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Re: [mythsoc] Re: Catholicism and Lord of the Rings

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  • John Davis
    Hi, ... I think that excellently sums up the situation. Yes, they do. But they also display the virtues of many faiths, and indeed of frameworks of thought
    Message 1 of 51 , Jun 11, 2009
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      Hi,

      > I think Tolkien wanted to
      >do the same thing, and if you look closely (as has been commented on by
      >others), the characters display all the virtues of Christianity. They are
      >just not presented in what "outsiders" (if you will allow that to describe
      >for the moment non-Christians) consider to be the trappings of
      >Christianity.


      I think that excellently sums up the situation. Yes, they do. But they also display the virtues of many faiths, and indeed of frameworks of thought which require no faith. It does not make them Christian, any more than it makes them Humanist. Which is why I stand by my earlier statement, that LotR is a spiritual work, but not a singularly Christian one, any more than it is singularly Pagan or Humanist or anything-elsist one.

      John



      ----- Original Message -----
      From: scribbler@...
      To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
      Sent: Wednesday, June 10, 2009 5:02 PM
      Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Re: Catholicism and Lord of the Rings





      This is really a fascinating (and wonderfully civil! Thank you!) discussion!

      And now I'll toss in my own observations....

      John said:

      > Because whilst I would not doubt or argue against the fact that Lord of
      > the Rings is to some extent a Catholic work, and Tolkien was of course
      > Catholic, the characters in Tolkien's works are most certainly not. (Or,
      > if they are, then it would seem to stretch the definition of Catholic to
      > somewhere beyond breaking point!)
      >
      > Mind you, that said, at the same time LotR itself it is surely also to a
      > degree a Pagan work, in that it is set in pre-Christian times, has a cast
      > of gods and nature spirits, and characters such as Théoden exemplorise a
      > pagan outlook and belief in the afterlife.

      Two things:

      I don't think we can actually say that Tolkien has "a cast of gods and
      nature spirits". Yes, the Elves venerate Elbereth, and invoke her
      protection. But I don't think they worship her as a god. For those who
      do not believe in divinity at all, I suppose such a distinction (that she
      is "heavenly", but not "divine") might seem moot. But Tolkien certainly
      makes it clear in THE SILMARILLION, that those figures are not gods but
      angels. His figures are far closer to the angels of Milton's PARADISE
      LOST than they are to the Greek (or Norse) pantheon.

      (This is a matter I have given much thought to, since in creating my own
      fantasy world, I had to think through these issues. Who is "the God" of
      my world? How do I handle the interaction of the Eternal with the
      material? And frankly, I just like the idea of angelic presence.)

      Secondly, I believe that what you consider the pagan trappings in LOTR,
      particularly the Rhohirrim, are in fact more the echo of the nature of the
      OE poem BEOWULF. I did my Masters thesis on the poem, a close textual
      criticism, and my conclusion (based on thematic elements in the poem) was
      that it was in fact the work of a Christian writer who loved heroic
      stories, one who wanted to tell a tale of the Perfect Hero (according to
      the traditions of his culture), and yet had to create one that reflected
      his true (Christian) beliefs. Beowulf fulfills all his duties as a
      retainer and a ruler; the only occasion in the poem when he kills another
      human is when he fulfills his duty as a retainer and kills the man who
      killed Beowulf's own lord, and he primarily fights monsters (the
      descendants of Cain and enemies of humanity). I think Tolkien wanted to
      do the same thing, and if you look closely (as has been commented on by
      others), the characters display all the virtues of Christianity. They are
      just not presented in what "outsiders" (if you will allow that to describe
      for the moment non-Christians) consider to be the trappings of
      Christianity.




      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • David Emerson
      Luthien: Alas! My beloved has perished! I must go to the Halls of Mandos to beg -- Beren: I m not dead yet. Luthien: Shh! To beg Mandos to bring him
      Message 51 of 51 , Jun 15, 2009
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        Luthien: Alas! My beloved has perished! I must go to the Halls of Mandos to beg --
        Beren: I'm not dead yet.
        Luthien: Shh! To beg Mandos to bring him back --
        Beren: I don't want to go on the cart.
        Luthien: Shut up! I'm having a dramatic moment here.
        Beren: I feel happy...
        Luthien: (Nods to nearest elf with big club)
        Big Club: Thud.
        Luthien: Okay, I'm off to the Halls of Mandos. See ya. (Falls down)


        -----Original Message-----
        >From: John Davis <john@...>
        >Sent: Jun 15, 2009 3:48 AM
        >To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
        >Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Re: Catholicism and Lord of the Rings
        >
        >Perhaps he was just mostly dead.
        >
        >John
        >
        > ----- Original Message -----
        > From: scribbler@...
        > To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
        > Sent: Friday, June 12, 2009 4:40 PM
        > Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Re: Catholicism and Lord of the Rings
        >
        > > I've always wondered -- was Beren really dead? Or was he merely so close
        > > to death that no one around could tell the difference? Was he really
        > > resurrected, or simply revived?
        > >
        > > If the Gift of Men is beyond even the Valar's understanding, it doesn't
        > > make sense that Mandos would have the power to give Beren back his life,
        > > no matter how persuasively Luthien sang.
        > >
        > > emerdavid
        >
        > Well, it would seem incongruous that Mandos himself would not be able to
        > distinguish between a "nearly dead" mortal soul and a "dead" one. Mandos
        > is made anxious about the situation because Beren WILL NOT GO ON the way
        > he is supposed to.
        >
        > It seems to me, that Beren's soul held onto the world to an unexpected
        > degree, instead of passing out of the world. If he had passed out of the
        > world, then I agree, Luthien's singing would have been tragic in that it
        > would be to no point -- Beren would not be *there* to be returned. But
        > that's not what Tolkien sets as the situation. He has Beren "hanging
        > around" unexpectedly.
        >
        > I say - Beren was dead, but not "departed". A unique situation that the
        > Valar could actually address.

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