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View Poll Results: What Confession Do You Belong to?
Atheism 19 16.67%
Buddhism 4 3.51%
Christianity (Catholic) 20 17.54%
Christianity (Orthodox) 7 6.14%
Christianity (Protestant) 37 32.46%
Confucianism 0 0%
Hinduism 0 0%
Islam 2 1.75%
Judaism 6 5.26%
Other 19 16.67%
Voters: 114. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 01-22-2006, 08:05 AM   #1
HerenIstarion
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Public Research: Religion - What Confession Do You Belong to?

What is the point? Not much, really - as social surveys go, most of them are intended A. to help somebody to sell something B. to satisfy ‘scientific’ curiosity. As I’m not selling anything, this must be the latter case – I would like to learn whom LoTR (and other works too, but mainly LoTR) appeals to.

The poll is private, as the information I’m after is. Only numbers and percentage will be seen, no names. You are not requested to post information you provide for the survey unless you wish so – but do so, of course, if you feel inclined to. But confessional debates are strictly prohibited – you are not supposed to battle over ‘whose faith is the True one’ – restrict to issues like whether Tolkien’s work has more or less meaning for you because of your faith etc.

The idea closely follows up proposal as given here (To Administration – Proposal), which, in itself, was born in the course of the discussion in Does LotR Have Cross-cultural Appeal? thread. The idea of making special sub-forum for the essay was not supported, but my curiosity is still nagging me. I hope I won’t share the fate of certain member of feline family for this feeling of mine and post the survey into Barrow-Downs sub-forum (as it concerns BD members more than Tolkien’s work per se). It is understood that the survey won’t be very objective (not one public research is), as it will be carried out only with English speaking Internet users, and greater bulk of readers worldwide may have read the books in their native tongues. But let us assume that we are after English speaking Internet users, than survey may be viewed as more accurate than not – as I assume, the confessional representative ratio on message boards must be more or less similar.

Unfortunately, poll questions’ number is limited to ten, so I have to resort to ten as above, leaving out finer definitions like Shia’ or Sunni’ Islam and very whole religions like Sikhism, Jainism or Shintoism (as I list religions with greater level of population). However, I allow for Christian origins of Tolkien’s work, therefore Christian confessions are given in [greater] detail, while all others only in general. I assume as a given that greater majority of Tolkien readers will be Christian, so I’m interested in their division between confessions as well as in sheer percentage as compared to other religions. Atheism is not religion, of course, but consistent Atheism resembles one very much. I propose, therefore, that members who view themselves as merely secular/irreligious people or are agnostics, or adhere to theosophy, list themselves in option ‘other’ rather than in Atheism, but that is not mandatory prescription – be free in your choice.

My apologies for not being able to provide finer definitions for Orthodox Christianity (it includes, therefore, Eastern Orthodox Church and all the multitude of Oriental Churches, Armenian and Copt and Abyssinian included) and Protestantism (so it includes every confession after the Reformation and Anglican Church too, despite differences there are and my doubts whether it would have been better to include Anglicans within Catholicism. However, if Anglicans feel my classification is incorrect, they are free to list themselves into another option. They are not free to debate confessional issues in the thread, though – see above). However, I voted against my primal idea of making separate poll for Christian confessions – two similar threads would have been confusing, or so I thought.

The poll will be open for indefinite length of time, allowing for appearance of new and return of now missing old members.

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Old 01-22-2006, 08:47 AM   #2
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Deja vu, anybody? Whatever happened to the last poll, Mr Istarion?

As for my faith, it hasn't been much affected by Tolkien. The underlying conflict between good and evil is probably prevalent in all religions. This does not mean religion is the only manifestation of this conflict. As an agnostic with more interest in the potential of humanity than that of a potential God, I feel this conflict in life too.

What exactly am I saying here? I'm not sure. Perhaps that morality, when it comes down to it, has no bearing on faith, nor vice versa. Tolkien, to me, deals with moral concepts, good and evil, friendship versus enmity, life versus death etc. All concepts common to humanity as a whole, not to one religion, nor to all religious people.

Coherence is my enemy.
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Old 01-22-2006, 09:06 AM   #3
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I'm a Zoroastrian by birth; my father is a Parsee, a descendant of the Sassanid Persians who fled from the Islamic conquest of the Persian Empire in the seventh century AD, and settled in India. It's a tiny, highly inbred, and extremely competent community; Parsees in droves have become lawyers, doctors and politicians. They did extremely well under the British Raj; our lot became shipping magnates.

My father though is somewhat out of the ordinary; he's taken his Zoroastrian skill to the bloody arena of university life, and is an English don at Oxford. He also married, rather than, as would have been usual, a first cousin, my mother, a Scottish Episcopalian and novelist.

I don't see that Zoroastrianism and Christianity are in any sense irreconcilable, and I am proud to designate myself a Zoroastrian Episcopalian. Or perhaps Zoropiscy for short...

