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Old 01-16-2007, 09:25 AM   #41
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I might be ignorant to say, but I doubt that the innocent children would prefer to be taken away from their whole sivilization than have peace. I do think that there are things worth than death. Death is permanent, but so is the death of others. Probably the innocent children wouldn't be innocent for long if they were brought alone to Middle-Earth. Most of them would die or be killed and the rest most certainly would become killers themselves.

I think that it should be all or nothing is such a case. Open to better ideas.
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Old 01-16-2007, 09:36 AM   #42
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I would like to ask a question

Why was it so important for the Valar to keep Aman "man-free" ? Surely if they had aloved men to settle there, there would never have been an invation. Men would know that it would not give them eternal life. . . .another thing I don't understand is why the Valar refuse to have interaction with men, is it not the valars job to take care of Arda? How do you take care of a place by sitting at home watching elves, while others have to suffer under the evil of Sauron?

and to say that the Children of Nuemenor could just have left is silly. . .first of all how could a child leave if their parrents stayed? they have no means of making such a desition. . .another thing is that it is crazy to say that people deserved death because of where they lived.

I must say that I have been hesitant to enter this talk, as I think it very easily can become more of a RL discution than a LotR. . . and I must say that it still show these tendencies.
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Old 01-16-2007, 09:41 AM   #43
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I'd say because of that:

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Originally Posted by Rune Son of Bjarne
Men would know that it would not give them eternal life. . . .
Men would start asking for more...
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Old 01-16-2007, 09:47 AM   #44
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what? I don't understand. . . If men knew that they could not achiev eternal life by living with the Valar, they would start asking for what?
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Old 01-16-2007, 10:05 AM   #45
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I don't know what the Valar's space for their beach towels...

Myself I believe that men weren't allowed in the undying lands because the Valar did not consider men 'fair' enough' Consider that Ingwe and the Vanyar were Manwe's faves because they were fairest and the most skilled at poetry. Compare this to Beor's men and their 'rude harps'. Basically the Valar considered having men in the undying lands would make the place untidy.
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Old 01-16-2007, 10:06 AM   #46
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Originally Posted by LalwendŰ
Hmm, but what is carried out in the Old Testament is just Jihad, Holy War.
Actually this is not the case. A close reading of the story text shows that Y*H*W*H (for those of you who prefer to see it that way) required the "children of Israel" merely to march around a city once per day and then seven times on yet another day, sing and blow horns and shout, and that's it. Y*H*W*H was the one who destroyed the city. And this is not an isolated incident. Time after time, the people in this story are required to do very little, and Y*H*W*H destroys their enemies in a variety of ways.

Legate, you said what I was going to say, and in a clearer way. And I think that you have stated the question very clearly and succinctly, though not without an assumption:

Eru is good. Eru destroys Numenor. All the inhabitants die. Are they innocent? Maybe, maybe not. We don't know; at least, it is not stated directly in the text. If some were innocent, how could they be killed by an Eru who is good? Can one posit that there must be something better for them on the other side of death? One may hope so, but the text gives us no certainty. The only conclusion we are allowed is this: if Eru destroys innocents, Eru must be evil. Since Eru is not evil, but good, those whom he destroys cannot have been innocent.

"But that can't be right." "That's too simplistic."

If such objections come to mind, please note that I have simply used logic to reach the only conclusion that can be reached.
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Old 01-16-2007, 10:22 AM   #47
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If there is something better for them after death, would that not mean that Eru rewarded them for invading Aaman?
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Old 01-16-2007, 10:50 AM   #48
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Originally Posted by Rune Son of Bjarne
Why was it so important for the Valar to keep Aman "man-free" ?
It was not their fate, as it was said, they were destined by Eru to something else. The Undying lands were something of an "equivalent" of death for Men in that the others couldn't come there, as well as the Elves couldn't die. This is also why the tale of Beren&L˙thien is important (apart from that it's so beautiful and sad), because it clearly shows this.
I think you might also use the word "FaŰrie" for Aman (as it is used in Hobbit, for example), and as we know, this was a very important word for Tolkien. I think if you read the essay "On Fairy Tales" and also "The Smith of Wootton major" (this one especially), it will be clear to you. Because even though this does not connect directly with the ME, I think for Tolkien it had overall validity.

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Originally Posted by Rune son of Bjarne
If there is something better for them after death, would that not mean that Eru rewarded them for invading Aaman?
Okay, I hope this is meant as a joke... but, someone before posted here that it was not said what was there after death... only that they'd join the Second Music of Ainur... but this was at the end of times, after the Last Battle... and Day of Doom... They were not alive anymore, after all. Which brings me to... hmm, it must have been super-cruel to Ar-Pharazon not even to let him die(but after all, this is what he wanted)... do you think Eru gave him to the hands of Valar, that he'll be judged with the Elves? By Mandos? Okay, off-topic...

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Originally Posted by littlemanpoet
please note that I have simply used logic to reach the only conclusion that can be reached.
I did as well. And I expected nothing more.
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Old 01-16-2007, 01:50 PM   #49
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I hope you can bear with a 'non-serious' Tolkien fan...

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Originally Posted by littlemanpoet
If such objections come to mind, please note that I have simply used logic to reach the only conclusion that can be reached.
Not really.

Eru is good. Eru destroys N˙menor. All the inhabitants die. If there were innocents among those, then, according to the sense of justice I think at least most of us share, this was not a just act. Therefore: If Eru kills innocents, Eru cannot be entirely good (that's the negation of 'Eru is good' ). Indeed we have two assumptions here (Eru is good, Eru killed innocents) which cannot be both true at the same time.

So, were there innocents? Well, it's not stated directly in the text, but there must have been children, even babies, on N˙menor at the time. According to our sense of justice again, these are innocents. And if Eru killed them, he cannot be entirely good. (If you think the children weren't innocent, it means we don't share the same sense of justice (could be...) and use different measures for 'good')

Is it even possible that Eru isn't entirely good? I think so. After all, Melkor was an offspring of his thought, and Melkor's dischords had their source in Eru as well, as is stated. One could argue that even the Marring of Arda was, in a way, intended by Eru. This might lead to far, though. All I want to show is that it is possible that Eru is not entirely good. I can easily imagine that he was subject to, for example, wrath. I don't think this would make him less praiseworthy.
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Old 01-16-2007, 02:17 PM   #50
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There is of course the very great possibility that notions of good and evil simply don't come into this. They are, after all, creations of human minds. So where would that leave Eru?

Well, Eru just is.

If this secondary world was intended to be anything like Faerie then ultimately it would indeed be neither good nor bad, it would just be.

Now for an additional mad thought. Alongside Eru we get glimpses in the text of another being, Ungoliant, who seems to be a polar opposite to Eru. He creates, she consumes. He makes Light, she makes Unlight. And she too, came out of the void; the Elves had no notion whatsoever of where she might have come from, and Morgoth did not make her. She is not 'bad' in the truest sense, she just does what she does. Just as Eru does. Is Eru amoral just like Ungoliant?



lmp, the bit I was looking at was where you said this:

Quote:
Yahweh, as the comparable Eru is there named, commands the Israelites to destory whole nations: men, women, children, beasts, everything. When they obey these commands they are called righteous, for having obeyed; and those who do not obey, or not completely, are named unrighteous.
It's the 'obeying commands' bit that is basically Jihad; if they obey they are holy, but if they do not obey then they are not worthy. They might only be marching round, but if that then prompts destruction then it's not far off laying a bomb with your own hands. Or does the marching have nothing to do with what God then does? In which case, why are they doing it?
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Old 01-16-2007, 02:17 PM   #51
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Originally Posted by hewhoarisesinmight
I don't know what the Valar's space for their beach towels...

Myself I believe that men weren't allowed in the undying lands because the Valar did not consider men 'fair' enough' Consider that Ingwe and the Vanyar were Manwe's faves because they were fairest and the most skilled at poetry. Compare this to Beor's men and their 'rude harps'. Basically the Valar considered having men in the undying lands would make the place untidy.
No, I don't agree--I don't think the Valar were "racist": they are the Guardians of Men as well as Elves and they loved them.

