The Lord of the Rings: A Classic

 

I was very young when I was first introduced to The Hobbit. I could not have been older than seven when I was swept completely into the journey with Bilbo and the dwarves on their way to reclaim treasure from the dragon. When the story was over, I wanted the magic to continue, so I sought out my father’s copy of The Fellowship of the Ring, which was much more difficult to understand. (Tolkien loved him some semicolons, and I was a second grader.)

The truth was, I wasn’t quite ready for Frodo’s epic adventure then, so I had to put it aside for a while, disappointed by my first introduction to Tolkien’s next generation. I thought Bilbo’s nephew, Sam, Pippin, and Merry were a bit boring. It took them too long to do anything. I did not get beyond them stealing mushrooms, as if that was even noteworthy. Already cynical, I snapped the cover shut and quietly returned that tale to the bookcase to collect dust again in my parents’ home.

Fortunately, very soon after this, I had a birthday. I unwrapped a boxed collection of books about a place called Narnia. (I still have that same, now battered box in my office today, the spines of the well-loved novels contained within, cracked and fading from a girl’s constant rereading.)

Upon adult reflection, that proved to be the exact right time for me to meet Lucy, Susan, Peter, and Edmund. I could understand Aslan before I understood Aslan. I think now that C.S. Lewis kept me enthralled with fantasy and, in this way, he would serve as a kind of bridge that would take me back to his fellow Inkling.

Time rolled by, as it inevitably does, and there was a summer evening on which I went with my mother to the library with no particular agenda apart from having something to do. Wanting to escape from the mundane of an endless August, I somehow found Smith of Wooten Major, which I read sitting cross-legged on the commercial orange carpet in the middle of the fiction aisle as grownups walked around me as if I were an island. (If you’ve not heard of it, this is a wonderful Tolkien tale about magical cakes and the Land of Faery that lingered with me long after I forgot the title.)

By then I was a mature 10 or 11, and my hunger for Middle Earth began to rumble again.

Something must have changed about how I read stories because the next thing I knew, I had blown the dust off The Fellowship’s cover and consumed The Lord of the Rings in full. The complex sentences that had once meandered aimlessly like the feet of homeless rangers now rang with the music of elves, the rhythm of poetry.

Looking back at my own intellectual development, I suppose that was the exact right time for me to meet Strider in Bree. I could understand the clash between evil and good that is illustrated by Mordor and the West long before I understood the nature of evil and good. I felt I had entered a realm that helped me see my own world in a different way while entertaining me as much as The Hobbit had once done. That is something only a masterpiece can accomplish.

Of course, I understand Tolkien is not everyone’s cup of tea. His style is that of a man who reveled in classic works. He takes his time on paper, though I find this builds suspense if one is patient enough to let the action unfold. To be enveloped by his story … to start to like his semicolons.

For some reason, I felt inspired to pick up Tolkien’s magnum opus a couple nights ago and have started reading again from the beginning, and I feel thus far as if I’m spending time with a very old, very good friend.

Additionally, I know I will get something new from the story this time around because I have changed, as we tend to do, since the last time I read it. I am already annoying my husband by keeping the reading lamp on late.

I know I am not alone in my own taste in literature as Tolkien’s works are loved by many. Still, I wonder what other books have meant as much to others as The Lord of the Rings does to me. What works do you reread with joy? Why?

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  1. Hartmann von Aue Member
    Hartmann von Aue
    @HartmannvonAue

    Spin (View Comment):

    Lois Lane (View Comment):

    Tolkien didn’t put anything in to the works to tell the story of Christ the way Lewis did. But his worldview informs the story. I don’t think there’s any “clever disguising”. If anything, the themes are unconsciously planted. Much the way Harry Potter is unconsciously a Christ figure (Rowling I am sure would context this, but it is there).

    You can find the allegory through the whole story if you want it to be there. But Tolkien himself did not put it there, and did not want you to think it was there. He was telling a different story.

    Well, not directly, no. But he did consciously plant the Christian elements in the story of Middle Earth. And in Rowling, there is a quite deliberately Christian moment in the last book when Harry sees his parents’ grave for the first time and sees John 15:13 engraved on their headstone. If I recall, he is both puzzled and astonished by it. 

    • #91
  2. Hartmann von Aue Member
    Hartmann von Aue
    @HartmannvonAue

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Hartmann von Aue (View Comment):
    Various medieval epics (Iwein, Erec, Beowulf) and sagas (Egil’s saga, Njal’s saga, Kormak’s saga, etc.).

