Rohan); he sacrifices himself so that evil may not prevail and returns to seal the the faith of the incarnation of evil; one of his inner circle, who for a time fell to temptation, repents;
- the King of Men returns to what might be called the holliest [or significant, or whatever] city of Middle-Earth; he heals the wounded and calls back the humans from the dead
- of all the human race, the only two ones who are allowed into the "kingdom of heaven" are the humble ones ("Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" - Matei 3:5)
- the saviour is tempted by the power of evil, who promises all the riches of the world; he goes up the mountain, carrying a tremendous burden; for a while, a faithful one carries that burden for him.
Anyway, I was waiting for you to reply as I wanted to reply to this without double posting. I think we've dealt with point 2 - but yes there are some interesting parallels here; it seems that the idea of divine kings with healing powers went back way before Christ's time, but the fact that Christ was himself depicted by the writers of the Gospels as a King (think this was mostly In Matthew?) and a healer suggests that they too picked up on this powerful concept.

I like point 3 - as this also ties in with Tolkien's idea that it was the ordinary men in WWI who gave up the greatest sacrifices, so he really did see put into action that quote from the Bible (which is one I like myself). However, what about that we have three Hobbits who go to Valinor, not two? What about Bilbo?

I would venture to say that Bilbo is not all that humble, in fact he's quite a proud little Hobbit. And he is the one Hobbit who uses the Ring the most - not out of a lust for power but mostly to keep away from the pesky neighbours. Free from malice but not entirely innocent. And that also links to point 4. Note that Sam too is tempted by the Ring. Perhaps its not the bearing of the Ring itself which destroys Sam and Frodo, but where they take it, and what they do with it. Gollum is the most badly affected by it, but then he uses it to kill and steal.
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Old 09-05-2006, 07:58 PM   #290
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Before I forget... Regarding The White City. Is it a Holy City? Good question. What jumps out at me is that the descendants of The Silver Tree (Telperion, right? ) grew there.

Strider's song--
"The Light upon the Silver Tree
Fell like bright rain in gardens of the kings of old."

"O Gondor, Gondor, shall men behold the silver tree
or west wind blow again between the mountains and the sea?"

In addition to the healing and the tactical victories-- The finding of the scion of the Silver Tree, up in the mountains, sealed/ proved/ verified Aragorn's claim. And under his reign, the white tree (A white tree) flowered in Minas Tirith again.

Now having said all that-- how can I resist?-- rewind to the age of the trees, in Valinor. Paradise-- a garden-- shining with the light of those two trees.

There was another garden, a paradise, containing two particular, peculiar trees. There was the tree of knowledge of good and evil; and there was the tree of life.
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Old 09-06-2006, 03:38 AM   #291
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Having had time to consider my sins I hope I will be allowed to return to the debate

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There was another garden, a paradise, containing two particular, peculiar trees. There was the tree of knowledge of good and evil; and there was the tree of life.
I think we must accept this as the origin of The White Tree of Gondor. A reading of Carpenter's Biography & the Letters will demonstrate beyond any doubt that Tolkien never actually encountered a tree anywhere else. Trees are entirely absent in England (apart from one special one that belongs to Her Majesty the Queen (Gawd Bless 'er) – but this fact has only been revealed recently under the Thirty Year Rule & its existence would not have been known to Tolkien.

There are certainly no mentions of trees in Northern mythology or folklore, so it is impossible that Tolkien could have gotten the idea there either. (Its fairly clear that Tolkien was ignorant of trees as he depicted them walking around on a number of occasions & there is no mention of trees walking around in the Biblical record)

Now, an apology. I won't be able to participate further in this thread as I am currently putting together a new one: Lord of the Trousers. The inspiration for this new thread was the realisation that Tolkien himself wore trousers (he rarely, as far as we know, left the house without them) and so did a number of his characters. This use of trousers was clearly of major significance to Tolkien, as he deliberately introduced them into his secondary world. I think an in depth exploration of how & why Tolkien used Trousers in his writings – for instance why some characters wear them & others don't - would be very interesting & shed new light on Tolkien's creative life. I hope to see the thread take off (but hopefully not the trousers). I'm sure many Downers will be able to put forward examples of trouser usage (& possible mis-usage) in Tolkien's works.
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Old 09-06-2006, 04:33 AM   #292
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Davem

Shame about the continued mocking tone, but I think it does you a disservice more than anyone else here.

Look, we get your point. But does it matter whether Tolkien intended a particular parallel to be drawn or not? We can discuss (preferably sensibly and courteously) whether he may have intended it or not, but there is also fertile ground for serious and constructive discussion based on people’s personal reactions to the book.

Indeed, what you appear to have failed to grasp (although another member not a million miles from you clearly has) is that the Biblical parallels being drawn (whether the author intended them or not and whether you and/or I agree with them or not) are sparking some interesting (in my view, at least) discussions, including tangential discussions on other possible parallels and significances. You may not find them interesting, but others clearly do (whether from the perspective of authorial intention, personal reaction or academic interest – or a combination of those things). Accordingly, I really do not see why you feel the need to continue to pour scorn on the ongoing discussion, from the sidelines as it were.

You have been given fair warning about the tone and tenor of your contributions. If you persist, then you will have no cause to complain about the consequences.
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Old 09-06-2006, 05:25 AM   #293
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A)Well, I could respond by stating that I have had a fair amount of positive rep for my contributions here - & by some of the 'bigger hitters' on the Downs – so clearly not only is it the case that not everyone is offended by my points, but many actually agree with my positions. Hence you are not only attempting to exclude me, but a whole section of Downs members who find the point of this thread eludes them.