I think they're not allowed because the Men would start REALLY pining for everlasting life in Aman, surrounded as they would be by perfection; or the Men themselves would feel imperfect and thus disrupt the balance with envy. It's in Men's nature to change; and it's in the Elves'/Valar/Aman's nature to not change(at least not in the same way, or so quickly.) Men would simply disrupt the society; and probably wreak havoc on it after a few generations. The Valar knew this because they were wise.

I suppose I have to simply accept that this is something like the Old Testament God.
What was that book Jung wrote about Job?
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Old 01-16-2007, 09:15 PM   #52
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Originally Posted by Rune Son of Bjarne
If there is something better for them after death, would that not mean that Eru rewarded them for invading Aaman?
This presumes that those who are punished for their rebellion by invading Aman, would receive such a reward they have lost by virtue of their rebellion.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Legate
Quote:
Originally Posted by me
please note that I have simply used logic to reach the only conclusion that can be reached.
I did as well. And I expected nothing more.
Quite right. However, you allowed both sides of an impossibility to stand, thus creating a logical impossibility:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Legate
"How is it possible that Eru, being good, did allow the innocent to die?" ..... I'm sorry to disappoint you, but I don't know.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Macalaure
If there were innocents among those, then, according to the sense of justice I think at least most of us share, this was not a just act.
With "sense of justice" you have introduced a subjective, and therefore mutable standard against which to judge the question. If a reader wishes to reach one's own conclusions with which one feels comfortable, then such mutable standards are fine. However, if a reader wants to understand the text based on its own internal reality, one must use the only consistent standard available to anyone, which is logic. Thus: If Eru is revealed by the text as good, then Eru is good. Further, if Numenoreans are revealed by the text as innocent, then they are innocent. Eru is indeed revealed throughout The Silmarillion as good, and the Numenoreans are revealed in the Akallebŕth, as falling deeper into error and wrong and evil throughout the history of Numenor. Thus, by the standard available to us, text and logic, there were no innocents left on Numenor when it was drowned by Eru.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Macalaure
Is it even possible that Eru isn't entirely good? I think so. After all, Melkor was an offspring of his thought, and Melkor's dischords had their source in Eru as well, as is stated.
The text:
Quote:
But now Il˙vatar sat and hearkened, and for a great while it seemed good to him, for in the music there were no flaws. But as the theme progressed, it came into the heart of Melkor to interweave matters of his own imagining that were not in accord with the theme of Il˙vatar.
Quote:
"Nothing is evil in the beginning. Not even Sauron was so."--Elrond
So states the text. Therefore, Eru cannot have been anything but entirely good from the beginning, and the text never shows any alteration from this. Melkor's discord was from his own imaginings and do not derive from Il˙vatar, as stated in the text.

Quote:
Originally Posted by LalwendŰ
There is of course the very great possibility that notions of good and evil simply don't come into this. They are, after all, creations of human minds. So where would that leave Eru?
Your statement lacks the self-evidence it purports on two counts: first, the downfall has everything to do with good and evil. Just read the text. Do note that I am not saying that that is the only thing it's about, but it most certainly is there. Second, the claim that good and evil are creations of human minds is debatable. Thus, your question, "where does that leave Eru", is easily answered: it leaves Eru where the text leaves Eru.

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Old 01-16-2007, 11:18 PM   #53
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Men would start asking for more...
Meaning that men wouldn't stay happy in Aman for long. In a few hundred years they would probably start rebelling and claiming their right on immortality...
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Old 01-17-2007, 12:47 AM   #54
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Quote:
Originally Posted by littlemanpoet
This presumes that those who are punished for their rebellion by invading Aman, would receive such a reward they have lost by virtue of their rebellion.

Quite right. However, you allowed both sides of an impossibility to stand, thus creating a logical impossibility:

With "sense of justice" you have introduced a subjective, and therefore mutable standard against which to judge the question. If a reader wishes to reach one's own conclusions with which one feels comfortable, then such mutable standards are fine. However, if a reader wants to understand the text based on its own internal reality, one must use the only consistent standard available to anyone, which is logic. Thus: If Eru is revealed by the text as good, then Eru is good. Further, if Numenoreans are revealed by the text as innocent, then they are innocent. Eru is indeed revealed throughout The Silmarillion as good, and the Numenoreans are revealed in the Akallebŕth, as falling deeper into error and wrong and evil throughout the history of Numenor. Thus, by the standard available to us, text and logic, there were no innocents left on Numenor when it was drowned by Eru.

The text: So states the text. Therefore, Eru cannot have been anything but entirely good from the beginning, and the text never shows any alteration from this. Melkor's discord was from his own imaginings and do not derive from Il˙vatar, as stated in the text.

Your statement lacks the self-evidence it purports on two counts: first, the downfall has everything to do with good and evil. Just read the text. Do note that I am not saying that that is the only thing it's about, but it most certainly is there. Second, the claim that good and evil are creations of human minds is debatable. Thus, your question, "where does that leave Eru", is easily answered: it leaves Eru where the text leaves Eru.
I suppose then it remains to define what Eru's definition of "good" was. Obviously if Miriel is guilty and deserves death merely for being unable to stop Pharazon, (perhaps the most powerful being in the WORLD at that time) even though she was a member fo the Faithful, then Eru's definition of what constitutes guilt and innocence is very, very strict indeed.
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Old 01-17-2007, 03:19 AM   #55
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lmp
Therefore, Eru cannot have been anything but entirely good from the beginning, and the text never shows any alteration from this. Melkor's discord was from his own imaginings and do not derive from Il˙vatar, as stated in the text.
Tolkien differs in his opinion:

Quote:
no theme may be played that hath not its uttermost source in me
and

Quote:
thou, Melkor, wilt discover all the secret thoughts of thy mind, and wilt perceive that they are but a part of the whole and tributary to its glory
These lines demonstrate that both Melkor's discordant theme and even his thoughts are a product of Eru. So from the very beginning, when the Valar were created, Eru made them with evil inbuilt. And as Eru says, evil is a part of the essence of existence in this cosmology; it is 'tributary' to glory, i.e. it must bow down to it, but it is an essential part of it.

Quote:
this condition Iluvatar made, or it is the necessity of their love, that their power should thenceforward be contained and bounded in the World, to be within it for ever, until it is complete, so that they are its life and it is theirs
Not only did Melkor, his thought and his discordant music have their source in Eru, but because Melkor decided to enter the physical world, his power was inherently and eternally bound to the circles of the world (which possibly explains why the Void was such a good prison for him - he would be separated from his power out there, it remained down in Arda - fantastic concept). The Valar are the life of Arda, and Arda is their life - so not only are Varda and Orome and Yavanna etc a part of Arda, but so too is Melkor, irrevocably.

And Eru allowed this to happen, but as is said above, "no theme may be played that hath not its uttermost source in me". That is one of the essential mysteries of Eru, why he makes Melkor the way he does, and allows Melkor the freedom to be part of this creation; who knows why evil is part of Eru's plan, but it is.

It's all there in the books.

Problems only arise when we try to get our heads around the nature of what we read in Tolkien's stories. It doesn't matter if we apply our religion or non-religion to it, if we apply our sense of human rights, or our sense of animal rights, or lefts or ups or downs. The only way to comprehend why things happen is to look at the books and what they give us. And if you look at the books, then evil is part of Eru's plan. It has its origins in him. It's something I find hard to accept but there it is. And why? Well...I suppose Tolkien gives us the best explanation possible. Eru describes the world he has created as:

Quote:
Ea, the World that Is
It is. It is what? Is just is.
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Old 01-17-2007, 03:49 AM   #56
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As you might be able to guess, this issue interests me greatly. I have never been able to decide my feelings on it. As I plan to show here though, there are a lot of aspects to the events that people seem to be overlooking.

First off, we must look at what exactly happened during this Earth-changing event. I tend to vigorously oppose equating Eru and his deeds with those of any monotheistic (or other) God in the Primary World. To me, Eru is presented in a fashion that makes him look too different from them (but that is outside the scope of this thread).

