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Old 07-07-2005, 03:02 AM   #1
daeron
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Tolkien-founder of new religion?

I was browsing through some old threads when I came upon the one discussing the new found "hobbit" species in South Asia. ( I really hope some underwater archeological expedition digs up Glorfindel's grave. That would be an eye opener!) Well, that set me thinking.

Some of my friends, well educated class, seem to believe in epics (Indian especially, I am one) being reality and seem to believe that giants existed at one time, and that too commonly among our species (one gave me a reference of a character being 12 feet tall ). He says that is how the pyramids were built. I have to tell you that Indian epics are very closely associated with the Hindu religion. (Can someone give me proper proofs of existance of giants?)

I, personally am an atheist and possibly one of the biggest critics. My belief is that these epics, if they did describe events of that age of the world were glorified hugely as they were passed down to us. They were after all transferred mouth to mouth for long time and could easily have been modified. I heard that was the case even with the Bible. (And I am not talking of Da Vinci code.)

Sorry for that into if it hurt someone's feelings. But here is what I meant to say. Can Tolkien's ideas be started into a new religion? You might say it basically follows Christianity but the basic plot outline is same for quite a lot of religions.
Imagine if some day people look back to our time, to Tolkien as the "prophet" and discover proofs of religious cults named barrowdowns and so on. If we can find sufficient number of followers to start with, I believe it is possible. I don't mean it to happen. I have enough with religions. But is that not how they started? Powerful ones showing proofs of stuff , like the "hobbit people" and sway others. I guess Tolkien's world has enough stuff on Gods, Demons and Others. Well, if you believe in one, why not in the other?
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Old 07-07-2005, 12:51 PM   #2
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Tolkien's works have been 'adopted' by a number of 'Pagan' writers (see here

There are a couple of tarot decks based on LotR, & I know of at least one book, The Magical World of JRR Tolkien, by Gareth Knight, which delves into the symbolism of the Legendarium & includes a 'magical' Ritual.

I realise that none of this answers your question, but I think maybe it shows that the tendency to approach Tolkien's writings from a 'religious/spiritual' viewpoint has already begun.
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Old 07-07-2005, 02:02 PM   #3
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There is alot of religion in Tolkien's works. I mean, he has gods and demi-gods and stuff. I could definatly see some extremist sorts taking that stuff seriously, although I doubt that any religion based on Tolkien will become more than a cult. People are very critical nowadays, and I don't think many would follow a religion based on a purely fictional story.

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They were after all transferred mouth to mouth for long time and could easily have been modified. I heard that was the case even with the Bible.
Hmm, I read that the Bible is actually one of the most accurate books from ancient times. When they wrote it down, the writters would have to check every word, every letter. People would copy it down and then someone else would check it. If there was a different number of letters they would have to re-write it all over again. They would also only copy from the original copy, never from copies.

Also, just looking at the earliest copy we have now in comparison to when it was written, there is only a few hundred years for most of the new testament books. There is a much bigger space between other ancient writtings, think plato, stuff like that. Funnily, I've never heard anyone complain about the accuracy of those documents.
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Old 07-07-2005, 02:20 PM   #4
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There are some differences between LotR and the Bible (surprisingly, ). Tolkien's work was published, was put into print, and though there have been some small differences with edited, 'new' versions, his work has pretty much been set in stone from the beginning. The Bible has had a different evolution, being translated from many other languages into the form it takes today, so much that was originally there may have been 'lost in translation'. We also have to take into account that even though scribes aimed to be faithful in what they copied, they often worked under a system of patronage and may have been required to excise unpalatable elements, according to their sponsors.

Three of the four gospels apparently are drawn from one source, which I was taught was known as 'Q', John is the exception. But Matthew, Mark and Luke were all written for different audiences. Imagine if LotR had evolved in this way. Though it does beg the question of whether, in future years, the author could be lost, and differing versions (the 10th film version, the 15th cartoon version, the sit-com, the soap, whatever the imagination may conjour up...) may dilute the original.

This is a world which in many cases is more secular, and we see people seriously calling themsleves Jedi Knights or Vampires or reincarnations of Cleopatra, so the idea of Tolkien's work forming the basis of a faith is not entirely off the wall.
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Old 07-07-2005, 08:01 PM   #5
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Well Arwen, I didn't mean the Bible was modified along the centuries.
I meant, it was written to suit prefrences (in the 3rd century of so, by the church), but here is not the place to discuss it.

What I wanted was whether illiterate and ignorant can be swayed by a "Tolkienian Bible" which is quite complete with Genisis and all?
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Old 07-08-2005, 09:17 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daeron
What I wanted was whether illiterate and ignorant can be swayed by a "Tolkienian Bible" which is quite complete with Genisis and all?
I doubt it. The real Bible is (allegedly, anyway) written by holy men and priests and Moses and the such. Plus it has a few thousand years of history behind it.

Tolkien, on the other hand, was quite definitely a man who lived in the 20th Century. He doesn't claim to have been influenced by a Holy Spirit either. When the author himself maintains that his work is one of fiction, I cannot see anybody hijacking it and using it as an actual account of the past.

You speak also of the illiterate and the ignorant. Neither of these groups would be reading Tolkien, and to have it read to them, they would need to seek the literate, who would be able to explain the fictional nature of the books.

Oh, and welcome to the Downs. It's most pleasing to see a man from the motherland here.
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Old 07-08-2005, 11:13 AM   #7
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Odd -- I always thought of Catholicism as a rather well-established religion, not a new one at all...
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Old 07-08-2005, 01:39 PM   #8
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A new religion? Egad! I hope not!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lalwendë
The Bible has had a different evolution, being translated from many other languages into the form it takes today, so much that was originally there may have been 'lost in translation'. We also have to take into account that even though scribes aimed to be faithful in what they copied, they often worked under a system of patronage and may have been required to excise unpalatable elements, according to their sponsors.

Three of the four gospels apparently are drawn from one source, which I was taught was known as 'Q', John is the exception. But Matthew, Mark and Luke were all written for different audiences..
That's why we have a little something called Infallibility
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Old 07-08-2005, 01:55 PM   #9
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Personally, as I may have stated elsewhere, I kind of like the 'religion' as inferred from LOTR and the Sil.

