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Friday, June 4, 2010

The Lord of the Rings: Secular or Christian Fantasy?

My recent post received several comments regarding my classification of The Lord of the Rings as a secular fantasy and I think it's time to address the issue. What makes a story Christian? Is it honorable characters, clean story, or an accurate representation of the Christian/biblical worldview? I believe a story is Christian if it attempts to stay within the Christian worldview, which I will attempt to demonstrate The Lord of the Rings does not.
  1. The Bible condemns sorcery; there is no such thing as a 'good' wizard.
  2. The world Tolkien created is polytheistic; one mighty god and various lesser gods created the Earth and one of them warred against the rest. This brings Tolkien's world closer in illustration to the Greek mythology rather than biblical teaching where God alone created all.

Tolkien dismissed claims that his books were an allegory. He wrote fantastic fairytales and meant for them to be enjoyed as such. An important fact is that Tolkien stated in his introduction to The Lord of the Rings that he did not mean it to be an allegory. Why then do people turn around and say that Tolkien did write it as allegory? Yes, his Roman Catholic background played into the story, but to present an allegory was neither his intention, nor his result--and on another note, Roman Catholisism teaches salvation by works (contrary to Christ's message). There has been a trend in the CBA of publishing books on "Finding God in..." These titles (the ones that stand out in my mind) include The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and The Matrix. I believe it is because we want to justify supporting or promoting secular inventions that we find appealing. But if we have to justify them shouldn't we rethink what we are doing? And if we have to write a book on how to find God in decidedly not Christian stories, shouldn't we ask what motivates us to do so? The Lord of the Rings falls into the same pot as Harry Potter; we have a dark villain practicing sorcery, and a valiant hero who also practices sorcery. That is not to say that Tolkien's story lacks merit (I believe it has much) but it doesn't attempt to deliver an allegory and should, therefore, be accepted as a fairytale.

In contrast to this, consider the Narnia series. No one that I have met denies the strong allegory in those stories. Christ and His sacrifice were presented in a powerful way and any 'magic' wielded by heroes/heroines seems to be accredited to Creator God. In fact, some secular readers are uncomfortable with the allegorical elements. And I know some have been uncomfortable with elements in my novel. Why? Because if an author writes the gospel truth with conviction, delivering the truth to the best of their ability in their fictional stories, it will convict the unbeliever.

In my writings I have attempted to attribute strength to the Giver of might. My inspiration for the 'magical' elements where the heroes and heroines are concerned, are the biblical accounts of Moses and Aaron, and others. God gives power to those who serve him.

Now I know many people will disagree with me on my perspective on LOTR, but I am only basing my conclusions on the author's stated intent. If you wanted Tolkien to call it an allegory, sorry but he didn't; he did the opposite.

P.S. I am a fan of Tolkien's work. He was a master storyteller.

27 comments:

Nathan R. Petrie said...

WOOT! Someone agrees lol.

I find it a double standard for the church to support LOTR and then deny HP and such. Both are secular, magical, stories lol.

I think a major plus to the "Finding God..." idea (not the books...the books stink) is conversation starters. You watch a great fantasy movie and BANG. You can start planting seeds by talking about it. People are more apt to think deeply about a story.

For example, the LOTR Trilogy doesn't get too much into the polytheism. So you can pretend it doesn't exist to a point. Take a few things Gandalf and others say and you come up with a spiritual lesson.

That's what Jesus did :) Taking non-spiritual things and making them spiritual. lol "Give me some water", "See this tree?", etc.

Beorn said...

I actually wholeheartedly agree that Tolkien didn't mean for it to be allegorical, but I think some elements of allegory slipped in anyway.

But consider this: Lewis also said his works were not allegorical (which, clearly, they were), so I've come to a conclusion: I think the meaning of "allegory" has changed quite a bit over history. I think what they (Tolkien and Lewis) meant by allegory was, for example, a Pilgrim's Progress type where everything is absolutely for teaching truths, and no other plot is needed.

So I think that there are some very simple, basic truths in LOTR; Tolkien just didn't want his works to be like Pilgrim's Progress (and it wasn't), therefore he said it wasn't allegorical.

Araken said...