What did Eru do? He merely responded to the request of the Valar to do something, because by laying down their guardianship of the world, they showed that they weren't going to do anything. To the extent that it is possible for one of his creations to do so, they "forced" Eru to make a move.

Eru responded to their laying down of the guardianship by "breaking the world", which means that he took the Undying Lands "away from the reach of Men forever". To the extent that one can guess the meaning of Eru's act, it seems pretty clear that this was done so that Men would never be tempted, or able, to make the mistake the N˙menˇreans did again. In other words, though the Valar had not been able to keep the N˙menˇreans from breaking their Ban, Eru ensured that the rule would be kept intact, and that Men in the future would not have to work at maintaining their obedience in order to "keep their half of the deal" like the N˙menˇreans were required to do. In other words, Eru made life easier for people in the future. Furthermore, Men were now completely free in the world they had, to do whatever they liked with it. They could sail as far West as they wanted and not be stopped by an artificial, arbitrary line set by a mysterious group of aloof Powers for reasons incomprehensible to them.

But...

That still doesn't solve the problem of the present, does it? But again, we must remember that Eru did not strike against N˙menor directly! Everything that happened was an inevitable physical consequence of the Breaking of the World. Insofar as the sinking of N˙menor can be called "evil", it must be called that in reference to Eru's seeming negligence in keeping N˙menor intact, not in what he actually did against anyone. It wasn't direct punishment, it was not paying attention to the island, that Eru did. The only thing that directly suffered as a result of the deed was the shape of Arda!

So we could stop here and say, "Since the N˙menˇreans had decided not to believe in Eru, he basically decided not to believe in them. He completely neglected them, because they had done the same. He wasn't going to make them believe anything they didn't want to, so he wouldn't perform any miracles on their behalf. Rather, he let physics take its course. Eru's main point in acting was to correct a mistake that really had chiefly been made by the Valar, namely their poor dealings with the race of Men in making N˙menor and the Ban in the first place. The N˙menˇreans were basically unfortunate but simultaneously not-so-innocent bystanders."

But if you are not satisfied with this answer, let's consider this for a bit. The N˙menˇreans, as a nation, had taken a gamble a few decades before. And gambles sometimes include property other than what one owns. The N˙menˇreans gambled their society for a belief in Melkor over Eru. They had decided to believe that Eru did not exist, because they felt the advantages for believing in Melkor were greater. That the "contract" was social in nature is reflected by their killing of people who would not take part in it, namely the Faithful.

But Eru made a move, which proved that they had put their chips on the wrong deity. Their bets were called in! And "society" includes a lot of things that individuals do not own. Namely, children. The N˙menˇreans were in a terribly desperate situation. Because they now had to deal with the person they had made the bet with. Sauron. The role of Sauron in all this seems to be continually overlooked in this discussion.

Sauron hated the N˙menˇreans. They had had a long history of thwarting his plans, and they had lately humiliated him. In "Myths Transformed" in Morgoth's Ring, Tolkien notes that "Sauron's whole true motive was the destruction of the N˙menˇreans" (my emphasis). Why would he have stopped with the departure of the Great Armament? After all, once nobody returned after a protracted time period, it would be clear to the D˙nedain once and for all that Sauron had deceived them. And the women would promptly make more babies to hurt him, and the children would grow up with nothing but revenge on their minds against this person who had led their fathers, and their King, into death. Clearly, once the Great Armament (and thus all the military power that the country had to use against him) had left, Sauron's policy of "destroying the N˙menˇreans" would just have been beginning. He would not have wanted them to replenish their population so they could start fighting against him again. And he would not have been nice and quick about it, either. Surely Sauron would have tortured them cruelly, since there was no one to put up a large resistance against him, and he loves doing that sort of thing.

Even if the Valar (or Eru; look at how well Sauron managed to survive even his actions) had tried to intervene on the women's and children's behalf, there would have been a terrible war in which many would have died cruelly. Sauron would not have let them leave, and he would have fought the Valar with all the strength he had. Which, again according to "Myths Transformed", was actually greater than Morgoth's was at the end of the First Age. And doubtless at that point in time he would have still have had many loyalists who would have aided him. And in the last war of the Valar against a Dark Lord, an entire continent... oh, what's the word again? Sank.

Furthermore, Sauron had already been making the N˙menˇreans suffer for years; they were simply too corrupted and deceived to even realize it: "madness and sickness assailed them... and they cursed themselves in their agony," we read in the Akallabŕth.

Now, a word about Eru: I really can't see him as a moral figure. He can't really be bound to morality himself. Furthermore, he did not "punish" Melkor for being "immoral", he simply let him be and do as he wished, though he did warn Melkor of the consequences of his actions (namely, that his plans would not ultimately be successful). If Eru made the quintessential "moral" and "immoral" figures of Arda, namely ManwŰ and Melkor, but is neither beholden to them nor gives any of his creatures any moral code to follow (this is the way in which he perhaps differs most from any Primary World deity), then how are we to assume he is moral? Eru simply creates. Morality is a product of the fact that his creatures were designed in a certain way, and have limitations (namely, the ability to be hurt by others of his creatures). Morality rises from design and the practical facts of life in Arda, not by divine command. Like language, the ability to conceive of a morality was probably a gift of Eru to his creatures, to make life easier for them. But they are not required (or even, as far as we can tell, encouraged) by him to follow their moral strictures; that's something they have to decide to do on their own. Eru doesn't seem to like telling people what to do: he wants them to act for themselves!

And also, human death is "a gift of Eru". He does not consider it a punishment. The chief error of Mankind is viewing it so. The administration of death, when done justly and not carried out in a way that would protract suffering, cannot be called a punishment, then, even if you do consider Eru a moral figure. Not unless you want to be deceived as the N˙menˇreans were (who, as we can tell by the existence of the Athrabeth, had conditioned themselves to think this way (even if only subconsciously at times) for thousands of years).

This brings us back to the N˙menˇreans, who as we can see with their decision to bring Sauron to their land, painted themselves into a very bad corner indeed. There would have been no easy way out for those women and children (actually, were there even any children of Melkor-worshippers? Maybe they considered children an annoyance, and so, since they were planning on being immortal anyway, decided not to have any! Nowhere is this disputed; it's a very real possibility, in which case the "innocent children" idea doesn't work, since Melkor worship had been going on for decades). They had given so much power and influence to Sauron that he would have done something nasty before he would leave/be captured by the Valar.

So, in light of all this, was it really so injust that their deaths came about by a sudden wall of water?

Whoever actually bothered to read this whole thing has my gratitude.

EDIT: To those who have asked about the need to keep Men out of Valinor: it's a fair question. Luckily, Tolkien answers it for us in detail in Essay VII of "Myths Transformed". To summarize it, Men would basically have been "out of sync" with the longer, slower rhythms of life in the Undying Lands. They would have felt fundamentally out of place, and envied everything and everyone else, to an even greater extent than they did while living in mortal lands. And if they were granted immortality of the body somehow, their souls would basically go insane after a while, since they were given the desire to leave Arda after a relatively short time. Thus, a Man's soul and body would be completely opposed and in hatred of each other, and Tolkien wrote of the nasty consequences of that; I won't bother to recount them here. So basically, life in Aman would only be more torturous for Men, not less, as the messengers of the Valar told the N˙menˇreans generations before their Downfall. It was really for their own good that they were kept out (and I'm not just saying this; the essay paints a pretty squicky picture of the consquences).
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Old 01-17-2007, 04:16 AM   #57
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Old 01-17-2007, 05:34 AM   #58
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Now, a word about Eru: I really can't see him as a moral figure. He can't really be bound to morality himself. Furthermore, he did not "punish" Melkor for being "immoral", he simply let him be and do as he wished, though he did warn Melkor of the consequences of his actions (namely, that his plans would not ultimately be successful). If Eru made the quintessential "moral" and "immoral" figures of Arda, namely ManwŰ and Melkor, but is neither beholden to them nor gives any of his creatures any moral code to follow (this is the way in which he perhaps differs most from any Primary World deity), then how are we to assume he is moral? Eru simply creates. Morality is a product of the fact that his creatures were designed in a certain way, and have limitations (namely, the ability to be hurt by others of his creatures). Morality rises from design and the practical facts of life in Arda, not by divine command. Like language, the ability to conceive of a morality was probably a gift of Eru to his creatures, to make life easier for them. But they are not required (or even, as far as we can tell, encouraged) by him to follow their moral strictures; that's something they have to decide to do on their own. Eru doesn't seem to like telling people what to do: he wants them to act for themselves!
I'll agree with all of this (and the rest, actually )! I think that's the crucial point (even in this world, let alone the secondary one created by Tolkien) - that you cannot assign good/bad to the creator. A creator just is. It's from living in and experiencing the world as given to them that the peoples learn what is right and what is wrong.

