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Thread: Tolkien religion and value.

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Hail, brothers. I'm Taylor, or 'Xanturi Akhtaurus', and I hail from Scotland. I'm wondering something of great significance. To put it simple... Is there some form of group of people that understand the values of Tolkiens work? A sort of...religion. To put it bland and directly, I'm sick of all modern religion. I am strongly opposed to the message of christianity (I don't wish to put a capital C) but I have great respect for Asatru and other ancient, underground religions. I believe that Tolkien's work could be represented as a set of 'holy books' that could teach people about the old ways, of honor, strength, courage and love to those who deserve it. After all, the bible is a book based on lies, greed, hatred, weakness and disgrace, in my opinion, and is now a "business". I believe that Tolkien's work could be a gateway to a set of rules that could be used for actual pratical use. Say, believing that great kingdoms such as Edoras, Osgiliath and Minas Tirith, worshiping Eru Iluvatar, worshiping such figures as Theoden, a symbol of Pride and Honor, Aragorn, a symbol of Strength. Not great examples but I hope you can gather what I mean. But, in my opinion, they would be better guidelines than any of the "commandments" Please do not shrug this off as idiotic, escapist nonsense.

What values do you find in the books that would make them the foundation of a new religion?

What values do sheep find amongst pages and pages of falsities?

Just as the bible was written by people who wrote mythology to scare people, Tolkien is an Author as well, and his works could be used to actually help people. For example, taking inspiration from Frodo's journey.

 

That one story has more value than anything in that bible.

I see where you're going with this, but look at it like this...

 

Exhibit A: Scientology. Sci-fi/fantasy writer PURPOSELY makes a religion solely to make money. For some reason celebrities love Scientology. Celebrities are rich. Hmm...

Exhibit B: Jesus. Maybe Jesus was just some dude who went around preaching good values. Then someone takes him and gives him this extraordinary background being the son of an unseen God and two thousand years later....well, I think you understand where it's at now.

Exhinit C: I feel like if you TRULY believed in whatever values you find appealing, then you would practice them without preaching to others the greatness that is JRRT. Confucius simply made up his own set of morals and followed them, then others caught on and did the same. He never made houses of worship to draw in others, he just wanted to make the world a better place.

Exhibit D: I'm as atheist as they get, and I don't think it's fair to call Christians sheep. I can just as easily say Tolkien is a work of fantasy, meaning it's a book of falsities, and you're the sheep for wanting to make a religion out of it. Now I'm NOT saying that at all, but you should be careful about the words you choose.

So yes, Tolkien covers many themes that are seen in organized religion, but so does Disney. Should Disney be a religion too?

SwordofTolkien:

Religion as evidenced in LOTR and the other works of Tolkien is dealt with in other threads.  What you are proposing here is, I believe, against the rules of this site. 

Gandalf

You do realize, I trust, that the principle difference between the values of Tolkiens Middle-Earth and his best friend Lewis' Narnia is that the Professor was deliberately a LOT more subtle with the Christian themes and symbolism in Middle-Earth.  You're essentially calling the godfather of your would be new religion a sheep.  I don't want to analyze it too much since I don't have the theological background to show you each piece of Roman Catholicism present in his work (it's much more obvious in the Silmarillion and other work on the First and Second Age, and probably part of why they weren't published in his lifetime is that the Professor hadn't had the opportunity to make it LESS obvious). 

I've been down this road though, further, in fact, and even then the many parallels between the Valar and the roles of  saints and angels were unmistakable.  Their saintlike intercession on behalf of Erus children is much reduced after the First Age, because Tolkiens beliefs required him to address free will also.  Of course, that didn't stop them from unleashing a deluge when man overreached himself in pride (if you pay attention, of course, that was done by Eru, not the Valar).  I wasn't familiar with "Morgoths Ring" until my arrival here, but synopses of it scream "ORIGINAL SIN!!!" so loudly you should be able to hear it even in text alone.  That's before we even get into the Christ figures Frodo an Aragorn provide, the perfect and humble love and obedience Sam displays, etc. etc.  Re-read the Ainulindale and tell me that's not the devil "arising in might" and pride only to be cast out of heaven.  There Tolkiens Silmarillion solves the infamous "Problem of Evil" in what remains the neatest and most beautiful way I've seen to date.

Note that I'm not trying to proselytize anyone, I'm simply pointing out that if you want to derive a religion from Tolkiens writing on Middle-Earth, one already exists: Roman Catholicism.  IMHO, anyone who can't see that has badly misunderstood either that religion or his work.

In the letters of our beloved Professor Tolkien, I believe, somewhere he alludes to the fact that all of that magical world and thus story line was in the beginning at least simply a vehichle to showcase the languages he had developed. He began one of the world's great philologists and words, the historical changes in words and where they might have originated and how they were used was a passion. I don't think he ever meant to preach or such in his books, he never mentions places of worship or formal worship of any sort other than the Rohirrim's practise of facing east I believe before eating. I really don't remember, But just as that saying goes' you are what you eat, so too we are what we believe , and the more passionately we believe it the greater trouble we have of hiding it under a basket as it were. It must seep out and shine forth for all to see eventually.