And note that the small 'hobbit' people that were found have a biological explanation. Something to do with minimizing energy output and lack of space.

Anyway, regarding Tolkien becoming a religion, I would say that it is possible though probably not going to happen. However, I've seen the beginnings of another religion based on pop art, and so cannot rule out the possibility.

Ever been to Graceland? For those of you unfamiliar with the name, it is the former home of Elvis Presley. I visited the place once, as also once I'd gone to a Star Trek convention, as I just wanted to be able to gauge how nuts I was. (note that I 'liked' Elvis, but when I found out that my old boss absolutely hated Elvis, I went in to 'love' mode just to be ornery ).

And I thought that I was a geek until I went to the Star Trek convention...

Anyway, what struck me when visiting Graceland was not the gaudiness of the place, but that I was in the presence of some true believers, and so I put my satire back in my pocket and was careful about what I said and did for fear of being assaulted. One person actually cried when viewing Elvis' gravestone, while another left a paper note on the same. Every inch of the wall that surrounds the place is etched with a message. This includes the sidewalk and public phone booth.

Have read that people have gotten married in the name of Elvis.

Who knows what it will all look like 100/1000 years from now...
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Old 07-08-2005, 06:30 PM   #10
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I bow down and pray to Tolkien five times a day, don't you?

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Odd -- I always thought of Catholicism as a rather well-established religion, not a new one at all...
In the name of the Valar and the Maiar and the Istari, Amen? *awaits a lightening bolt*

Quote:
What I wanted was whether illiterate and ignorant can be swayed by a "Tolkienian Bible" which is quite complete with Genisis and all?
What about the 'literate' and 'learned'?

Last edited by Durelin; 07-08-2005 at 06:30 PM. Reason: one line too many
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Old 07-08-2005, 08:37 PM   #11
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I was talking about the literate and power hungry swaying the illiterate and ignorant. That has been going on for centuries. If any of you have the time, get to know a bit about Indian (probably a few other Asian as well) religion and most importantly, the caste system, through which the 'learned' have always oppressed the so called lower classes, but actually, the poor and ignorant in the name of God.

And yes, the Bible was written somewhere around the third century, or atleast throughly revised, not by Moses.( He was too busy to sit down and write the whole thing)
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Old 07-08-2005, 08:51 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daeron
Well Arwen, I didn't mean the Bible was modified along the centuries.
I meant, it was written to suit prefrences (in the 3rd century of so, by the church), but here is not the place to discuss it.
Compiled. Not written.
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Old 07-09-2005, 05:21 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daeron
And yes, the Bible was written somewhere around the third century, or atleast throughly revised, not by Moses.( He was too busy to sit down and write the whole thing)
Hehe. According to my Christian mateys, Moses only wrote one or two chapters of the Bible (or was it 5?). In any case, this certainly isn't the place to be arguing about the Truth in Christianity or other faiths, there's plenty of other places to discuss that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by daeron
I was talking about the literate and power hungry swaying the illiterate and ignorant. That has been going on for centuries. If any of you have the time, get to know a bit about Indian (probably a few other Asian as well) religion and most importantly, the caste system, through which the 'learned' have always oppressed the so called lower classes, but actually, the poor and ignorant in the name of God.
Agreed, the caste system is wrong, but again, I don't think this is the place to discuss the failings of Hinduism or any other religion.

Now to the question at hand: could the literate and power hungry sway the illiterate and ignorant into believing in Tolkien?

Certainly not in the More Economically Developed (MED) World, where literacy is commonplace.

In the Less Economically Developed (LED) World, why would they want to? They have established religion, so they wouldn't need to introduce Tolkien to keep people under their sway. Moreover, why Tolkien? There are so mant established religions, why introduce a new one?

I don't see why anybody would introduce Tolkien for religious purposes in the present day. I find it unlikely in the future, post-apocalyptic world too.
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Old 07-09-2005, 05:56 AM   #14
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I didn't mean someone would or should in the present day. I meant, would 'Eruism' work just as good as any other if it had been started in the past, if Tolkien had existed in Homer's time? Today's "hobbit folk" fossils would supply a fine vindication.
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Old 07-10-2005, 07:36 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alatar
And note that the small 'hobbit' people that were found have a biological explanation. Something to do with minimizing energy output and lack of space.
Whoa! That's sent me off on a mad train of thought. Maybe living on an island and being isolated from Europe explains the strangeness of us British people then? Does this mean that other groups who live tightly packed on islands might suddenly 'adapt' to their environments? We could see genetic mutations in people living on Manhattan or in Hong Kong, people suddenly becoming smaller because they have less space to live in. What about The Shire and the Hobbits? Did they grow larger because they had more room after the War of the Ring?

Quote:
Originally Posted by tgwbs
Now to the question at hand: could the literate and power hungry sway the illiterate and ignorant into believing in Tolkien?
Thinking about this brought to mind what happened when missionaries went to convert people living in isolated areas. Apparently in a lot of African communities native beliefs have become closely linked to Christian beliefs and this is still strongly evident today. There was recently a case where a girl had been tortured as her family believed she was a 'witch'. Reading more about this, it seems there are quite a few churches in the community which have incorporated their fear of witches and demons into their Christianity. In this unfortunate case it lead to torture. Historically, Christianity has always incorporated older beliefs as a way of getting people to convert. Just one example of evidence is that the festivals of Christmas, Easter, Harvest and All Souls are concurrent with pre-existing pagan festivals.

In many if not most cases, missionaries have been the literate and more powerful people in instances of conversion, and while the former pagans/heathens (however you wish to word it) were not necessarily ignorant, they often lacked the power that the missionaries had. In some cases conversion brought benefits to people but in others it has not, it has only exposed them to the vagaries of the wider world. Conversion has not always been carried out simply by spreading the gospel, sometimes it has been done in conjunction with bringing wonders like running water or electricity, and whether this was intentional or done through the kindness of said missionaries, it definitely had an effect in getting people to listen to the missionaries. So I would assume that the same could be done with any belief?