And going on from that, if rules were set out about where people could go within the circles of the world then we must presume that if broken, then something would happen. I won't go so far as to say it was 'punishment', as I think it was just an inevitability.

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To those who have asked about the need to keep Men out of Valinor: it's a fair question. Luckily, Tolkien answers it for us in detail in Essay VII of "Myths Transformed". To summarize it, Men would basically have been "out of sync" with the longer, slower rhythms of life in the Undying Lands. They would have felt fundamentally out of place, and envied everything and everyone else, to an even greater extent than they did while living in mortal lands. And if they were granted immortality of the body somehow, their souls would basically go insane after a while, since they were given the desire to leave Arda after a relatively short time. Thus, a Man's soul and body would be completely opposed and in hatred of each other, and Tolkien wrote of the nasty consequences of that; I won't bother to recount them here. So basically, life in Aman would only be more torturous for Men, not less, as the messengers of the Valar told the N˙menˇreans generations before their Downfall. It was really for their own good that they were kept out (and I'm not just saying this; the essay paints a pretty squicky picture of the consquences).
That about sums it up for me too. Men and Elves are at root very different beings. The nature of Elves in time necessarily makes them temporal creatures living a temporal existence, yet at the same time, they have incredible permanence. They are like Time Lords. (Sorry, I knew I'd manage to tie in a Doctor Who reference somewhere... ). The Elves, with their greater experience (i.e. eternity's experience, not the mere fleeting one hundred years or so of experience which most ordinary men could hope for - even the couple of hundred of a faithful Numenorean was nothing in comparison to a Elf's lifespan) of timelessness truly understand why it would be heartbreaking for all for Men and Elves to live side by side.

Elves know whereas Men must learn, and keep on learning as they die and a new generation comes along.
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Old 01-17-2007, 06:49 AM   #59
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Yes there was children on the Akallabŕth (spelt it right this time ) "and Numenor went down into the sea, with all its children and its wives and its maidens and its ladies proud" So Eru is a child killer and also do the Valar really need to kill every mariner who has the misfortune to accidently reach the undying lands?
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Old 01-17-2007, 07:36 AM   #60
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Yes there was children on the Akallabŕth (spelt it right this time ) "and Numenor went down into the sea, with all its children and its wives and its maidens and its ladies proud" So Eru is a child killer and also do the Valar really need to kill every mariner who has the misfortune to accidently reach the undying lands?
I think I could've said many more, but now I am reacting just to this little post of yours. If we go back in time to the beginning, Eru creates Eń - he creates the whole world. I don't know if I didn't say it somewhere earlier, but aren't these drowned children (with small c) also his Children (with big C)? I am quite sure he didn't want them killed. But, there was probably not another solution at the moment.
The idea that even the children face the death as well as the parents reflects that the whole society is responsible. I think you'll agree with me that the parents, although they might have denied it to themselves, must have known - or if confronted with truth, they must've admitted, that by all the evil deeds they put a of punishment upon themselves. Why not, of course, this is their problem. You can do wrong, but you cannot be surprised that you have to face the consequences later then. If it's just your own life, no problem. But they could've thought on that they also might influence the life of those around themselves. I think we all agree on that parents take responsibility for their children as long as they are not grown up enough to take care of themselves, right? So, it was the parents' role to think of what would become of their children. They could've reared their children in a way of wrong deeds, for example teaching them that human sacrifice is o.k., fine, but the responsibility is theirs - they reared them (here comes, I think, the idea of passing on the sin of parents on the next generation - but not somehow "supernaturally", but just because the parents teach the children to behave that way). So, if I say it another way, the "cold-blooded murderer" is not Eru, but actually, these are their parents. I imagine that in some final Judgement, Eru says he's sorry for the children, but the parents are now shown any mercy, for they have the blood of their children on their hands, literally.

And to that mariner thing - I think you mean "some" mariners, not those who went with Ar-Pharazon, right? Then I'd say it was not possible for anyone to reach the Undying Lands: the Valinor was hidden, there were the Shadow islands and Shadow seas, and even Eńrendil spent all his lifetime searching for the coast of Valinor and didn't find it, until Valar themselves allowed him. Only Elven ships were able to reach the coast, so no "accidental landings" could take place. The only others who ever landed there were Eńrendil, maybe (but I doubt) Amandil, and Ar-Pharazon - all of them very special cases (old AP because he was just given what he wanted).
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Old 01-17-2007, 10:01 AM   #61
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no after reading this little discussion i decided to reread the akallabeth and stumbled upon this passage Mariners 'who by some fate or grace ir favour of the Valar, had entered in upon the Straight Way and seen the face of the world sunk below them, and so had come to the lamplit quays of Avallone, or verily to the last beaches on the margin of Aman, and there had looked upon the White Mountain, dreadful and beautiful, before they died.'

I took this to mean that they were killed when they reached the undying lands through no fault of themselves.
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Old 01-17-2007, 11:37 AM   #62
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Hmm, I'll quote once more the beginning part of the passage you cited:
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who by some fate or grace or favour of the Valar, had entered in upon the Straight Way
To see the Undying Lands is a gift, not a curse. To visit the beautiful lands of FaŰrie in a mortal body would be, let's say, a thing worth dying. Who of us, here on this forum, has not seen just a glimpse of the lands of FaŰrie? I think we all did, reading Professor Tolkien's books, at least at one point. But is it our fate to dwell there forever? No, we are (and some would say unfortunately) bound to this world of Men, and the fate of the Elves is not ours, literally spoken. We've been just given the chance that we "might look upon other times than those of our bodies' life" and nothing more. And so it is with the Men in Middle-Earth...
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Old 01-17-2007, 01:14 PM   #63
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Yes there was children on the Akallabŕth (spelt it right this time ) "and Numenor went down into the sea, with all its children and its wives and its maidens and its ladies proud" So Eru is a child killer and also do the Valar really need to kill every mariner who has the misfortune to accidently reach the undying lands?
Ah. You got me there; it's been a while since I looked at the "long sentence" describing N˙menor's destruction. But the fact that there were children in N˙menor at the time does not invalidate my point!

I don't know if you read that whole long post of mine above, but one of my main points is that the N˙menˇreans weren't just sitting there happy and content when the Great Armament left. Sauron was still in N˙menor! And, as I said, because of his hatred of the N˙menˇreans and his desire to keep them from ever interfering with his purposes again, he would eventually have killed off all the remaining people (once the military power that had kept him from making a move was gone from the island) to keep their population from increasing again. And Sauron would not have been very nice in his methods, I think we can all agree. He was Morgoth's Chief Torturer, after all. And it was the N˙menˇreans' fault for bringing Sauron to their land and giving him enough trust so that he could hurt them. They chose that for themselves and their children; the act of bringing Sauron to N˙menor really can't be blamed upon the Valar or anyone else aside from the N˙menˇreans.

In light of that, there was no easy way out for the residents of N˙menor. The options for dealing with that island were:

1. Nobody did anything, and Sauron was left to do with the N˙menˇreans as he wished. He would surely have tortured and killed them all now that the N˙menˇrean army was gone. As I have tried to indicate, this is the worst possible option, as far as their wellbeing is concerned.

