Re: [mythsoc] Re: Catholicism and Lord of the Rings
> I think Tolkien wanted toI 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.
>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
----- Original Message -----
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....
> 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.
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
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- 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)
>From: John Davis <john@...>________________________________________
>Sent: Jun 15, 2009 3:48 AM
>Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Re: Catholicism and Lord of the Rings
>Perhaps he was just mostly dead.
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: scribbler@...
> To: email@example.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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