    In translation, or in the original? And if in translation, whose?

    Original. Although the collected edition by Jane Smiley from about twenty years ago is good. I am also fond of the Palsson translation of Grettir’s saga and the Penguin editions of Egil’s saga and Laxdoela Saga (translated by …Magnus Magnusson??- I cannot remember off the top of my head). I just love the languages- I think I’ve read nearly every line of Anglo-Saxon that exists. I know I’ve read every line of Old High German. Every single one. I would like to take the time and read through all of Wulfila’s Gothic Bible at some point but have not done it. 

    • #92
  3. Hartmann von Aue Member
    Hartmann von Aue
    @HartmannvonAue

    Postmodern Hoplite (View Comment):

    Lois Lane: What works do you reread with joy? Why?

    Too many to name, but a first cut:

    • The Bible, still learning practically every time I open it that no matter how many times I have read or re-read a passage, there is so much more to know, to learn, to appreciate…
    • C.S. Lewis, of course. I didn’t discover Narnia until well after LOTR, and so it didn’t have the same “pole-ax to the forehead” effect of Tolkien. However, as my Anglophilia has grown, so has my appreciation of Lewis’s fiction. A Horse and his Boy remains my favorite of the Narnia books.
    • Shakespeare’s Henry V. I still tear-up when I get to the morning of St. Crispin’s Day.
    • Homer’s Iliad. Maybe it’s not read with “joy” per se, but it’s magnificent none the less.
    • Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, “Because a single man in possession a good fortune MUST be in want of a wife!”

    Yeah, now that you mention her, Pride and Prejudice by Austen is also on my list. 

    • #93
  4. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Hartmann von Aue (View Comment):
    I would like to take the time and read through all of Wulfila’s Gothic Bible at some point but have not done it.

    Yet! It’s good to have a goal.

    • #94
  5. Lois Lane Coolidge
    Lois Lane
    @LoisLane

    Hartmann von Aue (View Comment):
    The “secret fire” and “flame of Urun” are the Holy Spirit according to the man himself in his letters (the Humphrey Carter edition) as is the wind that blows the foul clouds of Mordor away during the Battle of Minas Tirith. And Gandalf is as Mayar supposed to be a mixture of elements of Christ (the resurrection) and the Archangel Michael (slaying the Great Dragon/Balrog). 

    Fascinating.  I can see Gandalf’s parallels easily.  I have not thought about the Holy Spirit here at all.  

    • #95
  6. Lois Lane Coolidge
    Lois Lane
    @LoisLane

    TBA (View Comment):
    Plus he smoked a pipe and that makes everything at least 10% more smarter. 

    One thing I love about Tolkien the man was that he enjoyed man things.  Not to stereotype gender, but I mean he enjoyed the company of men, and this took nothing from his devotion to his wife or his appreciation of the strength that belongs to women.  He liked a beer and a pipe at the pub in Oxford that may have inspired his rendition of the Prancing Pony.  Yet Eowyn killed the Witch King.  

    • #96
  7. Lois Lane Coolidge
    Lois Lane
    @LoisLane

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):
    Has anyone else read Dorothy Dunnett’s House of Niccolo and Lymond Chronicles?

    I have not.  I’m sorry.  

    • #97
  8. Lois Lane Coolidge
    Lois Lane
    @LoisLane

    Hartmann von Aue (View Comment):

    Spin (View Comment):

    Lois Lane (View Comment):

    Tolkien didn’t put anything in to the works to tell the story of Christ the way Lewis did. But his worldview informs the story. I don’t think there’s any “clever disguising”. If anything, the themes are unconsciously planted. Much the way Harry Potter is unconsciously a Christ figure (Rowling I am sure would context this, but it is there).

    You can find the allegory through the whole story if you want it to be there. But Tolkien himself did not put it there, and did not want you to think it was there. He was telling a different story.

    Well, not directly, no. But he did consciously plant the Christian elements in the story of Middle Earth. And in Rowling, there is a quite deliberately Christian moment in the last book when Harry sees his parents’ grave for the first time and sees John 15:13 engraved on their headstone. If I recall, he is both puzzled and astonished by it.

    Let’s try this one on for size….  I think the ability to create comes from our connection to the Creator.

    Of course there are works that have no religious themes at all, but I think in these cases in particular, there was a little back and forth between writer and He who had already written….  Tolkien had a deep and abiding relationship with his own master that was well worked out as he breathed life into a new world.  Other people’s fiction surprised Lewis with joy, and he gleefully embraced it in his own work.  Rowling–per her own words about faith–seems to be trying to understand that force that writes real life… trying to glean the nature of the eternal.