2. There would be a long war between Sauron and the Valar. Probably the second-worst option, given how difficult it would be to defeat Sauron. Even if the Valar tried to evacuate the N˙menˇreans, they would have to build the ships (since most of the N˙menˇreans' were gone in the Great Armament), which would have taken years. By then, Sauron would have succeeded in killing most of them off anyway; see Option 1.

3. N˙menor is suddenly destroyed, and Sauron gets "punished" (though I still don't think it was active punishment, rather neglect) along with the society he helped corrupt. This is what happened, and I still think it was the best option out of a series of very bad ones.

The N˙menˇreans had put themselves in a situation beyond easy repair, is what I mainly want to illustrate. Defending Eru's action is only secondary to the sense of sympathy I have for the N˙menˇreans, who suffered so horribly under Sauron, and would have continued to do so if not for this act. It is because of that sympathy that I can see the mercy in this act.

In short, there are worse ways to suffer than by dying suddenly and unexpectedly (which is, actually, one of the best ways to die). And if you don't believe that, if you think rather that any and all death is cruel punishment, then you are in the end bound to be incensed by this story. (As for myself, I too think it might have fared better if Tolkien continued to ascribe the deed to the Valar, as he did in the earlier versions of the story.)

And if you do indeed think that all death is an injust punishment, then why are you defending the N˙menˇreans? Their society had been constantly dealing out death to innocent people for decades.
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Old 01-17-2007, 01:22 PM   #64
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I'll agree with all of this (and the rest, actually )! I think that's the crucial point (even in this world, let alone the secondary one created by Tolkien) - that you cannot assign good/bad to the creator. A creator just is. It's from living in and experiencing the world as given to them that the peoples learn what is right and what is wrong.
Lal,

Interesting. I can definitely understand how a person reading LotR (or viewing the real world) would feel that way. In a real sense, there is no right or wrong way to view Eru given Tolkien's stated preference for "applicability" in terms of his readers and the experiences they bring to the text. Plus, Eru's position in Middle-earth is not clear cut. There are ambiguities and layers of contradiction, at least partially brought on by Tolkien's "contrasistency": his conflicting desires about the role of religion in a subcreated world. We can find quotations that emphasize the author's preference to keep religion out of the subcreated world, and others that suggest the opposite: that Tolkien incorporated Catholic elements within the revisions of the text.

Still, I keep coming back to one queston. Is it possible to have an "absolute" sense of right and wrong if that choice is defined solely in the experiences of the individual character rather than an outside agent? I am using the term agent loosely here, whether a god or another absolute construct like that envisioned by Plato. Your post suggests that morality and its application lie solely within the province of the individual. Yet the one thing I've always felt in Lord of the Rings is that Tolkien did not regard moral virtues as a matter of subjective preference or social norm. There is good and there is evil: an objective morality that may become blurred in application but that constitutes a non-changing framework that gives meaning to everything Tolkien writes.

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Good and ill have not changed since yesteryear; nor are they one thing among Elves and Dwarves and another among Men.
To me, this says it all. If morality comes solely from "living in and experiencing the world", you would have more than one standard since people bring such diverse experiences and backgrounds to this task. In our own world, for example, there have been cultures that accept the validity of suicide, like classical Roman or Japanese, and others like Christianity that do not. In Tolkien's world, things are clearer. There are instances where characters sacrifice themselves to save others and Aragorn is able to order the hour of his own death, but that is different from suicide. When the deranged Turin initially tries to take his own life, he is stopped by his companion. Turin's later suicide and that of his sister Nienor who carries an unborn child (modeled on the Kalevala) as well as the scenes with Denethor are depicted in such a way that the deeds are both moving and horrific. There is no suggestion of honor. (Lost Tales II, 115-116, suggests that there will be a redemption for turin and Nienor at the end of the world.)

Given what I know about the author, I can not help but feel that an objective morality exists in Arda and that it is grounded on some level in Tolkien's personal theology. In that sense, I am less willing to let Eru off the hook than you are. I went back and reread some of the Numenor material and was struck by how debased the culture had become: hauling off men into slavery from Middle-earth, the imposition of blood sacrifice, willful disobedience to the dictates of the ban. If I had been one of the occupants of the lands across the Sea, I would have cheered the drowning of Numenor as it would have brought some hope of relief. It is possible to say that all the men and women in Numenor were responsible for the evil. Even if these people did not actually foment evil, they stood by and did nothing when human sacrifices took place. (This assumes that there is some kind of absolute standard that says human sacrifice is wrong.) But where does that leave the children?

Tolkien does not tell us what happens to men after their death, only that they go beyond the circles of the world. If you assume that what happens to an innocent child is horrific, then there is clearly no justice. If you assume a different and more favorable ending for the innocent child, then you might argue that, by removing the child from the world, Eru is doing them a favor....that there is actually no way they could grow up in Numenor and not be corrupted by Sauron and the Ring. At least this way, they are removed from the mess and are able to keep their moral compass.

Still, that's an uncomfortable argument for me to make. I think the true answer can only be that, in a world corrupted by evil, which Middle-earth clearly was, there can be an absolute standard for good and evil but things get mightily blurred in the application. Simply it is impossible to have an absolutely good act, even by Eru, in a world where evil is woven into the fabric of existence.

Numenor had clearly become a blight on the world: a force for evil that was destroying not only the lives of its own inhabitants but those across the Sea whom they imperiously ruled. If Eru destroyed only the attacking fleet, that blight would still be there, capable of rejuvenating and expanding outward. Whatever action is taken--destroying the island or not destroying it, the evil will not go away. On the one hand you have the continuing existence of an evil Numenor and on the other hand you have innocent children killed. The only answer seems to be that you weigh one evil against another and make a choice based on that, taking the path that will eventually lead to the greatest healing.

As men, we certainly do not have the knowlege that would allow us to do this cosmic weighing or make a choice. (I too do not believe in capital punishment.) But Eru is in a different position and could possibly have made such a choice with clear understanding of its consequences. This is essentially a no-win situation. Whatever Eru does, there will be evil consequences. He is trapped by his own creation and the latitude he has given to his children. What it comes down to in terms of the individual is "trust". Some readers "trust" Eru enough to believe that his choice was just. For them it is not an atrocity--just a sad, sad choice. For others, the action by Eru can only be seen as an amoral or immoral one because there were certainly bad consequences and he had foreknowlege of those. Rather than a choice, it becomes an atrocity. There is no easy answer here.
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Old 01-17-2007, 01:47 PM   #65
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The point though is that Eru is beyond good/evil, he is at once both of them, and he creates the circumstances in which both enter the world. Eru just is. And why should that be a bad thing? I certainly haven't got a dislike of Eru, in fact this seems much more natural.

It's up to the people of Arda to discover what is right and wrong, and there are indeed things which are right and wrong, for them (but not equally for Eru), it is not a moral free-for-all. Likewise its up to the reader to discover these things too. They are not necessarily set down on the page for us - Gollum is an example of that. If there was a strictly laid out moral objectivity then Tolkien's work would have been incredibly didactic and that's one thing that it is not - or else why would be discussing this now?

This world is not corrupted by evil, it is created from the very beginning with evil inbuilt, into the very fabric of its being. There is no 'paradise' from which the Children can fall because the world was fallen before it even began. That's an essential and crucial difference between the way Tolkien's own religion saw the world and the way he created his own secondary world. It underlines the Long Defeat. But I reckon, Child, that you get around to that thought anyway! The problem is that if we apply Tolkien's own earthly religion to this idea of Eru being a whole law unto himself (which he clearly was, as Tolkien tells us that) then we start to get into torturous argument because it just doesn't 'fit' snugly. And thus, if we look at the Drowning of Numenor in the context of Eruism, it becomes less morally contentious.
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Old 01-17-2007, 01:49 PM   #66
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Then why would Eru punish them at all? Why should he protect the rest of the world from Numenor? Why would he care if men picked a fight with the Valar?
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Old 01-17-2007, 02:18 PM   #67
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Tar-Telperien explains it well earlier. But basically the Numenoreans were granted a special gift by Eru, who does not interfere much at all, with the condition that they did not seek to go to Valinor. But they did, and Eru had to reshape the world so that no Men could ever attempt it again. This was for their own good as Elves and Men were in essence very different creatures. Eru did not do it to protect the ordinary Men of Middle-earth.
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Old 01-17-2007, 03:11 PM   #68
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Then why would Eru punish them at all? Why should he protect the rest of the world from Numenor? Why would he care if men picked a fight with the Valar?
People are too dead set on looking at this as a punishment!