In addition I am ready to hope in, if not believe in, anything and everything that appeals to me...
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Old 01-22-2006, 10:07 AM   #4
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I am an atheist, but I cannnot deny that the Lutheran faith is a big part of me. Not that I belive in any of that nonsence(metaphysical asbects of religion), but the teachings of moral, respect and love for one another is so deeply rooted in hour society that it is a part of me too.

By the way did you know that the belive in the Norse Mythology became an offical religion in Denmark some years ago, now it is the fastes growing religion in Denmark. (I think) In anycase they have some thousand members now.

In Denmark religion is not that big a deal to people anymore. (exept for the jewish and muslim minoreties)
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Old 01-22-2006, 10:08 AM   #5
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Heren, m'love, you've ended your title with a preposition. I suppose I'm only upset that it was an 'e' instead of an 'o'. My writing teachers would slaughter you in your sleep.

And to clarify my vote, I was raised in a Methodist/Catholic home. It turned out one atheist and two agnostics, one with Buddhist leanings and a fascination for world religions and philosophy. We all like the LotR.

Hope that helps your research.
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Old 01-22-2006, 11:08 AM   #6
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Where is Jedi Knight on this poll? When the UK did their census in 2001, they had a list of religions to choose from, including 'Other'. There was a campaign for people to enter 'Jedi Knight' under other to skew the public records.

In a way, I'm officially a Protestant as I am a full member of the CofE, but that is not what I currently follow, and I was a definite Atheist for a while but am not now, so I say 'Other'. This 'Other' could be said to be something approaching universalist unitarian, which means I have left all the options open and have not decided that one creed is more important than another. It also leaves open the option of not believing at all if I so wish. Basically, it's about coming to your own conclusions and forming your own relationship with God or not - as you see fit, and being open to listening to what others believe, or what they don't believe.

Even then I would not wish to be 'labelled' as I might feel very differently at any given point in the future.

This is what comes from being an incredibly indecisive person.
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Old 01-22-2006, 12:36 PM   #7
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Quote:
I am an atheist, but I cannnot deny that the Lutheran faith is a big part of me. Not that I belive in any of that nonsence, but the teachings of moral, respect and love for one another is so deeply rooted in hour society that it is a part of me too.
Rune, even if you do think it is nonsense, I would ask that you would be more polite or careful in sharing your views. I am a Lutheran, and I certainly do not think it is nonsense. While I don't think you intended it to be so, your words are rather offensive and insulting.
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Old 01-22-2006, 12:41 PM   #8
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Firefoot, I don't think Rune is being particular. He's just giving Lutheranism the respect he accords to religion in general. His prophet says it's the opium of the masses!
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Old 01-22-2006, 01:54 PM   #9
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Reminder!

Verily it has been written:

Quote:
Originally Posted by HerenIstarion
confessional debates are strictly prohibited – you are not supposed to battle over ‘whose faith is the True one’ – restrict to issues like whether Tolkien’s work has more or less meaning for you because of your faith
I suggest all would refrain from evaluative statements (it is silly, that is wise, this is nonsense etc) too
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Old 01-22-2006, 02:24 PM   #10
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Pipe Tolkien, Lewis & belief

Well.

As we all know, Tolkien was deeply christian and had quite a many underlying religious themes going on behind his writing. Although he was much subtler than his more fanatic friend, Mr. Lewis.

"Stories of Narnia" do carry the card of christianity in a degree, that make them almost repulsing. It has too obvious metaphors to be swallowed with the storyline. They stand up from within the lines and demand attention. Sadly, that is not a good thing, at least on my view. Tolkien, on the other hand, managed to filtrate his "message" through pagan stories so that pagans like me can take the story as such and let the christian levels just bubble under.

So ten points to Tolkien, minus hundred points for Lewis!

But surely: without his religiosity, Tolkien would have not written as he did. So one cheer for that too?

I find more intresting the question, how do people of other (than caucasian & christian) races & faiths take the stories of Tolkien. Basically they seem to be stories of white males - with some exceptions - running the world & being heroes and individuals. An the darkness comes from the east, as it so often comes in european mythology.

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Old 01-22-2006, 02:48 PM   #11
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I would be the first person to have put down the good Professor's own faith: the Catholic Church, in specific the Latrin Rite, with a touch of experience regarding the Greek Rite of the Ukrainian Patriarchy, and a general curiosity considering the Ambrosian Rite...

Of course, this isn't new news to anybody on this site who is acquainted with, and if you're on the list of those who are getting acquainted, then it's one of the first facts you'll learn, and if you're simply an anti-social boor who cares not a whit about me... then, well, I guess you won't be reading this post, now will you?

As far as my standing within the faith goes, I'm a very regular church-goer, involved in more Church functions than necessary, with hopes of a lifelong career in service to that Church. Similar to my wealth of useless Tolkien trivia, I collect minor facts of the Faith, and would consider my faith to be as orthodoxly in accord with the Vatican as is possible based on my knowledge of the faith. As far as being a Liberal/Conservative Catholic goes, I have conservative leanings, tempered with an appreciation for liberal positions that do not contract the orthodox faith, and would be be described as a Moderate-Conservative.

