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August 27, 2013

Comments

Is there going to be a transcript made of Greg's commentary section? It was really one of the best I have ever heard.

I may do one just for myself!

I just wanted to leave some comments about this week's show, and am not sure if this is the best place to do so.

I'm a big Tolkien and Lewis geek, and so was really interested in the question regarding Christians writing science fiction and fantasy. Greg says that God is not in Middle Earth, but I just wanted to correct and say that He is. If you read Tolkien's other writings, notably the Silmarillion, that sets forth the creation story of Tolkien's world, he includes a one God, and also some lesser beings that could be considered as sort of angels in charge of this world. There's also a fallen angel comparable to the Devil (this is not Sauron - Sauron was one of the fallen angels chief lieutenants, as was the Balrog, and so these are more lesser demons). In his letters and other writings, Tolkien makes clear that these are meant to be sort of a fictionalized version of God and angels, much like the Emperor-over-the-sea in Lewis' Narnia books.

Within the Lord of the Rings itself there are a few allusions to this larger cosmology, but if you haven't read the Silmarillion it is hard to pick up on them. These references really didn't make it into the movie adaptation.

Tolkien does say in a couple of places that he doesn't put Christ in his book, in part because he did not feel worthy of writing a fictionalization of Jesus, and also for a practical reason as his book is described as happening in the deep pre-historical past of our world, and so it came long before the incarnation. That said, there are definite Chritological qualities in the key characters of Frodo (who sacrificed himself to save the world and descended into the Hell of Mordor and the flames of Mount Doom), Gandalf (who died in Moria and was resurrected), and Aragorn (the warrior king who returns and brings healing and new life). I think you could say that these three together form a type of Christ.

I could point out a lot of smaller bits where we see Christian themes throughout his book. Tolkien wrote that he unconsciously included these in the first drafts, but brought them out more explicitly in later rewriting. One other important note on the Christian nature of Tolkien's work is his conception of eucatastrophe. This is a word he created for a sudden turn in the story from utter darkness to salvation. You see this quality at several places in the book (probably the biggest is at the end when the Ring is destroyed, but my favorite is the point when Minas Tirith seems doomed, and suddenly Rohan arrives - this quote). Anyway, he writes in his essay on fairy stories that this quality in innately Christian, and that the Resurrection was the ultimate eucatastrophe.

Thanks as always to everyone in the STR team for your ministry.

Bruce

Hi Bruce, I didn't hear the show, but it would seem to me that you posted in the right place. As far as what you've written, it makes me want to get into Tolkien's writings-- I probably wont right away, but possibly in the near future. Thanks

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