Lord of the Rings
Your responses to: Lord of the Rings: Truth, Myth or 'Discovered Reality"?
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From Ralph Cabrera: I have to start out by saying that I was a great fan of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings and have read the trilogy no less than five times in the last three years. Most of the reading (and re-reading) was motivated by the arrival of the next movie in theaters. Up to this point the only Tolkien I was exposed to was the Hobbit in cartoon form back in my high school days.
When I had finished the trilogy the first time, I couldn't get enough -- I read the Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales: The Lost Lore of Middle-Earth, The Hobbit, The Book of Lost Tales, Treason of Isengard. I watched all three movies in extended DVD versions, I watched all the extra footage, behind the scenes videos, character descriptions, etc. I really couldn't get enough! I was never satisfied, in other words.
Back then I would have defended my watching the movies and reading the books by downplaying the occultic element and up-playing the humble roles that the "good" main characters were playing. I even dared to condemn Harry Potter while defending Lord of the Rings because of the purer motives behind the powers used by Tolkien's characters as compared to Rowlings'.
I am a Christian who loves God, His Son Jesus Christ, and His Comforter, the Holy Spirit. But was I really loving/worshipping God? [See the rest of the story here]
Anomymous: it’s fortunate that people like you are too stupid to take full advantage of the internet’s potential, and that sites like yours are largely viewed by the internet community as a source of amusement. it’s perplexing, though, that there are sentient being capable of “thinking” what you think.
thanks for a good laugh.
Lord of the Rings
From Phil Worts: News from Norway... or Poland, where the Norwegian Black Metal band "Gorgoroth" played in concert recently with a horrifying display of onstage "living" crucifixions among 50-60 impaled goat heads.
The name Gorgoroth was inspired from a place in Tolkien's stories. I am aghast that so many Christians find inspiration from this series of occult mythology. This rock band is more in tune with the spirit of Tolkien than Christians are: "In conspiracy with Satan." http://www.gorgoroth.org (caution, some content is offensive)
From Debbie D: I spent a lot of time years ago researching C.S. Lewis and the Narnia books. As a result, my study branched out to Tolkien. When I read the "Christian" reviews of these books, I always wonder if they have read the same Bible I have. In any case, Deuteronomy must be missing....
The pattern of reading used to be Lewis, Tolkein, and then Carlos Castaneda. Now it is: Lewis, Tolkein, and Rowling....Maybe that should raise a flag????
We should never overlook the fact that Madeline L'Engle is always on the list also. My copy of "A Grief Observed" (is that the correct title?) about Lewis' sorrow over Joy's death has a forward by L'Engle.
After reading so many books by L'Engle, Lewis, and Tolkein, and being told that it is Christian literature, no wonder we have a "create-your-own-Christianity" now. Sadly, when we stand up and say that this is not Christian literature, we are the ones accused of not being Christian.
Isaiah 5:20-21: "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good, evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!"
And then how about this? Rev. 22:20-21: "He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen."
Can I copy the review from Christian Book Distributors (CBD) for you on the Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings? This comes from the Spring/Summer 2003 Educational Resources Sale catalog on page 37:
The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, 4 volumes:
"Follow your favorite hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, on his perilous adventures against Smaug the dragon. Meet Gandalf the wizard as he leads a band of brave dwarves and hobbits to combat the evil ring-wraiths who threaten Middle-earth..."
So Gandalf, the dwarves, and hobbits are the "good guys"? And you know how the "good guys" are always supposed to follow a wizard, right?
Deut. 18:11-12: "Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord: and because of these abominations the Lord thy God doth drive them out from before thee."
Thank you, Berit, for taking a very unpopular stand.
Don Andersen: You certainly did a masterful job of making mincemeat of his profession of faith in Christ. I wonder how this would have read if you had set out to prove he WAS a believer? You were obviously intent on the opposite.
Don, I didn't say C.S. Lewis wasn't a believer. I only expressed my doubts that he became a believer through his discussion with Tolkien on the night of September 19, 1931. In their letters describing this event, neither Tolkien nor Lewis mention sin, our need for redemption or Jesus as Savior. Instead they look at the crucifixion through the filter of their own mythical world view and distort the gospel into the kind of Christian-pagan blend that God forbids throughout the Bible. Let me repeat some of the quotes and statements from that part of my article on Lord of the Rings:
A month after the encounter Lewis wrote the following letter summarizing what he had learned from that discussion.
"Now the story of Christ is simply a true myth: a myth working on us the same way as the others, but with this tremendous difference that it Really happened: and one must be content to accept it in the same way, remembering that it is God's myth where the others are men's myths; i.e. the Pagan stories are God expressing Himself through the minds of the poets, using such images as He found there, while Christianity is God expressing Himself through what we call 'real things' ... namely, the actual incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection."
Maybe Lewis did, at that moment, receive Christ as Savior and Lord. But this statement falls far short of such assurance. Two other accounts fill in some of the pieces.
