I’m saddened to say the wonderful trilogy known as The Lord of the Rings did not enter into my world until the ripe age of twenty years old. I did not start by reading the books either, it all began with Peter Jackson’s beautiful portrayal in the medium of film, which is phenomenal, but there is so much more detail and description within the pages that Tolkien originally wrote. At this moment, I still have yet to finish the series, but there is a reason why I have decided to post this now.
Levi the Poet, which was highlighted in the previous post, has a track on his album, Correspondence (A Commentary), called Hallowed Art, Hollow Artist, Hope (Commentary) in which he discusses J.R.R. Tolkien’s views on Christianity within stories, as well as how it relates to his very own album he is commentating on. He begins the track with a quote from Tolkien himself:
“The Evangelium has not abrogated legends; it has hallowed them, especially the “happy ending.” The Christian has still to work, with mind as well as body, to suffer, hope, and die; but he may now perceive that all his bents and faculties have a purpose, which can be redeemed. So great is the bounty with which he has been treated that he may now, perhaps, fairly dare to guess that in Fantasy he may actually assist in the effoliation and multiple enrichment of creation. All tales may come true; and yet, at the last, redeemed, they may be as like and unlike the forms that we give them as Man, finally redeemed, will be like and unlike the fallen that we know.”
Fairytales & Mythical Lands
J.R.R. Tolkien was close friends with the famous writer of the The Chronicles of Narnia series, C.S. Lewis. Both are now known as prolific writers of their mythical series, and C.S. Lewis has a plethora of theological books such as Mere Christianity and a collection of essays know as The Weight of Glory, along with many more. J.R.R. Tolkien was a devout Roman Catholic, and his beliefs played a crucial role in the conversion of C.S. Lewis from atheism to Christianity. Their religion is essential to note, when talking about their writings, because it influenced their writings, especially within their mythical series, but the pair seemed to disagree on how to allow their writing to be influenced by their religion. Tolkien had some quarrels with Lewis’ infusion of Christianity into his Narnia series. He felt that it was trying to beat the reader over the head about the theological theme that Lewis was attempting to portray. Tolkien believed that “if Christ was alive inside of him, then Christ would be seen through him regardless of whether or not he crowbarred the name if Jesus into his writing a thousand times to prove it to be true.” (Hallowed Art, Hollow Artist, Hope) That is not to say that Lewis did that himself, but it is clear to see that the creation narrative is within the Narnia narrative and Tolkien does not agree with the balance Lewis chose. Overall, the mythical fantasies created by them are beautiful in and of themselves, but each of their stories points beyond itself to an even more unfathomable beauty.
Tolkien’s most well know series of books all take place in Middle Earth. The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit follow the adventures of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins in the unique and beautiful, while The Silmarillion depicts the creation and history of this universe Tolkien named Eä . For many people unaware, Tolkien created this whole mythical universe fully equipped with maps and even their own unique language. Middle Earth became the peak of Tolkien’s creativity. As you look deeper and deeper into his depiction of how this imaginary universe was created and how its history has moved forward it starts to resemble something eerily similar to the creation story of Christianity.
Eru Ilúvatar – the supreme being of the entire universe (Eä) who first created Ainur, which were divine spirits, and the most powerful Ainur of all, Melkor, became evil and was eventually exiled to the Void. (Seems a tad bit similar to the God of Christianity and the story of Lucifer)
- Gandalf, Aragorn, Samwise Gamgee – unlike Aslan in Narnia, The Lord of the Rings has multiple characters that represent characteristics of Christ.
- Gandalf’s forming of the fellowship, wanderer of the land, and his resurrection are all similar to traits of Jesus.
- Aragorn, symbolizes Christians awaiting The Return of the King, because the people of Middle Earth were also awaiting the return of their king, which is Aragorn.
- Sam exudes faithfulness, much like that of Christ’s stature.
There are many more examples, but I encourage those that are still interested to keep looking into the narrative behind the great creation of Middle Earth.
Tolkien is a storyteller, and the The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, and The Silmarillion are masterpieces in the art of telling stories through writing. There is beauty amidst every vivid description of great ancient towns such as Rivendell, or the tale of brotherhood amongst The Fellowship of the Ring, but there may be more beauty beyond the immediate picture we get from these writings.
Dive deeper, move beyond the story to find the beauty of the whole narrative!
“We do not want merely to see beauty, though, God knows, even that is bounty enough. We want something else which can hardly be put into words — to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it.” – C.S Lewis, The Weight of Glory