B)First & foremost, the whole approach being taken in this thread is something Tolkien himself condemned as ignorant & silly – breaking down the story in search of its raw materials. If I am to be asked not to contribute for making that point I suspect you would exclude Tolkien too. If I have been dismissive of such analyses I feel I see no difference (apart from a more blatantly sarcastic tone) between what I have said & what Tolkien himself said in the Foreword to LotR as regards the attempt to find WWII 'allegories/analogies' in the work.

C) If you consider 'There's a tree in the Bible & a tree in LotR so the Bible must have been an inspiration for Tolkien there' to be worthy of a serious response I have to say we will have to agree to disagree.
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Old 09-06-2006, 06:09 AM   #294
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Closed. Debate, argumentation, and differing opinions have always been welcome on the Downs. But mockery of others' positions is contrary to the tolerance we have always shown. While the other moderators and administrators decide with me what course of action we will take, the thread remains closed.
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Old 09-06-2006, 07:15 AM   #295
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Old 09-06-2006, 07:43 AM   #296
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I find the Norse comparison instructive, perhaps we could expand this to other areas as well
Quote:
You can find Sauron in Odin's bad aspects.
I wouldn't agree; Odin is, ultimately, a good deity (right?), while Sauron is, for the most part, evil. [I mean, all supreme deities have an aspect which is destructive; but there are certain destructions which are not evil in and of themselves (such as death, which is ultimately, a blessing) while other such acts stem from nihilism, rebellion, thirst for ultimate power.]
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it seems that the idea of divine kings with healing powers went back way before Christ's time,
Are there similar events in the other major religions? I am a bit familiar with the Gita, but I don't remember something of the likes.
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However, what about that we have three Hobbits who go to Valinor, not two?
*slap* Actually, it was Sam that I forgot about in my counting - not anymore ["Thus Frodo (by the express gift of Arwen) and Bilbo, and eventually Sam (as adumbrated by Frodo); and as a unique exception Gimli the Dwarf, as friend of Legolas and 'servant' of Galadriel." - Letter #154]
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I would venture to say that Bilbo is not all that humble, in fact he's quite a proud little Hobbit.
It seems to me that Bilbo put up with a lot of dwarven scorn, quite bravely (can I say Christianly? ). Even more importantly, he is the first person to give up the One Ring (Isildur did consider it, never go to putting it into practice); afterwards, Sam did give up the ring too, but that was after several days, not ~ 8 decades, of possesion.
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Old 09-06-2006, 08:05 AM   #297
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Pipe Going back to some of my first posts here . . .

One of the very interesting aspects of reading is finding connections and places where the text resonates with us as readers. This happens as we read. The very process of reading is not a passive 'act upon me text as I empty my mind' but one of engagement, trying out ideas, guessing where things will go, trying to imagine what will happen to various characters, seeing parallels. It isn't an academic exercise in source hunting or breaking apart a story, but a coming together to create greater richness.

This is the pleasure of reading. Sometimes of course our own fantasy takes flight and we can learn how to step back and say, 'well, did I get that right?' Or, 'will someone else be interested in this?'

The point which interested me in Mansun's first post is that I did not see some of the parallels he did. Never in a million years would I see Elrond as he did. And so I posted why the parallel didn't work for me.

This is what I see as being valuable in a thread like this: examining under what conditions parallels apply and when not. I'm as liable as any reader to see connections that might not pertain or apply. I remember mentioning to Estelyn Telcontar the story of Orpheus placed in the heavens as recompense for his great grief over the failure of his guest and thinking this would be an interesting parallel for Frodo, sent West as recompense of his failure to heal. Estelyn said she thought the analogy worked best with Eärendil . Of course!

This is why I think it is less germane to argue authorial intention (although there are many complex reasons for suggesting that authors do not hold the final say on what a text means--philosophical reasons which have nothing to do with denying religious belief, I might add) and more interesting simply to discuss how ideas help us see a text in a fuller light.

Sometimes we actually learn from our reading by making connections even if those connections aren't "there" in the text.

I never thought of Minas Tirith as the holy city, but there is a great deal of cultural meaning ascribed to the idea of a holy city. I think it is a valuable process to consider if that applies to the White City. Maybe in the end some of us accept it and others don't, but surely we learn more about not only LotR and literary/mythological culture but also about how we read in the process.

What holy cities are there in pagan stories? And what trees? Of course there is Yggdrasil, the world tree.

Sometimes our reading can be blinkered--if that is the best word--by our lack of knowledge of other stories and talking about other stories with a similar theme or character or event can enhance our pleasure.

Okay, pontificating over!
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Old 09-06-2006, 09:20 AM   #298
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It seems to me that my comparison of Minas Tirith to a holy city (I had Jerusalem in mind) proved rather hard to swallow; I still find it nice (pets it) . One of the things that is interesting though is that MT has seven levels (I would speculate each one has a main gate), while Jerusalem has seven hills (according to the jewish work Pirke de-Rabbi Eliezer, but not only) and seven gates.