I have to add, it is not just missionaries who have used this tactic, so I'm not 'picking on them'. It was also used by the great explorers I admire, bringing guns to distant lands in order to gain friendship and ultimately territories for Western rulers. The difference would be that who would benefit by seeking to convert anyone to Tolkienism/Eruisn? Tolkien is popular, just as is Elvis or Star Trek, but his 'word' is not dominant, so why would anyone seek to try?

I hope that made any sense, I've a fever so I'm a bit 'eyuw' in my head right now.
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Old 07-10-2005, 09:47 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lalwendë
Historically, Christianity has always incorporated older beliefs as a way of getting people to convert. Just one example of evidence is that the festivals of Christmas, Easter, Harvest and All Souls are concurrent with pre-existing pagan festivals.
Of course, if one wishes to apply a sceptical point of view, one could take this cynical position cart blanche. And I am sure that such thoughts were undoubtedly on the minds of some Church Fathers at the time (for most of the similarities, the third century), human nature being what it is.

However, there is also another perspective, one that likely Tolkien himself was quite well aware of. It is the idea that, first of all, the human instinct for ritual finds a similarity of symbol in light, water, song, procession, and, second, that for true believers, evidence of God's grace has touched all human life, even in religions founded before Christ. Where elements of paganism were not found congruent with Christianity, they were not adapted or assumed. But where they were found similar, they were kept.

Such an attitude represents the idea of the universal applicability of symbols and acts. Given how Tolkien set Middle earth in a pre-Christian era but loaded LotR with events, objects, ideas and persons with many similarities to his faith--such as lembas--I would think that he likely held this belief rather than the more cynical one of "getting people to convert." Of course, I don't doubt that one person could in fact hold both perspectives simultaneously, for revealed religion obviously raises this problem of what to do about people who pre-dated the revelation. But I think it should at least be acknowledged that there could be sincerity of belief in the applicability of some pagan symbols and events.
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Old 07-10-2005, 01:04 PM   #17
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Silmaril A bit of history...

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Originally Posted by daeron
(Can someone give me proper proofs of existance of giants?)
No, but I can give you evidence that disputes your friend's theory about giants building the pyramids if you so desire.

Anyway, onto the subject at hand, I am sure that by now a lot of you have heard about the Church of Scientology, established by L. Ron Hubbard in 1951. Some people consider this religion to be just a cult, others think that it is on its way to becoming an established religion. I will not give my opinion either way, since that's not important to the discussion. Anyway, the church currently reports that they have over eight million followers with over 3,000 churches and missionaries set up in over 120 countries - this is no small little organization.

If you look at the biography of Lafayette Ronald Hubbard, he was primarily known for his Science Fiction writing. He also wrote mysteries, westerns and adventures. Therefore, this church was created by a man who wrote mostly science fiction novels - among other types of fiction. He wrote down his own philosophy on life - about everything from one's being as a Thetan to the Eight Dynamics to the use of E-meters - and published these ideas. Needless to say, the ideas caught on - and with Tom Cruise's devotion to the religion, it's picking up popularity through its exposure in the media.

On the other hand, J.R.R. Tolkien himself was a devoted Catholic. I think that Hubbard's desire to create a religion as opposed to Tolkien's motives divides the two. Historically, it was not until 313 CE, when Licinius, coemperor to Constantine, issued what was known as the Edict of Milan, which officially outlawed religious persecution of any sort, thus ending the persecution of Christians as well. Constantine was the first Holy Roman Emperor - the first that declared Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire. This was during the 330's, shortly before he passed away. Before this time, you do get religious relics and artwork devoted to Christianity, but many these were hidden in the form of what would be thought by Romans to be pagan images. Take, for example, the Mosaic of Jesus in his sun chariot - most of the people who would have executed the Christians for their beliefs would have interpreted this image as one of Roman devotion - one portraying the sun god. You do, however, get some images, such as the sarcophagus of Junius Bassus, which depict Christian imagery. Actually, these are the best examples of typological exegesis that you can get as well.

In his original creation of The Silmarillion, Tolkien said, as cited in his letter to Milton Waldman in 1951 (it's in the forward of my copy of The Sil):

Quote:
I am not 'learned' in the matters of myth and fairy-story, however, for in such things (as far as known to me) I have always been seeking material, things of a certain tone and air, and not simple knowledge. Also - and here I hope I shall not sound absurd - I was from early days grieved by the poverty of my own beloved country: it had no stories of its own (bound up with its tongue and soil), not of the quality that I sought, and found (as an ingredient) in legends of other lands. There was Greek, and Celtic, and Romance, Germanic, Scandinavian, and Finnish (which greatly affected me); but nothing English, save impoverished chap-book stuff. Of course there was and is all the Arthurian world, but powerful as it is, it is imperfectly naturalized, associated with the soil of Britain, but not with English; and does not replace what I felt to be missing. For one thing its 'faerie' is too lavish, and fantastical, incoherent and repetitive. For another and more important thing: it is involved in, and explicitly contains the Christian religion.

For religion which I will not elaborate, that seems to me fatal. Myth and fairy-story must, as all art, reflect and contain in solution elements of moral and religious truth (or error), but not explicit, not in the known form or the primary 'real' world.

...

But once upon a time (my crest has long since fallen) I had a mind to make a body of more or less connected legend, ranging from the largh and cosmogonic, to the level of romantic fairy-story - the larger founded on the lesser in contact with the earth, the lesser drawing splendour from the vast backcloths - which I could dedicate simply to: England; to my country.

...

Of course, such an overweening purpose did not develop all at once. The mere stories were the thing. They arose in my mind as 'given' things, and as they came, separately, so too the links grew. An absorbing, though continually interrupted labour (...): yet always I had the sense of recording what was already 'there', somewhere: not of 'inventing'.
And, if you want to read the rest - a lot of which relates to this very question of religion - an invention of a mythology to make up for where Tolkien feeled that one was lacking - I suggest you find the letter. Rereading it to find the quotes I used, I realized that the whole letter basically addresses the "why" behind the creation of The Silmarillion - in essence what one would most likely consider to be Tolkien's Bible, if one were of such a mind.

