OK, I'm gonna post this now, without reading the rest of the thread (yet) so I don't forget.
First of (and out of order) yes, IMHO, Eru watched the HoME unfold as it happened, despite knowing what was going to happen beforehand (and yet the choices were NOT predetermined. Deal with that.) I've read the Silmarillion several times, and while my memory fails me from time to time, I do have a pretty good idea of what happened. I still read it again two weeks ago, and undoubtedly will again if I'm still here to read it. For Eru, even more than for Aule or Feanor, the joy was in the creation and in watching it play out as it would, seeing what his Children would make of their free will when it was entirely up to them.
Now, I want it noted for the record that the following was asked (I almost didn't show up for this topic because I knew where it would lead me: )
Posted Monday 29th March 2004 (02:39pm)
Has anyone thought to conjecture as to what the sources of Tolkien's creation myth are? I mean do folk think that its of Judea-Christian origin, or some chimera of the Norse Saga, or older still, has a Sumerian/Babylonian (Gilgamesh & Enkidu) ring to it... Or even that Tolkien developed it in isolation and without reference to any mundane earth-bound cultures?
I'd be interested to hear someone elses view on this...
It is my position (since to my knowledge Tolkien never declares his, though I haven't read the Letters; yes, I know, very naughty) that ME reflects Tolkiens Catholic faith in great measure. The previously quoted text from the Silmarillion where Eru speaks to Morgoth after the Music is ended is among my favorites from the Silmarillion, together with that part preceding it by two paragraphs,
The other had now achieved a unity of its own; but it was loud, and vain, and endlessly repeated; and it had little harmony, but rather a clamorous unison as of many trumpets braying upon a few notes [sounding brass or clanging cymbal?] And it essayed to drown the other music by the violence of its voice, but it seemed that its most triumphant notes were taken by the other and woven into its own solemn pattern. The Silmarillion, 1977 hardbound edition, p. 17
I frequently lean on these passages as the best "justification" I've found for suffering.
In Morgoth (Melkor as we was then known) we see some interesting parallels with another figure. First, he was the mightiest and wisest of his brethren, in all things. Second, we see him take on qualities distinct from Eru as a result of his departure from Eru:
He had gone often alone into the void places seeking the Imperishable Flame; for desire grew hot within him to bring into Being things of his own, and it seemed to him that Ilývatar took no thought for the Void, and he was impatient of its emptiness. Yet he found not the Fire, for it is with Ilývatar. But being alone he had begun to conceive thoughts of his own unlike those of his brethren.
In other words, Melkor was like the other Valar in being created by and derived from Eru, but unlike them he separated himself from Eru in the service of his pride, and it is then, in the absence of Eru, that we see him corrupted to evil. Of course, if Eru IS purely good, to be absent from him would be to be absent from goodness as well, which can have only one result. On the subject of his later chastisement in front of the other Valar, and the potentially excessive harshness this entails, I would simple say that one, it served as an object lesson for the others, and two, it would have been very odd if after all of the discord Melkor created in Erus harmony, a discord Eru himself had to correct, no comment was made by him at the musics conclusion. That last case would set a very poor precedent indeed.
On the Valar as a group, I find them much more comprehensible from a Catholic perspective (lest I be accused of preaching, and for the sake of clarity, I am not a Catholic.) I can see definite parallels: Manwe=Michael, Varda=Mary, Eonwe=Gabriel (bearing in mind that Catholic theology often considers both righteous mortals and seraphs to be "Saints.") To what extent the others correspond I can't say, as I'm not familiar with the provinces assigned to the various Saints, but I do know that the early Catholic Church would "canonize" pagan deities to facilitate conversion.
So, predestination or free will? Yes. We see Melkor take a very active hand in "changing" the Ainulindale, but at the end Eru makes clear that his purpose and design has been in no sense altered. All that is altered is the particulars of how it is accomplished, and to what extent even that is done is known but to him. We also have the enigmatic but intriguing statement of Gandalf to Frodo that Bilbo was "meant" to find the Ring, "and not by its maker." This is usually taken to mean intervention by the Valar, but the Valar were always loathe to intervene in ME for fear of disrupting the Music, and even less so by the end of the Third Age since many held this was AFTER the part of the Music whose Being they beheld. It would be like walking through a minefield blindfolded, and they wanted no part of it. That, of course, leaves only Eru. Various choices, from Isildurs choice to take the Ring "as weregild for my father's death, and my brother's" (and this, of course, is a very Anglo-Saxon concept right out of the Volsungsaga) to the choice of Smeagol and Deagol to go fishing/swimming, to the choice of Bilbo to accompany the Dwarves when they decided to take back their patrimony (and what of Gandalfs choice to include Bilbo?) led to this event, yet the event was decreed regardless of those individual choices; they were but the means of execution, and if those choices had not been made different ones would have accomplished the same thing.
OK, I'll stop there, and abide by the Councils decree (no other alternative readily presents itself.) Besides, I have more reading to do....