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The Folly to Stamp Certain Marks
by Young Dee


"If we shadows have offended,Think but this, and all is mended,That you have but slumber'd hereWhile these visions did appear.And this weak and idle theme,No more yielding but a dream,Gentles, do not reprehend:if you pardon, we will mend."

Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Good and evil is an age old battle, long fought and endured. It is most effectively demonstrated in Tolkien's works, especially in LOTR, but the idea of an omnipotent and omniscient god, benevolent in nature, is not for Christianity alone. The constant wrestling of the two are always noted and there were always one or more supreme beings in either side of it to justify the great prowess of the forces. In most of the established religions of the world there has always been the issue of good vs. evil and the conflict and suffering that will surely come with it.

One of the most important concepts in Christianity is humbleness and fear of the Lord, through which salvation can only be achieved. The life, death for the sins of the world, and resurrection of the savior, God himself, is also a central theme. These important conjectures of Christianity cannot exist without the other to give it a sense of being unique and enlightened. Good and evil itself alone is not sufficient to satisfy the requirement of being Christian. Long have men known of the struggle of the two forces and beliefs have arisen around the world in support of one or the other.

As in the C.S. Lewis Narnia Chronicles, both of these themes are very central and apparent through Aslan, unlike LOTR where there are no distinct person bearing the characteristics of the Christian God. Even if you count Illuvatar as God, there is no evidence of any of the "faithful" or "believers" making direct contact with him or openly acknowledge that fact. There is also no bearing on the fact that he came to Middle-earth. Though Gandalf live up to the character of a saint he did not pronounce himself to hobbits, at least, as a messenger from Ilúvatar. Less can be said about other hobbits, men, and dwarves under his guidance only vaguely aware of him.

Though LOTR demonstrated all points of virtue of Christianity, of which Catholicism is a branch, Professor Tolkien never made direct references between the book and his own religious beliefs. Which is understandable considering Tolkien created it, and not God, he might have wished it to remain apart from our world, therefore all the Maiars, Valars etc. However, he made no mention (I think) of it being anagogy. If he ever did, it is a very subtle business and was written more to promote virtues of the good than for delivering religious messages. Christian "virtues" might be the foundation of his story, but never Christianity itself, which demands the recognition of God in all affairs by the beings he created.

Succinct descriptions of motivation must be clearly made in any good book; the understanding of why is essential for creating a fascination in the reader. Melkor rebelled against the harmony of Valar and Ilúvatar and became Morgoth the Evil. This so far is the only true biblical allusion that Tolkien ever made. It was central that he establishes the extreme good and the extreme evil in the beginning for his world’s continuation and the birth of legends that will come therewith. For to show virtue you must hold a clear conscience and differentiate between right and wrong, which becomes explicit through the rest of Simarillion and LOTR and to effectively reason the outcome of certain actions, such that the Ring is evil because Sauron made it who is a servant of the Melkor.

While it can be immediately perceived by some that a Christian theme is a strong undercurrent in Tolkien’s works, those who did not come in contact with any branch of Christianity before reading his works or knowing about the esteemed Professor’s religious influence cannot draw any conclusion other than the surety of the amount "good" in his works. There were always clear descriptions courtesy of his wonderful writing and a universal conscience inflicted upon it. He might have let his own personal experiences and feelings slip though into his tales but it is so with any writer. It was his goal to create and therefore the references he drew, probably unconsciously, are never specific. Fundamentally the theme throughout all his tales, especially LOTR, is simply a war involving all the complications of such; of good vs. evil, which is predominant; yet not only in Christianity.

–Young Dee

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