While I deeply believe Tolkien did not intend for his creation to effect a religious movement, he did seem to have a desire to create a mythology of sorts - a creation that tied to his own land, bringing in the essential elements of what little mythology they did have and calling on the complex mythology of the Finnish, Norse and others to inspire him. As he said, he felt almost as though he was recording what already existed, rather than making it up out of nowhere. I think this calls on the "magic" that many feels resides in Earth - that there is a heroic faerie/fantasy story tied to every land, whether true or not. It calls upon the human desire to believe in the supernatural - to believe that there are things beyond the scientific and even the dogmatic religious. So, believe what you will - it seems to be in human nature to believe in a "greater" - to want to believe in Elves, Giants, Dragons, in eras of mystery and magic, especially in such an industrial, scientific world. I don't believe I am myself in a position to dictate what is "true" and what is not, having lived only eighteen years (but then again, is anyone really in a position to say for sure what is real?), but everyone has a right to carry beliefs that can sustain them in the world.
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Old 07-10-2005, 09:12 PM   #18
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Quote:
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Whoa! That's sent me off on a mad train of thought. Maybe living on an island and being isolated from Europe explains the strangeness of us British people then? Does this mean that other groups who live tightly packed on islands might suddenly 'adapt' to their environments? We could see genetic mutations in people living on Manhattan or in Hong Kong, people suddenly becoming smaller because they have less space to live in.
Lalwendë, this 'Merican did not mean to imply that the island on which you live would somehow shorten your or your fellow islanders' stature. One must also take into account that the British Isles, being the tropical paradises that they are, would obviously produce such fresh produce (i.e. mangos, bananas, pineapples, etc) which, when coupled with all of that sunshine and surfing, would tend to stave off the shortening effects that islands obviously produce.

And one day, when your homogenously-populated island receives visitors from the outside world, whether by boat (those things that float on water [not witches!]) and/or by airplane (those shiny bird-looking things), some 'tall' genes are bound to get through and help out.

I think what the link and I were trying to point out is that on an island, resources are more limited. If, for a species that is large on a big island (like a continent), there is no reason to be 'large,' like to ward off predators or to appear in a Peter Jackson movie, then a species may tend to become smaller over time, thereby increasing the number of unique individuals that can live on the same limited resource.

Wasn't there a book by the name, "It Takes an Island to Feed a Mumakil"? And just what would this one mumakil do after it sacked the one city and stomped the one horse on the island? Two mumakil would starve...but if they got smaller, like the size of rats...hmmm.

P.S. Hope that your fever has come down.

And regarding giants and pyramids...please!

Just why can't we allow that ordinary people can build extraordinary things? It's always giants or space aliens or some super-advanced society that mysteriously sunk under the sea (all of which conveniently leave no traces, yet there's all of these ordinary tools that ordinary humans could have used to construct a pyramid laying about. It's obviously a conspiracy!). You, yes you, could build the pyramids. Sure, it would take a little know-how, a little time and effort and most likely a little more help than just your close friends, but it could be done.

If you are great at sales, have a high charisma score or happen to be the leader with a large and compliant following, you could actually have people build a pyramid for you - and if you sell it right, the builders may even pay you to participate.

Anyway, all for now and I'll try to get back on thread in the morning.
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Old 07-10-2005, 11:47 PM   #19
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Exactly Alatar! Are people who support such absurd notions saying mankind is not capable of achieving what they have without "external" help? Come on people, have faith in yourselves. People should read or watch "Asterix and Cleopatra". I gives a good picture of how they were constucted (the part without the Gauls' help of course).

As to giants, the pharohs skeletons don't seem gigantic and I don't think a pack of giants would accept a puny guy as their boss. They were normal human beings after all (normal???) . But I would still like to find Glorfindel's grave on the ocean bed someday.
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Old 07-11-2005, 06:47 AM   #20
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A Tolkien religion? Interesting. As a reader and a writer I respect Tolkien's ability to create believable worlds and books. Tolkien undoubtedly had a amazing imagination! But lets think about it, Tolkien was a fictional writer. Lord of the Rings, though it's a masterpiece in literary fiction, was a fictional story. I myself am a Lord of the Rings fan (obviously). I sometimes allow myself to get lost in the LOTR world as a distraction and break from the real world. I never associate the two (LOTR world and real world). If you believe the Lord of the Rings books are real, might as well believe Star Wars actually happened, or that Star Trek was filmed by a camera sent into the future and back. Tolkien was an Atheist himself, one of his best friends was writer C. S. Lewis. Supposedly he and C. S. Lewis were both fans of the Fantasy Fiction Genre, there books are similar in many ways. When I first read the Simarillion and the LOTR books, they reminded me of Allegories. But having said he hated Allegories, Tolkien obviously did not consciously write his book as an allegory. C. S. Lewis however did write several Allegories books, the Chronicles of Narnia for example. To get back on the subject, a Tolkien religion based on his fictional books would not make any since to me. And as far as I know, there is more scientific proof for the Bible then for the LOTR books. And if your going to believe that they have actually found hobbits on that island, then you might as well believe in the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot, or aliens from outer space. I do not mean to offend with any of these words. I like Lord of the Rings! But it's a fictional story, not a religion!
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Old 07-11-2005, 07:06 AM   #21
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Tolkien an atheist???? News to me. I always thought and everyone always said he was a pure Christian ( I wonder if the word hardcore is appropriate in this context. Maybe orthodox.)

Tolkien's idea was fictional. No arguments. But this is just a hypothetical theory. Anyways I would like to see the scientific proofs for Christianity.

Thirdly, the hobbit version of homo sapien was discovered in south asian islands. No one is saying they are hobbits. Tolkien didn't even know them. They were found at the start of this year probably. But they can be used to "frame evidence".