I agree; The Lord of the Rings is not allegory. But how can you say that it is secular for the reasons which you have mentioned when you consider that:

1. Gandalf is not a sorcerer, one who conjures spirits. He is a member of the Istari, which the men called wizards. Istari (although Quenya, a form of elvish, is an invented language) means 'Wise Ones', and the word 'wizard' can also mean 'a wise man', which certainly fits Gandalf.

The Istari were Maia, lesser divine powers, like angels and not deities, created by Eru. Many of Gandalf's powers are inherent, and the rest he draws from the laws that Eru set in place. Any good powers stem from Eru, while the bad powers are the powers that Eru gave but were twisted. The authority is clearly spelled out.

2. The world of Arda is not polytheistic. All the 'gods' that you mentioned are not to be worshipped, and are subjects to one god who created them, Eru Illuvatar. The Valar are called 'gods' only in the sense that they are divine beings. This is comparable to the wood-gods, river-gods, well-gods you will find in the Chronicles of Narnia, as well as the gods you find in Lewis' Space Trilogy. They are divine but not deities.

Eru made everything, yes, but the Valar only reshaped it into mountains, seas, et cetera, just as we humans reshape the earth into buildings and computers, save on a larger scale. Any life that the Valar made (ents, eagles, dwarves) needed to be blessed by Eru before it became truly alive and independent.

3. Yes, Catholicism teaches some points of doctrine that are false. But can anyone name a denomination that does not?

In essence, the author's intent and execution fall within the bounds of Christian fantasy that you have specified.

By the by, C.S. Lewis himself denied that the Chronicles of Narnia were allegories or contained any allegorical elements.

Jake said...

I have to say I disagree with you on some respects. LOTR definitely does not (in my opinion) fall into 'the same pot' as HP. I don't like HP whatsoever. :|

Seth wrote a 'HP vs LOTR' page on his blog (the-narrowing-road.blogspot.com) with a strong lean towards LOTR. Under the 'Viewpoint' page. :)

I feel strongly about this, as you might tell. :D

Jake said...

@Nathan R. Petrie; The reason I don't support HP is that LOTR is clean, HP isn't as much. Also, I knew Tolkien was a Christian, so I was more inclined to read his works, whereas I don't even think Rowling is a Christian.

Jake said...

Sorry, another comment! :D

I read the first paragraph again.

The definition that I was defending in the earlier comments was that 'Christian Fantasy' is not honorable stuff and the like, but that it was written by a Christian. Just a clarification.

Otherwise, LOTR is secular in the sense that it is not allegorical or meant to reflect the author's spiritual views. :)

Which may have been what you meant the entire time.

Daughter of the King said...

I totally agree! I thoroughly enjoy stories of non-Christian fantasy, as well as Christian fantasy. Stories like 'The Lord of the Rings' bring me to a place of having my faith in God challenged in my thinking. They also have me constantly deciphering what is truth, which makes me only want to read HIS Word more and to grow deeper so that I can defend my faith.

I do not discount LOTR either. I quite enjoy the story actually, but I do also agree that Tolkien wrote his works not from a biblical world view as did C.S. Lewis, but rather he wrote from a stylized Greek mythos angle.

I also like Nathan's take on this...that stories plant seeds in our minds that cause us to have to think and reach out beyond ourselves for the truth...love it!

Many blessings,
Sarah

fantasydreamer12 said...

Great points about LOTR. I never really considered them "Christian" because of a "good" wizard and a "bad" wizard. and the belief system as polytheistic.

And I agree with Nathan in the point of Jesus talking about making non-spiritual thing spiritual.

Just because Gandalf "dies" and comes back doesn't mean it's Christian... :)

Star-Dreamer said...

Hmm. This was a thought intriguing post. I don't believe that Tolkien wrote LOTR as an allegory; some of my friends do, but I don't. However, pieces of his beliefs slipped into his writings, as they tend to do with all writers. It doesn't nessisarly make the books "Christian" for say, but it does have thier values.

However, let me just mention this really quick: the points you were trying to prove this by shook me a little bit... not so much because I believe they are wrong, as I just wanted to point a few things out.

The Bible does condemn sorcery, I admit, and I certianly won't deny it. But where exactly does it say that "there is no such thing as a good wizard?" Let me first point out that it was only the locals of Middle Earth that called Gandalf's kind "wizards" and that they actually had a different name for themselves. They didn't consider themselves wizards but they humored the locals, and let me also point out that thier power came from Eru, the all mighty God, and that the Ainur were like the angels. Also, if you condemn all modern fantasy considered "Christain" with Wizards in them, then you are also condemning "the Dragon Keeper" series, which has some very obvious christain themes.