Is that enough?

Well, I can go on....

Despite a very firm conviction in the correctness of my own faith, I like to think that I am relatively ecumenical in my dealings with non-Catholics. Certainly, I have several non-Catholic friends whom I have not (yet) attempted to convert. I don't believe that non-Catholics are condemned to Hell. Religions in general interest me. Overall, I prefer a devout Muslim/Jew/Protestant/Wiccan over an apathetic Catholic....

Okay, I think that's more than you are all interested in hearing (not that you're likely to have made it this far into the post).
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Old 01-22-2006, 02:55 PM   #12
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Considering the non-existance of an Agnostic option, I'll vote for the closest thing, Atheist.
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Old 01-22-2006, 03:07 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nogrod
Well.

As we all know, Tolkien was deeply christian and had quite a many underlying religious themes going on behind his writing. Although he was much subtler than his more fanatic friend, Mr. Lewis.

"Stories of Narnia" do carry the card of christianity in a degree, that make them almost repulsing. It has too obvious metaphors to be swallowed with the storyline. They stand up from within the lines and demand attention. Sadly, that is not a good thing, at least on my view. Tolkien, on the other hand, managed to filtrate his "message" through pagan stories so that pagans like me can take the story as such and let the christian levels just bubble under.

So ten points to Tolkien, minus hundred points for Lewis!

But surely: without his religiosity, Tolkien would have not written as he did. So one cheer for that too?

I find more intresting the question, how do people of other (than caucasian & christian) races & faiths take the stories of Tolkien. Basically they seem to be stories of white males - with some exceptions - running the world & being heroes and individuals. An the darkness comes from the east, as it so often comes in european mythology.
I really wouldn't describe poor old Clive Staples as a fanatic. Don't confuse him with the poor nutters scrambling over rival wardrobes who worship him as a quasi-saint-Lewis has always struck me as a (sadly increasingly rare) example of an emphatic Christian with a forgiving, accepting, even Dantean outlook. Pieces of pagan mythology that he was attracted by make it into Narnia-even the pagan god Bacchus. He mish-mashes traditions with gay abandon and whimsical flair that Tolkien aesthetically (not doctrinally) distrusted.

Appalling artistically though some parts of "the Last Battle" may be, and shocking though we may find the rejection of poor pretty Susan, there is also the episode of Emeth-a Calormene Tash-worshipper who has led a virtuous life and whom Aslan embraces. Not a fanatic's worldview.

As for Tolkien-I've never had a problem, though admittedly I'm in love with parts of the western legendary tradition, chivalry and all that sort of thing, so even though half-Eastern by blood I tend to identify with the west. I always feel the observation of the fallen Easterling by Sam (and other marginalia, like the eventual rehabilitation of the Blue Wizards) pretty much redeems any "anti-eastern" bias. As for Christianity, it is present only in principle, and I don't object to that principle at all, as it seems to me a decent guide to how to lead an examined and worthwhile life.
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Old 01-22-2006, 03:16 PM   #14
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We are a traditional Jewish family. I personally am half Orthodox and half Conservative (if such a thing is possible). I like walking to synagogue and having one day that's different from the rest of the week, but I also like helping to lead the davening which I can only do in the local conservative synagogue. Interestingly, our extended family has people of many different faiths: Protestants, Catholics, and Moslems. We all get along fine. (Well, we might fight occasionally, but that has nothing to do with religion!)

Academically, I spent a lot of time studying the Christian religion in all its variations in the context of medieval and early modern history. The religious aspect of Tolkien deeply interests me, and I am sympathetic to his commitment, although it is not my own. My feelings about Lewis are more mixed. I agree that he was definitely not a fanatic. Plus, I absolutely love his "Till We Have Faces". Although this is Lewis' book that has the fewest allusions to traditional Christian doctrine or symbols, it is extremely deeply felt, perhaps because of his relationship with Joy. I actually have more of a sense of the "numinous" reading this than any of his other works.
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Old 01-22-2006, 04:59 PM   #15
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Silmaril

I don't think- no, in fact, I'm fairly sure, that I've never actually mentioned my own personal faith on the Barrowdowns...

Marry together a Northern Irish Catholic and a Northern Irish Protestant, and apparently you get three Anglican sisters - or such is the case in my close family. Anyone who is at all familiar with Irish Politics will know the part that religion plays in the Northern Irish Question, and the turbulent relationship that has existed between Catholics and Protestants for, ooh, a good couple o' hundred years...