I see what you mean TheswordofTolkien, forgive me if I have your name incorrect, I for one, in no way think you wierd or strange for longing for a set of values such as you speak of. The thing is, all the values you think highly of in the LOTR indeed come from Professor Tolkien's deeply Catholic beliefs. He could not help it. All the lies and deceptions and wars and all that that the Bible talks about have nothing to do with who Tolkien saw God as. As a matter of fact, when one of his sons was complaining bitterly and mentioning he felt he was losing his faith, his father said he understood, but the remedy he gave his son was to pick out purposely a church where the people are much less than perfect, where the priest does not give a great homily and so on , and then having taken communion, let himself be renewed and restored to God to whom all higher things belong and who alone is the example. So, the comments before me are rather true that such a thing already exists in the Catholic faith. But it also shows me you are a person of high aspirations and that is an admirable and hard thing.

^^Just on a side note, there were Numenoreans who worshipped Sauron when he was brought to Numenor. They built him a church and everything. But I'm pretty sure that's the only example of true religious worship in all of his works.

Gandalf is correct in that religion and politics go against the forum rules. This became necessary because people, often, find it difficult to respect the diversity of beliefs and post hurtful comments towards particular ethnic or religious groups.

The posts in reply to SwordofTolkien's opinion have been respectful of the rule in keeping the context to that of Tolkien's own comments on questions dealing with the inference of religion in LOTR.

However, the original post by SwordofTolkein and his subsequent comment demonstrates the reason why we have had to put this rule in place.

If this thread is to continue, all comments must be kept within the context of Tolkien's works and his responses to questions regarding religion in Middle Earth and the influence of his religious beliefs on his writing.

Thank-you for keeping the Planet-Tolkien forums a comfortable and respectful place for everyone!

Rednell Moderator Smilie

I am strongly opposed to the message of christianity

In Letter #195 Tolkien writes, "Actually I am a Christian, and indeed a Roman Catholic.
In Letter #213, he writes: "I am a Christian... and in fact a Roman Catholic."

April 2000, Christianity Today ranked Tolkien’s epic in the top 10 Christian books of the 20th century.

To put it simple... Is there some form of group of people that understand the values of Tolkiens work? A sort of...religion.

Yes. They're called Christians and the religion is Christianity.

I didn't read the whole thread but have just seen Rednell's post so I will shut up now Smile Smilie

^^Just on a side note, there were Numenoreans who worshipped Sauron when he was brought to Numenor. They built him a church and everything. But I'm pretty sure that's the only example of true religious worship in all of his works

Actually, IIRC they converted an existing building to the worship of Morgoth, at Saurons direction, but there was a hallowed place in the Meneltarma where Eru was worshipped, which even Sauron at the height of his power in Numenor dared not defile.  It's been a while since I read that, and my copy of the UT is still in TX, so I can't give you much more than that, sorry.  Encylopedia of Arda does, however, say this:

 The Pillar of Heaven, the isolated peak at the centre of the island of Númenor, on which the Númenóreans gave thanks to Eru. The Meneltarma was said by some to have survived the Downfall, and remained as an island in the Great Sea.


 http://www.glyphweb.com/arda/m/meneltarma.html

You are correct, sir. They worshipped Morgoth at the order of Sauron after being corrupted by his ring. Good call.

From what I understand of Tolkien and his beliefs, I'd say he'd have been horrified to hear that there are some who'd contemplate basing a belief system - let alone a religion - on his books.

 

Still. putting that aside - it's true that Tolkien deliberately removed any overt religious connotations from LotR. Because such things didn't belong there. However, as others have said, there are one or two pointers to religion in LotR, such as Faramir and his men facing West before eating.

One other important source hasn't been noted, however - that is, Tolkien's book 'The Road Goes Ever On, first published in 1967, and the last of Tolkien's works  published in his lifetime.  It's a book of musical settings for some of Tolkien's poetry, composed by Tolkien's friend Donald Swann.

This book is remarkable for a set of notes to be found at the rear; on two of Tolkien's poems - 'Namarie' and A Elbereth Gilthoniel'. In the notes for the latter, Tolkien says that the Elves would make pilgrimages - such was his word - to the Tower Hills, in order to use the palantir there to look back over the Sea to Taniquetel. Sometimes they'd be rewarded with a vision of Elbereth on Oiolosse. Tolkien writes of the Elves' reverence for Elbereth, and their prayers to her in time of peril (also citing Frodo and Sam's use of the same words). He says that this is one of the few references to 'religion' in the book.

 

 

Oh my, this very moment I feel somewhat like Aragorn must have when he first beheld the shimmering beauty of Arwen and said he felt  as though he had stepped into a dream. To think that someone who actually breathes the same air as some of the Tolkien family is come to us here, I can scarce take it in. Thank you for your words, I will treasure them as coming from someone who 'knows' and that means the world to me.  I saw a short clip of Priscilla and one of Christopher and both struck me as warm hearted and kind and extremely intelligent and learned. But that was only on film, what you have is the real thing. Wonderful