One a lesser note: though not very common, the Christian church has been imagined as a boat also (Noah's ark, as according to St. Augustine of Hippo); in the description of Minas Tirith, we have this:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Minas Tirith, RotK
For partly in the primeval shaping of the hill, partly by the mighty craft and labour of old, there stood up from the rear of the wide court behind the Gate a towering bastion of stone, its edge sharp as a ship-keel facing east. Up it rose, even to the level of the topmost circle, and there was crowned by a battlement; so that those in the Citadel might, like mariners in a mountainous ship, look from its peak sheer down upon the Gate seven hundred feet below.
I just thought it would be nice to bring this up too.
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Old 09-06-2006, 09:54 AM   #299
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Originally Posted by Raynor
I wouldn't agree; Odin is, ultimately, a good deity (right?), while Sauron is, for the most part, evil. [I mean, all supreme deities have an aspect which is destructive; but there are certain destructions which are not evil in and of themselves (such as death, which is ultimately, a blessing) while other such acts stem from nihilism, rebellion, thirst for ultimate power.]
No, Odin is Odin. He is good and bad. The point I was making was that Tolkien took Odin's two distinct sides and gave the good aspects to Gandalf and the evil ones to Sauron. Quite 'neat' actually, if both characters are supposed to be equals in terms fo power. Maybe a bit like Odin had had a nightmare where his dual personality had been scrapping with itself?

And on death, I don't think Tolkien viewed it as a blessing, but as an inevitable. He showed that those who could accept it as an inevitable and resign themselves to it could find some comfort in that when the time came (e.g. Theodens words about going to his forefathers), compared with those who resisted it and could not accept the inevitability (and even tried to stave it off!). By no means all mortals found death to be a 'blessing', some of the best even lingered, e.g. Arwen.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Raynor
It seems to me that my comparison of Minas Tirith to a holy city (I had Jerusalem in mind) proved rather hard to swallow; I still find it nice (pets it) . One of the things that is interesting though is that MT has seven levels (I would speculate each one has a main gate), while Jerusalem has seven hills (according to the jewish work Pirke de-Rabbi Eliezer, but not only) and seven gates.
I wouldn't take the seven levels/seven hills parallel as good evidence as there are also seven hills in Sheffield (and Rome, but it aint a patch on Yorkshire). I think its much better to think of Jerusalem as a metaphor for the concept of a city or a state of mind, as Blake did.
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Old 09-06-2006, 10:03 AM   #300
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He is good and bad.
Well, personally, I find the idea a bit of a stretch, that Odin would be the source of both Gandalf and Sauron
Quote:
I think its much better to think of Jerusalem as a metaphor for the concept of a city or a state of mind, as Blake did.
I will have to look up what he said
Quote:
And on death, I don't think Tolkien viewed it as a blessing, but as an inevitable. He showed that those who could accept it as an inevitable and resign themselves to it could find some comfort in that when the time came (e.g. Theodens words about going to his forefathers), compared with those who resisted it and could not accept the inevitability (and even tried to stave it off!). By no means all mortals found death to be a 'blessing', some of the best even lingered, e.g. Arwen.
I would disagree:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Letter #212
A divine 'punishment' is also a divine 'gift', if accepted, since its object is ultimate blessing, and the supreme inventiveness of the Creator will make 'punishments' (that is changes of design) produce a good not otherwise to be attained: a 'mortal' Man has probably (an Elf would say) a higher if unrevealed destiny than a longeval one. To attempt by device or 'magic' to recover longevity is thus a supreme folly and wickedness of 'mortals'. Longevity or counterfeit 'immortality' (true immortality is beyond Ea) is the chief bait of Sauron - it leads the small to a Gollum, and the great to a Ringwraith.
And, both in the Silmarillion and in the Atrabeth, seeing death as something terrible is something attributed to the marring of Melkor.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Of the begining of days, Silmarillion
But Melkor has cast his shadow upon it, and confounded it with darkness, and brought forth evil out of good, and fear out of hope.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Atrabeth Finrod ah Andreth
Nay, death is but the name that we give to something that he has tainted, and it sounds therefore evil; but untainted its name would be good.
Unfortunately (for me ), I am going away for a few days. You all take care

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Old 09-06-2006, 10:13 AM   #301
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Originally Posted by Raynor
Well, personally, I find the idea a bit of a stretch, that Odin would be the source of both Gandalf and Sauron
Fine if you think that personally, and I can see it would be a bit of an odd idea if you find evil/good clearly delineated, but remember Tolkien was one the all time experts on Norse myth, and he would have been well aware of the dual nature of many Gods, and would not have found it uncomfortable. He may, indeed, have been seeking to remake Odin to fit his own ideas. The parallels for both Gandalf and Sauron are found at their most definitive levels in Odin.
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Old 09-06-2006, 10:20 AM   #302
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bęthberry
And what trees? Of course there is Yggdrasil, the world tree.
There is the tree in the Volsunga Saga into which Odin thrusts the sword. Tolkien drew profusely from that saga as discussed on Rune's Tolkien and Norse Mythology.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Raynor
Well, personally, I find the idea a bit of a stretch, that Odin would be the source of both Gandalf and Sauron
Not necessarily. As mentioned, Tolkien borrowed ideas, themes, even blatantly obvious situations (Glaurung and Fafnir, anyone?). Why should it be particularly harder to think he might have borrowed a character or a character type? That was my original argument in favor of Christ figures. If a writer can 'steal' a theme, why can't he 'steal' a character type?