According to Colin Gunton, Professor of Christian Doctrine in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at King's College, London, the three friends were discussing the truthfulness of myths. Lewis questioned the compatibility of Christianity and paganism, and Tolkien explained why myths "are not lies:"
"Man is not ultimately a liar. He may pervert his thoughts into lies, but he comes from God, and it is from God that he draws his ultimate ideals ... Not merely the abstract thoughts of man but also his imaginative inventions must originate with God, and in consequence reflect something of eternal truth.
"In making a myth, in practicing 'mythopoeia,' and peopling the world with elves and dragons and goblins, a story-teller .. is actually fulfilling God's purpose, and reflecting a splintered fragment of the true light."
The God of the Bible has a far lower view of the human imagination than does Tolkien, and He certainly does not take credit for its mythical speculations. Instead, He warns us repeatedly that "the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth." [Genesis 8:21, NKJ] While Tolkien seems to view Christianity and oneness with Christ from a universal perspective, God tells us that only those who are "born of the Spirit" can understand His truths and receive His thoughts. And even this select group is easily tempted to imagine or "invent" unholy myths and images.
This is only a portion of the section on C.S. Lewis in The Lord of the Rings. I suggest you read the whole section again, Don.
First part of a letter from J: Hello and thank you for your responses to my letter. First of all, I think that Brooke misunderstood me. If she will read my first letter again she will find that I said that death is in fact the Gift of Men, and that this can be found in The Lord of the Rings. In this second letter I would like to address two questions that you have raised. Is Middle-earth a polytheistic world akin to Norse mythologies? What is the fate of men who have died in Tolkien's writings? Hopefully I will be coherent in what I say, as I am not very gifted in writing understandably :-)
For the first issue, I believe that you are slightly misinformed about what the Ainur actually are. They are virtually absent in The Lord of the Rings, but because your article deals with more than just The Lord of the Rings, I feel justified in bringing The Silmarillion into my letter. The Ainur can be equated with angels, though not exactly. They are beings, created by Iluvatar ("the One"), who have the capacity of free will. They are the "offspring of His thought." Iluvitar allowed the Ainur to take part in the creation process. This, I believe, is crucial. Illuvitar is not a Zeus, nor a "chief" of "the gods".
Iluvitar is God, and the Ainur are his creation. In the beginning of The Silmarillion, it is told that after Iluvitar created the Ainur, they sang to him in unity, worshiping him, and bowing before him. Because they have free will, they have the capacity to "fall," such as Melkor in Tolkien's stories, and Satan in the Bible. Melkor grew in his pride, and he wished to "bring into being things of his own," apart from the will of Iluvitar (an impossibility). In other words, he wished to be like God.
(Though Tolkien wrote in his early letters that he did not intend any sort of allegory in his tales, he later admitted that Christianity was very much a part of his writings. In fact, he wrote that the climax to The Lord of the Rings in Mount Doom can be especially related to the Lord's Prayer. He also wrote that "The Lord of the Rings is of course a fundamentally religious and Catholic work; unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision." Please see Letters, #'s 142, 181, and 191.)
From The Silmarillion: "Then Illuvatar spoke, and he said, 'Mighty are the Ainur, and mightiest among them is Melkor. But that he may know, and all the Ainur, that I am Iluvatar [God], those things that ye have sung I will show them forth, that ye may see what ye have done. And thou, Melkor, shall see that no theme may be played that hath not its uttermost source in me.'" (all emphasis mine.) The world of Tolkien's writings is very much Monotheistic.
I appreciate your information, J, but I still believe the foundational book for the series, Silmarillion, shows an impersonal and remote ruling deity and several co-creators and minor gods who serve as more loving gods. There is no parallel in the Bible, since the true God is both personal and immanent, and His angels simply carry out His will in ministering to His people. We pray (or communicate) directly with our Lord. Tolkien's characters communicate, not with Iluvatar but with the lesser gods. In some ways, they become more similar to the true God than Tolkien's chief god.
Second part of J's letter: "The second issue that I would like to talk to you about is Men. Specifically, their fate in relation to God. Men (and Elves) are known as the Children of God. (Please notice, they are not the "Children of the Ainur".) Elves are known as the Firstborn, while Men are known as the Secondborn, or Followers. Elves have "immortality." I use quotations because they are not actually immortal.
J, do you see how Tolkien's world view would twist the Biblical understanding of reality? People talk about elves and "good wizards" as if they are real. They love this fantasy world far more than they love God! And they feel more at home in its occult envirnment than they do in God's actual world. [For examples, see Harry Potter & The Order of the Phoenix - "It's just fantasy" and other deceptions.] And like Tolkien himself, their minds and hearts are occupied with a counterfeit reality. But God tells us to set our minds and hearts on Him, His promises and His eternity.
