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21516Re: [mythsoc] re. religion in Tolkien

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  • David Bratman
    Oct 14, 2010
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      John -

      See also the end of the 7th paragraph of my latest long post, where I give
      my recommendations, somewhat different from others': Dickerson, Fleming
      Rutledge's _The Battle for Middle-earth_ (overlong, clumsily organized,
      repetitive, impatient with Tolkien's discursions, but despite all that very
      good), and the intrepid pioneer Purtill.

      Bruner and Ware isn't really a religious study of Tolkien, but a set of
      sermons inspired on Tolkienian texts (and thus, like most sermons, not
      feeling required to stick to the text). Not bad, because the moral virtues
      they find in his work are really there, but not significant as a Tolkien
      study. Mark Eddy Smith and Sarah Arthur stick closer to Tolkien but are
      otherwise in the same category.


      ----- Original Message -----
      From: "John Rateliff" <sacnoth@...>
      To: <mythsoc@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Thursday, October 14, 2010 10:30 PM
      Subject: [mythsoc] re. religion in Tolkien


      > Thanks all who responded. I've got a good list to start with now.
      > Dale: I've read one of Caldecott's books but don't remember if it was this
      > one; I'll check when I get back to Kent
      > Mike: I'll have to pick up the Milbanks, which I didn't get under the
      > mistaken impression it was mostly about GKC, rather than about them both.
      > Thanks for the review.
      > Jef & Christina: I've read the Kreeft, and while he's a good writer with a
      > forceful point of view it bothered me that he seemed to think anything
      > Lewis said could be taken as evidence Tolkien felt exactly the same way on
      > any given issue.
      > Margaret: I've read the Ellwood, but that's so many years ago now
      > (thirty?) that the only detail I remember from it is that it's where I
      > learned the word "scry". Time to re-read it.
      > Christina: I've read the Pearce, and enjoyed his book -- it was high time
      > someone approached Tolkien from that angle -- but like the Kreeft I
      > thought him too doctrinaire. I've just finished the Birzer, and it was
      > disappointment with it that sparked my initial query (his extensive
      > research does not prevent too-frequent errors of fact, and his occasional
      > insights don't keep him from egregious misinterpretations). The Purtill
      > was one of the few early books I never got around to reading, so I'll see
      > about remedying that.
      >
      > No one mentioned the Bruner and Ware: any good? I just started reading
      > Dickerson, who gave a good lecture at the Wade tonight on Tolkien & Lewis
      > & Xian ecology.
      >
      > --Thanks again for all the suggestions.
      >
      > --John R.
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > On Oct 14, 2010, at 8:33 PM, Cristina wrote:
      >
      >> For those interested in religious themes in LOTR, the letters are a good
      >> source.
      >>
      >> Another source, already mentioned by someone else in this list, is Peter
      >> Kreeft's "Philosophy of Tolkien". The weakness of that book is that some
      >> details cited from LOTR are inaccurate, but Peter Kreeft's insights are
      >> superb. I also recommend "Tolkien: Man and Myth" by Joseph Pearce.
      >>
      >> There's this other book, "Sanctifying Myth" by Bradley Birzer but reviews
      >> of that book are mixed. But I mention it because you might want to read
      >> it and decide for yourself whether it helps.
      >>
      >> Another book that touches on religious themes in JRRT's writings is "Lord
      >> of the Elves and the Eldils" by Richard Purtill. I haven't read that
      >> book, though, so I can't comment on it.
      >>
      >> --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, Ellen <carnimiriel@...> wrote:
      >>>
      >>> I've been reading these book suggestions with interest, because I'm
      >>> scheduled to be on a panel at the World Fantasy Convention at the end of
      >>> the month with the following topic. Note that I did not have any part
      >>> in coming up with this topic or its wording:
      >>> ---
      >>> Why is There No Religion in Middle Earth? Lin Carter used to argue about
      >>> this. Why are there no priests and temples in Tolkien's world? Is it
      >>> because Tolkien was squeamish about paganism (made up gods) or is there
      >>> a more profound explanation?
      >>> ---
      >>> For starters, I don't think the question really works as framed. I
      >>> don't think one can claim that there is no religion in Middle Earth, so
      >>> this is one of the first things I'd address. What I would assume is
      >>> meant is something more like, "why did the characters in LotR not
      >>> participate in organized worship?" I have not read Lin Carter's work
      >>> but have requested it from my local library. However, from what I've
      >>> read I'm not sure how worthwhile it is as a source, since he wrote it
      >>> well before the publication of The Silmarillion or Tolkien's letters.
      >>> Can anyone who has read Lin Carter's "Tolkien: A Look Behind the Lord of
      >>> the RIngs" comment on this?
      >>>
      >>> My sources I am prepared to discuss are Tolkien's letters, particularly
      >>> the draft of a letter to Peter Hastings from September 1954 (p. 152 in
      >>> my edition), the biography by Humphrey Carpenter, and of course LotR and
      >>> The Silmarillion. I'm also taking another look at "Morgoth's Ring"
      >>> because if I recall correctly, there is some relevant information in the
      >>> section on the Laws and Customs of the Eldar. It's been a while since I
      >>> read HoME.
      >>>
      >>> Are there other sources I should check out before the panel? Of the
      >>> books suggested on the subject in this thread, is there one in
      >>> particular that might be useful? Keep in mind that this is a panel
      >>> discussion and I'm sure the other panelists will bring some interesting
      >>> things to the discussion, and I don't have much time between now and
      >>> then.
      >>>
      >>> Thanks,
      >>>
      >>> Ellen Denham
      >>>
      >>> On 10/14/10 2:06 PM, Margaret L. Carter wrote:
      >>>>
      >>>> Doubtless most of you have read Gracia Fay Ellwood's 1970 book GOOD
      >>>> NEWS FROM TOLKIEN'S MIDDLE EARTH? Amazon has a handful of used copies.
      >>>>
      >>>> Margaret Carter
      >>>>
      >>>>
      >>>
      >>
      >>
      >>
      >>
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      >>
      >>
      >
      >
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