Second, I see where you come up with the thought that Tolkien's world was based more on Mythology; after all, a lot of it was. Ring's of power? Look up Norse Mythology. Very interesting. However, I do note that Tolkien wrote in the Silmerillion that Eru was the one who created the Ainur and then set them over different domains (rather like God and the Angels). In fact, the Ainur couldn't really create anything without Eru. One tried (Aule) and created the dwarfs, but Illuvitar, (the valar's name for Eru) corrected in his mistake because Aule had not the power granted him to actually create life. Illuvitar granted the dwarfs life, but only by his will.

Maybe Tolkien wasn't an allegory... maybe he didn't mean his book to be christain, for say... but in my mind you can't really call it entirely secular.

Nathan R. Petrie said...

Yeah for controversy! LOL

@Arken, the definition of a term doesn't make the action correct. If I call lying "Creative Truth" that doesn't make it good. In the case of the word wizard, its meaning has changed over time. In the case of the story, Gandalf clearly uses magic on several occasions. Bestowed magic, yes, but magic nonetheless. Was it evil magic? That's up for debate, but it WAS magic.

The problem with Eru is that he does not personify the Christian God. After creation and the chaining of Morgoth, he seems very uninterested in middle-earth affairs. Actually he seems to kill any relational aspects that he might have had. He is uninterested in personal lives of creation, hates the dwarves (actually curses them), withdrew himself (as did the Valar) from the world, and did not create the world. True, the Valar only reshaped what he made. But did God create mud then have Michael make men? Nope.

Not polytheistic? I beg to differ. I haven't read Sillmarillion in a while but for some reason I have a memory of Manwe being actively worshiped by men and elves. Above honor. True they are subject to Eru but Eru rarely intervenes. Aule created dwarves and the dwarves worshiped him as their god. Plus, different earthen forces were personified in the Valar. "O" something was water, etc. And the Valar never remove themselves from praise. If they're to be considered "angelic" they would divert praise to Eru, which they do not. They are gods.

I don't think Scott dissed Catholicism lol

@Jake, Seth wrote that article after debate he and I had ;) His differences, to me, don't stand to scrutiny. I don't see a difference in the fantasy elements. Besides, is LOTR more holy because it has a richer history? What if you took the trilogy at face value? What's the difference between the two series?

I agree with you. HP has negative elements in character and plot such as HP being rewarded for wrong doing by the story etc. I don't know if Rowling is a Christian or not, but her story's main theme is family values and the like. ::shrugs::

By your definition, if a professed Christian writes a story completely immoral. You'd consider that Christian Fantasy?

@DOK, I totally agree. Fantasy is a good eye opener ;) glad you liked my thoughts ;) I liked the way you worded 'em better LOL

Nathan R. Petrie said...

@Star Dreamer, you said "Let me first point out that it was only the locals of Middle Earth that called Gandalf's kind "wizards"... They didn't consider themselves wizards...thier power came from Eru...the Ainur were like the angels."

If this is all true, then Gandalf wasn't a sorcerer and therefore you don't need to contest if there are good or bad wizards ;)

However, when the Bible says "Sorcery/Wizardry is evil" that means that whoever does those things is evil ;)

"Also, if you condemn all modern fantasy considered "Christain" with Wizards in them, then you are also condemning "the Dragon Keeper" series.."

I believe here we run into an issue: terms. The word wizard means nothing. If I call throwing a baseball magic does that make it magic? No. So the condemned wizardry in the Bible is not the same as the "wizardry" in DKP's works. In her books, it is God-given power (like the Holy Spirit) and is entirely scientific. They never make things happen from nothing, or levitate objects etc. DKP was sure to explain how it all worked. They took the materials around them and did things. This is not wizardry regardless of what the users call themselves. Same goes for Gandalf. So what if he didn't call himself a wizard. If he said he was a girl would that make him one? Nope. What matters is not the word but the actual action.

True nothing could create without Eru. And he did give them dominion over places and things. However, Eru set this all up and then left Middle Earth alone. Plus, God didn't put angels over everyday happenings.