As I said before, Eru reacted to the request of the Valar to do something. He repaired the problem that had been there in the first place: namely, giving Men an unfair command not to sail beyond an arbitrary line. The Valar should not have put Men in such a tempting situation; they should have known that the "Ban system" is an ultimately untenable situation for Men to be in.

So Eru fixed that problem in the best (i.e., most permanent) way possible. Since the N˙menˇreans had decided not to have any concern for Eru's existence and/or actions in Arda, he ignored them accordingly. It was willful ignorance repaying willful ignorance. Eru wasn't going to perform any miracles in keeping N˙menor afloat on their behalf if they hated him and didn't want him interfering with their lives and beliefs (they did, after all, think him a malicious phantom invented by the Valar). This concept is a bit difficult to explain, but don't you think that, if the N˙menˇreans spent their lives saying and acting as if Eru did not exist, he was justified in acting as if they did not exist? Eru does not "baby people". He lets them see the logical conclusions of their beliefs. This is an example of that.

That the physical aspects of the Breaking of the World included the Downfall should not be considered amazing. EressŰa was saved from it because it was taken off the world proper and thus protected from physics as we know it. But N˙menor was still on the world, and was included in the catastrophe. Of course, that it happened to bring down a very unjust society while simultaneously greatly injuring its seducer and terrorizer is, perhaps, a little more than coincidential.
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Old 01-17-2007, 03:22 PM   #69
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Originally Posted by LalwendŰ
This world is not corrupted by evil, it is created from the very beginning with evil inbuilt, into the very fabric of its being. There is no 'paradise' from which the Children can fall because the world was fallen before it even began.
Actually, I dare say not. If by the term "world" you mean just "Arda", then you are right: the evil was inbuilt in it. But in our case I'd change the term "world" for "creation" here: because this is what we are dealing with if we ask for Eru. Arda was actually not created just by Eru, it also (and as we know, VERY MUCH) contained thoughts made by ManwŰ, Varda, Melkor etc.: and this happened at the point in which they were individual entities. They were no way linked to Eru at that time: it was their own ideas what they put into the world. Melkor brought in the dischord, and this way, evil was inbuilt to the history of the newly created World. We all know the story of AinulindalŰ, and what Eru said to Melkor. When Eru put the plans of the Great Music before Valar, there was nothing of what Melkor later did. In the beginning, there was nothing evil: not even Sauron, as it was said here many times. Eru created beings (meaning the Ainur now) with completely free will. He gave them their powers, yes, but he did not imprint in them "You Melkor are going to behave like this and this". And since there was no dischord in Eru's original plans for the Music of Ainur, we have to conclude that everyone of the Ainur behaved as he wished: and Melkor has chosen to behave differently.
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Then Il˙vatar said to them: 'Of the theme that I have declared to you, I will now that ye make in harmony together a Great Music. And since I have kindled you with the Flame Imperishable, ye shall show forth your powers in adorning this theme, each with his own thoughts and devices, if he will. But I win sit and hearken, and be glad that through you great beauty has been wakened into song.'
ye make in harmony together=in harmony, no dichord was in the plan
I have kindled you with the Flame Imperishable=they are now "real" beings with their own life (cf. Dwarves when AulŰ tries to get them working without Il˙vatar)
each with his own thoughts and devices, if he will=their own thoughts and devices, since they are free beings. Il˙vatar gave them powers, let's say, "you have now the ability to create nice bricks, you have now the ability to be a good architect, you have the ability to be a good gardener, etc., etc., now make me a nice house with garden". You can build a house in Victorian style, in postmodern style, as you wish - it's up to you if you put one or two doors there. But if you decide to build a rocket silo instead, it was not what I asked of you. (I am sorry, I am neither an architect nor a mason, but I hope you catch my meaning.)
and be glad that through you great beauty has been wakened into song.=I don't consider dying children, or dying Thingol, or the Kinslaying, or Saruman's destruction of the Shire, or death of Denethor being beauty. This was not Eru's plan. But when it happened, he accepted Melkor's free will, as much as he accepted the free will of anyone else: this is justice. And what he said to Melkor, we know.
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Then Il˙vatar spoke, and he said: 'Mighty are the Ainur, and mightiest among them is Melkor; but that he may know, and all the Ainur, that I am Il˙vatar, those things that ye have sung, I will show them forth, that ye may see what ye have done. And thou, Melkor, shalt see that no theme may be played that hath not its uttermost source in me, nor can any alter the music in my despite. For he that attempteth this shall prove but mine instrument in the devising of things more wonderful, which he himself hath not imagined.'
I know this is the source of "Eru wanted Melkor to do this!" opinions, but I say, nay, as I said above, Eru didn't want this in the first place, and if you read this quote carefully, you'll probably see for yourselves. Eru is not saying "You cannot play anything which I didn't want to do". Eru is saying: "But that ye may know that I AM IL┌VATAR" = so there is no way you could make anything which will overthrow me, most crudely said. It does not mean "if you play this, Melkor, it means that I wanted to play this as well" but "you cannot play this. And you cannot play anything new. I created all. You might choose whether the grass would be green or yellow or pink, but you cannot invent a new color. You might choose whether the balrogs will or will not have wings, but you cannot invent other shape for them than putting the bull's head or pig's head together with human body." I know this is bad example, since the Ainur actually created even the shapes, but since we are bound by the material world and cannot imagine invisible things, I think this is the best.
Someone might point out (and I think you, LalwendŰ, inclined to that) that Eru surely is not "stupid" and that he could've known that the evil would come and that he could have, crudely said, for example "erased" Melkor. I think it is like this: if you create something with its own free will, you have to count with that it may - or even be sure that it will - do things you didn't want it to. But is it better just to sit in the void and not create anything? Please leave now aside that the World itself was created after the creation of Ainur: we know that Melkor had the thoughts of dischord in him even before the Music itself. These were his thoughts. But if you look into the world after creation, Eru also wouldn't censore every single baby's genetic structure to make sure that no possible thief is born. They have free will, if they want to steal, it is their choice.
So, if I sum it all up: before the Great Music, Eru didn't know what will the Ainur play. He also didn't know what all would happen: even if he would have some suspicions on Melkor, he couldn't ve known if he would play alone or if some Saurons and Balrogs would join him, or if he would be "overshouted" by the others. During the Music, when it seemed really bad, he intervened (!). And when it was probably unbearable (?), he said "ok, that's enough of suffering - let's cut it" and he ended the Music. And after the Music, he didn't just say: "Okay, I wanted this to be a nice piece of music and I wanted to create a world according to it, but you screwed it up, so on second thought nothing," but he said: "Okay, Melkor, so you screwed it up, but that you all know that I am Il˙vatar, now watch what you have done."
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Old 01-17-2007, 03:35 PM   #70
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There's an argument which I read several time so far, that death was maybe a good thing for the children of N˙menor. I don't agree with this. Throughout Tolkien's work killing another person (undeservedly) is an evil act. Even though death is the Gift of Eru to Men, I think this moral standard should also hold for him, regardless of the quality of the afterlife and regardless of whether life for the children would inevitably become very bad.

If indeed Eru is beyond good and evil, then obviously it doesn't hold for him. But I doubt this. Like Břicho said, if Eru has no preference for good or evil and just is, then why does he care at all. He created both good and evil beings, but he clearly seems to prefer the good side. So no matter if he was entirely good or also somewhat evil, the standards of good and evil should apply to himself as well.