They can be slain in battle or die of grief. But their spirits pass into the West, Elvenhome, where they remain until the ending of the world. Men, however, have a different fate. They are granted "The Gift of Men," as the elves name it, and "The Doom of Men," as some men came to call it: mortality. After a mortal dies, he passes beyond "the circles of the world," to dwell with Iluvitar.
In Appendix A of The Lord of the Rings, in The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen, the story of the two lovers is told. When Aragorn is on his deathbed, he shares a poignant conversation with Arwen, an elf that had denied her "Elvenhood" to dwell with Aragorn as a mortal, and to eventually die and pass beyond the confines of the world. Their conversation reveals in Aragorn a hope beyond his sorrow. He knows that as his body passes away, his spirit will pass beyond "the circles of the world."
That hope may sound reassuring to those who delight in this mythical world, but this illusion brings a blinding distortion of God's promised salvation. The cross is absent, and apart from faith in Christ's redemption there is no eternal eternal peace for the human spirit.
He tells Arwen that if she were to indeed renounce her choice and travel to her people across the Sundering Seas, she would carry with her their love, but that love that they shared would remain forever "never more than memory." But above the circles of the world their resides "more than memory." In the Silmarillion, Tolkien writes that the music of the Ainur in the beginning of creation will be surpassed by the music of the Children of God as they sing in worship and joy.
I don't have a response to that, J, but it doesn't alleviate my concern about a pagan myth that models spell-casting and the manipulation of occult forces. Tolkien's "good" magic fits the Biblical description of pagan practices that God views as "abomination." See Deut 18:9-12
In closing, I would like to repeat that it is absolutely crucial that you read The Lord of the Rings before you write an article condemning it. Wouldn't it be absurd if I wrote to you criticizing your article without having actually read it?
Of course, it would absurd to criticize and article without having read it. But it is not absurd to criticize a movie after watching it. I also taped the soundtrack in order to accurately quote from the movie. (It was deleted after I listened to it.) I have read the Hobbit, notes, quotes and reports from the "Silmarillion" and "The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien" (over 400 pages of his personal letters).
I believe I was qualified to write my movie review. Keep in mind, my primary goal was to understand the mythical message communicated through a popular movie -- not a set of books. My secondary goal was to understand Tolkien himself. I believe I found the answers I sought in his personal letters (1914-1973) in which he shares his beliefs, explains his detailed mythological system and describes the nature and complexities of his characters.
From Brooke: A certain jonathon mentioned that no where in lord of the rings does it say that "Death is considered to be the gift of men- because when a human dies, he passes beyond teh realm of this world to dwell in the house of illuvatar"
while the quote is paraphrased (mine's a little more accurate but I'm sure that it is not perfect) it does indeed appear in the text. There is a book called the Silmarilion which is essentially the 'bible' of lord of the rings. It talks about the creation of the world and the coming of man and elves upon the earth. While you may disagree with what Tolkein is saying, he was undeniably a good christian who was concerned with expressing his values to his readers.
If you were to ever read the silmarilion you would find that it is just another interpretation of the bible, with one god, many angels, a devil, and humankind.
Actually, Tolkien invented many minor gods or co-creators as well. And his chief god is nothing like our God. Any comparison that emphasizes similarities between the true God and the counterfeit god would "normalize" the mythical god and distort the Biblical revelation of our personal, caring Creator and King. That has already happened to many Tolkien fans. They can't understand the Biblical God or the personal transformation that makes a person a "Christian."
Tolkein understood that the only way for religion to survive was for it to grow. He took his personal interppretation of the scriptures and brought it into a world of his imagination. While on the surface it may appear that Tolkein is just another fantasy writer, this is not so. He took the lessons of the bible and made them transcend the borders of space and time.
Right. He used the Bible, but twisted its truth. Thus he created a new mythological world of the imagination that clashed with the truths of the Bible and tore down its wise boundaries.
If you ever get around to reading the SIlmarilion, it is my greatest hope that
you look beyond the 'fantasy' element, as that is just the method Tolkein is
using to discuss higher issues with his audience.
I am not a christian, I am a humanist and a freethinker, but part of my decision to become one has lead me to step back and view religion in a softer light. Instead of looking for the bad in popular culture, why not stretch out and look for the good. I believe that that is what Jesus was doing all along, he reached out into the 'slums' of society and showed the word that all people have good (and god) in them.
While it is always good to luck at things with a critical eye, I hope that does not stop you from seeing the beauty that is around you.
Thank you for your time, have a great summer!
Thank you, Brooke, for sharing your views and information in such a thoughtful way.
Being frank, and not trying to be rude, I found much of your article on
Tolkien quite laughable. Before I begin, a question: Have you actually read
the Lord of the Rings? My guess is that you haven't.
