Posted May 30, 2008
My brother's family is expecting again! Praise the Lord!
My brother's family is expecting again! Praise the Lord!
If you've ever been to my house you've probably seen my coffee rig before. Here's a picture for those who haven't yet. If you can't see the coffee in the mug it's because it's not doctored (or "spoiled" as some might say).
Mr Powers, I pray you to make no apologies. I myself was prepared to wait several days for your response and was pleasantly surprised by your promptness. I in turn feel I should apologize or at least explain my own delay[s]. I was in Mobile when you made your last post and had inconsistent internet connections for a while.
I attempted in my second post to explain the usage of the words "wizard" and "magic" in LOTR. There are two essential categories of people in LOTR and middle earth specifically: "the wise" (the bulk of the eldar or "elven" race, most dwarves, and most men of numenorean descent. The other group has no name but is in essence the unlearned masses. You never hear any of the wise speaking of istari or eldar having "magical" powers. They only use words like "sorcery", "witch", and "magic" with reference to the enemy. The only exception being when speaking to one from the masses who only understands supernatural events as being magical. Therefore, Ol "Gandalf" does not have magical powers, but he does have supernatural powers (like an angel???).
It has been speculated Tom Bombadil could possibly be an incarnation of Eru Ilr himself (or some part of his essence, a reference to the Trinity?). Tolkien chose to leave certain elements of his universe unexplained like the origins and demise of Ungoliant (Shelob's ancestor from The Silmarillion you'll recall). This gave him more space to keep his tales unpredictable and therefore more enjoyable. God does similar things in the real universe. He leaves things unexplained so that 1: we are dependent on him, and 2: so that we will seek out the things he has left for us to find. Based on both of these possibilities and the sheer fact that it's not explained, I don't feel Bombadil (or his creator) should be condemned.
You assert that the God of Tolkien's universe is not also the triune God of our own. On what do you base this? Must one say "triune God" for it to be so? Scripture never directly uses the word "trinity" (don't get me wrong, I am trinitarian in my theology... such as it is) but generally references our Lord in the singular. Does this make him any less the triune God? No. I am an officiating soccer referee, but if someone doesn't use that title does it make me any less an official? No. Based on this I am personally of the conviction that Tolkien's "Eru" may well be the great and triune God of scripture or even one of his instruments. To sum up my personal convictions on LOTR I feel that though Tolkien's work has a potential to distract and waste the time of readers, it should not be condemned for heresy or portraying evil in a good light (such as Harry Potter).
This is a continuum of the debate begun in my last post.
Dear Mr. Powers,
Let me say up front that I agree with you that 1: magic is evil, and 2: The Lord of the Rings is not an allegory, at least in a strict sense.
That being said I'm not sure I understand your choice of words with reference to "magic" and "allegory". You stated (as did I) that all forms of magic are completely and totally evil. I explained in my post that magic is merely a subset of the supernatural and falls under the "evil" category. I then explained the parallel between the two sources of said supernatural power found both in scripture and in Tolkien's universe.
I apologize for not stating my understanding of how the word "allegory" should be applied to Tolkien's universe. To summarize the definition found in the American Heritage Dictionary in relation to this context, an allegory is a representation of ideas or principles in a narrative form. Tolkien stated that he disliked the direct allegory writing style, like that you'll find in the works of his friend C. S. Lewis in The Chronicles of Narnia. However it is utterly impossible for any writer to not be influenced by his/her studies and research. For example, Tolkien came up with the idea for "Middle Earth" from Norse Mythology. The Norse "Vikings" believed in several worlds that crossed paths over the human-inhabited world "Midgard" which literally means "middle enclosure". Therefore, though Tolkien certainly did not write a literal allegory, he did use many parallels from other works both fictional and historical.
I am also rather confused by paragraph seven of your response. You said:
I know you probably think me ignorant in this allegory but even Tolkien chose to call the Istari Wizards (who cast multiple spells), if he had chosen to make them wise men sent from Eru then I would not have a such a big problem with this, but still as I have said before, Angels can only do the bidding of the LORD, ones who have disobeyed have been cast out.
You start of by using the word allegory in reference to Tolkien's work. I can only assume that since you firmly spoke against LOTR being an allegory that you are speaking of a parallel. You then say "even Tolkien chose to call the Istari Wizards (who cast multiple spells),...", even though I explained in my post that due to the many different languages Tolkien used, the word "wizard" (among others) was only used by unlearned characters such as most men and hobbits, or by more learned ones speaking to them. God speaks in various languages to us and uses terms we can better comprehend in order for us to learn more easily (eg. speaking in parables). Tolkien applied a similar principle with words like "wizard" and "magic". In The Silmarillion since he is writing as an Eldar (or "elvish") chronicler you hear almost no mention of wizards, necromancers, sorcerers, or magic unless it be in reference to "the enemy". Whereas in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings he uses them more frequently in reference to the Istari or the eldar.
In the same sentence you said "...if he had chosen to make them wise men sent from Eru...". First of all, it has been stated already (and you'll remember this from The Silmarillion) that the five Istari are in fact Maiar, in the form of old men. You also said that angels can only do the bidding of the Lord. Where did I dispute this? And also, from a Calvinistic standpoint, both good and evil angels ("demons") are bound to the will of God even as everything else in the universe is. Those angels who have been "cast out" are known as "demons" yet remain angels (scripture refers to the devil and his angels), so it's entirely plausible for (in a parallel sense) Saruman, and even Sauron (who was also a Maia at one time) to be turned to evil.
I greatly appreciate your willingness to discuss and seek out this matter and look forward to further communications with you.
Micah D. Ferrill
I started this post as a comment in response to a statement on this site about "all wizards being dark" with specific reference to The Lord of the Rings. It grew to be very, very long in a hurry (for a comment) so I decided to make a post and link to it.
Scripture speaks clearly to the fact that all sorcery and similar acts of witchcraft are evil. However there are innumerable places in the Bible that tell of supernatural events taking place that are declared good. Therefore we can say that there are two categories of supernatural happenings. First there is the bad kind which is caused by the devil and his demonic forces.
Witches and wizards derive their abilities from this category of the supernatural. Secondly there is the good kind which is caused by God himself directly or through a lesser power be it angels, prophets, or even a donkey (Balaam's ass).
Now let's travel to the land of make-believe. we'll stroll past tales of dragons and damsels and light on a set of books bearing the similarity that they were all penned by J. R. R. Tolkien and edited and published by his son Christopher (for whom the stories were first written). Tolkien (senior) was a language master. He invented more than a dozen complete languages as a hobby. And they aren't English just with different letters. They are complete languages, with their own pronunciation, scripts, dialects, and histories (fictional of course). Since he wrote LOTR as a history for these languages the names and tales are often not in English and so he had a tough time translating these into English for us poor illiterate people to read.
When looking at the many books Tolkien wrote about his fictional universe one can see certain tendencies between each of the races. Men and Hobbits are usually the medium through which he speaks to his readers since their language is closest to English. Men in Tolkien's universe are the most easily led astray of the free peoples and are sometimes very simple in their thinking. Where they would say wizard, an elf would say Istari.
The Istari are members of a group known collectively as the Maiar, a lesser class of angelic beings. The five Istari or "wizards" as the unlearned in Tolkien's universe would call them were sent by the Valar (higher angels) to aid the free peoples in the coming struggle against "the enemy" aka. Sauron. Sauron himself was once a Maia but had fallen astray and was corrupted by his lord: Morgoth (yes, Sauron has a boss).
Let's see, I'm currently...
Obviously not all at the same time, but pretty close. Comment with your busiest multi-tasking moments.