The contradiction remains. Innocent children (though parents are responsible for their children, children are not responsible for their parents - and I don't buy the argument that they were too strongly influenced by their evil parents in the short span of their upbringing (we're talking about young children)) died in the Drowning, no matter whether it was a punishment or 'collateral damage'. This happened at the hands of Eru, who in turn, by the standards Tolkien's work gives, cannot be entirely good.

But maybe, at the time, the Drowning was simply the best choice that was left to Eru? This is possible. In fact, it would perhaps solve our dilemma. However, I think it leads to another question: Is Eru omnipotent or not? If he is, then he must have had the possibility to punish the evil and/or remove Valinor while sparing the innocent N˙menoreans (I confess I'm growing increasingly uncomfortable with this black-and-white painting of the society of Westernesse). Is there any textual support for either one of the positions?
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Old 01-17-2007, 04:20 PM   #71
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Legate - bear in mind though that Eru created Melkor. When Eru tells him "no theme may be played that hath not its uttermost source in me" he is telling Melkor that he may have free will, but he was put there by Eru and Eru made him what he is, whether for good or for bad.

I suppose in one way you might almost feel sorry for Melkor as he simply cannot help what he is.

The Ainur sing of the world and Melkor's discordancies create those things which would go on to be evil things - and no theme can be played which does not stem from Eru, therefore this logically tells us that Eru caused this to be (unwittingly or not, whichever you prefer, I prefer wittingly).

Quote:
thou, Melkor, wilt discover all the secret thoughts of thy mind, and wilt perceive that they are but a part of the whole and tributary to its glory
I'll use this again, as it's about the very design which Eru came up with. Eru tells Melkor that he will soon enough find out what his darkest thoughts are, and that at some point, he will also see that such dark thoughts are a very part of the whole of existence and a part of the glory of existence.

This concept in fact ties in with poetry written by Tolkien's friend Smith, about the death of their friend Gilson in which he says that God cannot be glorified unless there is suffering.

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Originally Posted by John Garth
One piece declares a stark view of divine providence: Gilson's death is "a sacrifice of blood outpoured" to a God whose purposes are utterly inscrutable and who "only canst be glorified by man's own passion and the supreme pain"
It's a very bloody and unforgiving concept of God, but nevertheless it is one that Tolkien seems to have held. In the situation that Tolkien was in on the Somme you either become an Atheist or you come to a view that God is quite a dark figure, a figure who at the very least will permit, if not commit, atrocities.

EDIT
Ultimately, there are two ways of looking at this:
1. We assume Eru is good - therefore everything he does is good too, it must be good because he does it. But this also means he can do anything and it is still good.
2. We look at what happens and work out if it was good or bad. If it was bad, then Eru has done something bad, and he is neither wholly good nor bad.

This all depends of course on whether sets of abstracts like good and evil control Eru's actions. They must do for 2 to be true so is he still omnipotent? But if we then go back to saying that 1 must be true, then there is no good or evil anyway as there is no moral standard apart from what we decide. Which brings us back to 2 again....and on and on and on.... Can Eru create a rock that's so heavy he cannot move it?
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Old 01-17-2007, 04:27 PM   #72
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Originally Posted by Macalaure
However, I think it leads to another question: Is Eru omnipotent or not?
So far as I know, he is nowhere stated to be, and this is a very good thing. It's the only thing that lets his character (that of a deity) make any sense. To me, certain religions in the Primary World make a major error in trying to declare their deity is omnipotent.

Because if Eru is not omnipotent, it may be that there are certain consequences of his creatures attempting to rebel against him that he cannot change qua being their creator (in other words, the idea would be that in the "Tale of Adanel", the story of the Fall of Man in Middle-earth, Eru did not "punish" Men, but merely described what would inevitably happen to them because of their attempt to rebel. He could not stop the changes that would occur in them (shortened life, weakness, etc.), because he is not omnipotent. Eru is called Sanavaldo, the Almighty, but being Almighty is different than being omnipotent.)
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Old 01-17-2007, 04:37 PM   #73
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Originally Posted by Macalaure
Throughout Tolkien's work killing another person (undeservedly) is an evil act.
Are you sure that that's not just humans' opinions? From the Athrabeth, it is made plain that Men, even the Edain, had fallen into a belief that Death was an "abominable" punishment brought on for evil deeds Men committed in their early history. There was almost no way they could find the strength of mind to look at it neutrally. It always carried an aura of punishment or "Doom" for them. So naturally this worked into their justice systems, which are human constructions.

Remember, Eru does not give anyone a moral or justice system to follow, nor does he announce any rules he has for his own conduct. All such systems are devices of his creatures, for dealing with life in Arda and in their societies. This hardly means they are "worthless"; they are extremely important in their context. But demanding that Eru be subject to one of these devised justice systems is taking it completely out of context.

The only promise, warning, or Doom Eru ever pronounces is that anyone who tries to rebel against him will not succeed, and that ultimately, rebellion itself is an illusion, since Eru's Will (IndˇmŰ, as I prefer to call it) is still being done through them. The evil of this "rebellion" is not that it works against Eru, but that it constitutes lying to oneself about successfully working against his Will.

(As an aside, these idea strongly hint to me that this mythology is not about a dualistic war of Good against Evil, with Good being the winner... someday. It's about learning. It's about moving from a state of ignorance to a state of enlightenment. It's about tearing down those comfortable illusions and self-deceptions and accepting the hard facts of IndˇmŰ. In the "Tale of Adanel", Eru tells Men that "eah of you in a little while shall come to me, to learn who is your Lord: the one ye worship, or I who made him" (my emphasis). People tend to forget that when the Children are deceived by Melkor, and when Melkor deceives himself, it is because they want that. Lies are so much easier to deal with than truth.)
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Old 01-17-2007, 04:46 PM   #74
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Originally Posted by Tar-Telperien

Remember, Eru does not give anyone a moral or justice system to follow, nor does he announce any rules he has for his own conduct. All such systems are devices of his creatures, for dealing with life in Arda and in their societies. This hardly means they are "worthless"; they are extremely important in their context. But demanding that Eru be subject to one of these devised justice systems is taking it completely out of context.
To understand this you (not you, but the reader in general of course) need to clearly separate out your own personal idea of God from what you read about Eru as the two are not compatible unless you happen to personally share Tolkien's view of Eru in your own conception of God. Of course God gave rules to people (if we take the notion that the Bible is the Word of God), but Eru does not. This is why it's important to take your own belief and put it into a little mental box while you consider how Eru works. I know I've had to, in order to understand Tolkien's literary creation. And while I personally find what Eru did to be bad within the bounds of my own morality, in the context of the world Tolkien writes about, it works.
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Old 01-17-2007, 04:52 PM   #75
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Originally Posted by LalwendŰ
To understand this you (not you, but the reader in general of course) need to clearly separate out your own personal idea of God from what you read about Eru as the two are not compatible unless you happen to personally share Tolkien's view of Eru in your own conception of God. Of course God gave rules to people (if we take the notion that the Bible is the Word of God), but Eru does not. This is why it's important to take your own belief and put it into a little mental box while you consider how Eru works. I know I've had to, in order to understand Tolkien's literary creation. And while I personally find what Eru did to be bad within the bounds of my own morality, in the context of the world Tolkien writes about, it works.
Exactly. This is to me why Eru is one of the most interesting conceptions in Tolkien's entire mythos. He seems like a humdrum monotheistic God on first inspection, but gradually you realize he is completely different.

I am not so sure that what Eru did with N˙menor is bad, when one looks at the alternatives. Would leaving "innocent women and children" alone with Sauron have been any better of a solution!?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Macalaure
TIf indeed Eru is beyond good and evil, then obviously it doesn't hold for him. But I doubt this. Like Břicho said, if Eru has no preference for good or evil and just is, then why does he care at all.
He cares because he made everything.