My mother is from quite a devout Roman Catholic family, my dad is from a good Methodist family, but both parents sort of gave up on religion after coming to Manchester University twenty-odd years ago, and after a few half-hearted attempts at getting my sisters and I to attend Sunday school - which I loathed - they gave up and resigned themselves to having a trio of miniature atheists, to the despair of both families as they watched their wayward offspring, having gone and married someone from 'the wrong faith' (yeah, you betcha the wedding was fun when my dad's uncle turned up rather pointedly wearing orange ), now let their children lapse into godlessness. Ah well. Still, to put it quite as cornily as possible, I was saved by the redeeming power of music (told you it would be corny - strictly tongue in cheek, never fear), and joined a Church choir just before my 11th birthday - and have been attending Church twice a week, come rain or shine, ever since, having gotten confirmed at 15 and becoming Head Chorister this year. Funny old world really; still, it keeps the grandparents happy.

Maybe it was because of my pretty non-religious upbringing that religion never really interfered with my viewing of Lord of the Rings, or certainly not when I was reading it when I was 11 or 12: I had very little concept of religion really at that time; it was just a fantastical story which I read sparked off by the fact that, having delighted in Pullman's Dark Materials, it had been one of my mother's favourite books. Now, if I was to read it again, maybe I would view this differently - I've got alot more religious over the last few years and, maybe due in part to the very diverse religious atmosphere within my school, maybe partly due also to having studied and loved R.S. at GCSE (and now carrying it onto AS Level), I'm fascinated with religion. I'm not a 'bible basher' as I have been accused of being: I just love the language, the background, the way religion makes people behave, the attitudes and psychological effects, the rituals - maybe the ritualistic element is why I chose the Church of England, mine is pretty High Church. And I don't flaunt my religion - they're my beliefs, they're personal, and I have no intention of converting anyone. But ask anyone in any of my classes: when analysing literature, if anyone will make a comment on religion, it'll be me. I have a tendency to scare student teachers by doing so - they don't generally expect the L6th former doodling on her folder to come out with Bible quotes. I mean, for example, for my English Literature coursework this year, I'm exploring Judeo-Christian religious allegory within 'The Tempest' - it's something I can easily see in literature, sometimes to the amazement but more often to the amusement of my classmates who are now used to it.

But that doesn't mean I can't detach myself from it, especially when it is disguised, without referencing religion with some degree of directness (as opposed to literature such as Narnia, as has been mentioned, where the references to Christianity are riiight there): Tolkien wrote Lord of the Rings primarily, I think, as a story - an epic, fantastical story but a story nonetheless, and this is first and foremost what it should, therefore, be viewed as. As an 11 year old atheist, I did not read Lord of the Rings with any concept of alterior meanings in it, and I certainly didn't read it because I'm Christian - and my faith in no way, therefore, affected my enjoyment of Lord of the Rings. Maybe if I were to re-read it now that might be different...

Hope this helps anyway

Quote:
I personally am half Orthodox and half Conservative (if such a thing is possible).
When you say Conservative, Child, is this the same as Reform Judaism? Just wondering really, I'm guessing the two words have the same meanings...
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Old 01-22-2006, 05:11 PM   #16
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And I thought MY religious history was overly wordy....

Nice work, Amanaduial. I'd rep you for it, but it appears that I've been stingy with my rep of late...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Amanaduial the archer
When you say Conservative, Child, is this the same as Reform Judaism? Just wondering really, I'm guessing the two words have the same meanings...
Well, I'm obviously no Jew, but I understand there to be (roughly) three basic kinds of Jew: Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform, with the Orthodox having the most old-fashioned, stricter interpretations, and the Reform being on the other end, and the Conservatives somewhere in the middle.

However, I'm sure Child or someone else will correct/build on that... and I'm not sure how Hassidic Jews fit in...
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Old 01-22-2006, 05:34 PM   #17
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I appologise for having offended you firefoot, (and everybody els) I sertanly did not mean to. I have great respect for all of the great religions for there teachings of moral and humanity.

When I used the word nonsence, I was refering to the more spiritual aspects of the faith. All the metaphysical stuff does cannot in anyway be proved by empirical means , it is all about your faith and faith is often highly irrational.


Quote:
Firefoot, I don't think Rune is being particular. He's just giving Lutheranism the respect he accords to religion in general. His prophet says it's the opium of the masses!
Correct. It was a genneral statement and yes on this point I agree with Marx. I do belive that religion has been used to delute the masses and therefor would love for more people to consentrat on making a heaven on earth, insteat of chasing the key to heaven.

But hey! Ideolegies have been used to delute people to and to ensure all power to a little group off people. Just see what happend in Sovjet.

I will go back and edit my words if you want me to.
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Old 01-22-2006, 06:26 PM   #18
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Protestant (Lutheran), and married to Protestant (Plymouth Brethren) fellow who was raised in India, by a Scottish missionary. My siblings and I all like LotR, but my husband has shown no interest in it.

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Old 01-22-2006, 06:39 PM   #19
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Considering the non-existance of an Agnostic option, I'll vote for the closest thing, Atheist
Ah, tgwbs, Heren did give us blundering, woolly agnostic types a category, look...(although I'm not sure I'd describe myself as 'merely' anything...!)

