Sunday, December 11, 2005

Is Lord of the Rings Christian?

The Two Towers is on TV -- again! -- but I don't care; I find this entertaining. But I thought of a question I'd post for your comments:

Is Lord of the Rings Christian?

I do not mean, is it compatible with Christianity; I have no qualms about that. It was the work of a Christian, and the way Christians have embraced LOTR is noteworthy. It calls to mind Christendom at its best.

What I mean, rather, is to ask: is it essentially Christian? Put it another way: could it have come forth from, say, a Jewish milieu? Or Muslim? Or Hindu? Or Buddhist?


Strider said...

Wonderful question, Father. It's hard to imagine another religous culture producing a work like Lord of the Rings, but given my ignorance of other religious cultures, I suppose I should remain silent.

But what other culture would have its hero (the insignificant Hobbit Frodo) getting to the very edge yet of the fiery crevice yet refusing at the last moment to throw to its destruction that "thing" which is the cause of such terrible evil. And in that moment of failure, evil (Gollum) destroys evil (Sauron). This is all so very Christian. What other culture could create such a myth!

Jeff Miller said...

J.R.R. Tolkien himself said that the primary influence to LOTR was his Catholic faith.

There is an excellent set of lectures in mp3 format given by Ave Maria Professor Joseph Pearce on this subject at a Southern Baptist Seminary availble for free.

Jacob said...

This is of course not very deep (kudos to my brethren who have commented so far).

In a work Tolkien wrote that told of a conversation between Finrod and a mortal woman where they discussed mortality and the 'original sin' of Men, Finrod intuited that in order for the corruption of Melkor/Satan to be ended, Eru/God would have to enter the World through the vehicle of a Man.

(_The War of the Jewels_ in the 'History of Middle-earth' series.

This is not quite what the question is, but given the fact that Tolkien in his private writings pretty much explicitly tied 'Middle-earth' to the eventual rise of Christianity, a LotR in another religion would just not be possible, given the entire conception of Tolkien's legendarium is Catholic.

Anonymous said...

I am no expert, but I agree that the Ring could only come out of a Christian Culture. But, would any other culture appreciate it like we do?

In a similar thought, are there equivalents written for other cultures that we overlook because we don't understand the cultural conections?

Mike L

Anonymous said...

Wonderful question and wonderful answers. I would go farther and say it is not merely Christian, but specifically Catholic. I base this on thirty-five years of rereading the story; on reading all of Tolkien's letters; and on reading the Silmarillion. The sheer number of things I could say would require my own blog, but there are many, many well-written articles and books that cover the ground better than I could.