Author Topic: Catholic Poem in Time of War: The Lord of the Rings  (Read 678 times)

Offline Machaut1377

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Catholic Poem in Time of War: The Lord of the Rings
« on: February 05, 2014, 07:25:28 PM »
Essay on Tolkien and Catholicism.
I like it.

"Mythos" in Greek means story or plot, not something false. Both the poorly thought-out scientific reductionism and literalist fundamentalism unite to destroy a proper appreciation of story in the sense Tolkien meant it. Even C.S. Lewis, certainly a classically educated man, originally thought of the Greek and other primordial myths as "lies," until on a walk with Tolkien, the latter suddenly turned in one of those great moments of revelation and firmly said, "they are not lies." The "true myth" of the Gospel is "a myth that has really happened," Tolkien said, but because it is through God's gift that men are story tellers, every story is a partial reflection of the True Light that has come into the world, from man's beginnings to the present. God expresses himself through the minds of poets. The difference was that God is the poet who made the true story of the Gospel. This revelation, a personal word from Tolkien to Lewis, was so earthshaking that shortly after, Lewis became a Christian and began his own famous mythmaking about the great war at the heart of all myths.

My hope is that Tolkien will be read as what he undoubtedly is, a great Catholic poet of the post-Christian era. If Dante created the Catholic poem of the Middle Ages by explicitly telling the Christian story from top to bottom, Tolkien has created the great Catholic poem of the anti-Catholic age by embodying the catholic imagination in a not-quite-parallel universe of hobbits, elves, dwarves, wizards, orcs, and men. He has, because of his own love of pure story, discovered and revealed a way to speak unmentionable things to a post-Christian culture. In the trilogy Kristin Lavransdatter, Nobel prizewinner Sigrid Undset was able to do this by casting her story in medieval Norway in a great explicit Catholic poem of the last century. In his fiction, Evelyn Waugh was able to render the beauty of Catholicism through hints and gestures, suggesting its nearly concealed presence in a progressively secular world. In The Lord of the Rings, I believe Tolkien does exactly what he said he was doing, communicating a religious, Catholic vision through a Secondary World that radiates something vital for souls on perilous quests in a world of wars and War: the holiness of high calling.