    Again, I do not understand how or why anyone in the Christian world has every condemned that last journey.  The Potter series broaches the themes that matter, the struggles of conscience and good and evil that inevitably touch us all.

    I prefer the work of Tolkien and Lewis, but I think Rowling did something wonderful, too.  I hope her characters brought her closer to the answers she was seeking, and I think her readers can see her conclusions are on the side of light.

    • #98
  9. Lois Lane Coolidge
    Lois Lane
    @LoisLane

    Hartmann von Aue (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Hartmann von Aue (View Comment):
    Various medieval epics (Iwein, Erec, Beowulf) and sagas (Egil’s saga, Njal’s saga, Kormak’s saga, etc.).

    In translation, or in the original? And if in translation, whose?

    Original. Although the collected edition by Jane Smiley from about twenty years ago is good. I am also fond of the Palsson translation of Grettir’s saga and the Penguin editions of Egil’s saga and Laxdoela Saga (translated by …Magnus Magnusson??- I cannot remember off the top of my head). I just love the languages- I think I’ve read nearly every line of Anglo-Saxon that exists. I know I’ve read every line of Old High German. Every single one. I would like to take the time and read through all of Wulfila’s Gothic Bible at some point but have not done it.

    In my mind, you smoke a pipe.  :)

    • #99
  10. Hartmann von Aue Member
    Hartmann von Aue
    @HartmannvonAue

    Lois Lane (View Comment):

    Hartmann von Aue (View Comment):

    Spin (View Comment):

     

    Let’s try this one on for size…. I think the ability to create comes from our connection to the Creator.

     

    Yeah, he put it this way in one of his most famous essays:

    Children (and adults) are capable, of course, of literary belief when the story-maker’s art is good enough to produce it. That state of mind has been called ‘willing suspension of disbelief.’ But this does not seem to me a good description of what happens. What really happens is the story-maker proves a successful ‘sub-creator.’ He makes a Secondary World which your mind can enter. Inside it, what he relates is ‘true’ : it accords with the laws of that world.

    You therefore believe it, while you are, as it were, inside. The moment disbelief arises, the spell is broken; the magic, or rather art, has failed. You are then in the Primary World again, looking at the abortive little Secondary World from the outside. If you are obliged by kindliness or circumstance to stay, then disbelief must be suspended (or stifled), otherwise looking or listening would become intolerable. But suspension of disbelief is a substitute for the genuine thing, a subterfuge we use when condescending to games or make-believe, or when trying (more or less willingly) to find what virtue we can in the work of an art that has for us failed.”
    JRR Tolkien “On Fairy Stories”

    • #100
  11. Spin Coolidge
    Spin
    @Spin

    Painter Jean (View Comment):

    Spin (View Comment):

    Lois Lane (View Comment):
    I wonder if The LotR’s religious undertones appeal more to certain readers? I know Tolkien despised allegory, but the book drips with a Catholic worldview: I don’t know. Obviously many non-Catholics love this book, but do you think this has anything to do with its lasting attraction on a subconscious if not conscious level?

    It drips with a Christian worldview, which Catholics and Protestants share.

    Actually, Tolkien himself wrote that it was a Catholic work, unconsciously at first, and then consciously.

    I would love to see that quote in context.  

    Also, not to hijack the thread, but this is just the problem:  Catholics seem to see themselves as different than other Christians.  They are not.  

    • #101
  12. Spin Coolidge
    Spin
    @Spin

    Lois Lane (View Comment):
    Again, I do not understand how or why anyone in the Christian world has every condemned that last journey. The Potter series broaches the themes that matter, the struggles of conscience and good and evil that inevitably touch us all.

    If you want to blow someone’s mind who is opposed to Harry Potter, tell them Harry is a picture of Christ.  They’ll go nuts.  It’s kind of fun, to be honest.  

    But when you articulate the case:  Harry was raised by parents that weren’t his, to world that didn’t want him, Muggles as Gentiles, Magicians as Jews, a large contingent of those who would reject any attempt to allow the two kinds of people to interact, and Harry would bring them all together, would sacrifice of himself to make that happen.  The list goes on.  But then their eyes widen.  

