Search Results for: tolkien

Tolkien: The Quenta Silmarillion

ImageThe Tale of the Silmarils introduces readers to many of the themes found in the Lord of the Rings (LOTR): the lust for power, the struggle against an evil lord, the frailty of men (and elves), war, and ultimate redemption. It is altogether a grimmer tale than LOTR but one which enriches any reading of Tolkien’s main works.

The Quenta Silmarillion (QS) raises several questions which are interesting in the philosophy of religion. I say religion deliberately as the QS offers a rather useful view of the construction and development of myth, sacred or otherwise. Obviously Tolkienism is not a religion: His sub-creative sojourn in Faerie is consciously fictional but the creation itself is, I think, in some ways true. More basically, his is also simply the construction of a story, which is how most religions begin. More on this here.

Two philosophical problems present themselves in the QS: free will and theodicy. On free will, the term employed by Tolkien is “doom.” The elves who vow to regain the Silmarils, leave Valinor, and kill their kin at Alqualondë, find themselves under the Doom of Mandos:

Tears unnumbered ye shall shed; and the Valar will fence Valinor against you, and shut you out, so that not even the echo of your lamentation shall pass over the mountains. On the House of Fëanor the wrath of the Valar lieth from the West unto the uttermost East, and upon all that will follow them it shall be laid also. Their Oath shall drive them, and yet betray them, and ever snatch away the very treasures that they have sworn to pursue. To evil end shall all things turn that they begin well; and by treason of kin unto kin, and the fear of treason, shall this come to pass. The Dispossessed shall they be for ever. [Read more...]

Tolkien: Tom Bombadil as God

tom-bombadilHey dol! merry dol! ring a dong dillo! Ring a dong! hop along! fal lal the willow! Tom Bom, jolly Tom, Tom Bombadillo!

I am going to return to The Silmarillion anon but in the meantime, here’s something to cause MCQ and RAF certain pain. [Read more...]

Tolkien: Cosmogony

Blogging the Ainulindalë and Valaquenta from Tolkien’s The Silmarillion

ambarkanta-grrrod-silmarillion-john-ronald-reuel-tolkien-lord-of-the-rings-three-ages-arda-middle-earth-map-fantasy-1920x2560

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Tolkien: On Fairy Stories III

imagesHaving briefly considered Tolkien’s defense of fantasy fiction and asked whether the Book of Mormon partially treads the borderlands of Faërie, I want to finish this look at Tolkien’s thought by saying something about three works that further illuminate Faërie: the poem Mythopoeia, and the short stories Leaf by Niggle and Smith of Wootton Major. We thereby cover the canon of Tolkien’s literary philosophy.  [Read more...]

Tolkien: On Fairy Stories II

I think the Book of Mormon treads the borderlands of Faërie.

1st-Age-01-First-Two-Voyages-of-the-Elves-to-Aman

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Tolkien: On Fairy Stories

First let us raise a toast to “the Professor” on this his 121st birthday.

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Your Sunday Brunch Special: Poetry, Prose, Class, and Joseph Smith

Musings on a Sunday morning, nothing much important, but I inflict it on you anyway. You’ll forgive me for the strange usage.

Mormonism: outsiders, if they observe carefully, see two interwoven sides to the Joseph Smith narrative. There is poetry. His production of the Book of Mormon, for instance. The work itself is one of poetic-mythic dimensions, and its interpretations are part and parcel of the poetry that is early Mormonism. The Book of Mormon was originally seen as a universal American tale, offering predictions about the fate of the United States and the origins of its primitive inhabitants, the evils of Catholicism and the virtues of gentile Protestants who had somehow labored under oppressions of popery, even before a reformation. Joseph himself is poetic in our unhindered vision of him. His own hand reeks of biblical verse, prayers to heaven, pleas and gratitude for divine help. But, mid-career, Joseph seems to step behind a curtain, and becomes the object of narrative, rather than its producer. His journals are no longer dictated, they are mostly observed. We hear his voice as less personal, more formal, prosaic, if you will, as his revelations become hidden by secret orders, sermons couched in double meaning, and ghostwritten works.
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Dr. Strangeglove: Or, How I learned to stop worrying and love the devil music

Choose carefully the music you listen to. Pay attention to how you feel when you are listening. Some music can carry evil and destructive messages. Do not listen to music that encourages immorality or glorifies violence through its lyrics, beat, or intensity. Do not listen to music that uses vulgar or offensive language or promotes evil practices. Such music can dull your spiritual sensitivity. [For the Strength of Youth]

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A Stranger, A Pilgrim: Liveblogging El Camino

[Update Day 1], [Update Day 2], [Update Day 3], [Update Day 4], [Update Day 5], [Update Day 6]

scallop shell symbol8 Yo te haré saber y te enseñaré el camino en que debes andar;
te aconsejaré con mis ojos puestos en ti.

