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J.R.R. Tolkien, A Devout Catholic

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I’m a huge fan of , The Lord of The Rings, by J.R.R Tolkien. Having read it as a young adult, the film trilogy is something I could watch over and and over, and have.

So, I was quietly disconcerted last weekend when my father, flipping channels, wouldn’t stop at one of the trilogy movies on TV because he heard it was satanic.

I love my father dearly. He is one of the bravest men, I’ve ever known. No. He is the bravest and the strongest. Even though he’s 84. But he leans as far to the right as I do to the left. He’s a conservative.

I told my father that I thought J.R.R. Tolkien was a Christian, and that I didn’t think he’d write a satanic book. But I didn’t take it any further, not wanting to stir things up, and not sure of my facts.

When I saw Linda’s SoCS prompt, the word, “ring,” my mind flitted around a few things and came to rest on The Lord of The Rings, and my father’s belief. I felt compelled to find out more.

The information I’m going to share below comes from this article by Drew Bowling,

http://www.aleteia.org/en/religion/documents/how-did-jrr-tolkiens-catholicism-influence-his-writing-part-i-44031

which I found at aleteia.org, an organization which reports “the news of the world from a catholic perspective.”

J. R. R. Tolkien was a devout Catholic. Before the trilogy was published, he wrote to his friend,  Father Robert Murray, saying, “The Lord of the Rings is of course a fundamentally religious and Catholic work; unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision….”

Tolkien was a close friend of C.S. Lewis “who converted to Christianity in part because Tolkien convinced him that the Bible is the one true myth.”

He also attested time and again that the novel is mythical, not creedal.

That does not mean that The Lord of the Rings is not true, or that its author’s faith is not communicated through its pages. On the contrary, as Tolkien once said, “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.”
(From: Drew Bowling, “How did J.R.R. Tolkien’s Catholicism influence his writing?)

The article also made a point I love about The Lord of the Rings bringing people, who may not be interested in Christianity,  to the bigger truths of God, of goodness and light.

 

Gandalf via JRRT Acts of Kindness and Love

I know that my copying and pasting got in the way of my stream of consciousness, and the article is a sort of intellectual, but the idea came along the stream, and I just had to grab it. I don’t know if I’ll bring this information to my dad. But if the right opportunity comes up, I’ve got more information about the man who wrote my beloved trilogy.

If you’d like to join in the Saturday Stream of Consciousness ring, visit:

http://lindaghill.com/2015/07/10/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-july-1115/

Here are the rules:

1. Your post must be stream of consciousness writing, meaning no editing, (typos can be fixed) and minimal planning on what you’re going to write.

2. Your post can be as long or as short as you want it to be. One sentence – one thousand words. Fact, fiction, poetry – it doesn’t matter. Just let the words carry you along until you’re ready to stop.

3. There will be a prompt every week. I will post the prompt here on my blog on Friday, along with a reminder for you to join in. The prompt will be one random thing, but it will not be a subject. For instance, I will not say “Write about dogs”; the prompt will be more like, “Make your first sentence a question,” “Begin with the word ‘The’,” or simply a single word to get your started.

4. Ping back! It’s important, so that I and other people can come and read your post! For example, in your post you can write “This post is part of SoCS:” and then copy and paste the URL found in your address bar at the top of this post into yours.  Your link will show up in my comments for everyone to see. The most recent pingbacks will be found at the top.

5. Read at least one other person’s blog who has linked back their post. Even better, read everyone’s! If you’re the first person to link back, you can check back later, or go to the previous week, by following my category, “Stream of Consciousness Saturday,” which you’ll find right below the “Like” button on my post.

6. Copy and paste the rules (if you’d like to) in your post. The more people who join in, the more new bloggers you’ll meet and the bigger your community will get!

7. As a suggestion, tag your post “SoCS” and/or “#SoCS” for more exposure and more views.

8. Have fun!

Author: JoAnna

An open minded, tree-hugging Christian, former counselor, and life-long lover of animals, I'm returning to my creative roots and have published my first book: Trust the Timing, A Memoir of Finding Love Again, available at amazon.com.

22 thoughts on “J.R.R. Tolkien, A Devout Catholic

  1. Authors’ beliefs always come through in their work, so you’re right. But the text means whatever it means to the READER, so your dad is right, too. That’s the great / terrible thing about literature…

    • Yes, this is true of course. I hope my dad isn’t just going by what some fearful religious leader is saying. My father is an intelligent person in most ways, and I would like to accept our differences with grace and respect. Acceptance doesn’t mean I agree. Thank you for helping me process this.