I don't remember enough about Odin off of the top of my head to draw legitimate parallels, or I would. If nobody else beats me to it, I might try for it later tonight.
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Old 09-06-2006, 11:41 AM   #303
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Originally Posted by Feanor of the Peredhil

Not necessarily. As mentioned, Tolkien borrowed ideas, themes, even blatantly obvious situations (Glaurung and Fafnir, anyone?). Why should it be particularly harder to think he might have borrowed a character or a character type? That was my original argument in favor of Christ figures. If a writer can 'steal' a theme, why can't he 'steal' a character type?
That's because they're archetypes (epic and fantasy are stuffed with these figures), and shared across the cultures and the ages. He wasn't stealing anything that hasn't already been stolen. Have a quick look up on Wikipedia about Jung and Joseph Campbell (if you don't know about them already, how dare I presume?!), and it'll give you a good overview. That stuff's a revelation, particularly for the aspiring writer or artist.
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Old 09-06-2006, 02:03 PM   #304
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lalwendë
Have a quick look up on Wikipedia about Jung and Joseph Campbell (if you don't know about them already, how dare I presume?!), and it'll give you a good overview. That stuff's a revelation, particularly for the aspiring writer or artist.
Collective unconscious and all that? Or am I misremembering?
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Old 09-06-2006, 02:19 PM   #305
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Originally Posted by Feanor of the Peredhil
Collective unconscious and all that? Or am I misremembering?
That's the stuff. Collective Unconscious. Universal truth. The search for an unknowable transcendant truth.

EDIT:

Some more stuff about Gandalf/Odin. In Letters 107, Tolkien calls Gandalf:

Quote:
the Odinic wanderer that I think of.
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Old 09-06-2006, 02:53 PM   #306
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lalwendë
I wouldn't take the seven levels/seven hills parallel as good evidence as there are also seven hills in Sheffield (and Rome, but it aint a patch on Yorkshire). I think its much better to think of Jerusalem as a metaphor for the concept of a city or a state of mind, as Blake did.
There's the rub. I don't think Tolkien was suggesting anything special about such a state of mind. He's too much on the natural world's side to be given over to using an urban metaphor for holiness.

There's seven days too to consider. There's seven somethings in Norse mythology too as I vaguely recollect. There used to be seven planets, too.

As for Minas Tirith's ship's keel, methinks the Numenorean link might just have something to do with that design.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lal

That's the stuff. Collective Unconscious. Universal truth. The search for an unknowable transcendant truth.
Now don't go forcing your belief in collective unconscious on me! Sometimes an association is just an association.

On the other hand, would Tolkien have been making some kind of comment on holy cities, suggesting that ancient things decline and are not worthy of reverence? He couldn't just be puffing up Minas Tirith, could he? And if we're talking cities, we have to consider the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, don't we? But that's the richness of Tolkien. He leads out in so many directions.
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Old 09-06-2006, 03:17 PM   #307
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Originally Posted by Bęthberry
There's the rub. I don't think Tolkien was suggesting anything special about such a state of mind. He's too much on the natural world's side to be given over to using an urban metaphor for holiness.
If there's any place 'holy' in Middle-earth it's Lothlorien, where Galadriel flexes her considerable political muscle and creates her own little Enclave; at the centre of which is Cerin Amroth, a Mother Hill where 'love' happens. And the rest.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bethberry
Now don't go forcing your belief in collective unconscious on me! Sometimes an association is just an association.
Don't get me started on Dark Matter and theories of Time and Light. I've been obsessed with the building blocks of the Universe for a long time (and before Pullman made it trendy, tch). I'll soon have you believing I am indeed the last Time Lord in the Universe.
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Old 09-06-2006, 07:16 PM   #308
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considering posts 17-31

...part two.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Post17 Nogrod
And because the mind is a big old stew with us 21st century people, it was the same with the prophets and the apostles of the Bible - their minds were already full of influeneces from their predecessors from the previous generations and so on... We humans are the stories we tell about us.
Agreed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Post18 Mansun
Just a few more examples as to why I think of Elrond as a Christ-like figure. He is a master of healing, & has command of nature in his valley. One might almost say, he can perform miracles to an extent.
Christ wasn't alone in performing Miracles, though. There were plenty in the OT. For instance, Moses had quite a record; so did Elijah & Elisha.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Post19 Fea
...using the examples you've used, all Elves would be seen as Christ figures, would they not? The essence of Goodness...
Well, that would take Galion the butler by surprise. But I do see your point. That then begs the question whether the race of elves has a biblical parallel. There are, of course, limits to the parallels; but with Valar/ Maia/ greater and lesser elves, one might suggest Cherubim & Seraphim, Archangels, Angels. Your run-of-the-mill fallen angels would then parallel the orcs (hence generally unredeemed-- there's another old thread popping up.) But it's a thin parallel. The angels aren't children of God, but created; they don't reproduce where the Maiar may and elves certaainly do; etc. The place where it persists for me is actually Gandalf, who reminds me of Michael, especially in the heat of battle, and his general job description: encourage & counsel, and occasionally lead. There is a host of stuff about Michael which I haven't investigated-- something I've been wanting to do. Anyone else know?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fea
And for those who disdain of talk of religious allegory, there appears to me to be no difference in taking a fictional archetype versus taking a biblical one and applying it to your story.
No rational difference.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lal post 20
Morning Star or Bringer of Light
Regarding the refefrence to "morning star"-- a popular OT reference for this is from Job 38:4-7, which I believe influenced both Lewis (Magician's Nephew) and Tolkien (Ainulindale.)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Job 38:4-7
4 “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?
Tell Me, if you have understanding.
5 Who determined its measurements?
Surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
6 To what were its foundations fastened?
Or who laid its cornerstone,
7 When the morning stars sang together,
And all the sons of God shouted for joy?
Raynor (post 21) follows up on the creative process and the differences between Tolkien's creation and the biblical account.