    The problem for many is that their faith just isn’t strong enough to be challenged.  They hear the word “witch” and immediately break out the cross and holy water.  Our European heritage is informed by Christian themes, so it’s natural that someone’s writing, even someone who may not really be a full on believer, will incorporate those themes.  And we can find them if we watch for them.

    • #102
  13. Lois Lane Coolidge
    Lois Lane
    @LoisLane

    Spin (View Comment):

    Painter Jean (View Comment):

    Spin (View Comment):

    Lois Lane (View Comment):
    I wonder if The LotR’s religious undertones appeal more to certain readers? I know Tolkien despised allegory, but the book drips with a Catholic worldview: I don’t know. Obviously many non-Catholics love this book, but do you think this has anything to do with its lasting attraction on a subconscious if not conscious level?

    It drips with a Christian worldview, which Catholics and Protestants share.

    Actually, Tolkien himself wrote that it was a Catholic work, unconsciously at first, and then consciously.

    I would love to see that quote in context.

    Also, not to hijack the thread, but this is just the problem: Catholics seem to see themselves as different than other Christians. They are not.

    I agree that Catholics are also Christians, but they have some pretty distinct attributes that make them different from their Protestant cousins, i.e. you could make a great Ven diagram for Protestants and Catholics, and you would have a lot of Christian overlap, but you would have a lot to contrast as well.  

    Spin (View Comment):
    But when you articulate the case: Harry was raised by parents that weren’t his, to world that didn’t want him, Muggles as Gentiles, Magicians as Jews, a large contingent of those who would reject any attempt to allow the two kinds of people to interact, and Harry would bring them all together, would sacrifice of himself to make that happen. The list goes on. But then their eyes widen.

    Nice. 

    Spin (View Comment):
    The problem for many is that their faith just isn’t strong enough to be challenged. They hear the word “witch” and immediately break out the cross and holy water. Our European heritage is informed by Christian themes, so it’s natural that someone’s writing, even someone who may not really be a full on believer, will incorporate those themes. And we can find them if we watch for them.

    I think there’s a lot of truth in this.  It’s weird as well because, you know, no one says C. S. Lewis is blasphemous, but there are characters who have magical attributes who aren’t on the wrong song. 

    I find most of these people very difficult on any count… difficult and lacking in humor and imagination.  (A quick aside per the “different from” comment: I’ve also found many of these folk tend to think Catholics are not Christians at all and are condemned much more than Catholics highlight differences they have with generic Protestants.)  

    • #103
  14. Spin Coolidge
    Spin
    @Spin

    Lois Lane (View Comment):
    I agree that Catholics are also Christians, but they have some pretty distinct attributes that make them different from their Protestant cousins, i.e. you could make a great Ven diagram for Protestants and Catholics, and you would have a lot of Christian overlap, but you would have a lot to contrast as well.

    It depends on who draws the Venn diagram.  From my perspective as a former Catholic and now protestant:  there is a sliver of difference that many of us like to make in to a big deal.  I’ve met Catholics who won’t refer to themselves as Christians.  I’ve met protestants who think Catholicism is from the devil.  For me:  we are all children of the King, and on the most important issues, we agree!  

    • #104
  15. Arizona Patriot Member
    Arizona Patriot
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Spin (View Comment):

    Lois Lane (View Comment):
    @arizonapatriot, I don’t know the Donaldson books. I’d assume they have nothing to do with the journalist with the big eyebrows!!! :)

    I had forgotten about the Thomas Covenant Chronicles. They were a staple for us D&D nerds back in the day. Worth a read if you enjoy Fantasy.

    Something from about that same time frame: the Bio of a Space Tyrant series.

    I liked Piers Anthony as a teenager, both Bio of a Space Tyrant and the Spell for Chameleon series.  I feel that I outgrew them (and Narnia, too).  This may just be me getting older and grouchier.  I still like LotR and the Covenant series as an adult.

    I strongly recommend the Covenant series, which is quite dark and deals, in what I find to be a very sophisticated way, with doubt, inadequacy, and the fundamental problem that our real battle is less with the evil outside us than with the evil within us.

    Donaldson is also remarkable in building a fantasy world that doesn’t feel Tolkienesque.  Most others have the usual cast of non-human characters familiar from Tolkien: elves, dwarves, orcs/goblins, trolls, halflings, wargs.  I know that Tolkien took these from older folklore, but he popularized them.  Even George R.R. Martin essentially used the same characters, with slightly different names (grumpkins for goblins, Children of the Forest for elves, dire wolves for wargs).