  2. I do find it humorous when people label a book as satanical. It usually makes me want to read it just to form my own opinion. I am sorry to say, I never really watched the Lord of the RIngs, for some reason I could not get through The Hobbit the many times I tried to read it. Still, good post.

    • The first time I tried to read The Hobbit, I didn’t get through it. I think I was in high school and got bogged down with all the description in the first part. The second time, I was a little older and pushed through. I fell in love with the book by the second half. Maybe you could try the first LOTR movie. I always enjoy books more after the movie rather than the other way around. Thanks for your comment!

  3. I love the Lord of the Rings also… The one allusion to Christianity I felt when reading it was the idea that destroying the One Ring could change the world for everyone– that it could take a darkness to which all had once been subjected, and eradicate it. And of course, I think the resurrection of Christ was likewise an equal opportunity event, the end of death and time, though we are still perhaps catching up with the full import of it, living as we so often do in the shadows of old wounds our hearts still carry…

    Michael

    • Thank you for your thoughtful perspective, Michael. It is hard to heal some of those old wounds. Reading the books and watching the movies, I was aware of great sacrifice and resurrection overcoming evil reminding me of Jesus.

  4. I love the Tolkien books and I think their message is very positive.

  5. It is the ultimate story of good over evil, meek over tyrannical and the “magic” of belief and faith. What’s not to like?

  6. I agree.The Lord of The Rings is clearly about the triumph of good over evil. I believe it is possible for all who believe in goodness, kindness and love, for all forces of good in the universe to work together if we look beyond our differences to see what we have in common. What a powerful force that would be!

  7. So weird. I always considered Tolkien to be more liberal and found Lewis to be a devout Catholic – Narnia is full of Bible references (even a non-Christian like me could see it!). This was new.

  8. Most of it was new to me too. I like how this information shows a person can be a devout Catholic (or Christian) and still have imagination and think outside the box.

  9. I had a friend on LiveJournal, a self-described pagan and warlock, who became incensed whenever anyone suggested that the works of Lewis and Tolkien had anything whatsoever to do with Christian faith, or that any of their works were influenced by their faith. I’m talking rants in boldface and all capitals denying that any such association existed, making unsubstantiated claims that the authors had denied any association with Christianity in their work, and denouncing anyone with the temerity to suggest otherwise. I don’t know if it was ignorance, a deep-seated hatred for Christianity, or he was just nuts, but clearly it hit a little too close to home for him.

    I haven’t read “The Lord of the Rings” cycle or “The Chronicles of Narnia,” but I’ve seen parts of the films, and it’s obvious to me that there are Christian themes that run through both.

    • Methinks your friend doth protest too much. But he does have a right to his opinion. It’s interesting to think about the values presented in these stories independent of the religious interpretations.I’m assuming your friend likes the works of Tolkien and Lewis. If he didn’t rant so much, I’d love to find out what he likes about the stories, and if that reveals we have some common ground. I find it intriguing to talk with people of different beliefs when they can be open minded and discuss things respectfully. Too bad your friend has trouble with that. Thanks for sharing your experience and thoughts, John.

  10. Hi JoAnne…Wonderful post! Loved this one…J. R. R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis—Yes…You are a creative spirit! Thanks for sharing with us…

  11. My pleasure, Philip. I’m glad you liked it. Thank you for the kind compliment. 🙂

  12. I’m currently helping go through The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings books and movies with my ten year old grandson. The “addiction” now reaching the third generation. It wowed my kids as much as it once wowed me. I liked it so much in my youth that it soured me for any other book for several years.
    As to it being Satanic I can’t imagine where anyone would get that idea. It’s very widely known about Tolkien and CS Lewis strong faith and friendship. (As I recall Tolkien was catholic and CS Lewis protestant). My younger daughters and their friends were vastly inspired by the books and movies (which came out in their early teens) often quoting parts to help each other through tough times etc. It was strange to see the “rage” capture a whole new generation.
    Tolkien always denied any any “secret messages” in his books (though plenty were ascribed especially regarding Hitler etc.) CS Lewis’ analogies are however very plain. It’s without doubt though that Tolkien’s books are full of Godly inspiration and excellent role models flowing from a pure and Godly heart.

  13. I agree wholeheartedly and feel sad that some one convinced my usually reasonable dad otherwise. Thank you for your comments, Claire. I will continue to love these stories as long as I live, and perhaps longer 😉

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