You wrote, "John Ronald Reuel Tolkien... was a man of many contradictions," and then you provided some quotes from his letters. Please. This was supposed to be a profound and insightful Christian analysis on Tolkien? It reads more like a Salem witch-hunt. There is more to a man and his belief than two comments that he made fifty years before he died. Scouring his letters for anything you can use against him is not a proper way to handle a well thought out article. You quoted a letter where Tolkien describes a recurring dream that he had, an "Atlantis" dream. You are trying to connect Tolkien with such mystics as Madame Helena Blavatsky and Shirley McCune. And the bridge that you connect them with is nothing more than a statement concerning a dream of Tolkien that resembles the Atlantis story. Not a very strong argument in my opinion.
I'm not even going to comment on your dealings with Lewis. Why are you trying to "prove" that he didn't accept Christ "at that moment"? Judging someone else's Christianity has no basis in a discussion of Tolkien.
Actually, it is relevant to this discussion. Many have told me that "The Lord of the Rings" must be Christian because Tolkien led Lewis to Christ.
Someone told you that after a human in Middle-earth dies, he goes on to be with God, and you asked for some "credible references." Interestingly enough, that "credible reference" is the Lord of the Rings! I sincerely believe that you should thoroughly read a work (not skimming for "evidence" against it) before condemning it. Please forgive me if I have been rude.
No, you were very polite compared to many other letters we receive.
My request for "credible reference" was a response to someone who said, "Death is considered to be the Gift of Men - because when a human dies, he passes beyond the realm of the world to dwell with Iluvatar (God)." Where in "The Lord of the Rings" do you find that information?
As I explained in the article, Tolkien's "God", Iluvatar, is not like the Biblical God. As the chief of a pantheon of lesser gods or co-creators (as in Norse and other mythologies), he illustrates a belief system that looks more like polytheism than Biblical monism.
David Gradin: Firstly, thank you for your article on Spider-Man. It helped me with a paper I am doing for Religion class. At least I enjoyed the first section of it. The rest of it is garbage. You people are idiots.
And then I stumbled on your articles on Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings.
Dont even get me started. While Lord of the Rings (the book) is not directly
allegorical, the religious elements are absorbed in the story and the
symbolism. The Lord of the Rings has deeply religious undertones, and to condone a masterpiece such as it because of the use of "magic" or "witchcraft" is the stupidest thing I have ever heard. They are great books that should be read by everyone instead of being censored in public schools by Bible thumping, right wing morons like you. I hope your website becomes infected with a virus or something.
Second letter from David: It was my senior religion class, formally known as "Christian Vocations." Go ahead and post my letter, for that paper was my final exam. Therefore I am done with school, and done with you.
From J. W.:
After writing to you in the past, I am dismayed that you continue to spread
lies about the greatest Christian apologist of the twentieth century.
In your attempt to prove that The Lord of the Rings is Satanic, [I didn't say that] you feel compelled to question C.S. Lewis' Christianity. You do so by using a selected quote that completely ignores all of C.S. Lewis Christian writings. No one can read Lewis work and come away thinking he was anything else but a born again Christian. Please read "Mere Christianity", "The Great Divorce", and "C.S. Lewis on Faith". To infer that Lewis was not a Christian is to willfully ignore the evidence.
What I questioned, Jason, was the incident used by many contemporary Christians as proof that Tolkien's message is Biblical and his pagan myths edifying. I question their assertions that Tolkien actually led C. S. Lewis to repentance and rebirth during an after-dinner walk one particular night. Please read that account at the end of Lord of the Rings again.
In a past reply to me, you said that it was important to point out Lewis in
relation to Lord of the Rings as
people may think the books are Godly because of the Tolkien's close relationship with Lewis. The irony of
that statement is that Lewis and Tolkiens friendship had cooled after 1940 (14 years before Lord of the
Rings was published). For the last 23 years of Lewis' life, the two were not close friends. Observers
pointed to their theological differences (Lewis a Protestant and Tolkien a Catholic) as the greatest
factor. See "J.R.R. Tolkien's Santifying Myth" by Bradley J. Birzer 2002.
Your main point of contention with Lewis and Tolkien seems to be their view of myth. You said, "Myth, by
standard definition, implies something other than reality." The problem here is that you do not understand the word "myth" as Lewis and Tolkien did. Lewis and Tolkien believed myth is an attempt to explain reality. Modern usage has redefined the term as "lie". Perhaps it would be better to understand what a person means than to assign your own meaning to their words.
I didn't assign my own meaning. I use a dictionary. But even if I didn't, the fact is that Tolkien spent his life researching the mythologies of Europe -- then inventing his own mythology replete with languages, letters and an unbiblical world view.
In spite of your claim that man cannot find God through myth, C.S. Lewis
clearly did. God uses what he
will and does confine himself by the methods you prefer. I know your reply to that statement will
indicate your agreement. Still, your condemnation of Lewis' says otherwise.
Still, even if you disagree with Lewis on the meaning of the word "myth", it is inappropriate to question
his Christianity in an attmept to prove another author's work is Satanic.