    Donaldson has the Bloodguard/Haruchai, the Ranyhyn (mystical and intelligent horses, though they don’t talk), the Ramen (not the noodles), the Stonedowners and Woodhelvenin, and the Lords.  There are giants, too, with the interesting characteristic of being immune to damage by fire (but not immune to the pain).

    Minor spoiler alert: As an example of Donaldson’s sophistication, I really like his idea that the new Lords fail, for centuries, to fully understand and unlock the power of the lore handed down from the old (pre-Desecration) Lords.  The problem is that the new Lords have taken the Oath of Peace, which is something close to a commitment to pacifism.  I find this an excellent narrative illustration of the Jungian concept that you can’t achieve real power until you integrate the shadow within yourself, and that such integration inherently carries the danger of turning to the Dark Side, so to speak.

    • #105
  16. Arizona Patriot Member
    Arizona Patriot
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Spin (View Comment):

    Lois Lane (View Comment):
    I agree that Catholics are also Christians, but they have some pretty distinct attributes that make them different from their Protestant cousins, i.e. you could make a great Ven diagram for Protestants and Catholics, and you would have a lot of Christian overlap, but you would have a lot to contrast as well.

    It depends on who draws the Venn diagram. From my perspective as a former Catholic and now protestant: there is a sliver of difference that many of us like to make in to a big deal. I’ve met Catholics who won’t refer to themselves as Christians. I’ve met protestants who think Catholicism is from the devil. For me: we are all children of the King, and on the most important issues, we agree!

    Briefly on the Catholic issue and in praise of Ricochet: I think that I’ve come to a greater appreciation of the Catholic view of both Marianism and the veneration of the Saints over the past couple of months, based on posts from some thoughtful Catholics here at Ricochet.  I was inclined to the Protestant view that these Catholic doctrines were akin to pantheism, and I think that it is true that some Catholics may tend into this error, but I am no longer convinced that the error is inherent in the doctrines.  

    There was one particular post recently about veneration of the saints, which made a distinction between asking a saint to pray for us and praying to a saint that I found instructive.  The post was Veneration, or Not, of the Saints, by Amy Schley (herself a Lutheran), and I was particularly appreciative of comment #33 by SkipSul, which included an explanation by an Orthodox minister.  

    Wrapping the issue back to the OP, it turns out that Skip’s Ricochet bio is a poem from LotR.

    • #106
  17. Arizona Patriot Member
    Arizona Patriot
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Lois Lane (View Comment):

    Hartmann von Aue (View Comment):

    Lois Lane (View Comment):

    Hartmann von Aue (View Comment):

    You mean besides Lord of the Rings? Vrouwe and I read that aloud about once a year.

    All of Shakespeare’s plays in the Henry IV-V cycle, most of the sonnets, Hamlet and Macbeth.

    Various medieval epics (Iwein, Erec, Beowulf) and sagas (Egil’s saga, Njal’s saga, Kormak’s saga, etc.).

    Schiller’s plays but especially Maria Stuart.

    The Aeneid.

    And lots of non-fiction Christian living books e.g. The Normal Christian Life, The Complete A.W. Tozer, Living and Praying in Jesus’ Name, several books by Bill Johnson…

    Come to think of it, my non-fiction list would be a lot longer than novels or literature.

    I wonder if The LotR’s religious undertones appeal more to certain readers? I know Tolkien despised allegory, but the book drips with a Catholic worldview: I don’t know. Obviously many non-Catholics love this book, but do you think this has anything to do with its lasting attraction on a subconscious if not conscious level?

    Yes. And he was clever in that he divided his Christ and Mary figures up into different people. And the Archangel Michael has the cleverest disguise of all. Or maybe it’s the Holy Spirit.

    So Galadriel/Arwen is Mary. Gandalf is Christ, though Aragorn is also a good contestant. Who do you make the Holy Spirit?

    I think it’s more split than that.

    Gandalf is angelic but Christlike in his resurrection.  Aragorn as the rightful King is somewhat Christlike, though perhaps more like David.  Frodo is Christlike in bearing the burden of evil through patient suffering, and then being unable to enjoy an earthly triumph.

    I don’t see much of Mary in either Galadriel or Arwen, though they are two of the three most important female characters (with Eowyn as the third).  Also, in the books, Arwen was a fairly minor character.

    • #107
  18. Spin Coolidge
    Spin
    @Spin

    Arizona Patriot (View Comment):
    I was inclined to the Protestant view that these Catholic doctrines were akin to pantheism

    Protestant who hold this view do so out of ignorance.  I have the benefit of having been raised Catholic and having attending Catholic school through 10th grade, so I have a clearer understanding of the doctrine.  

