Please forgive me for the last anecdotal article, as some Facebook Group individual has labeled it. And, allow me to mention some very enlightening information, provided to me from a different Facebook Group individual. An individual with far more advanced research on my blog’s present topic.
The material comes straight from J.R.R. Tolkien. Though the Inkling author wrote this material for over half-a-century, he never finished it. However, thanks to his son, Christopher Tolkien, we can read some about Tolkien’s symbolism as found in his posthumously published work, The Silmarillion.
Origins Behind Tolkien’s Fantasy: What I Expected
What I expected, really, is irrelevant. For, it merely seemed like an extensively thought-out history of a boy’s imagined fairy-land and people. And, it is. But there is so much more!
Contained within The Silmarillion‘s preface, a letter from J.R.R. Tolkien to Milton Waldman in 1951, there exist the admitted origins behind Tolkien’s Fantasy. And they are not what the average run-of-the-mill Christian is led to believe. Below, I provided two quotes that indicate something surprising about J.R.R. Tolkien and his lifelong work. Something he would later regret, and come to change.
Origins Behind Tolkien’s Fantasy: Written to Trick and Mislead
On the side of mere narrative device, this is, of course, meant to provide beings of the same order of beauty, power, and majesty as the ‘gods’ of higher mythology, which can yet be accepted – well, shall we say baldly, by a mind that believes in the Blessed Trinity.
~ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Silmarillion
Does this written sentence sound devious to anyone other than me? If objects like romanced monsters, like Frankenstein’s monster, were looked down upon as poor literature, then writing about mythological gods definitely would have been considered in a poor light. Did J.R.R. Tolkien understand this when it came to publishing his childhood fantasies?
As far as I have heard, people throughout all the Christian first-world countries began to neglect their Christian backgrounds after the World Wars, especially WWII. And, if people neglected their upbringing in Christian beliefs, then Faith in “the Blessed Trinity” would diminish also. Though I will refrain from discussing it here, I have read some into J.R.R. Tolkien’s love and religious life. How much emotional trauma did he endure to suffer in the trials of his Faith? To seemingly merely appease the Christians in his life?
Origins Behind Tolkien’s Fantasy: Something Like Sacrilege in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Letter
Of course there was and is all the Arthurian world, but powerful as it is, it is imperfectly naturalized, associated with the soil of Britain but not with English; and does not replace what I felt to be missing. For one thing its ‘faerie’ is too lavish, and fantastical, incoherent and repetitive. For another and more important thing: it is involved in, and explicitly contains the Christian religion.
~ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Silmarillion
The writer goes on to speak about how modern authors, in writing about allegory and mythology, should avoid ‘real’ modern-day symbology. He even explicitly emphasized to refrain from referring to the Christian religion. Though, pre-Christian, pagan day symbology was perfectly acceptable. Consequentially he used much Norse mythology, linguistic inspiration, and more content from age-old religions.
Outrageous! To thus criticize those who openly share their faith through their writing seems morally wrong to me. And, since Tolkien’s good friend, C.S. Lewis, wrote about what a popular YouTube video called his Jesus Lion in Narnia, then the rift between the most beloved Inkling members is perfectly understood! Whoa, there, calm down, Mary. Tolkien had his fallacies just like everyone else.
Origins Behind Tolkien’s Fantasy: The Summarization
So, in reading the preface to The Silmarillion, I have learned that J.R.R. Tolkien didn’t base everything in Middle Earth on the Faith and Belief in Christianity. While he may have sought to include more on One True God and His righteousness into his fantasy in later years, the origins behind Tolkien’s fantasy lay in paganism.
Conclusively – oh! One thing more! According to Tolkien in his note to his friend, the Elves more closely resembled the angels. Not necessarily the angels as heard about in the Holy Bible, but angels of Tolkien’s variety. And if Gandalf was an “incarnate angel,” then he served the mythological gods, and not the “‘real’ world” Christian God.
Please don’t come away from this blog post with the impression that our beloved J.R.R. Tolkien now exists in the underworld. I believe he’s finally at peace with our Lord and Savior in Heaven, but it proves an excellent point: We see what we want to see.
Tolkien’s genius still fools some of us simpletons, especially me! But, then again, was God working through Tolkien, to speak to an ever-growing Atheist world about the beauty in the Christian walk? It is said J.R.R. Tolkien believed it to be so, and he proudly carried the torch onward in later years.
Title picture as seen in Peter Jackson’s The Fellowship of the Ring, found at Movie Screencaps.com.
* A large Thank You belongs to those who are continuing to teach me on Tolkien’s inspirations. And I, as the writer, beg for the reader’s patience as I learn about Tolkien’s great worth as both a Christian and an Author.