The Bible talks about God "causing" the tides, the water cycle, the sun to rise, etc. It talks about him "knitting" us together in our mother's womb. He holds the world together. In Job it mentions him dictating where lightning strikes, etc. Did Eru do any of this? No.

and that would be my sermon for the evening ROFL

Christian Miles said...

Having spent years enjoying Middle-Earth and being well-versed in Tolkien lore, I have to agree with the points that Araken and Star-Dreamer brought up.

Middle-Earth isn't a polytheistic world because the Ainur weren't gods. They were direct representatives of Eru Ilúvatar (aka angels). The Ainur were the first, and mightiest, beings created by Ilúvatar at the beginning of the World, and were subject to His will. Star-Dreamer's point about the dwarven peoples' origins is relevant here. Aule tried to go it alone and create a race by himself, but he failed terribly and it was only by Ilúvatar's grace that the dwarves were granted life (though he put them into a very long slumber only to wake at the precise time Ilúvatar alotted them). In order to drive this point home, Tolkien had the opening words of the Ainulindalë be: "There was Eru, the One, who in Arda is called Ilúvatar; and he made first the Ainur, the Holy Ones, that were the offspring of his thought."

As a side note, Eru means "The One" as in, The One True God. So, yes, there's definitely allegory inside of LOTR, though Tolkien didn't let it shape his plot.

Sorcery is the conjuring of spirits. Gandalf doesn't do that, so he can't be caled a sorcerer. You said, "There is no such thing as a 'good' wizard" but let me point out that "Wizard" (or wysard) originally meant "Wise One" in the sense of a philosopher or sage. I believe Araken pointed out that the "Istari" (the order of angels that Gandalf belonged) actually means "wise ones" in Quenya, something I believe Tolkien put there deliberately.

As if that wasn't enough, Tolkien had mankind be the ones who, ignorantly, titled the Istari "Wizards" (in the Middle Ages the word "wizard" was synonomous with "sorcerer"). He went on to say that the Istari liked the term because of its original roots (which mirrored the Quenya meaning of "Istari") and kept it for themselves.

I think, to clear up a few points, you should read The Silmarillion. It really explains everything in detail, and Tolkien intended for it to be published before The Lord of the Rings. Perhaps after doing that you could write a follow up post? It's always best to educate oneself on subjects that hit close to home.

About the biblical worldview...

Nathan's point about taking non-spiritual things and using them in illustrations is poignant, as that's what Christ did as well. Though it may seem bizarre at first glance, Looking for God in Harry Potter and Finding God in The Lord of the Rings have been major milestones in educating the world about (as well as sparking interest in) Christianity. Just read the Amazon reviews of either.

I'd like to expound on Beorn's point that Lewis said Narnia wasn't allegory. Well, like LOTR, it obviously was in places and wasn't in others. The Chronicles of Narnia have several things in it that don't fit within a biblical worldview. I'm thinking of Doctor Cornelius from Prince Caspian, who is an astronomer... and follower of Aslan. Also, Roonwit from The Last Battle is a stargazer, yet when the "noble centaur" is given wine he "drinks first to Aslan and the truth." Then there are a plethora of gods and goddesses to be reckoned with.

Now, I didn't intend this comment to be a rebuttal. I did glean wisdom from this post. It's just that your overall message could be delivered in a more powerful fashion with your facts cleaned up.

Thanks for writing this post, Scott. It was definitely thought-provoking (otherwise I wouldn't have written 600 words about it!). :-)

Andrew K. York said...

I noticed Flaming Pen Press is open to submissions now! You said that you are interested in novellas. does that mean that you won't except novels? or do you simply want to publish more novellas?

Just curious!

BTW, good post about LOTR. I love Tolkien's series, and you made some fine points!

Seth said...

I hope to have a complete comment on this soon but to add to some people's arguments and to clarify... The page on my blog is http://the-narrowing-road.blogspot.com/p/viewpoint.html But it's more of a Tolkien vs. Rowling essay. I would suggest checking it out, at least the last part that discusses the two's religions and beliefs.
(thanks Jake for pointing the link out)
Also, as Araken stated, the Valar pretty much simply reshaped everything. There was one example which I'd also like to point out. When the unfaithful Numenoreans came to attack Valinor the Valar prayed to Eru to create the chasm in the water. I would take that to mean they couldn't. Just something to think about.

I'll try to write a comment that's more of my own argument then just supporting others soon-just been really busy lately.

Seth said...