I urge you to correct the reference to Lewis and remove any inference that he was not a Christian and
print a retraction on you site. One out of context quote does not make a pagan. Shame on you.
Jason, let me remind you that my article dealt with Tolkien's beliefs, values and purpose, not with C.S. Lewis. I included that one encounter in order to refute the contention I mentioned earlier. I never said that Lewis didn't eventually become a Christian. I just said that the letters written by Lewis don't prove that he was converted that night.
I am concerned that you and others are reading into those letters a meaning that just isn't there. Of course, that's not surprising, since so many want to justify their love for Tolkien's mythical world.
Anonymous: You are over-analyzing and missing the whole point and the whole fun of Lord of the Rings. Tolkein himself said that he intended no analogy in his story. He wasn't trying to teach spiritual truths. So you trying to analyize other people's making it one is folly. Why not appreciate and enjoy the gifted man's creation instead of filtering it through your narrow belief system? Tolkein and C.S. Lewis would have laughed.
America's Spiritual Slide
Perhaps they would have laughed, but I doubt it. From reading many of their letters, I believe both men would have listened thoughtfully to my concerns even if they would have disagreed.
Many of today's youth (who claim to be "Christians") view occult thrills as little more than fun trivia. Worse yet, many are either bothered by the call for Biblical commitment or blind to it. That's why they can laugh when they ought to grieve over the spiritual deception and social decadence in our land. See
Anonymous: I am a Christian girl, and I have several Christian friends. By Christian I mean that I believe Jesus died on the Cross for me, and that I am saved through him. I believe in what the Bible says. I attend Church and have regularly attended two youth groups in the past. I am also involved in my school's Bible Club. I am from a Christian family.
I believe that Harry Potter teaches children morals that some may not get elsewhere. I am not saying that these morals can not be found elsewhere, but instead that this is a lively way to bring them to a secular world. I have read all the Harry Potter books, and I attended the opening shows for both movies. I do not find that they "encourage" witchcraft or wizardry, but are just fantasy books.
To use a similar example, "The Lord of the Rings" is focused on a fantasy middle earth, that involves sorcery, and similar methods of doing things that would be next to impossible if God did not interfer. How can Harry Potter be condemned for involving magic, when the Lord of the Rings, which also contains magic, is upheld as a collection that was written refering to the end times and the devastation to come?
That's a good question. Please read Lord of the Rings: Truth, Myth or 'Discovered Reality". You will find that, on this point, I agree with you: from a Biblical perspective, there isn't that much difference between the two movies. Both idealize the "good" side of the occult, and both promote a love for the thrills of spells and magic.
And both send their viewers a common message: It's okay for "Christians" to use occult forces or (to practice paganism) in order to win over a darker evil. The Bible tells us the opposite. See Deut 18:9-12 &
I wonder if the last part of your question might refer to the "Left Behind" series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. I did a review of one of the books on this page: Left Behind: Using New Age Imagery to Popularize Prophecy. It might interest you.
I appreciate the level-headed and scripture based replies to the many comments
you have had to your site's material. This is a pleasant surprise, and I find
your arguments very sound and meaningful.
I had an interesting revelation today from a friend I met at a Chanukah gathering this evening (tonight was the last day of Chanukah). He mentioned that the Lord of the Rings was satanic. I had never really give it much thought, as seems to be the case with the majority of the people on your site. The simple answer to the concern that is is satanic or not is this:
It doesn't matter, because the movie and books will only serve as a waste of precious time and a distraction from the Lord's purpose for us. We are called to be "strangers and pilgrims" on the earth, to hold ourselves apart, continuing on in the purpose the G-D had established with his holy nation Israel at Mt. Sinai. We are called to serve G-D with all our heart, all our might, and all our soul (paraphrased from Deut).
I can hardly see that spending some of the precious income that G-D has
allotted us and the far more precious time that G-D has allotted us in a dark
movie theater with a bunch of strangers concentrating fiercely on something
that is certainly not expressly about G-D, and probably against G-D's
A good contrast to present as an example of a biblical story is the book of Esther. Though G-D is not mentioned once in the book, his hand is clearly seen in the miraculous stay of execution of the
Hebrew nation in Persia. It is clearly the hand of G-D, made evident by the prayers and holiness of his servants that leads to the salvation of the Hebrews, not the personal valor of Esther or Mordecai. They were willing to follow and obey G-D's plan, not embark on some plan of their own based on their own power.
In my opinion, although certainly showcasing magic and the occult, fantasies like the Lord of the Rings and others promulgate the far more dangerous ideals/ideas of secular humanism, the direct descendent of the Greek humanist ideals fought against successfully by the Maccabees in the (I think) 2nd cent BCE.
In closing, in my opinion, a better tact with believers would be to stress the idea that G-D has a special purpose in life for his chosen. Participating in distracting activities - anything that takes one away from the study of G-D's word, meditation, and prayer for revelation of His purpose for you and the execution of your given responsibilities- is taking the talent that G-D gave you and burying it in the ground.