Star Wars and Star Trek are not convincing enough as religions but do you think really ignorant people won't fall for "from the future" or " aliens from outer space".
Heck, even quite literate people are foolish enough to believe that stuff. You can see that from the number of "UFO sightings." Tolkien, on the other hand plots a convincing outline for a religion, being consistent with quite a few of the religions around the world, creation, Mythical creatures, etc..
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Old 07-11-2005, 07:17 AM   #22
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Tolkien was definitely not an atheist - he was a Catholic Christian and very dedicated to his faith. There are a number of threads dedicated to the religious content of his writings - those who are interested can search for key words such as "Christianity", "religion", etc.
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Old 07-11-2005, 09:29 AM   #23
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Excuse me. I was basing my fact that Tolkien is an Atheist on the National Geographic I saw on Lord of the Rings. No one can truly know his heart or his true 'Religion'. None except God .C. S. Lewis however was said to be a Catholic who came to know Christ, thus making him a Christian. Or 'Catholic Christian'. Possibly you (or you all) are making the mistake of mixing the two (C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien) religions up? I myself am a Believer in Christ. I am a Christian. So I do detect the similarities between Tolkien's books and the Bible. That's why I said the LOTR books sound like an Allegory! As for evidence for Christianity. All the Bible fits in with geographic occurrences and happenings in the past...
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Old 07-11-2005, 09:36 AM   #24
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This is what you will find under "religion" in the Oxford English Dictionary:

Quote:
1. a. A state of life bound by monastic vows; the condition of one who is a member of a religious order, esp. in the Roman Catholic Church.

b. man, etc. of religion, one bound by monastic vows or in holy orders. Obs.

c. house, etc. of religion, a religious house, a monastery or nunnery. Obs.

2. a. A particular monastic or religious order or rule; a religious house. Now rare.

b. collect. People of religion. Obs.

c. A member of a religious order. Obs.

3. a. Action or conduct indicating a belief in, reverence for, and desire to please, a divine ruling power; the exercise or practice of rites or observances implying this. Also pl., religious rites. Now rare, exc. as implied in 5.

b. A religious duty or obligation. Obs.

4. a. A particular system of faith and worship.

b. the Religion [after F.]: the Reformed Religion, Protestantism. Obs.

c. religion of nature: the worship of Nature in place of a more formal system of religious belief.

5. a. Recognition on the part of man of some higher unseen power as having control of his destiny, and as being entitled to obedience, reverence, and worship; the general mental and moral attitude resulting from this belief, with reference to its effect upon the individual or the community; personal or general acceptance of this feeling as a standard of spiritual and practical life.

b. to get religion: see GET v. 12d.

c. Awe, dread. Obs. rare1.

6. transf. a. Devotion to some principle; strict fidelity or faithfulness; conscientiousness; pious affection or attachment. Obs.

b. In phr. to make (a) religion of or to make (it) religion to, to make a point of, to be scrupulously careful (not) to do something.

7. The religious sanction or obligation of an oath, etc. Obs.

8. attrib. and Comb., as religion-complex, -dresser, -game, -making, -mender, -monger, -shop; religion-arousing, -infectious, -masked, -raptured adjs.; religion man = sense 1b.
Of all these the only sense in which I think we can claim that Tolkien has 'founded' a religion would be number 6 insofar as many people (and I'd posit everyone here) approach Tolkien's writings very much in that way: "Devotion to some principle; strict fidelity or faithfulness; conscientiousness; pious affection or attachment." But this definition depends upon the act of the reader and not of the writer at all -- Tolkien's world and vision has been made into a 'kind' of religion (and only in the loosest sense) by others....

So you see, it really is all up to the reader after all!
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Old 07-11-2005, 09:44 AM   #25
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Turgon - I never saw said National Geographic program. However, I do know, based on biographies, that Tolkien was through and through a Catholic. He was, in fact, the one that truly introduced C.S. Lewis to Catholicism. If you do any search on Google, you will find that Tolkien called himself a Catholic. I did just one, and there were many, many articles that discuss his religion.

Now that I know what National Geographic says, however, I'm certainly going to think more than twice about believing anything they say in the future...

And Fordim - I think we all agreed that it was, in fact, up to the reader. There are many religions out there that were begun unbeknownst to the "creator." The founder of the religion died, and only after he died did people begin to examine his personal philosophy or the philosophy created through literature. My argument was more whether Tolkien would have wanted people to take the mythology he created and form a religion around it, or whether he would argue that we entirely missed the point.

I know that things can come from writing that the writers don't intend - so many times critics and reviewers will comment on a certain piece of writing and examine an element or symbol in it that the author never intended to exist. Does that mean that it does not exist or that it has just transcended - that it has been taken out of the author's hands and put into the public's to make of it what they will?
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Old 07-11-2005, 10:24 AM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Turgon Philip Noldor
C. S. Lewis however was said to be a Catholic who came to know Christ, thus making him a Christian.
Someone really mixed up facts there! C. S. Lewis was at one time an agnostic, though never an atheist, and at the time of his life when he was turning toward belief in God, came to a personal faith in Christ, in part at least through his long talks with Tolkien. He was, however, always a Protestant and disagreed with Tolkien, who was firm in his Catholic faith. Both were, as you can see, Christians, but of differing denominations.
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Old 07-11-2005, 10:38 AM   #27
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All National Geographic aside, both Tolkien's and Lewis' faith are evident in their writing.

Tolkien was/is not a founder of a new religion, but the follower of a very old one. And, as an author, his religion became a part of his writing. You can't found a religion when one's already there.

The word catholic means 'universal'. Thus it can encompass all, and I think Tolkien's work can encompass all religions. So...it's up to the reader.

But Fordim pretty much said that...
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Old 07-11-2005, 02:08 PM   #28
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What would a religion based on Tolkien's works look like? What would the doctine and dogma be?

Would it be to 'live in the ways of Iluvatar' as shown by Saint Gandalf, Saint Aragorn, Saint Frodo, etc in order to avoid being sent to the...well...Void? What would the structure be - centralized or more dispersed? Is there a 'priesthood' or some other ranking of adherents, or can anyone 'speak first.' Would there be associated rituals - note that a ritual may portray an event with some significance, and somewhere down the timeline take on a completely new or different meaning.

Would the true believer have to make some kind of journey to a volcano, and throw a ring into it ("By the grace granted by Iluvatar I cast this Ring into the Fire")? Would there be some ritual where the priest points a dagger at the heart of the supplicant, who then calls on Elbereth Gilthoniel, thereby 'turning' the power of the blade away from his/her heart?

Would the Ring be a good icon?

And of course we could have a schism (most probably over Balrog's wings).
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Old 07-11-2005, 03:18 PM   #29
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Silmaril Hypothetically (and facetiously) speaking, of course...