    • #108
  19. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Postmodern Hoplite (View Comment):

    Boss Mongo (View Comment):
    No mentions of Mickey Spillane? What in the wide, wide world of sports is going on?

    He’s good, but he’s no Dashiell Hammett. ‘Course, I’m not a big crime fiction reader.

    Hammett? Bah! Hammett couldn’t carry Raymond Chandler’s empties.

    • #109
  20. Django Member
    Django
    @Django

    Hartmann von Aue (View Comment):

    Lois Lane (View Comment):

    Hartmann von Aue (View Comment):

    Lois Lane (View Comment):

    Hartmann von Aue (View Comment):

    You mean besides Lord of the Rings? Vrouwe and I read that aloud about once a year.

    All of Shakespeare’s plays in the Henry IV-V cycle, most of the sonnets, Hamlet and Macbeth.

    Various medieval epics (Iwein, Erec, Beowulf) and sagas (Egil’s saga, Njal’s saga, Kormak’s saga, etc.).

    Schiller’s plays but especially Maria Stuart.

    The Aeneid.

    And lots of non-fiction Christian living books e.g. The Normal Christian Life, The Complete A.W. Tozer, Living and Praying in Jesus’ Name, several books by Bill Johnson…

    Come to think of it, my non-fiction list would be a lot longer than novels or literature.

    I wonder if The LotR’s religious undertones appeal more to certain readers? I know Tolkien despised allegory, but the book drips with a Catholic worldview: I don’t know. Obviously many non-Catholics love this book, but do you think this has anything to do with its lasting attraction on a subconscious if not conscious level?

    Yes. And he was clever in that he divided his Christ and Mary figures up into different people. And the Archangel Michael has the cleverest disguise of all. Or maybe it’s the Holy Spirit.

    So Galadriel/Arwen is Mary. Gandalf is Christ, though Aragorn is also a good contestant. Who do you make the Holy Spirit?

    The “secret fire” and “flame of Urun” are the Holy Spirit according to the man himself in his letters (the Humphrey Carter edition) as is the wind that blows the foul clouds of Mordor away during the Battle of Minas Tirith. And Gandalf is as Mayar supposed to be a mixture of elements of Christ (the resurrection) and the Archangel Michael (slaying the Great Dragon/Balrog).

    What about the difference between the Elves and Men? The Elves were tied to the Earth with the task of beautifying it, while Men’s ultimate fate was not of that world. 

    • #110
  21. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Part of the problem that some people have with Tolkien is due to pace and sentence structure.

    His pace is the way it is in part because he was steeped in that of the old sagas that he was recreating. Few things happen fast in such works; it just wasn’t the way that the skalds told stories. It wasn’t just the destination; it was the journey as well. This can come across as long-winded. You’ll get there, though. Just sit back and enjoy the sleigh ride.

    The sentence structure is foreign to our inner ears. Many people have commented on how “modern” The Personal Memoirs of US Grant seem. Grant wrote his memoirs in much the same way as he wrote orders to subordinates: simple direct sentences with few rhetorical flourishes. “We got there. I said this to Sherman. I said that to McPherson. I thought about having McClernand stood up against a wall and shot. I decided that it wouldn’t be worth the expenditure of the ammunition or the possible damage to the wall.”

     

     

    • #111
  22. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    Lois Lane (View Comment):

    Hartmann von Aue (View Comment):

    Spin (View Comment):

    Lois Lane (View Comment):

    Tolkien didn’t put anything in to the works to tell the story of Christ the way Lewis did. But his worldview informs the story. I don’t think there’s any “clever disguising”. If anything, the themes are unconsciously planted. Much the way Harry Potter is unconsciously a Christ figure (Rowling I am sure would context this, but it is there).

    You can find the allegory through the whole story if you want it to be there. But Tolkien himself did not put it there, and did not want you to think it was there. He was telling a different story.

    Well, not directly, no. But he did consciously plant the Christian elements in the story of Middle Earth. And in Rowling, there is a quite deliberately Christian moment in the last book when Harry sees his parents’ grave for the first time and sees John 15:13 engraved on their headstone. If I recall, he is both puzzled and astonished by it.

    Let’s try this one on for size…. I think the ability to create comes from our connection to the Creator.