Quote:
propose, therefore, that members who view themselves as merely secular/irreligious people or are agnostics, or adhere to theosophy, list themselves in option ‘other’ rather than in Atheism, but that is not mandatory prescription – be free in your choice.
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Old 01-22-2006, 07:24 PM   #20
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Having been born to a Methodist mother and a very German Lutheran father, I was brought up on the good old Sunday school, but have really found new ways to embrace my faith in the past few years. In my earlier days, they were just cool stories, but after having worked at a Christian camp and now attending a Christian college, I'm learning so much more about my faith and why I believe it. I'll admit, in my youth I believed only because my parents did: the faith of a child. And now retaining that, I can verify and confirm what I believe through what I have learned.
When I first read the Lord of the Rings, I noticed the underlying religious symbolism right away, but I didn't pay much attention until I became a member of this site and read over topics like The Trilogy and the Bible and others of that sort. As for CS Lewis's work, I think it's obvious that The Chronicles of Narnia are purposely meant to be an allegory for the Christian story and that the Lord of the Rings was merely an epic based on European myths which are tied to Christian belief. Lewis is, of course, a prominent theological writer and no one should take his allegory as his sly attempt to sneak us some religion in what we were supposed to take as a normal story. Anyone who reads Mere Chistianity would immediately recognize the similarities between it and the Chronicles. But Lord of the Rings does, undeniably, have a foundation of Christian qualities, so it is expected to appeal to a large number from that group, but as has been said previously, it also draws form many other sources, making its following rather diverse.

Amanduial- I recently returned from Ireland where I was studying it's history and politics. Your story is amazing!
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Old 01-22-2006, 07:25 PM   #21
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1420!

Raised a Catholic in a largish hispanic barrio - back when the Mass was still traditional - in Latin . . .

Accendat in nobis Dominus ignem sui amoris, et flammam aeternae caritatis. Amen

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What did Buddha say to the hot dog vendor?

Make me one with everything.


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Old 01-22-2006, 08:11 PM   #22
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I find that being an athiest actually made me more open to the messages in Tolkien's work. (I mean, considering that I first read the books at a very young age, before my religious affectations had developed.)

Possibly because he wasn't professing a God or a belief, but simply morals, ethics, and a whole bunch of other awesome things humans can do, with or without religion.
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Old 01-22-2006, 08:37 PM   #23
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I am a Protestant Methodist, but I am not so close-minded; I belive that the Abrahamic religions worship the same God(not intentionally promoting anything here).
And guy who be short, not all religions are 'religions of salvation' stating the struggle between good and evil. The Greek Pantheon for example, has no heaven or hell, hades is a neutral place for the dead. There is no right or wrong, because the greek gods themselves are no rolemodel. As long as you pay liabations and sacrifices to the gods, they will leave you alone.

I found a major problem with the ballot. Confusionism is not a religion, it is a teaching that was used to try and end the Warring States period. Confusous (dang, how do you spell it?) never touched on religion. When asked about that, he quickly replied with a bit of annoyance, "How can you know death, if you do know life?" Not that anyone voted it, but.....

I advise to avoid any problems or conflicts, religion should be avoided, it's an awkward topic when speaking of it directly, and others might not be comfertable with it.
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Old 01-22-2006, 08:46 PM   #24
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it's the way you said it

Quote:
When I used the word nonsence, I was refering to the more spiritual aspects of the faith. All the metaphysical stuff does cannot in anyway be proved by empirical means , it is all about your faith and faith is often highly irrational.
Rune, I really think she knew exactly what you were referring to. "Nonsense," however, is an awfully loaded word for what I hope you mean to describe as "nonscientific."

While both may be expressions of the same underlying idea, "Not that I believe in any of that nonsense" has an entirely different tenor than something like "I choose not to believe in things that cannot be scientifically proven."
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Old 01-22-2006, 09:24 PM   #25
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White-Hand Yellow Flag!

Let's heed Heren's advice and get back to the scheduled program. This thread does not need to turn into a back and forth debate about religion or a quibbling over semantics.
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Old 01-22-2006, 09:33 PM   #26
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Rune, that is how I figured you meant it, and I will refer you to tar-a's post above. "Nonsense" is an extremely loaded word. But I won't pursue it further here.

So for something a little more... pertinent. As I said earlier, I am a Lutheran, as are my parents and my grandparents and my great-grandparents (you get the picture). I can echo Lindo's statement:
Quote:
I'll admit, in my youth I believed only because my parents did: the faith of a child. And now retaining that, I can verify and confirm what I believe through what I have learned.
I love being active in my church, and my faith is definitely part of who I am.