Going down to
Quote:
Originally Posted by post 24 Boromir88
It's perfectly reasonable to find similarities and allegories (Tolkien even chimed in with his own at times), but it's the individuality and the freedom of the reader that shouldn't be taken away, by forcing an accepted view that Elrond=Jesus, the Lord of the Rings was written as a 'Biblical book.' And considering that Tolkien and C.S. Lewis' friendship pretty much ended because Tolkien criticized Lewis for writing too much of 'his religion' in the Chronicles of Narnia...I doubt Tolkien was doing the same with LOTR. There were some other reasons that caused strain between the two, but pretty much C.S. Lewis didn't like Tolkien criticizing his books because it had too much of the religious element.
In terms of "too much of the religious element", the big hit I remember from Letters was Tolkien cringing because Lewis had included Father Christmas in Narnia. And that, indeed, is something Tolkien would never have done. However, in due time, it will be shown that Tolkien did not have any problem with religious element-- as long as it was up to the reader to find it, and not up to the author to shove it down the readers' throat. Review Tolkien's distaste for allegory (gesundheit.)
Quote:
Originally Posted by post25 Thinlomien
I don't see a point in making an allegory only for the case of making an allegory. I'm along the same lines with Nogrod. I dislike allegories, because if taken too literally, they flatten things.
No argument here. The A-word is verboten in Tolkien.

Quote:
Originally Posted by psot26 Lalwende
Davem says that the equivalent to Lucifer in Quenya would actually be Earendil.
Fortunately for many denizens of Middle-Earth, Earendil did not rebel or fall. (Ooooo, splat.)

Davem (or Wikipedia, or Sauron Defeated) can tell you that this quote comes from the poem 'Crist' by Cynewulf. "Old English Earendel appears in glosses as translating iubar "radiance, morning star". The article says that in this poem Earendel corresponds to John the Baptist; but the leading two lines.....\

éala éarendel engla beorhtast
ofer middangeard monnum sended

......haunted Tolkein til he wrote a story of his own about them. The translation from Wikipedia is:
Hail Earendel, brightest of angels,
over Midgard to men sent
In the New Testament, the one referred to as The Morning Star is Jesus.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rev22:16
16“I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.”
Earendil is actually my favorite (and I think the clearest and most connected) Christ-type in the whole legendarium.

Ah, I should have checked the following post. Davem clarifies. Thanks.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Post29 Bethberry
The problem with this kind of linking is how to distinguish which are the most likely and the most unlikely and what principles to use in making the associations. For example, Elrond is a father and official leader of the Elves. He has fought in wars.
I think that Squatter answered this further down.
Fea (post 30) and Mansun (post 31) follow; agreed...
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Old 09-07-2006, 10:01 AM   #309
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Can someone out there help?

OK, I wasn't going to post on this thread. But there are a few things in this discussion still not tied up that are bothering me. Now that it's nice and quiet I can sneak in the back door and rant on to my heart's content!

As most of the old-timers know (old in posting, not in age, you understand!), I am not a Christian but have often participated in threads which seek to understand how and why Tolkien incorporated many biblical and/or Christian elements into his storyline and characters, including the thread Imp started that looked at the "revisions" in LotR.

Having said that, I would also add that I am not much on labels. I would never call LotR a "Christian" story just as I would never call it "pagan" or paste on any one of a number of other possible labels. I can certainly find elements of both Christian and pagan world views in Middle-earth. Some of those were intentionally put into the story by the author; others undoubtedly slipped in through the Tolkien's subconscious, and he only rediscovered them in later reflection. Whether the latter represent a specific Christian or Catholic paradigm or a "more universal" myth is probably impossible to say with certainty, though that shouldn't stop us from arguing about it.

I have gone back and forth on this issue endlessly: just how Christian is Lord of the Rings.... Tolkien didn't make it easy for us. One minute he lays out tantalyzing hints within the plot or supplementary writing and the next minute he's covering up his tracks. I've read the usual stuff and have even made a point of digesting a lot of the "Christian" criticism, books by folk like Wright and Wood that have come out in the past few years. To be truthful, when I first read LotR back in the sixties, the so-called biblical/Christian elements did not stick in my head, even though I was fairly cognizant of such things as I was embarking on an academic path that would eventually lead to teaching medieval history. But the minute the letters were published and info on Tolkien's life came out, I began poking my nose deeper into the story and discovered a fair amount of biblical and Christian content--or at least allusions that could be interpreted that way. (I even have a few links to an analysis of "Jewish" themes in Middle-earth, which I find extremely interesting!), But there is one aspect of Tolkien's world so decidedly non-Christian that it gives me considerable pause in any examination of the Christian content of LotR.

Middle-earth seems to be profoundly pagan and fatalistic at the core. (There, I've said it!) The overwhelming sense of evil that hangs at the center of the universe goes beyond the depiction of evil in mainline Christian theology. There is simply no escaping it. If evil doesn't get you today, it's going to get you tomorrow! In that sense, Frodo's fate was a given, and the Sea Bell makes a lot of sense. Shippey has written about this--how Tolkien was examining a world before revelation when men and hobbits and Elves were essentially placed in a world where there was no logical hope. Please note that I said "logical hope", rather than "no hope at all". We'd all be dead in two minutes if there was truly no help at all.

Yes, I know about original sin and such in a Christian context, but this is a situation where the very fabric of Arda has been contaminated by Morgoth. That didn't happen in the bible. According to Tolkien, we are all living in Morgoth's world, since our world is supposedly a continuation of Middle-earth. Yet I don't think most orthodox Christians would say that Earth belongs to Satan (a few might--I don't think those would be in the majority). In Middle-earth, you can literally say that: Eru is barely seen and the Valar only stick their noses in occasionally. Morgoth and Sauron were a much more constant presence. By that measure, this is not a Judaeo/Christian world.