Quote:
Originally Posted by alatar
What would a religion based on Tolkien's works look like? What would the doctine and dogma be?
Well, considering that the major text would probably be The Silmarillion and therefore thinking about what that book discusses, it would probably be a fairly open religion. As Tolkien discusses in the letter I quoted before, he wanted to create stories that had a balance of story-telling/history and morality. Therefore, if you look at the text, it is not steeped with morality, but there is a definite hint at kindness and charity being desirable, while greed and betrayal are wrong. There is a definite sense of family values, of loyalty and the like. At the same time, there is no strict set of infallible rules - such as the Ten Commandments. One would more use the actions of people such as Luthien, Feanor and the like to guide them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by alatar
Would it be to 'live in the ways of Iluvatar' as shown by Saint Gandalf, Saint Aragorn, Saint Frodo, etc in order to avoid being sent to the...well...Void? What would the structure be - centralized or more dispersed? Is there a 'priesthood' or some other ranking of adherents, or can anyone 'speak first.' Would there be associated rituals - note that a ritual may portray an event with some significance, and somewhere down the timeline take on a completely new or different meaning.
There does not seem to be a definite punishment for mortals who are not deemed to be "good" and "benevolent". I suppose they could be threatened with not finding their kin in the Halls of Mandos - being forced to wait for all eternity to be reunited. And stories, such as that of Frodo, Gandalf, Aragorn, and Sam, would probably be used a parables - for perseverence, responsibility, humility, greatness, etc. I would think that the worship would be more dispersed - the religion strikes me to be more of a "way of life" type of religion than one with strict doctrine and guidelines for behavior. There would be respect and loyalty to one another - an acknowledgement of a shared belief, but probably not devotion outside of celebration of holidays. Judging by the types of rituals we see in the books, "holidays" would probably be more joyous events - celebrating the vanquishing of evil or the triumph of true love. Hobbits would be treasured as pure beings, so people would probably strive to be far more like them. Therefore, since I'm 5'10" (1.778 m), I'd be out of the question for worship. ;-)

Quote:
Originally Posted by alatar
Would the true believer have to make some kind of journey to a volcano, and throw a ring into it ("By the grace granted by Iluvatar I cast this Ring into the Fire")? Would there be some ritual where the priest points a dagger at the heart of the supplicant, who then calls on Elbereth Gilthoniel, thereby 'turning' the power of the blade away from his/her heart?
Probably would not be a bad idea. Spiders would probably also be considered an omen of evil. But the journey would be a joyous one - full of hope and companionship.

Quote:
Originally Posted by alatar
Would the Ring be a good icon?
Imagine the rappers decked out in bling - instead of a large, diamond-encrusted cross, a large platinum ring with ruby Tengwar characters on it? Wouldn't that be far classier?

Quote:
Originally Posted by alatar
And of course we could have a schism (most probably over Balrog's wings).
And Legolas' hair color. The Lychmorn Tolkienites and the Lychglaur Tolkienites.
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Old 07-11-2005, 03:39 PM   #30
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Its something I've wondered myself -whether at soem point in the future, say a post apocalyptic world - only Tolkien's books were to be found - all other religions have been forgotten - would people latch onto them & take them as 'fact'?

Tolkien kind of plays with the idea of them being discovered to be 'real' historical accounts in his time travel stories - Lost Road & Notion Club Papers. What he didn't explore was the effect that would have had on the world. If the historical account were proven to be true, wouldn't that have given more weight to the mythical & religious accounts in the stories? What I'm asking is whether (in the 'secondary world' of those stories wouldn't he have ended up with his characters coming into conflict with established religions like Christianity?

For obvious reasons (few people have read those stories) this question hasn't arisen, but I think its interesting to speculate on the effect of tying in the mythology to the primary world - what would have been the result of the English actually adopting teh mythology he wanted to provide them with - would they have taken it as a challenge to Christianity, & if not, how would they have tied it in with Christianity?

The other interesting area of exploration is Tolkien's own use of his mythology & the way he related it to the primary world - in the letters he refers to certain people as 'Orcs' & seems to use 'Sauron' interchangeably with Satan. Its as if his mythology became conflated in his mind with his Catholicism. Did that affect his understanding of his religion, or did his religion affect his understanding of his mythology?

Of course, the latter is assumed to be the case, but was there some kind of 'feedback' loop, so that, in fact he had produced a 'third' belief for himself, made up of a combination of his own creation & his avowed religion? And would that 'Third Way' work for anyone else?
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Old 07-11-2005, 10:59 PM   #31
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Turgon, the Bible says the earth is less than 10.000 years old. We have fossil evidence dating to older times. Then what geographic evidinces are you talking about.

Of courses there have been floods all over the world, and maybe ice age receding might be a common flood witnessed worldwide, but people have lived through (not only Noah), and can't they frame fictional stories basing upon such natural calmities. Can't fictional work be designed on history and geography to make it sound true. People have always wanted some supernatural, all powerful being to blame things on, to relieve themselves and they devised God. Some people took advantage and procaimed themselves heads (may not be selfishly, but because they believed more than others).

Our religious scriptures have had thousands of years to be formulated, to achieve the final completed and revised "edition". Just think, what will happen to Tolkien's works a couple of millenia later. Might be the new Bible. Someone can revise them, rewrite them adding "ideal life preachings", maybe add a New Testament after a thousand years basing on someone who considers himself a prophet of Eru. At present you might not believe in the religion , but think 2000 years down the line. You are used to your religion, but think how many religions there are in the world and how many have passed out or given way to new ones.

Why can't people accept Jesus as a normal human being who accomplished all that he did just by the purity of his heart and his will for good? That should motivate people to lead better lives a lot more than when someone gives up all actions to God. I believe Jesus believed in God and used him as the instument of his preachings rather than the other way round. Mind you , I am not against Jesus, I think such people are great and rare but I think it is a lot more comforting knowing he was human.

Sorry if I got into religion bashing and hurt your feelings. But bad habits die hard.
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Old 07-12-2005, 10:19 AM   #32
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Quote:
Its something I've wondered myself -whether at soem point in the future, say a post apocalyptic world - only Tolkien's books were to be found - all other religions have been forgotten - would people latch onto them & take them as 'fact'?
They do seem to have the proper structure for such a use, don't they?