However, that didn't really have much to do with LotR when I read it. In origin, it was another book to read, albeit one I was very excited to read after having read the Hobbit. It was only later that I started drawing out some of the ideas and concepts as they relate to Christianity. What LotR did was bring some resonance to concepts and ideas, give them shape. The two that spring most readily to mind are stewardship, especially as represented by Denethor, and the idea of estel vs. amdir (although I still have yet to read that in context). In the same way, my beliefs have brought richness to my readings of LotR.
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Old 01-22-2006, 10:32 PM   #27
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I hesitated for quite a while over whether to vote "atheist" or "other". I'm probably what most people would call an "atheist", or perhaps a "secular humanist". If I had to pick a term to describe myself, it would either be "rationalist" or simply "non-religious". I favour the formation of opinions based only on reason and empirical evidence. Inasmuch as "atheist" really means "a-theist", "not a theist", it adequately describes me. In fact, one might go so far as to say that I'm an "antitheist" - I am not only not religious; I am opposed to religion as an institution (though of course I'm tolerant of those who practice religion, just as I'm (I hope) tolerant of all those who have different opinions). My hesitation in voting "atheist" arises because, just as I do not blindly believe that there is a God, I do not blindly believe that there is not.

In terms of culture, I'm half Protestant and half Jewish. I suspect that something of the ethos of each of those religions has worked its way into my subconscious. When I was very young I believed in a God, though I never really believed in any of the more particular details of Judeo-Christian theology. Even now, I retain some hope (childish as it sometimes seems to me) that there is a God.

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Old 01-23-2006, 02:00 AM   #28
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More than you ever wanted to know......

What an interesting melange! (That was directed at the group as a whole, and not one particular poster..... .)

Aman and Formendacil,

Regarding Jews, Formendacil has it basically right. The three main divisions are Orthodox on the right, Reform on the left, and Conservative in the middle. There are other groups like Humanists and Reconstructionist but these are much smaller, and many who are Jewish simply consider themselves "secular". The main religious splits have to do with different views on Jewish law, the Torah, and observence. It's not unusual to go back and forth between these groups from one generation to the next, or even from one year to the next. For example, we once lived in a city where there was only a Reform synagogue so that was where we went.

Concerning Hassidic Jews...this has to do with a split within Orthodoxy. This is perhaps oversimplistic, but the modern orthodox wholeheartedly believe in a secular education and being involved in the modern world. The group to the right of this (sometimes called black hats because of their style of dress) tend to segregate themselves from the secular world a bit more. The Hassidic fall in the latter group (along with many other subgroups) although they definitely use modern technology to reach out to other Jews to a degree that's unusual.

I'm not sure if this counts as an answer to Heren's question about cross cultural appeal and Tolkien, but here goes. My daughter is Hispanic with a definite Latino identity so technically our family is "cross-cultural". She loves LotR and has her room liberally splashed with pictures from the movie (particularly Orlando!). Interestingly, when we read FotR together some years ago, she immediately latched on to the description of Harfoot Hobbits as "nut brown" and wanted to know why PJ hadn't shown that in his movie. Smart gal!
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Old 01-23-2006, 04:47 AM   #29
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Reminder!

Verily it has been written:

Quote:
Originally Posted by HerenIstarion
restrict to issues like whether Tolkien’s work has more or less meaning for you because of your faith
Has your faith grown in meaning to you because of Tolkien? is also of interest.

As for confessional deviations within single or between different systems of belief, these may be discussed only in the form supplementary to the main course of discussion.

[edit] Also, if some suddenly, to their great surprise no doubt, find themselves in breach of given guidelines, there is no need to apologise/explain in the thread, just post on topic and go on with it [/edit]

Thanks
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Old 01-23-2006, 10:43 AM   #30
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Tolkien's work has pretty much been a constant in my life ever since I began pondering more metaphysical matters - until then I just went along with what was on offer, which was going to Sunday School and listening to the people around me. After I found Tolkien was about the time I started to make my own mind up, something I was more or less encouraged to do anyway.

I had C of E parents, a mother who does believe in God, a father who wants to but says that really he can't - he seems to like churchgoing more for the social aspect, haranguing vicars about the existence of aliens, and some kind of sense that the steady, conservative (with a very small C, as his politics are anything but big C) England of the 1950s has not entirely gone away. His father was CofE but never went to church, his own creed being more political and left wing; his mother was brought up Catholic, and after marrying my grandfather gave it all up publicly but never really did in her heart - my childhood was somewhat afflicted with her visions of a cruel God who might smite me at any moment. My father once 'had words' about her allowing me to read a Catholic catechism filled with concepts I did not understand. My mother had a CofE father and a mother who was disowned by a catholic family. I also had Methodist (one a Welsh great-great grandfather who was a Methodist preacher who refused to learn English) and Jehovahs Witness relatives. My RS teacher was a Quaker who said "Jesus was a Communist" and taught us to challenge our own pre-conceptions. I've also learned Tarot from a woman who learned it from her mother (and so on backwards), have studied astrology and wicca and have learned about shamanic practices. So really I've no reason to favour any religion over another.

