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Old 03-16-2010, 02:11 PM   #26
Groin Redbeard
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
 
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Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Facing the world's troubles with Christ's hope!
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Groin Redbeard is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Groin Redbeard is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
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Originally Posted by Lindolirian View Post

And here I must recommend an excellent book that delves into that very absorption. The Philosophy of Tolkien by Peter Kreeft.
It is good to know that someone besides myself knows of Peter Kreeft!

"Snow-white! Snow-white! O Lady clear!"

As the passion of Christ is dimly echoed in the struggles of Tolkienís three heroes, so the place of Mary in Catholic faith and piety is reflected in another key figure of Middle-earth: Galadriel, the elven Queen of Lothlůrien. Tolkien himself explicitly acknowledged this connection, observing in a letter to a friend, "I think it is true that I owe much of this character to Christian and Catholic teaching and imagination about Mary." In another letter he remarked that it is upon our Lady that "all my own small perception of beauty both in majesty and simplicity is founded."

Once again, this isnít to say that Galadriel is an allegorical representation of the Blessed Virgin, any more than Frodo or Gandalf or Aragorn are direct representations of Christ. The actual relationship is more subtle: In imagining a glorious and immortal Queen of a paradaisical realm, and in depicting the devotion of others to her, Tolkien could hardly help drawing on the actual devotion in his religious tradition to a glorified Queen of a divine realm.

Indeed, in being drawn to create such a character in the first place, Tolkienís imagination was informed and fired by his faith and piety. Had he been, for instance, a Southern Baptist, or a Dutch Calvinist, doubtless Galadriel either would never have existed at all, or would at any rate have been an entirely different figure.

Itís in the devotion she inspires, most especially in the dwarf Gimli, that Galadrielís Marian resonances are most apparent. Gimliís heart belongs to his immortal Queen as unreservedly as the heart of St. Louis de Montford or St. Maximillian Kolbe to the Queen of Heaven, and through Gimli the reader, even the non-Catholic or non-Christian reader, has a kind of window into the world of such devotion.

Galadriel is not the only elven Queen with Marian associations. The elvish hymns sung in praise of Elbereth resonate with Marian hymnody; a number of writers have observed similarities between the following lines of Tolkienís poetry and a well-known Marian hymn Tolkien would have known from childhood.

Snow-white! Snow-white! O Lady clear!
O Queen beyond the Western seas!
O light to us that wander here
Amid the world of woven trees!Ö
O Elbereth! Gilthoniel!
We still remember, we who dwell
In this far land beneath the trees,
Thy starlight on the Western seas.


Note the themes common to these lines and those that follow (the singer as wanderer in a remote land; the far-off Queen as a source of light and guidance; the repeated association of the Queen with starlight and the sea):

Hail, Queen of Heaven, the ocean star,
Guide of the wandírer here below:
Thrown on lifeís surge, we claim thy care -
Save us from peril and from woe.
Mother of Christ, star of the sea,
Pray for the wanderer, pray for me.

These ethereal queens arenít the booksí only elvish element with specifically Catholic resonance. The "waybread" or lembas of the Elves, given to the members of the Fellowship in Lothlůrien, has clear eucharistic overtones. "Wafers" (Tolkienís word) of this extraordinary food, we read, had a virtue without which [Frodo and Sam] would long ago have lain down to die. It did not satisfy desire, and at times Samís mind was filled with the memories of food, and the longing for simple bread and meats. And yet this waybread of the Elves had a potency that increased as travellers relied on it alone and did not mingle it with other foods. It fed the will, and it gave strength to endure, and to master sinew and limb beyond the measure of mortal kind.
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I heard the bells on Christmas Day. Their old, familiar carols play. And wild and sweet the words repeatof peace on earth, good-will to men!
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
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