Interestingly, the one group of critics that agree with me on this are a number of Protestant ones who feel that Tolkien's depiction of evil and his fatalistic attitude are far removed from "conventional" Christian belief. A few even reject LotR on that basis, though most simply point out the difference and indicate their own view of existence is not identical.

As an aside, that's one problem with this thread relating to semantics and interpreation. "Christianity" (or theism) is not one thing; it is many. Biblical interpretations vary from scholar to scholar and denomination to denomination. The view of Jewish/Hebrew scholars, for example, on the book of Isaiah is markedly different from that of most Christians. It's just not possible to pin down one "Christian" viewpoint so easily. This dilemma is underlined by the fact that some Protestant critics object to the fatalistic northern tone that stands at the core of Arda, while other Christians have no trouble with it.

Getting back to the main issue..... Somebody out there help me! I don't care how many allusions, images, and symbols that Tolkien "stole" from the bible. How can Middle-earth and the Legendarium possibly be Christian if so much pessimism and fatalism stand at its very core? Maybe Tolkien felt and sensed this ambivalence and, realizing the truly pagan world he'd created despite all the biblical imports, felt compelled to write the Athrabeth in his relative old age. Unlike Davem and Imp, I love those later writings. I also love the old Northern pessimism that stood at the heart of the original writings. So call me contradictory! But I feel that two-way tug in my own heart as well---and I'm not phrasing that in terms of Christian doctrine but a general way of looking at our existence--the hopeful and the not so hopeful, the anguished response versus the refusal to give in. Any ideas?
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Old 09-07-2006, 10:36 AM   #310
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Child of the 7th Age
. . . . Middle-earth seems to be profoundly pagan and fatalistic at the core. (There, I've said it!) The overwhelming sense of evil that hangs at the center of the universe goes beyond the depiction of evil in mainline Christian theology. There is simply no escaping it. If evil doesn't get you today, it's going to get you tomorrow! In that sense, Frodo's fate was a given, and the Sea Bell makes a lot of sense.

Yes, I know about original sin and such, but this is a situation where the very fabric of Arda has been contaminated by Morgoth. That didn't happen in the bible. According to Tolkien, we are all living in Morgoth's world, since our world is supposedly a continuation of Middle-earth. Yet I don't think most orthodox Christians would say that Earth belongs to Satan. In Middle-earth, you can literally say that: Eru is barely seen and the Valar only stick their noses in occasionally. Morgoth and Sauron were a much more constant presence.

. . . .

Somebody out there help me! I don't care how many allusions, images, and symbols that Tolkien "stole" from the bible. How can Middle-earth and the Legendarium possibly be Christian if so much pessimism and fatalism stand at its very core? Maybe Tolkien felt and sensed this ambivalence and, realizing the truly pagan world he'd created despite all the biblical imports, felt compelled to write the Athrabeth in his relative old age. Unlike Davem and Imp, I love those later writings. I also love the old Northern pessimism that stood at the heart of the original writings. So call me contradictory! But I feel that two-way tug in my own heart as well---and I'm not phrasing that in terms of Christian doctrine but a general way of looking at our existence--the hopeful and the not so hopeful, the anguished response versus the refusal to give in.
Amazing! Just this morning I was chatting with Estelyn saying I had another contribution to make to this thread and you have hit on it, Child.

As you say, Norse mythology was exceptionally pessimistic. Chaos wins, in the end, with the defeat of the gods in the final battle. I wonder if it is this which drew Tolkien and the other men in the trenches at the Somme to Fairie. Does horror and death and defeat seem less terrifying if it can be placed within some kind of context, even one which is devoid of hope?

Yet at the same time, I have been thinking not so much of philosophical or theological matters but of literary ones. Tolkien's beloved Beowulf is also a work which incorporates both pagan and Christian elements, sometimes easily, sometimes not. The tension between the two is one of the powerful attractions of the poem. Perhaps Squatter can speak to this, as he likely has read the poem more recently than I and can give examples of this tension. It could well exist more in other Anglo Saxon works as well--I don't know the entire corpus. Would this tension be something that Tolkien strove to incorporate in his work at a later date? Or was it something related to his own faith?

I think it can be said that this tension exists in LotR. It is possible to read without 'seeing' or considering this tension, yet the book becomes far more compelling--to me at least--when both these aspects are held in uneasy equipose. The fascination for me in Old English poetry lies in how it incorporates the world under change--the passing of the pagan era and the arrival of Chrisitianity--and yes, Child you are so right to say that there are many versions of Christianity. sic transit gloria mundi. Perhaps it is this fascination which also draws me to LotR.

So that what we have is not an either/or situation, but a work in which the very tension between those two poles--hope and hopelessness, pagan and Christian--is part of its attraction? Some of the best stories are those which don't provide pat solutions and presentations, but which always leave something beyond the grasp of readers, so that each new reader must come to terms with this tension on his or her own and then have that grasp shaken as new readers come along with their own grappling. The tension stretches, but never is resolved.
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Old 09-07-2006, 11:30 AM   #311
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I think you have hit the nail on the head. You can spend hours, weeks, years searching Arda for images and symbols of Christian hope and veiled references to providence. It is definitely there. You can also view Arda in terms of its pagan themes and allusions, studying the profound pessimism and fatalism that embodied the dreams of the North. Both of these exercises are fulfilling and will get you a little closer to Tolkien's head.

