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Old 01-27-2010, 09:54 AM   #20
skip spence
shadow of a doubt
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skip spence is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.skip spence is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Originally Posted by Pitchwife
I imagine that Tolkien - exactly because he was a devout Christian himself - somehow didn't feel it within his rights as a subcreator to 'make up' a religion for them; maybe he also felt it would lessen the dignity of his characters if he had them holding a plausibly pre-Christian 'pagan' belief that would have been contrary to what he himself held to be true.
Originally Posted by Legate of Amon Lanc View Post
I think it is partially given by the nature of the people, which stems from the abovementioned author's intention. We could simply say that the people of Middle-Earth do not have any basic "religious instinct" in themselves (in which, once again, Tolkien expresses the sort of ideal world for a Christian, where there is no inclination to make any gods for oneself and thus nothing to corrupt the eventual relation of anybody to the real god, resp. gods...
Good points and I tend to agree. This is probably it. T wanted his characters to be sort of 'noble savages', like say Aristotle. Bet there's a place in limbo for Aragorn and Frodo. Even it they obviously could not be Catholics, he didn't want them to be not Catholics either, if you get what I'm saying. To have the Gaffer ritually sacrificing a pig to gain favours from the fertility-gods in order to grow good taters wouldn't go down too well I guess, nor would Elrond the half-elven keeping a stall of lovely concubines.

And the "worship" of the Valar can be explained away too, like the quote Ibrin provided shows. I actually thought of the parallel before I read it too, but calling upon the Valar really is similar to how "a Catholic might call on a Saint, though no doubt knowing in theory as well as he that the power of the Vala was limited and derivative."

There's only one true religion in Middle Earth:
Originally Posted by JRRT quoted by Ibrin
Among the exiles, remnants of the Faithful who had not adopted the false religion nor taken part in the rebellion, religion as divine worship (though perhaps not as philosophy and metaphysics) seems to have played a small part; though a glimpse of it is caught in Faramir's remark on 'grace at meat.'
You can easily imagine how the wild peoples of the East and South are into idol worship and false gods though, couldn't you?

Originally Posted by Prince of the Halflings
Most of what we know about the beliefs or superstitions of prehistoric people relies on artifacts, cave paintings and evidence that they did things like bury their dead. Well, if we uncovered archeological evidence of the Rohirrim then we'd probably conclude that they did have religion, because they certainly buried their dead in a ritualistic ceremony (as did all the other cultures of Middle Earth, as far as I can tell).
Good point. And they seem to have believed in an afterlife too. From an inside perspective I think one might conclude that the Rohirrim actually did have a religion, although little of it is explicitly mentioned in the books.
Originally Posted by PotH
However, in Middle Earth people know that there actually are supernatural beings who helped to create and maintain the world! The people of Middle Earth don't need to hypothesise the existence of demi-gods and nature spirits - they know they exist! The Downfall of Numenor is just one of many examples of the existence of the Valar. Also, the Men of Middle Earth are aware of the existence of other intelligent races - one of which is immortal. Elves and Dwarves aren't just the stuff of folk stories in Middle Earth: they really exist. In other words, Middle Earth really isn't like our world in certain important ways.
Mm. I had similar thoughts too. But do they really, I'm thinking now? Which mortal in Middle Earth has actually seen one of the Valar or any supernatural entity at work? And no-one of the speaking peoples, not even Ingwe who sits at the feet of Manwe on Taniquetil, has come "face to face" with the one true God.

It is clear that in the Shire, and probably Rohan and Gondor too, things such as Dragons, Ents and immortal Elves are seen as fairy-tale stuff, rather than part of the real world they live and breath in. For the large majority, all they have is the stories to believe or not to believe in, just like us. Therefore, from an inside perspective, it is odd to say the least that they did not make up "false" religions.

Originally Posted by Bethberry
What is it that prompts Frodo to accept the burden of carrying the Ring? What is it that prompts Sam to accompany him? What helps Eowyn recover? I think this is a very interesting question to ask about Middle-earth
A Galadriel-quote springs to mind:
Originally Posted by ForR
Do not trouble your hearts overmuch with thought of the road tonight. Maybe the paths that you each shall tread are already laid before your feet, though you do not see them.
Originally Posted by Bb
Wisdom can also mean awareness to understand what is needful, and by that meaning, Frodo caps them all.
Agreed. This really is the core idea of the whole book, isn't it? What I meant to say is that Galadriel and Elrond, although they perhaps made mistakes in the past, certainly gets it in LotR, unlike Boromir, Denethor and so forth.

I tried to rep the thread but alas I haven't been generous enough since last I repped you.
Thanks. I had the same experience trying to rep a few people on this thread.
"You can always come back, but you can't come back all the way" ~ Bob Dylan

Last edited by skip spence; 01-27-2010 at 10:41 AM. Reason: Eru made me do it
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