As I was reading through this thread (quickly, as I must again leave soon...), I got the distinct impression that religions were the result of man's elaboration on a theme, a need to add oneself and one's current situation to the mix of ancient lore in order to validate one's own place in the universe. In merchant terms, this might be the same effect as a "good idea" taken by a large firm and marketed to the masses for profit. I hate to make such a comparison, but it is one that came to mind (my apologies for offending anyone with above statement). But it does seem that Man cannot leave anything alone. He has to add things and elaborate on things and ideas. It is in his nature. Whether by word of mouth over a period of centuries or by word of mouth over a period of weeks when a new fad hits the airwaves, it seems that a percentage of people will always "pick up on it" and add to it. Successful TV series spawn "spinoffs," just as there have been many "knock-off" Lord of the Rings inspired fiction and perhaps religion as well. It just seems to be a part of human nature.

That won't stop me from forming my own ideas about Tolkien's works with relation to my own life--although I am a hobbit, I am also human ( )! Now, about those UFO's....

Cheers!
Lyta
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Old 07-12-2005, 12:12 PM   #33
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daeron- check your private messages.

Personally, I don't see any likelihood that the Lord of the Rings will ever be turned into a religion. Nor COULD it ever have been in the past, in my opinion, since it could not have been written by any other than a 20th century man with Tolkien's learning and background. Therefore, it could not have existed in a more "primitive" time (primitive technology does not equal a primitive people), therefore it could not have started a religion.

~Bemused,

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Old 07-12-2005, 12:47 PM   #34
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Therefore, it could not have existed in a more "primitive" time (primitive technology does not equal a primitive people), therefore it could not have started a religion.
Yet one of Tolkien's motivations was not simply to 'invent' a new mythology, but to 'recreate' what had been (see Shippey's essay in Tolkien Studies 1 for example). So, he was attempting to reconstruct what our ancestors had once believed. From that perspective he was recreating (as best he could) a once existing religion/belief system. Maybe he was more accurate than he could have hoped - who knows? And if people had once believed something more or less like his creation, why might they not do so again - in the 'right' circumstances? Certainly, the beliefs of many modern 'Pagans' is very like what we find in Tolkien's work, & while, in the west, Christianity is in decline (apart from fundamentalist versions of traditional religions) Paganism/the 'New Age movement is growing apace.

Maybe Tolkien's mythology won't be adopted by our descendants 'lock, stock & barrel', but its quite possible that something quite similar will be by a great many of them, As I say, its already happening....

Now, I'm not saying I approve of that, but I do think its interesting that its happening.
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Old 07-12-2005, 01:28 PM   #35
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Maybe Tolkien's mythology won't be adopted by our descendants 'lock, stock & barrel', but its quite possible that something quite similar will be by a great many of them, As I say, its already happening....
Note that you can buy a "WWGD" wristband/bracelet at alatar's gift shop (located just south right next to Radagast's Petting Zoo) for a cool $19.95 (US dollars).

Be the first person in your office or school to wear one of these provocative loops around your wrist - the one-size-fits-all fits some ankles too. Enjoy the calming magical effect of this completely hypoallergenic piece of philosophy and wisdom. Show your Middle Earth pride in three choices of colors - blue, grey or brown.

And when those dark clouds, orcs or balrogs show up on your horizon, simply look down at your arm and consider...

Just what would Gandalf do?

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Old 07-13-2005, 07:17 AM   #36
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I have a question, it has come to my attention that this 'Religion' does not have a main theme. What would be the point? Most other religions have a main point or theme to fallow. I suppose that that is what we are discussing, right? I suppose that you people are discussing what the religions guidelines and purposes would be. Christianity has a point, it makes since. But how would the 'Tolkien-ism' or 'Eruism' work? Would people worship Eru or the creator of the fictional LOTR world, Tolkien? Would the 'Religion's' goal be to make our world a better place, or to give people security and assurance? Would people go to a kind of ' LOTR Church' and read from the LOTR books as Christians do with the Scripture? Would this 'Religion' just be to fill the void in peoples lives? And by the way, as a Christian, I know for a fact that if J. R. R. Tolkien was indeed a Christian (as I've heard), he would have hated the idea or fact of people making a 'Religion' out of his books!

daeron- Why do you want to create this 'Religion'? What thing or fact about Christianity disappointed you? If you want to email me personally, we can discuss this subject through personal email. Inless you want to discuss it in public, which I don't mind.

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Old 07-13-2005, 07:58 AM   #37
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Originally Posted by Turgon Philip Noldor
I have a question, it has come to my attention that this 'Religion' does not have a main theme. What would be the point? Most other religions have a main point or theme to fallow. I suppose that that is what we are discussing, right? I suppose that you people are discussing what the religions guidelines and purposes would be. Christianity has a point, it makes since. But how would the 'Tolkien-ism' or 'Eruism' work? Would people worship Eru or the creator of the fictional LOTR world, Tolkien? Would the 'Religion's' goal be to make our world a better place, or to give people security and assurance? Would people go to a kind of ' LOTR Church' and read from the LOTR books as Christians do with the Scripture? Would this 'Religion' just be to fill the void in peoples lives?
Could it be something simple, such as to acknowledge the One (Eru, in this case) at certain times or on specific occasions? These might be dependent on culture (Rohirrim, Gondorians, etc) and people (hobbits, men). For example, one might say a prayer before partaking in the evening meal, or a special prayer may be offered at a wedding. More examples were discussed in this thread.

Other than that, one might simply try to live a life as the heroes/heroines/prototypes of old exemplified. Note that it would seem that people in ME somehow have an innate understanding of good and evil, and choose one path or the other.
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Old 07-13-2005, 08:44 AM   #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Turgon Philip Noldor
I have a question, it has come to my attention that this 'Religion' does not have a main theme. What would be the point? Most other religions have a main point or theme to fallow. I suppose that that is what we are discussing, right? I suppose that you people are discussing what the religions guidelines and purposes would be. Christianity has a point, it makes since.
The main "point" of most religions in their most basic form was twofold:
1. to provide a set of laws and guidelines by which to live your life - to give structure to a chaotic civilization; if you were motivated by a supernatural force, you would be more likely to abide by these guidelines - since most deities are said to know when you lie, and to be aware of your every move and thought. You would be more likely to temper yourself, and therefore it allows the race to live in relative peace within itself.
2. to explain "miraculous" seeming natural occurences - the world provides many splendid things, some explained by science, some not; Religion is the Science of many people: it explains why things occur.