Answers to Pokemon mail. I will try to clarify that message.
Thank you, Sal, for sharing your insights with us. I tried to make some of the same points in a response I wrote long ago in
Lord of the Rings is a fantastic work of
fiction...key word being "fiction". J.R.R. Tolkien never claimed it to be
fact, nor did he claim that it reflected any religion in an honest fashion. Do
you honestly have
little faith in your own faith that a work of fiction (written or movie) can lead you down the path of destruction?
In our article on Tolkien, I explained that his mythical universe was not an allegory representing his Catholic beliefs. But it doesn't matter. People who fall in love with Tolkien's magic don't care what the author's original intention was. They are captivated by his mystical stories and occult characters. And they want more. That's one reason why the whole genre of fantasy computer game were built on Tolkien's fantastic "middle earth" and thrilling battles.
An author of fiction creates a world of fantasy, and on occasion, uses people, places, things, and ideas from his experiences to create a more realistic and flowing story. They, of course, change things around to fit the plot, but it all comes down to the fact that none of it really happened, and the people, as they are in the story, don't exist.
Tolkein never intended this to be a theological excersize, so I don't understand why you keep insisting that it is. This is typical religious paranoia which spurred several English kings to conduct the Crusades. All you need to keep something like this from leading you astray is a good grasp of reality, something it seems you and many of your followers lack.
Dungeons and Dragons page.
The rest of your letter is posted on
I love Jesus, but I don't agree with everything
you say. Though there is an element of truth, you are pushing things a little
too far. Lord of the Rings is one of my favorite books, and if you don't find
it fit to show yourself or your children, that's your business.
However.... I don't think everything is intended to be evil as you claim it to be. How can we surely know? Well...I'm sure there are many reasons why you yourself do not want to engage in certain books, and that's fine. We must never forget that God is creative himself, and it is surely a gift to have an orginal imagination.
God is the Creator. Our finite "creativity" is only a shadow of His infinite power to create. Only He can create something out of nothing. And, in today's world, our inflated imagination is far more likely to guide toward deception and delusion than toward the God who made us.
Putting down our fellow christians is not to be respected. I was amazed when I saw you say something along the lines of, "Im sure your god is not the God we love." to a person who's opinion was that Digimon was just for fun and that he himself loved God.
Our God has defined Himself in His Word. He tells us about His attributes, His values, His standards and His ways. Human nature has always tended to distort our view of God so that we see God through the filter of our own desires. That's why God warned us, "You thought that I was altogether like you; But I will rebuke you...." Psalm 50:16-21
Those who claim to follow "God" but walk away from His truths and become fascinated with other gods, need to ask themselves whom they actually serve. Perhaps they have deceived themselves and imagined a god that is more compatible with modern culture?
A bit extreme..? Total judgment of one's character through his interests (generalizations) is dangerous, because there is so much room for error. Even God warns us not to judge. That person was probably hurt by your words. If he was saved, he might have thought you a bigot. If he wasn't, he might have thought all christians bigots. It's through love that we attract heathens, for who comes to Jesus through hate? Jesus is not hate. He is love, and we are to be his examples.
Psalm 50:16-21, Psalm 119:11 and the following verses:
The most loving thing we can do as Christians, Sherlock, is to speak the truth and clarify popular errors. If we want to love and follow God, we must make His Word the standard and filter for everything else. If we yield to popular opinion and politically correct sentiments, we will distort truth, rationalize error and lose sight of God. That's happening in churches around the world.
For example, in the report, "Americans Draw Theological Beliefs From Diverse Points of View" (Barna Research Online) we read that
"Nine out of ten adults own at least one Bible and eight out of ten consider themselves to be Christian, but you'd never know it from the smorgasbord of religious beliefs professed by most people. A new nationwide survey conducted by the Barna Research Group indicates that a large share of the people who attend Protestant or Catholic churches have adopted beliefs that conflict with the teachings of the Bible and their church. ...."Our continuing research among teenagers and adolescents shows that the trend away from adopting biblical theology in favor of syncretic, culture-based theology is advancing at full gallop."
A god defined by human feelings and popular sentiments is not the God of the Bible. Please see
"I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed." Galatians 1:6-8
From a "Very Perturbed Person": I am a Christian, and I love God. Lord of the Rings is a story about good versus evil. Now I don't know about Tolkien writing the Lord of the Rings series based on Biblical events, but if you really wanted to compare them, here's a comparison: Gandalf could represent Jesus, he died to save us all, and then rose again. Sauron would definitely be the devil. He's the ultimate evil, and he is conquered later on at the end of the series.
You illustrate one of the serious problems with Tolkien's myth. Though Tolkien himself tells us his story should not be read as a Biblical allegory, people continue to believe Gandalf is like Jesus. But that comparison demeans Jesus and distorts the whole meaning of His death and resurrection as well as His redemption and atonement for us.