Like a lot of people, not long after reading Tolkien my interest was stirred in mythology, I developed a keen sense of the environment around me and then coupled with the left-leaning politics I had also developed an interest in, I rejected my own religion. I do have to say that Tolkien was a pretty big catalyst in my becoming an atheist, and what he would have to say about that I do not know. I saw a keen moral sense of right and wrong in his work, but I did not see that it was anything to do with God.

After many years I have explored all kinds of ideas, and have decided that I'd rather there be a world with God than without, but I do not follow set creeds as they aren't for me. I suppose my strongest influences are Socialism, Paganism and Christianity. What I see in Tolkien's work is a world where there is God, and where there are right and wrong things to do, but which is not governed by churches or specific religions and their associated divides. It's a world where the individual must think for themselves about what is right and wrong, and where even the seemingly terrible person can be forgiven. Strangely, given Tolkien's Catholicism and his (small c) conservative leanings (yet spiced with a hint of anarchism) I find his world to be presented in a not dissimilar way to how I see it.

I think given that we have so many readers here who are from such different faith (and otherwise) backgrounds and yet who all respond to Tolkien's work so deeply, his own personal faith cannot be written in big bold letters across his work. If it was, then wouldn't some of us be repulsed by what we read? I think Tolkien tapped into something far greater than individual religions.

Are there specific things which people of certain beliefs find they can't agree with in Tolkien? If there are, then maybe his work is not all that universal, but as it happens I think our personal religious or otherwise beliefs are not that relevant in whether we enjoy his work or not.
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Old 01-23-2006, 10:59 AM   #31
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The meaning of Tolkien to a "anti-theist"?

[QUOTE=HerenIstarion]Verily it has been written:


Has your faith grown in meaning to you because of Tolkien? is also of interest.

As a sort of a person I am, I will gladly stick to Aiwendil's definition:

"I'm probably what most people would call an "atheist", or perhaps a "secular humanist". If I had to pick a term to describe myself, it would either be "rationalist" or simply "non-religious". I favour the formation of opinions based only on reason and empirical evidence. Inasmuch as "atheist" really means "a-theist", "not a theist", it adequately describes me. In fact, one might go so far as to say that I'm an "antitheist" - I am not only not religious; I am opposed to religion as an institution (though of course I'm tolerant of those who practice religion, just as I'm (I hope) tolerant of all those who have different opinions)."

What has Tolkien, then, given me in terms of religion, worldview, or philosophy of life? First thing that I can recall dates a long way back to my childhood. As a 10-year old, I was quite impressed to hear, that Tolkien had used a lot of scandinavian and even finnish mythology to build his stories & languages. If that kind of writer thought these stories worthy enough to be mentioned and even applied as buildingblocks on his magnificient world, then they must be worthy stories as such! So the stories of my forefathers had a place in the world of mythology, they were equals with the others (by that time I propably knew only the stories of the jews, greeks, some of the romans + arthurian legends).

So confidence and some pride of my own modest backgrounds at that age.

Later I have found an intresting point of view, by looking at the stories from the virtue-ethics perspective. Even though one cannot deny the aspect of the morals of duty (deontological ethics) in the moral focus of Tolkien, his conservatism leads, in many instances, to ideals like valor, bravery, justice, but also to friendship, loyalty, generosity, kindness & forgivennes (quite christian these two last ones as opposed to the classical pagan virtues listed here otherwise, I admit), to be brought in the forefront as ideals to be followed. That has left me wondering, how one could be virtuous in a culture where virtues are no longer shared or ackonwledged?

PS. I totally agree with Anguirel, that Lewis was not a fanatic. Sorry about my bad choice of words (even though, I just said that he was more fanatic than Tolkien, which in this case is not to have said a lot... ). You are propably also quite right about Tolkiens' condemnation about Lewis' work, the aesthetics were at least as important to Tolkiens dislike of preaching. Maybe the worst thing in them was their kind of postmodernism: just taking bits and pieces of "soundbites" from here and there to make a melange (Father Christmas in Narnia!!!) of sorts, not justified with a poetic truth of a grand idea.

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Old 01-23-2006, 11:56 AM   #32
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A bit more time, so I will add a few thoughts.

I really don’t think that Tolkien’s work has had any bearing on my religious life or other than in some respect validate some values I hold, (and that my culture possibly had been letting slip). That being said, it did strike a chord in me, a very full and beautiful one, and as it happens, it seems to evoke quite a few of the same feelings as my faith. So I will say that one bolsters the other to an extent.