Lol Looks like you guys covered all I have to say. I can't really add on to anything said here, but I can refute and support some arguments, like my last comment, but more-ish hehe.
@Keeneye, You said that Eru doesn't personify the Christian God. No, he doesn't. But not many do. Take TDW for example-Eliam isn't a perfect personification of God because He doesn't have a son and there isn't a holy spirit. It's just him. I'm not saying that TDW is perfect, but it's one of the most straightforward allegory's, and still it's not a perfect personification. You said that he's quite withdrawn. Perhaps Tolkien meant for him to be that way, but perhaps he was also quite indrawn (surprised that's actually a word lol). How do we know that Eru didn't intervene and stop Frodo and Sam from being caught by orcs in Mordor? How do we know that Eru didn't help Gollum come back (however subtle and short-lived) to the light, even if it wasn't a full conversion? After the end of the New Testament we can never really prove that God is intervening, but by the outcome we can tell that He is because it couldn't have been done without Him. Many of the things in LotR were impossible-Gandalf called Frodo and Sam going to deliver the ring a 'fool's hope'. How do we know that it wasn't because of an unseen intervention that Frodo and Sam made it?
Maybe I'm taking the Lord of the Rings a little too seriously, but it is something to think about.

I think all the other arguments were addressed.

Scott Appleton said...

Nathan,
You stole some of the words before I could reply! (-:

Seriously, everyone, Nathan has some great points.

@Christain Miles,
What gave you the impression that I haven't read The Scilmarillion? I have, and my conclusions are based on it, not derived from somewhere else.
Tolkien did not call the Ainur 'angels' he called them 'gods' ...But you seem to be saying he mean them to be/or represent angels. I beg to differ; if he wanted them to be angels they would have been more like Gandalf, ministering to the peoples of Middle Earth instead of existing in an exalted state.
There is a plurality of gods in Middle Earth. It does not matter to what extent their powers are less than Iluvitar, the fact remains they had the power of creation. As a matter of fact, consider that Middle Earth was the result of the struggle between the evil god and the others. It has been a little while since I read it, but I remember an entire sequence of events where he raised mountains in place of valleys, and later the goblins and other creatures were created (by him if I remember accurately).
Your points don't hold water when measured with the world Tolkien created.

Scott Appleton said...

Everyone,
I'm going to try to do some posts later to address some great points people made on this post. I want to put forward more thoughts on sorcery, wizards... even touch on The Dragon Keeper Chronicles.
If there is a particular subject you'd like me to bring up, let me know via comment.

Nathan R. Petrie said...

Totally agree Chris :) Fantasy has helped spread the Christian message immensely!

@Seth, I said Eru didn't personify the Christian God. This is true. Eliam DOES personify the Christian God. Keep in mind, however, that for something to be allegorical, it doesn't have to be perfect on all points. In TDW, Batson went ahead and combined the trinity into the person of Eliam. Eliam speaks as the Holy Spirit, sacrficed himself as the Son, and reigns as the Father. So the issue of the trinity is resolved. God is one God, not three.

Eru, however, does not at all personify the Christian God. Take away the fact that he created and is all powerful and I see very little connections. And his power and creation do not make him allegorically Yahweh, other false gods are all powerful, singular, and created.

Sillmarillian makes it clear, if I remember correctly, that Eru was not actively involved in the world. The majority of the time the prayers of creation went up to the Valar. If Eru intervened regularly, why wouldn't they pray to him? The Valar cannot stop evil. Eru could.

You are correct, we do not know if he intervened. But what do you say about the relational aspect? An intervening God doesn't make a christian God.

There was no intervention in LOTR. At least no meaningful intervention. Tolkien would have told us, I almost guarantee it. No one credits Eru or the Valar for their victory.

@Scott, glad you agree with some of what I said LOL

Reading Sillmarillion I had to agree. The lowest degree of gods, Gandalf, Balrogs, and the like. Seemed to be more angel like. I forget the word for 'em though lol The gods/Valar's helpers lol

The goblins and such were twisted forms of elves and men. So it could be argued that he only destroyed what Eru created.

Can't wait to read the post!

Seth said...

To everyone, but mostly to the previous comment. You have to remember that goblins (which are the same as orcs) and other baddies beings are simply corrupted beings. The goblins/orcs were corrupted elves. Balrogs were Maia just like Sauron. They took on the form of Balrogs and were in service of Morgoth, but Morgoth didn't create them.