But it's only when you realize that both these strains were somehow tangled up in the soul of a single man, that you get to the heart of what is going on. When you think about this dichotomy, how these different world views somehow blend into one and form the core of Tolkien's Legendarium, it's rather astounding. Ah, if only we could ask him! Truthfully, this recognition makes me feel a bit humble. I know I wouldn't have the brain or the heart to keep two different world views in balance while carrying through with the mundane things in life but he apparently managed it. Yes, this whole balancing act is certainly beyond my ken, and I suspect that it is one reason the Legendarium so appeals to me. I have always been suspicious of "packaged answers", whether secular or religious in origin. My head leans at least vaguely in the direction of hope and the Judeao-Christian heritage, but my experiences in life stubbornly whisper to my heart that fate and doom and pessimism seem all too commonplace.

As an historian, the next thing I want to do is bang on the table and demand to know where this dichotomy comes from in Tolkien. The Somme is certainly a factor, but I personally suspect it goes back much earlier than that. Tolkien has talked about some of the problems he and his brother encountered when their mother died. Yet on another level we know absolutely nothing about what this young man was actually feeling when the two of them were left on their own. Tolkien's commitment to Catholicism as well as his personal view of the world as a very frightening place, a place where every man and woman faced an implacable Doom, surely stemmed from this youthful period. His later experience in war would only confirm what he'd already learned as a child about the nature of life and fate.

I would love to hear from Squatter or someone else who is more knowledgable about ancient Nordic ways and thinking as well as to hear from those for whom the Christian element in the Legendarium remains especially important.
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Old 09-07-2006, 02:29 PM   #312
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The two world views are not as difficult to keep in balance as one might think. Those who call themselves disciples of Christ (I include myself) are, they (and I) believe, rightfully pessimistic about what good can be achieved by my fellow humans; there's just too much orc in all of us. The Northern pessimism is different, but it still agrees with the Christian idea that this world is coming to a crash and burn some day. The difference, of course, is in regard to what happens after that.
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Old 09-07-2006, 03:32 PM   #313
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Yes, Littlemanpoet. That is certainly a big piece of the equation. And in that sense the difference between the two world views is smaller than what they first appear to be.

I guess where I see a greater difference is in the sense of Doom and fate that seems to hang over all the northern epics, including LotR to some decree. You have very little sense of choice or free will, which is an important part of Christianity. There is an inherent pessimism here which, at least to me, seems a heavier burder than what will be possible later in human history when divine revelation rears its head.

The interesting thing, of course, is that LotR gives the reader a hint of both sides of that equation. Frodo is free to accept or reject the task, yet we know even from the beginning that he is "doomed". His inability to throw the Ring into the firepit is a confirmation of that. Somehow, Tolkien manages to put the two pieces together in one story and so we argue and question where free will comes in and where providence (or fate) takes over.
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Old 09-07-2006, 06:08 PM   #314
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Quote:
Originally Posted by littlemanpoet
The two world views are not as difficult to keep in balance as one might think. Those who call themselves disciples of Christ (I include myself) are, they (and I) believe, rightfully pessimistic about what good can be achieved by my fellow humans; there's just too much orc in all of us. The Northern pessimism is different, but it still agrees with the Christian idea that this world is coming to a crash and burn some day. The difference, of course, is in regard to what happens after that.
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I guess where I see a greater difference is in the sense of Doom and fate that seems to hang over all the northern epics, including LotR to some decree.
I think I agree with Child that the subtle differences are important. That "what happens after that" is profoundly different, is it not? In Christian eschatology, the righteous will be glorified--although I think that various Christian churches treat Revelation differently--Anglicans don't have any liturgical references to it, but many Protestant sects do. I haven't by any means read all of Norse mythology, but I don't have any sense that the few who will survive Ragnarok will merit that survival. In other words, is there any sense in Norse mythology that the Good will ultimately be rewarded? The Norse gods know what their fate is. They know who will win and who will lose and their glory is to persist nevertheless in that final battle. It is, to be true to themselves.

This encroaches upon the warrior ethic of the Norse mythologies. Perhaps what is called for is a rereading of Tolkien's thoughts on chivalry in The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth.
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Old 09-07-2006, 07:01 PM   #315
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I am not on strong ground with the following, so I'll offer it as a perhaps.

The free will that is - er - glorified in many popular modes of Christianity is misunderstood and perhaps overrated. Christian teaching from the New Testament has a very strong piece that speaks of election and predestination, with which the libertarian minded West has great difficulties. Especially in democratically minded countries such as those of Anglo-Saxon heritage. Read the Revelation of John, the last 3 chapters sometime: while there is hope of glory for the saints, the doom awaiting cowards, the licentious, the rebellious, etc., is quite scary.