But you have me wondering if the same sorts of people who are interested in thinking about religious subjects, are interested in Tolkien’s work because they are drawn to the beauty (or potential beauty) and complexity of both.
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Old 01-23-2006, 12:38 PM   #33
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Hmm .. raised Anglican (baptised and confirmed), both parents Anglicans who went to Catholic schools (father's family originally Irish Catholics) which had a lasting effect and high church (Anglo-catholic) leanings which they passed on to me. My mother had a simple faith which she kept til her death my father I think likes the ritual but is probably near agnostic. Basically we went to church but were not especially involved or devout. My mother was keen that we were confirmed so we "belonged" and then it was up to us. After I was confirmed at 12 I did start to believe properly and this coincided with my first Tolkien phase. Iwas very involved with my church and choir in Paris (Anglican) and chapel at Oxford (methodist ecumenical)... but various things caused my faith to fail and the manner of my mother's death finished it. Just afterwards the films came out and I got into Tolkien again.

I don't disbelieve in God - I just can't believe he cares so I am a somewhat regretful agnostic. I would like it to be true and can almost believe when I hear Handel or Bach.... but there is a lot about the church I am glad to be away from.... If I were choosing religion from scratch - well Judaism seems life affirming and has appealed but there is the basic God problem.

SO I have loved Tolkien as both a committed Christian and as an Agnostic - make of that what you will.


At least ticking other means I don't have to decide the Anglo-Catholic thing...
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Old 01-23-2006, 05:24 PM   #34
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I was raised Catholic, with both my parents being Catholics, though my mother was never confirmed. I remain a Catholic, and have no reason to break any ties with the Church, even though my 'religious philosophy' strays rather far from Catholicism in some cases. Indeed, I am discovering that quite a number of my beliefs correspond with Buddhist philosophy in reality. I've been an altar server for six years now, and I could probably say the Mass myself, but I still haven't felt the need to give it up.

As for my faith growing in meaning to me because of Tolkien...it did. Good, immersive reads such as Tolkien's works have helped me establish what are new philosophies to me that I never would have learned in Bible school, or in my current theology class. The Silmarillion was particularly inspiring for quite a few different looks at creationism. Rather than my 'beliefs' being what I learned simply from instruction in a Catholic upbringing, even though there is nothing wrong with those beliefs, I went further, and began to consider my own views without any guidance, except maybe inadvertantly from Mr. Tolkien. Of course, we are always deciding what we think of things as humans, establishing our own opinions, but further and deeper than that are the fundamental questions that we try to answer. When we really try to answer them for ourselves, then our faith is truly meaningful to us. For me, I may have decided that some Catholic doctrine just doesn't work for me, but I also 'connected the dots,' if you will, discovering why I believe the things I do as a Catholic, or not as one. And I will never feel that I must leave the Church because of any differences.
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Old 01-23-2006, 06:11 PM   #35
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I voted Protestant, but I believe this is a bit of a misnomer. I am infact a Non-denominational Christian, as I feel denominations make things too poltical. Also, I follow a Post-modern theology, which is fairly disconnected from older versions of Christianity, which don't really relate well to today's culture. I would not call myself a Protestant, except to say that I am not Catholic or Orthodox.
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Old 01-24-2006, 01:42 PM   #36
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I voted other. Though I am Christian I do not believe I fall into any of the aforementioned categories. I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I was born and raised as such. My parents were fairly active but not overly devout. I however, since late teenage years, have been devout and my life is defined, to a degree, by my religion. My wife is also a member of the same faith.

As for my reading of Tolkien affecting my religion I would say no, but rather my religion affects my reading. I am able to read his works and find thoughts or ideas that closely parallels my own theology and belief system and there are some that do no reconcile. However, I do no discard as worthless and feel that I can learn from all great works, be they fiction or not.
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Old 01-24-2006, 01:51 PM   #37
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I'm rooting for Other with all my mental might. Take that, classification!

The Other Coalition seems to have seen off the atheists, anyway...
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Old 01-27-2006, 04:33 PM   #38
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I chose "other", simply because I'm Pagan. I wasn't really raised as anything and was only baptised as a Catholic so I could stay in a Catholic school. My mom was open to various religious practices, and when she started to practice Paganism I found an absolute interest in the more nature based religion (must be the Elf in me talking). After a few years my mom decided to steer her course more towards Buddhism. I stayed happily with my newfound Pagan beliefs (or to some I suppose Wicca is the term, but that word to me is founded with many flaky people who sit around bashing Christianity, something I couldn't be bothered with), after all this way of believing called to me very strongly.

I suppose my faith could have affected the way I read the Silm, the Hobbit and LOR. But I truly think that if I was capable of comprehending the written language at a younger age I would still feel the same with or without religion. With religion I can simply make parallels between the books and Paganism. After all I'm incredibly fond of nature and the sense of peace it gives me that nothing else can, aside from I suppose death.
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Old 01-27-2006, 05:05 PM   #39
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I'm one of the atheists. If I had never been a part of the Barrow-Downs, I'm not sure I would have believed that so much could be said about religion and Tolkien's works. That should show how much it means to me when I read the book.
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Old 01-27-2006, 06:26 PM   #40
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for me its Roman Catholic due to my mothers french heritage though my father is a Lutheran...
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