The Silmarillion, while not as specific as the Bible, does contain such things - through the parables found within the text, they give hints that the benevolent will ultimately triumph, that love of another (be he or she of any race) is a most divine thing; and it also explains things such as why the stars are in the sky, who controls the earth, etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Turgon Philip Noldor
But how would the 'Tolkien-ism' or 'Eruism' work? Would people worship Eru or the creator of the fictional LOTR world, Tolkien?
Well, recalling back to my explanation of Scientology, people who would follow a religion based on the texts of Tolkien would consider that Tolkien was a prophet - a man who had visions of what really was. Unbeknownst to even himself, he translated this "true" world into text. They could use evidence in the fact that he said that he felt the story was coming "through" him, rather than that he "creating" a new place. In fact, how is this different from Jesus, other than the fact that Jesus supposedly knew of this religion as L. Ron Hubbard knows of Scientology? People often talk of Christian prophets not thinking of themselves as such - as channeling the divine without realizing it, in order to make other people aware of their faith.

Let it be noted that I am in no way about to follow a Tolkien-based religion: I just entirely understand the legitimacy it would have in the world with other religions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Turgon Philip Noldor
Would the 'Religion's' goal be to make our world a better place, or to give people security and assurance? Would people go to a kind of ' LOTR Church' and read from the LOTR books as Christians do with the Scripture? Would this 'Religion' just be to fill the void in peoples lives? And by the way, as a Christian, I know for a fact that if J. R. R. Tolkien was indeed a Christian (as I've heard), he would have hated the idea or fact of people making a 'Religion' out of his books!
I think every religion does all three of those things: creates a sense of peace within oneself, fills a thirst both for knowledge and for the concept that we are not "alone" in this universe, and tries to secure a safer world for the future generations. The religion based on Tolkien's books could provide all three, as I have written below. And I answered both of those Christians, though rather facetiously, below. The Silmarillion would provide the major text, and the other books would be side stories - especially used for teaching morals. And, as I said, I don't think a Tolkien-based religion would need a strict set of guidelines as to where and when to worship: there may be a place you can go if silent worship and contemplation is your cup of tea, but I see the idea of this being more a peaceful cohabitation of believers, all secure in their own faith so as to not really need a Church, priests and the like.

And, even though you are a Christian and I am not, I think you are in no more position to say how Tolkien would react to people founding a religion than I am. There is not just one Christianity - and even within Catholicism, people believe different things. Why would Tolkien create such a rich history - delving into lineages, histories and even tongues - if he did not want people at least to lose themselves in his created mythology? He even admittedly was quoted saying that he himself often lost himself in his own world - his own creation. It became almost like an addiction, I would say, that he had to build on this world. It is very, very understandable in my view - and as a person whose main hobby in her off time is to write, I envy him for finding a world that did that for him.

And as I said, I don't think Tolkien would have necessarily wanted me to hang a ring around my neck and mutter "A Elbereth Gilthoniel" every time the mood strikes me. But I don't necessarily think he would scorn those who did so.

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Originally Posted by Turgon Philip Noldor
daeron- Why do you want to create this 'Religion'? What thing or fact about Christianity disappointed you? If you want to email me personally, we can discuss this subject through personal email. Inless you want to discuss it in public, which I don't mind.
Christianity just isn't the right religion for some people. People must believe what is right for them - for their peace of mind. I know I am not daeron, and I will make no efforts to answer for him - just don't take it as a personal offense if people find your religion to be wrong for them.
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Old 07-13-2005, 09:57 AM   #39
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Turgon, I don't know if you've read my first post where I mentioned I am an atheist. I don't have anything against Christianity more than I do against my parents' religion. My arguments take it as example because most people here seem to be Christians and it is more popular. And I don't want to start it.

I believe Silmarillion would act the part of the Old Testament ( And on that day God spoke to Tuor and so on...) but others don't resemble the Gospels. Gospels are preachings which have not been emphasised in Tolkien's works. He himself says his works are not meant to preach. But those can be added later on by a "Tolkienian Church".

Tolkien's works are always compared only to Christianity, but I find it close even to many other religions around the world (may not be intentional on Tolkien's part). Chinese idea of "Dragon eating the Sun" (which also exists in Hinduism, though in a different form) is mentioned in Silmarillion, and many of Tolkien's tales resemble many stories from Hinduism (only one I know in detail) in style, they contain creatures of the same types, immortal, Godly, Tree creatures, Skin changers... and most importantly as with most religious stories, a clear distinction in good and evil parties.

What it lacks is a set of precise guidelines, A Bhagavat Gita of the Hindus, Gospels of Christians, Quran of Muslims and others. That can be taken care of (once Tolkien Estate lays down rights) , and indeed I believe if a Tolkien Religion had cropped up 3000 years ago, they would certainly have been written.

Can someone tell me whether Islam originated with prophet Mohammed or did it exist before? I am interested deeply in Mythology and can you give me references to Islamic stories, if any exist. If it did start with one person, can Eruism not do so?
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Last edited by daeron; 07-15-2005 at 05:43 AM.
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Old 07-13-2005, 12:01 PM   #40
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Can someone tell me whether Islam originated with prophet Mohammed of did it exist before? I am interested deeply in Mythology and can you give me references to Islamic stories, if any exist. If it did start with one person, can Eruism not do so?
Mohammed recieved the Quran from Allah through the Angel Gabriel, so he founded Islam. Hence Islam is a 'revealed' religion, like Christianity & Judaism. The difference between them & a Tolkienien religion is that those faiths make a clear claim that their teachings come from God, & thus must be True. If Moses, Jesus & Mohammed had just said 'This is what I believe God revealed to me, what do you think?' there would probably have been a lot less blood shed by their followers over the centuries.
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