9 No seas como el caballo o como el mulo, que no tienen entendimiento;
cuyos arreos incluyen brida y freno para sujetarlos,
porque si no, no se acercan a ti

10 Muchos son los dolores del impío,
pero al que confía en el SEÑOR, la misericordia lo
rodeará.

11 Alegraos en el SEÑOR y rogocijaos, justos;
dad voces de júbilo, todos los rectos de corazón.

- Salmos 32:8-11

Madrid, March 30, 2013john f.: A motley crew of Mormons walking The Way of St. James might seem strangers on the Camino indeed. This will not be the first time that Jordan and I have raised eyebrows as Mormons in a culturally non-Mormon setting. Nearly fifteen years ago we studied Yiddish together in Vilnius — many of our fellow students young and old, I recall, found it very amusing that a couple of Mormon brothers were among them. [Read more...]

On the road with Hyrum Thane

This is an account of books and friends, red rock and lichen-clad graves, science and serendipity. I am writing while listening to Neil Young’s The Old Homestead on the record player. I suggest you read it to the same.

Out on the floor
where the cowboys dance,
approaching slowly at a glance.
Here comes the shadow of his stance:
The reins are fallin’
from his hands.

I was born in the Shire, where there are no cowboys, only hobbits. [Read more...]

Toward a Theology of the Material

[I was just sitting here - thinking about where the fun speculations of 19th century Mormonism might lead, and this is what came out. Excuse its ragged form.]

Mormonism has a uniquely materialist bent. It posits that the material is necessary for complete happiness.[1] That while the world is biphasic, physical and spiritual, both are material.[2] Modern physics divides much of its attention between the very large (cosmology) and the very small (quantum phenomena). In the large, physics tells us of a universe whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere and yet expanding. That expansion is apparently going on forever, never to stop.
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Grace Vis-à-vis Violence

Violence permeates existence. I offer six studies from my life to disclose and unpack what I mean. I came to this project because of the amount of internet chatter (and I mean this in the most warm and Heideggerian sense) about grace and mercy and other such positive attributes of the Divine. Three things helped crystallize my need to say something about the place of violence in LDS thought. [Read more...]

The Archeology of my Bookcase

If you want to endear yourself to me when you come over to my house for the first time, notice and peruse my living room bookcase. My real bookcases are downstairs in my basement, but the two you see as you enter my door are a convocation of carefully chosen books designed to reveal things about me. [Read more...]

April Fools – Volunteers Requested

March_2006_saruman_lrg Many of you will no doubt remember my last, highly successful experiment in blending opposite species: the Uruk-Hai, which were a mixture of the races of Orc and Man. Many of you are only vaguely familiar with my exploits from the biased, inflammatory, and even libellous account written by J. R. R. Tolkien and filmed by Peter Jackson (Will the world never learn that pragmatism is a virtue? I was only working with Sauron in order to bring about change from the inside!). [Read more...]

Why I Hate George Lucas (and you should too)

Over at the Kulture Klub, we all had to endure a recent nerd-filled chatterfest about pointless Star Wars trivia. (Seriously, look at those geeks in the comments section. Sure glad I’m not them). That may have been a fun thread, but trust me, folks — this one is sure to be much more cathartic. Indeed, consider it long overdue therapy at no charge.

As you all know, Star Wars, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith is opening exactly one month from today, and I think it’s time we all release our collective, pent-up angst at George Lucas for how he’s ruined the Star Wars experience; might as well get it out now, so that when you head for the theatre, you’ll have already processed your rage and you’ll have lower expectations, ensuring a consequently less-torturous cinematic experience overall.

(Some might say that this thread would be more appropriate elsewhere, but since Boy George Evans and the other powers-that-be over there didn’t see fit to invite me to participate in their little cinematic & musical love-in, I see no reason to respect their monopoly on all ‘Nacle discussions of geeky films.)

For those wondering what possible “Mormon” connection there is to any of this, I would kindly point out that: (1) George Lucas is Mormon; (2) the “Force” is the Priesthood; and (3) Yoda is President Kimball. Enough said. Or if not, perhaps those of a more philosophical bent can discuss whether and to what extent George’s apparent church inactivity relates in some way to why his movies suck so hard.
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