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Originally Posted by Macalaure
He created both good and evil beings, but he clearly seems to prefer the good side. So no matter if he was entirely good or also somewhat evil, the standards of good and evil should apply to himself as well.
I'm not so sure that's a conclusion we can make at all. He gave Melkor the most attention after Melkor's discord. Eru sternly but kindly warned Melkor before he did anything else discordant that he would be unsuccessful in any attempt to rebel against him, but did not punish him, reprimand him, or take away his freedom. He let him act just as he let the other Valar do. Eru did not command Melkor not to lord himself over the Children or mar Arda, no more than he warned ManwŰ.

The reason why it's tempting to say Eru "prefers" one side is because of the behavior of the creatures themselves. Naturally, if you are concerned about keeping close to what you believe Eru's design to be, you will converse with him more and try to determine that will for you. If you don't care what Eru might want, you're not going to do that. Melkor didn't for precisely that reason. He tried to forget Eru's existence because of the misfortune it had for his plans (namely, that he could not be the supreme power in Eń).
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Old 01-17-2007, 05:25 PM   #76
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Originally Posted by Tar-Telperien
Are you sure that that's not just humans' opinions? From the Athrabeth, it is made plain that Men, even the Edain, had fallen into a belief that Death was an "abominable" punishment brought on for evil deeds Men committed in their early history. There was almost no way they could find the strength of mind to look at it neutrally. It always carried an aura of punishment or "Doom" for them. So naturally this worked into their justice systems, which are human constructions.
Ah, I see I didn't make clear what I meant. Death itself is not evil, of course not. It's simply the fate of Men. Killing, however, is evil, unless the killed one is evil, because it violently severs hroa and fea, and this is not meant to be. There isn't even a difference between Elf, Man, Dwarf or whatever in this sense, I think.

Let's put it differently. Evil is defined as rebellion against Eru's will. Eru's will was so far that Men, or Incarnate Beings in general, shall not kill each other (again, only if innocent). Now Eru does kill innocent people. Does this now mean that Eru's will is inconsistent? Can Eru rebel against himself?
Just trying to understand this.

Quote:
I am not so sure that what Eru did with N˙menor is bad, when one looks at the alternatives. Would leaving "innocent women and children" alone with Sauron have been any better of a solution!?
I think Eru's goal in destroying N˙menor was to eliminate the evil/rebellion that spread from it. If we agree that he wasn't omnipotent (bear with me, but why isn't almighty=omnipotent?), then it's quite possible that he wasn't able to sort out the innocent and the guilty ones in the process. Leaving anybody to Sauron isn't even a real alternative, I'd say.
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Old 01-17-2007, 05:49 PM   #77
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Evil is defined as rebellion against Eru's will.
I define "evil" as the self-deception, and the effects that rise from it, of believing that such rebellion is even possible.

As for killing, it's wrong because it breaks the moral rule of: "what people can't re-create they shouldn't destroy without consent, because someone else might want it there" (the someone being that person's loved ones, etc.). The consent would be, of course, capital punishment, etc. But Eru is in the position of being able to create Incarnates, and so does not fall under this (again humanly-constructed) rule.

Also, killing falls under the Golden Rule of course. But since our "selves" are fundamentally different from Eru's "self", quite probably this social rule doesn't apply either. Also, if Eru didn't want "violent separation of hr÷a and fŰa to take place, obviously he would never have bothered to place Incarnates into Arda Marred! Obviously, then, this is a poor assumption. I would rather think that such separation is indeed part of IndˇmŰ. Either that or abandon estel altogether and not bother believing in Eru.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Macalaure
I think Eru's goal in destroying N˙menor was to eliminate the evil/rebellion that spread from it. If we agree that he wasn't omnipotent (bear with me, but why isn't almighty=omnipotent?), then it's quite possible that he wasn't able to sort out the innocent and the guilty ones in the process. Leaving anybody to Sauron isn't even a real alternative, I'd say.
My theory of the Downfall, which I have written and alluded to a few times above, is still that N˙menor's destruction was a secondary aspect of the Breaking of the World, and hardly the main reason for that Breaking. When we consider Eru in that context, we can either assume that Eru chose (if he is not a moral figure) to ignore that the island was there when he broke the world, since its inhabitants had chosen to ignore him. If he is a moral figure, the island was allowed to be caught in the destruction both because of the people's deeds, but also to deliver them (and their children!) from Sauron.

(Keep in mind that this is a very complex and many-sided issue, and I haven't thought about every aspect of it. There may well be holes in my argument/presentation.)

As to almightiness vs. omnipotence:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wikipedia, from the "omnipotence paradox" article
Y is almighty means that Y is not just more powerful than any creature; no creature can compete with Y in power, even unsuccessfully. In this account nothing like the omnipotence paradox arises, but perhaps that is because God is not taken to be in any sense omnipotent.
And that sounds exactly like Eru as he is presented in Tolkien's works: not stated to be omnipotent, but any attempt to rebel against him will in the end be unsuccessful.

Lastly, aside from the initial "miracle" of making a big crack in Arda, everything happened in accord with natural processes (the Faithful's escape may or may not have been the aid of the Valar). N˙menor fell down into the Sea because that was according to the laws of physics. Sauron survived the Downfall because his ability to do so was part of his natural spiritual potency. Since Eru mostly decided (or was constrained) to let the laws of physics take place, it's no mystery why the innocent died as well in the huge catastrophe.

But I still think people's problem with this is to make Eru equal to God in their minds. Eru nowhere calls himself "good", "moral", or "right" that I know of, so he is not constrained to play nice. Eru is Sternness. That's the only attribute I've ever been able to ascribe to him consistently, anyway.
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Old 01-18-2007, 03:50 AM   #78
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Legate of Amon Lanc is wading through the Dead Marshes.Legate of Amon Lanc is wading through the Dead Marshes.Legate of Amon Lanc is wading through the Dead Marshes.Legate of Amon Lanc is wading through the Dead Marshes.Legate of Amon Lanc is wading through the Dead Marshes.Legate of Amon Lanc is wading through the Dead Marshes.
Silmaril

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tar-Telperien
(the Faithful's escape may or may not have been the aid of the Valar).
I don't feel like adding any long posts now, so I'll just add a little bit of my knowledge to this, because I remember it being written there:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Akallabeth
But whether or no it were that Amandil came indeed to Valinor and ManwŰ hearkened to his prayer, by grace of the Valar Elendil and his sons and their people were spared from the ruin of that day.
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"But it is not your own Shire," said Gildor. "Others dwelt here before hobbits were; and others will dwell here again when hobbits are no more. The wide world is all about you: you can fence yourselves in, but you cannot for ever fence it out."
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Old 01-18-2007, 07:30 AM   #79
Bŕthberry
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Bŕthberry is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.Bŕthberry is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.Bŕthberry is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.
Other than Gandalf's words to Frodo about pity and staying his hand against Gollem, which, in terms of the chronology of the Legendarium, come much later than the Akallabeth, where in Middle-earth is there a specific commandment against killing?
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Old 01-18-2007, 09:21 PM   #80
littlemanpoet
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littlemanpoet is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.littlemanpoet is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
There is much to respond to and I haven't the time right now. However, this much I have time to respond to now:

Quote:
Originally Posted by LalwendŰ
Problems only arise when we try to get our heads around the nature of what we read in Tolkien's stories.
On the contrary. Problems only arise when we fail to account for all the facts in the text. For example, an emphasis on "no theme may be played that hath not its uttermost source in me" while ignoring "There was Eru, the One, who in Arda is called Il˙vatar; and he made first the Ainur, the Holy Ones, that were the offspring of his thought".

'Holy' means 'pure'. Perfect. Flawless. In the beginning even Melkor was holy. Thus, evil, in the AinulindalŰ, is equal to 'flawed'.

Also, "Nothing is evil in the beginning. Not even Sauron was so." Elrond is one of Tolkien's primary truth tellers. He cannot be wrong without doing violence to the story of LotR.

Therefore, evil cannot have its origins in Eru. And "Melkor was filled with shame, of which came secret anger" - - if Melkor is filled with shame, how can it be that Eru is responsible for Melkor's rebellion? If Eru is responsible for Melkor's rebellion, then Melkor would have no reason for shame.

So account for ALL the text.
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