.....which I find interesting (and have for a while) that perhaps there is more reality to Ragnarok from the perspective of the gods who, in Christian teaching, would be denizens of the enemy; knowing themselves to be condemned, they do the best then can and are true to themselves out of a kind of self-respect/pride of heart. Just a notion.
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Old 09-07-2006, 08:03 PM   #316
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While I thought I had made my intent not to offend rather clear, I will try still harder. This post was geared toward a particular member of the Downs-- who has been a mentor to me for most of my time here, and for whom I was gearing the answer in a paradigm I thought most effective (knowing her background.) I have done some extreme editing on this post. For those interested in seeing the original (which is hardly complete even as it stands) it may be found here. It is thoroughly steeped in the Old Testament, because of the background of the one who asked the original question (regarding whom, there are few if any on this board I hold more dear, and there are few if any on this board for whom I would go further, to avoid offending. )


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Originally Posted by Child of the 7th Age
.....
Middle-earth seems to be profoundly pagan and fatalistic at the core. (There, I've said it!) The overwhelming sense of evil that hangs at the center of the universe goes beyond the depiction of evil in mainline Christian theology. There is simply no escaping it. If evil doesn't get you today, it's going to get you tomorrow! In that sense, Frodo's fate was a given, and the Sea Bell makes a lot of sense. Shippey has written about this--how Tolkien was examining a world before revelation when men and hobbits and Elves were essentially placed in a world where there was no logical hope. Please note that I said "logical hope", rather than "no hope at all". We'd all be dead in two minutes if there was truly no help at all.
...

Interestingly, the one group of critics that agree with me on this are a number of Protestant ones who feel that Tolkien's depiction of evil and his fatalistic attitude are far removed from "conventional" Christian belief. A few even reject LotR on that basis, though most simply point out the difference and indicate their own view of existence is not identical.

...

Getting back to the main issue..... Somebody out there help me! I don't care how many allusions, images, and symbols that Tolkien "stole" from the bible. How can Middle-earth and the Legendarium possibly be Christian if so much pessimism and fatalism stand at its very core? ...
LOTR takes place in a pre-Christian paradigm.

First let's tackle this line:
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Yet I don't think most orthodox Christians would say that Earth belongs to Satan (a few might--I don't think those would be in the majority).
"The Prince of this world." Yes, most would say that it does. This is, actually, a core Christian doctrine, especially in evangelical, Catholic, and orthodox circles, so I'm certain Tolkien would have also held that view. For details go here

The optimism and hope that is supposed to dominate Christianity can be reconciled with the pessimism and doom evident in LOTR precisely because it is set in an era that is pre-incarnation and resurrection. Hope (in a Christan worldview) literally hinges on the incarnation and resurrection. Prior to that-- grimness; after that, joy.

So back to the tone of the Legendarium. Since Tolkien wrote about a pre-Christian world-- as you say, "pre-revelation"-- it would (by definition in a Christian worldview) be a pessimistic, grim world of very little hope. Apparently Tolkien (as you say) felt the need to write about that in Athrabeth An Andreth. In a pre-Christian world, we (or the pre-Christian characters from a Christian point of view) are waiting -- like Finrod and Andreth-- in the dark with baited breath, waiting for redeemption and light.


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I would love to hear from Squatter or someone else who is more knowledgable about ancient Nordic ways and thinking as well as to hear from those for whom the Christian element in the Legendarium remains especially important.
Yay! "Squa-tter, Squa-tter!" Your turn, old chap. Tell us about the Nordic stuff.
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Old 09-07-2006, 10:13 PM   #317
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I have an odd idea. It's a fledgling idea, trying to fly, but falling out of the nest and hitting the ground hard. I think it needs proper feathers before it'll work properly and be worth sharing.

Somebody... Squatter? Anybody?

Is there a capitalized Importance to light/sun/brightness/[insert name for shiny] in Nordic myths?
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Old 09-08-2006, 03:48 AM   #318
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The Northern pessimism is different, but it still agrees with the Christian idea that this world is coming to a crash and burn some day. The difference, of course, is in regard to what happens after that.
The Pagan view is that the 'end' is simply part of the natural cycle. There may be many ends and many beginnings. Possibly a response to the ancients' observations on the cycle of organic life and death itself; as they saw themselves and their own lives, so they reflected this in their Mythologies. Ties in with Campbell's thoughts on how each religion/mythology reflects and serves the culture and society within which it was born.

Now let me step aside for a moment and ask that people do not post deeply personal interpretations (sermons?) of their own faiths as 'information'. I was enjoying the debate but it so easily slides back into what has already caused trouble and I am feeling provoked (as predicted, and as such, why hit 'send' after this week's events?). One person this week was admonished for their own thundering and tendency to hit 'send' without thinking, and I can add that he is very sorry to have caused offence and knows that to step back would have been the better move. I am sorry myself to have seen this done again so soon. I could have argued against what has been said and given my own interpretation (as I spend a lot of time thinking about faith and philosophy - it's important to me), but I do not see the point, enough upset has been caused for one week.
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Old 09-08-2006, 04:01 AM   #319
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The Pagan view is that the 'end' is simply part of the natural cycle. There may be many ends and many beginnings.
Physicists tell us, however, that as the universe continues to expand, there will, some time in the far distant future, be a final end. A whimper as the last bit of light fades into dust. So even in the natural cycle there is a bitter end.
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Old 09-08-2006, 04:11 AM   #320
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Physicists tell us, however, that as the universe continues to expand, there will, some time in the far distant future, be a final end. A whimper as the last bit of light fades into dust. So even in the natural cycle there is a bitter end.
I saw a fascinating documentary about this a few weeks ago (a BBC one, if you get those in the US? Possibly on Discovery? Worth looking out for anyway!). There are several ages to the Universe and to all matter (about seven). We are currently in the second of these, which will last for billions of years after humans die out. As each age progresses, the nature of matter will change, ultimately ending in ages (aeons?) where all matter will be incredibly dense, and then will one day be nothing but residual energy and then everything will just go 'pft' and 'lights out' so to speak.

This theory doesn't give any kind of rebirth, though one theory does - that of the Elastic Universe.

Though of course my attempts at explanation of scientific theory will not be troubling Stephen Hawking for any time.
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