    Of course there are works that have no religious themes at all, but I think in these cases in particular, there was a little back and forth between writer and He who had already written…. Tolkien had a deep and abiding relationship with his own master that was well worked out as he breathed life into a new world. Other people’s fiction surprised Lewis with joy, and he gleefully embraced it in his own work. Rowling–per her own words about faith–seems to be trying to understand that force that writes real life… trying to glean the nature of the eternal.

    Again, I do not understand how or why anyone in the Christian world has every condemned that last journey. The Potter series broaches the themes that matter, the struggles of conscience and good and evil that inevitably touch us all.

    I prefer the work of Tolkien and Lewis, but I think Rowling did something wonderful, too. I hope her characters brought her closer to the answers she was seeking, and I think her readers can see her conclusions are on the side of light.

    There are a lot of Christians in the US and they probably track pretty well with non-Christians wrt intelligence, intransigence, and intolerance, being that they are people. Potter has witches, magic, ghosts, immortality, coming-back-from-the-dead, prophesy…these things are either proscribed or God-only as far as the Bible is concerned; add to this the amount of research that Rowling put into her magic such that it tracks with “real” magic and it is easy to see how some God-fearing could see Potter as a danger. 

    And btw, suddenly every kid was reading – how is that not sinister? 

    • #112
  23. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    Spin (View Comment):

    Lois Lane (View Comment):
    Again, I do not understand how or why anyone in the Christian world has every condemned that last journey. The Potter series broaches the themes that matter, the struggles of conscience and good and evil that inevitably touch us all.

    If you want to blow someone’s mind who is opposed to Harry Potter, tell them Harry is a picture of Christ. They’ll go nuts. It’s kind of fun, to be honest.

    But when you articulate the case: Harry was raised by parents that weren’t his, to world that didn’t want him, Muggles as Gentiles, Magicians as Jews, a large contingent of those who would reject any attempt to allow the two kinds of people to interact, and Harry would bring them all together, would sacrifice of himself to make that happen. The list goes on. But then their eyes widen.

    The problem for many is that their faith just isn’t strong enough to be challenged. They hear the word “witch” and immediately break out the cross and holy water. Our European heritage is informed by Christian themes, so it’s natural that someone’s writing, even someone who may not really be a full on believer, will incorporate those themes. And we can find them if we watch for them.

    Yay, blowing of minds! 

    • #113
  24. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    TBA (View Comment):

    Lois Lane (View Comment):

    Hartmann von Aue (View Comment):

    Spin (View Comment):

    Lois Lane (View Comment):

    Tolkien didn’t put anything in to the works to tell the story of Christ the way Lewis did. But his worldview informs the story. I don’t think there’s any “clever disguising”. If anything, the themes are unconsciously planted. Much the way Harry Potter is unconsciously a Christ figure (Rowling I am sure would context this, but it is there).

    You can find the allegory through the whole story if you want it to be there. But Tolkien himself did not put it there, and did not want you to think it was there. He was telling a different story.

    Well, not directly, no. But he did consciously plant the Christian elements in the story of Middle Earth. And in Rowling, there is a quite deliberately Christian moment in the last book when Harry sees his parents’ grave for the first time and sees John 15:13 engraved on their headstone. If I recall, he is both puzzled and astonished by it.

    Let’s try this one on for size…. I think the ability to create comes from our connection to the Creator.

    Of course there are works that have no religious themes at all, but I think in these cases in particular, there was a little back and forth between writer and He who had already written…. Tolkien had a deep and abiding relationship with his own master that was well worked out as he breathed life into a new world. Other people’s fiction surprised Lewis with joy, and he gleefully embraced it in his own work. Rowling–per her own words about faith–seems to be trying to understand that force that writes real life… trying to glean the nature of the eternal.

    Again, I do not understand how or why anyone in the Christian world has every condemned that last journey. The Potter series broaches the themes that matter, the struggles of conscience and good and evil that inevitably touch us all.

    I prefer the work of Tolkien and Lewis, but I think Rowling did something wonderful, too. I hope her characters brought her closer to the answers she was seeking, and I think her readers can see her conclusions are on the side of light.

    There are a lot of Christians in the US and they probably track pretty well with non-Christians wrt intelligence, intransigence, and intolerance, being that they are people. Potter has witches, magic, ghosts, immortality, coming-back-from-the-dead, prophesy…these things are either proscribed or God-only as far as the Bible is concerned; add to this the amount of research that Rowling put into her magic such that it tracks with “real” magic and it is easy to see how some God-fearing could see Potter as a danger.