Chris said...

Yes, debate! I'll address what I can here...

Nathan, unfortunately your problems with Eru and polytheism are both moot.

Eru Ilúvatar did not abandon the world he created, and neither did the Valar. When things got bad, they sent the Istari into Middle-Earth. Don't forget that Manwë, who govered the world "under the hand of Ilúvatar" would've had to counsel Ilúvatar before instigating the sending of the Istari. If they had removed themselves from Middle-Earth and cut off all relational ties, the Istari wouldn't have existed.

Furthermore the Valar could not be gods because Tolkien created them as angels. The question is: Did Tolkien create a polytheistic world or a polytheistic society? One is evil where the other is not.

In our world, just because man ignorantly worships an angel (or a saint, for that matter) doesn't mean God will strike that person dead or make the angel/saint appear to the person and "divert" the worship.

Also, there is no debate about the origin of Gandalf's magic. It comes straight from Eru Ilúvatar. If you wonder why Sarumon could then have power, remember that God made Satan the god of this earth. Why? To suit His will. Such power is only temporary, anyway, and who was it who killed Sarumon? Grima Wormtongue. His servant. Demeaning in the same way being chained in a pit of lava would be, don't you think?

I'm not saying LOTR is faultless. Obviously it couldn't be, because it wasn't inspired by the Holy Spirit. I can see areas in Middle-Earth where Tolkien's personal beliefs played a role. However, a person can't claim that Tolkien is secular and Lewis isn't, because neither fits perfectly within a biblical worldview. In fact, I'd venture so far as saying that anyone who has more than the race of man populating their storyworld isn't fitting within a biblical worldview, because God made angels and man, not elves or dwarves or bird-people. What you have to ask yourself is this: Is such a supposal evil?

Suppose Christ was a lion and he created another world. How would evil enter that world?

Suppose God created the world by singing it into being, but he let his angels sing with him and create their own themes. What problems would arise?

That's how I see it. I'd like to expound on other issues, but I don't have the time at the moment.

Chris said...

Yes, Scott, there's an issue I've thought of that maybe you can post on. :-)

Writers who incorrectly title their characters. I've read many books where characters are called "sorcerers" when, in fact, they aren't conjuring up evil spirits. Are those books evil because of it? How do we find out?

Thanks.

Chris said...

OOH! I thought of another one.

Why is it okay to watch/read secular stuff, that we know has objectionable content. I'm thinking of Star Wars and the "Absolutes are the way of the Sith" thing.

Thanks.

Araken said...

As to Tolkien's use of 'gods', what of it? He could have written them as gods (deities) and called them 'angels'? Would that have been justified?

Continuing along that line, what of John 10:34 and Psalms 82? In the Psalms God Himself speaks unto men and says, "I said, 'You are "gods"; you are all sons of the Most High." In John, Jesus repeats that verse. The word 'god' does not always refer to a deity, and can mean a divine being. The Valar fit with this definition rather well. Or, shall we consider the Bible a secular book?

You seem to hold the Narnia books in high esteem, as examples of Christian fantasy. But there is a 'plurality of gods' there as well. C.S. Lewis included 'wood-gods', 'river-gods', 'well-spirits', et cetera. Why must Middle-Earth be condemned for the use of 'gods' when Narnia is not and is praised?

What's more, Lewis includes Silenus, Bacchus, and the Maenads as characters, the first two being the Greek gods of drunkeness and revelry, and the final a group of wild, intoxicated women. Lewis also pulls the centaurs, fauns, and satyrs from Greek mythology. Many of the centaurs are astrologers, Dr. Cornelius has a crystal ball, et cetera. If anything, Narnia is more steeped in Greek mythology than Middle-Earth.

By the bye, Gandalf is an Ainur. He is less powerful than the fourteen Valar, but an Ainu nonetheless. And in reality, do not angels minister to humanity while in exalted states?

Where, exactly, do the Valar create? Where does Morgoth create?

The orcs/goblins were not created by Morgoth but were rather twisted elves, as mentioned in the Silmarillion. As to the mountain example provided, Morgoth made it just as I might raise a hill in my backyard, save that he performed the task on a higher scale.

Nathan- Where did I say Mr. Appleton 'dissed' the Catholic church? What I wrote was to point out that someone's denomination does not inherently discredit their writings.