Just because magic is in a story, doesn't mean the book or movie is evil or satanic. It just means that it is part of the imagination of the writer. What other stories would mankind read if it weren't for magic? Only biographies, autobiographies, and text books. I suppose you think mysteries are evil, too? They might somehow convince the reader to start killing people, perhaps?
Believe it or not, there was a time -- before TV, computer games, videos and Tolkien's mythical worlds -- when God's people loved reading the Bible. They didn't have to rush through their reading. Instead they would delight in God's presence and treasure His Word far more than you treasure your fantasy worlds.
Just because a kid believes in magic doesn't mean they are possessed and are going to start doing weird things. Some people do weird things and are violent because that's how they were raised, or that's because they're not Christians, or they don't have any morals or values.
Are you trying to say that JK Rowlings and JRR Tolkien are bad people and that they're trying to win souls for the devil? Saying that their writings are evil is just the same thing as saying that they're evil. I mean, I'm writing a story and it will have some mythical beasts and magic. Does that mean that I'm bad or evil or possessed in some way? Oh, and do you think that mythology or mythical creatures are bad? You don't know if they really existed, no one does. What if they really did exist, and that's why there have been so many writings on them? You never know.
So, anyways. I protest against that whole entire section of your site, and I agree with most of the viewer comments. You shouldn't be ruining fantasy and science- fiction books and movies for other people that read or watch them for entertainment.
You are free to protest. But, tell me, how do I ruin fantasy? Does your conscience bother you after reading my reasons not to spend time with Tolkien? If so, you should be glad, not sad. Perhaps God is speaking to you and drawing you to Himself. If you choose His way, He has far better things in mind for you.
From Stacy Rodgers: In response to your overly critical and demoting website, I'd like to view my opinion. Being a devout Christian, I know how important it is to keep your mind set for the Lord, it is easy to veer off that slim road that leads to heaven. Yet, I also realize that God's intent for the human race was for us to enjoy life as we live it. This means that reading a good book and watching a great movie are all under God's graces. If we were to follow your proclamations, we would not be following God's plan.
Could you tell me where or how you learned about "God's plan" for your life? Was it from your intuition or your feelings? Or from Tolkien's books?
Lord of the Rings has always been on my favorite list when it came to reading material. When I am feeling down from societies' pull, I like to get away from the world by reading. Reading Tolkien's magical stories or J.K. Rawlings triumphant tales I travel to lands that teach me honesty and good will. Tolkien, who was a Christian himself, said once that God is everywhere, including the Lord of the Rings. God is in the fields of the Shire, and even the depths of Mordor that's because God created it. Tolkien had the belief that he did not create the stories he told, but found them as another creation of God. Would you really like to take away my privilege of reading a great book with great morals, God wouldn't.
God doesn't take away anyone's "privilege of reading a great book," Stacy. He lets us do what we want and He lets us face the consequences. You can pave your own path through life, but if you turn your back to His wise guidelines, you will lose out on all the blessings He offers those who follow Him.
It may be politically correct to trust a pantheistic god who is in everything, but it isn't very wise. It may feel good, but it doesn't bring you to the only God who offers a personal love-relationship with you and assures His followers of life and peace with Himself for all eternity.
And when you cry "witch" towards Harry Potter you sound utterly ridiculous, more like a crazed Puritan that would burn people at the stake rather than listen. Have you ever yourself read Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings? "Do not judge a book by it's cover." Is it so much a crime that an Author uses a creative way to encourage kids to read? Would you rather have today's generation mindless illiterate idiots? You decide, God's will or yours?
Though I couldn't call you descrimitive against fantasy books or movies because it seems you abhor Christian Literature and shows as well. Again is it so much a crime for a Christian program to use talking vegetables as a way for kids to understand the bible? Children are not going to understand if you read them scriptures out of the bible, that is why Veggietales brings it to their level to allow them to understand. Would you deliberately discriminate against a show that teaches children about Jesus? And what about The Left Behind series, is that a crime to open up people's eyes to what might happen if they don't catch the boat to heaven?
It is God's will that we as humans will be entertained by morally correct (yes, I said morally correct, which I believe everything I've mentioned before is) books, movies, and shows. Are you about to get in the way of God's will? Please think before you view anymore of your savage opinions. And opinions is all that they are, not biblical passages, not God's words, but your own opinions. How many people are you misleading with your atrocious opinions? Sincerely God's child,
Stacy, you seem to have turned everything upside down. You share your opinions and don't give any basis or foundations for your values. They seem to flow from your own mind and imagination -- and from the books and movies that you find so entertaining.
My views are not personal opinions. They are based on God's Word which you seem to reject. Here is one Scripture that may explain what is happening to you and so many others who are captivated by the popular thrills of our times:
2 Timothy 4:2-5
"...the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things..."