    And btw, suddenly every kid was reading – how is that not sinister?

    Every kid reading them is not sinister.

    Every kid reading nothing but is.

    • #114
  25. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    Spin (View Comment):

    Lois Lane (View Comment):
    I agree that Catholics are also Christians, but they have some pretty distinct attributes that make them different from their Protestant cousins, i.e. you could make a great Ven diagram for Protestants and Catholics, and you would have a lot of Christian overlap, but you would have a lot to contrast as well.

    It depends on who draws the Venn diagram. From my perspective as a former Catholic and now protestant: there is a sliver of difference that many of us like to make in to a big deal. I’ve met Catholics who won’t refer to themselves as Christians. I’ve met protestants who think Catholicism is from the devil. For me: we are all children of the King, and on the most important issues, we agree!

    Magnifying or diminishing the importance of differences is a powerful tool for retention, and for dehumanizing. 

    Christians in the US are probably more cohesive now than in the past because they are more concerned about outside secular forces than internecine bickering. 

    • #115
  26. Paul Schinder Inactive
    Paul Schinder
    @PaulSchinder

    I probably shouldn’t jump in after 4 pages of comments, but I can’t help myself.  Seeing Harry Potter compared with Lord of the Rings is just wrong.  The Lord of the Rings is a story that takes place in a fully realized world.  Questions that we might have about that world arise (for example, how actually powerful was Gandalf?) that aren’t answered in the 3 books, but Tolkien knew the answer and Christopher Tolkien will gladly sell you many books explaining the backstory from JRR’s own private notes and papers.  Harry Potter is a lot of fun (I was buying the books using Amazon’s date of publication shipping at the end), but it’s not well though out and full of  juvenile story telling.  The most galling to me is that Muggles have no agency.  Muggles have, for example, surveillance satellites, fighter planes (when London is attacked from the air by Death Eaters, where’s the RAF?), electronic communications, etc, etc, and yet are treated with mostly contempt.  The only Muggles we really see are the Dursleys, who are deliberately shown as reprehensible, and we briefly see Hermione’s parents when she callously mind wipes them.  But wizards don’t seem to care that much if Muggles know about them (noises occasionally made to the contrary notwithstanding).  The Dursleys have known for years, and squibs go to live among the Muggles.  And children born of Muggles like Hermione, or have grown up in the Muggle world like Harry go off  to Hogwarts and leave their technology behind?  They write with quill and ink on parchment (not paper, mind you) rather than just using a laptop?  I don’t think so.  No reason is ever given for the wizarding world being the way it is, and it doesn’t make much sense as is.  I don’t hang out on Pottermore and don’t read fan fiction, so maybe there are plausible explanations, but I’m unaware of them.

    As an aside, I love Rowling’s Comoran Strike books, but didn’t think that much of “A Casual Vacancy”.

    • #116
  27. Spin Coolidge
    Spin
    @Spin

    TBA (View Comment):

    Spin (View Comment):

    Lois Lane (View Comment):
    I agree that Catholics are also Christians, but they have some pretty distinct attributes that make them different from their Protestant cousins, i.e. you could make a great Ven diagram for Protestants and Catholics, and you would have a lot of Christian overlap, but you would have a lot to contrast as well.

    It depends on who draws the Venn diagram. From my perspective as a former Catholic and now protestant: there is a sliver of difference that many of us like to make in to a big deal. I’ve met Catholics who won’t refer to themselves as Christians. I’ve met protestants who think Catholicism is from the devil. For me: we are all children of the King, and on the most important issues, we agree!

    Magnifying or diminishing the importance of differences is a powerful tool for retention, and for dehumanizing.

    Christians in the US are probably more cohesive now than in the past because they are more concerned about outside secular forces than internecine bickering.

    You weren’t part of my last church….what a blow up.  ;-)

    • #117
  28. Lois Lane Coolidge
    Lois Lane
    @LoisLane

    TBA (View Comment):
    And btw, suddenly every kid was reading – how is that not sinister? 

    Very funny.  

    • #118
  29. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Arizona Patriot (View Comment):
    I was inclined to the Protestant view that these Catholic doctrines were akin to pantheism

    Some of us figure the whole Trinity thing smacks of pantheism, but that’s another war.

    • #119
  30. Lois Lane Coolidge
    Lois Lane
    @LoisLane

    Percival (View Comment):

    Every kid reading them is not sinister.

    Every kid reading nothing but is.

    Na.  They read The Hunger Games, too.  :)

    • #120
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