Furthermore, can you name any fictitious god that completely personifies the Christian God?

Could you please explain what you are trying to say here:

"He is uninterested in personal lives of creation, hates the dwarves (actually curses them), withdrew himself (as did the Valar) from the world, and did not create the world. True, the Valar only reshaped what he made. "

In the Bible, God hated Cain, He cursed millions of people, He withdrew Himself from Earth. How are the deeds of Eru different?

But what I am having trouble understand is this: you say that Eru did not make the world. And then you say the Valar reshaped what he made. Could you please explain?

Another thing: you wrote: "Plus, God didn't put angels over everyday happenings. " How do you know that?

Star-Dreamer said...

I just wanted to follow up on something Christian Miles said. When he was talking about The Chronicles of Narnia he pointed out the fact that Dr. Cornilious was an Astronomer and that Roonwit was a stargazer. If I remember correctly (although the actual placement escapes me momentarily) doesn't it say somewhere in the Bible that God will place signs in the heavens? Just an interesting though...

Also, wasn't it Astrology that is pagen, rather than Astronomy? Astrology is reading the placement of the stars and planets to try and figure out of the future. Astronomy is studying the placement of the stars and planets for scientific reasons. Just and interesting thought.

Alexis said...

I am both a Christian and a huge Tolkien fan. However, I agree that Tolkien never intended for LOTR to be some sort of allegory or Christian themed story. With that said, people give stories their own meaning. We identify with different elements and apply them in different ways to our life -- which the author may have never intended, and even, never known we would. It's all just a part of reading and identifying.

Tolkien wrote his books as a mythology for England. If people interpret it otherwise, that's their own prerogative. The only time they err is if they actually believe Tolkien intended his works to be allegorical.

Jake said...

@Keeneye (aka Nathan)

LOL, are you going to have another 'debate'? :)

"By your definition, if a professed Christian writes a story completely immoral. You'd consider that Christian Fantasy?" ~Nathan

I think you took me wrong there. I meant, by Christian, that I knew that the person was a godly person who tried his/her best to follow Christ.

The key word is 'professed'. I THOUROUGHLY research every author before I read any of their books. A person who is a 'professed' Christian in the sense that you used it usually does not put 'I am a follower of Jesus Christ' on the back cover of their books. A professed Christian in that sense would worry more about how the sales would be affected by this and not put it on.

Did you know that Tolkien actually had a great deal to do with C. S. Lewis's coversion to Christianity?

He said, in the conversation that ended up converting C. S. Lewis a week later, that he thought that by writing about myths and legends that originated in God, that he might actually be doing God's work.

I found both of these facts rather interesting. :D

@Mr. Appleton

I found Seth's reasoning (located above your first comment)concerning Illuvatar very persuasive. :)

And just because they were referred to as 'Gods' didn't mean they WERE gods.

Like Seth said, not all of the aspects of any story/allegory are perfect personifications of God and angels. There are differences, even in The Door Within. :D


@General Audiences

The real deal is, though, that this is just a minor topic. I'm doing this for the love of a good debate and for fun. :D

If this gets too heated or anything, I don't want to lose the friendship of anyone just over a debate.

The bottom line; Whether you think that LOTR is Christian Fantasy or not, it's not going to cost your your salvation or cause you to sin. :)

Though, in the meantime, it would be a good idea to try to not be pulled into to a secular standpoint in other aspects. I trust Tolkien, but I'm not so sure about other secular authors. :P

Scott Appleton said...

While I love the discussion that this post has garnered, some of the debate has become heated.

THIS DISCUSSION IS CLOSED TO FURTHER COMMENTS

I'll be creating a new topic of discussion very soon... and I hope everyone will jump in with equal enthusiasm!

WELCOME TO THE WRITING SITE OF SCOTT APPLETON

"Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones." -Proverbs 16:24

In a world where morality is forsaken and Christ neglected, wholesome books are uncommon. The themes of my writing are love, self-sacrifice, and honor.

I see my generation turning from God to the gods of this world. I see homes torn apart in the pursuit of pleasure and self-gratification. Children are murdered by the millions every year . . . without ever seeing the world outside their mothers' wombs. Through fiction I strive to encourage those who are willing, to stand against these things and be heroes and heroines; chivalrous, gentle, full of righteous indignation, and the fear and love of their Creator.