From William Marconi: I do think that you have very much misunderstood the whole point of Tolkien's work. An imaginative work like that of the Lord of the rings will always remain a work of imagination and thus try to entertain us, move us, maybe teach us certain truths and why not some spiritual truths.
You are right, William. It does entertain... and teach some spiritual truths. But when those "truths" clash with Scriptures -- in this case, they idealize occult powers and equate them with "good" -- the combination of entertaiment and teaching (edutainment) both undermine and confuse Scriptures. Remember Deut 18:9-12 and Rom 12:2-9
What Tolkien did was a work of imagination, and a work of
myth making. I don't really see any contradiction with the Lord of the Rings and what
The Bible teaches us if a comparaison could ever occur between them.
I find in the work beautiful passages, beautiful scenes of loyalty - e.g. Sam's towards Frodo's, a very profound image of a very special King - Aragorn, Estel - which really moves me to comprehend more the quality of the word "king", not to say that for the christian faith, the comprehension of the Kingship is one great core. I could prolong the list to substantive amount of other topics.
I love to think of my Lord as King, but to use a human model linked to pagan spirituality would be to demean His holy character. Keep in mind, we need to know God as shown from His perspective, not the world's perspective. See Col 2:8.
Do you know the myth of Sysphus? What does it tell you? Do you think it expresses some truth? This man who has to keep rolling this big rock over and over again at the top of the mountain. It's a powerful story. Couldn't the story represent the fact that we as man have sinful natures, and that whatever we do, we keep falling into our sins again, like Sysphus bringing the rock at the top - thinking the sin will no longer prevail- and yet seeing the rock roll down ...... The myth is very powerful don't you think? Yet the story is - according to what the Lord has done - the truth but not the whole truth. Don't you see that myth can powerfully express spiritual truth.
About the Atlantis myth? What can we say about that? In all myths there are some truths. Yet we have to test them to see to what extend. Let me remind you that Atlantis was buried by the sea in a great catastrophie. Atlantis was a great kingdom but it was destroyed because of its evil. This Kingdom was the first Kingdom that Man built after the Fall. It contained therefore so element of power, might and glory that was directly attributed to the might, glory of the garden of Eden, where man was perfect.
Don't you know the Bible speaks about that too: the sophistication of mankind and its evil before Noah was commanded to build the arch. The fact that Adam was so made in perfection that even after his fall his benefited - and his sons too- from might and glory so that he lived a 1000 years. So you even the Bible goes along the lines of the myth.
Please read my article on Atlantis, William.
Tolkien's work are on the same level at some moments, some
others it is simply a beautiful story done by a christian author - so automatically you
get the quality of holiness. This holiness, the one of the author, is the one that
describes his characters with a certain kind of love, emphasises things about them and
between them that makes the all story loveable and completely holy, e.g. the describtion
of evil is absolutely faboulus - how sauron tempts the soul of the bearer -, only a holy
man could come to such description of evil. Don't you see that when you spend your time
with the Holy one, you become holy and whatever you do becomes holy too. Much like the
philosphal stone .....
Just to reassure you in your judgement, i do believe that Jesus is the only Son of God, and i do speak in tongues.
We do well not to blend what pagans call sacred with what God calls holy or sacred, William. They are diametrically opposed. See Psalm 89:7 and Deut 8:10-20.
From Matt: in your article you stated that the general conception from christian folk is that frodo is jesus (and so is Gandalf). i don't see it this way.
I didn't say that, Matt. Nor do I make any such connection. Perhaps you have confused our article with another one you read. Please check it again.
i see us as frodo. we've been assigned an impossible mission (saving the world). we are small compared to spiritual forces (like frodo) and yet we've been asked to make war against the enimy (eg using praise as a wepon) for some reason, frodo makes it and carries the ring to mt doom. (im guessing - since im only half way through it). i found the movie very scary, because i thought "man, this is real, this is what is going on in the spiritual realm" (the book represents what is happening. it is not meant to be literally what is happening. the things like having a wizard in there make this obvious.).
Spiritual war is real, but God's reality is very different from Tolkien's mythical battles. In the real spiritual war, God provides the needed strength, wisdom and peace to those who stand with Him against the forces of evil. Phil 3-11-13
We don't need to be afraid, because God has promised to lead His faithful ones -- those who know His Word and follow His ways -- in His triumph.2 Cor 2:14 He calls His people "more than conquerors" in all these spiritual battles. Romans 8:37
i think it's pretty hard to miss the fact that this book isn't meant to be literally translated into our world. missing that is like missing the symbolism in the chronicals of narnia.
The issue isn't whether Tolkien's message is fantasy or reality, Matt. Of course it's not a literal expression of the real world. But the mythical message it carries brings very real suggestions that clash with God's truth and what He has shown us about reality -- both in the physical and spiritual world. See Harry Potter and the Power of Suggestion
Find previous comments at Lord of the Rings - 1
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