Friday, March 25, 2016

What does the date of the Fall of Sauron have to do with Tolkien's faith?

 
J.R.R. Tolkien pointed out in the appendices (see Appendix D) of his work The Lord of the Rings that the day the ring was destroyed and Sauron defeated was March 25. This marked the end of the Third Age of Middle-earth, and ushered in the days of the King Elessar (Aragorn). Why did Tolkien choose this date for the Fall of Sauron?

We cannot say for certain, but one theory floating around the 'Tolkien-sphere' is that Tolkien, having been a devout Catholic chose it as a testament of his faith. I'm not saying that this is 100% accurate, but only telling of one view that is held, particularly among Tolkien's Catholic fans. Such theories have been expressed by authors like Joseph Pearce for example. Pearce has asserted that the date of the Fall of the Ring is significant because March 25 is the date of the Feast of the Annunciation in the Catholic Church. The Annunciation is related to the Gospel passage in Luke 1:26-38, in where the Angel Gabriel came to Mary and told her that she would bear a child from God. This is also called the Incarnation, or in Latin, FESTUM INCARNATIONIS.

The Annunciation is very important in Catholic theology, Without Mary, whom Catholics call Our Lady, saying, "yes," to God there would be no Christ. Picture yourself as a scared, young, virgin Jewish girl in Nazareth having an Angel tell you that you will bear a child without having sexual relations with a man. The community would, and indeed they did, (and Jewish theology today says some awful things in regards to Mary) ostracize you. But Mary was humble enough and submissive enough to put her trust in God. Thus, Catholics believe that she is the greatest woman in Biblical history. The "New Eve" she is called.

It is interesting to relate the date of the Fall of Sauron to the Annunciation, but I think it is more likely, that if Tolkien was trying to say something, although he disliked allegory, it would be more fitting if the Fall of Sauron be related to the Crucifixion, and Christ's redeeming death on the cross. Given Tolkien's view of the eucatastrophe I think it makes more sense.

In regard to that, today March 25, 2016 is indeed Good Friday, the day of The Lord's Passion.

We can't know for sure if Tolkien was trying to say something poignant with the date, and given his nature he probably would not have affirmed it. He probably would disagree with my theorizing altogether. All we can do is wonder and speculate. Though, whether or not the date of the Fall of Sauron is related to either the Annunciation or the Crucifixion, it doesn't matter. We can still enjoy the books no matter what.


Thursday, March 3, 2016

#Shelfie Tolkien Book Collection

Today is World Book Day, and I thought I'd celebrate with a Shelfie of my Tolkien collection. Enjoy!
*Note the dragon flanked by my two favorite authors, Jack and Tollers.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

New Poems Found by; J.R.R.T.


Two new poems have been found in a 1936 school book from when Tolkien was a professor at Oxford University. The poems are entitled "The Shadow Man" and "Noel". Both poems were written with a specific focus on the Virgin Mary, which Catholics call "Our Lady". Tolkien was a practicing and devout Roman Catholic. Read more here.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Well, I'm Back.

 
Hello there!
It's been a long time.
After a long absence from the Blog I am pleased to announce that I have returned. I am back and regularly scheduled posts will start occurring once more this week.
 
 
 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Happy Hobbit Day 2015

Today is September 22, and that means it is Hobbit Day. Today marks the 78th anniversary of the publication of J.R.R. Tolkien's beloved enchanted tale The Hobbit. The book was originally published on September 22, 1937 by U.K. publishers George Allen and Stanley Unwin. The Hobbit was published after Unwin's son Rayner, (who was 10 at the time gave it a raving review).
A photocopy of the original review of The Hobbit by Rayner Unwin
courtesy of Reddit.com
For clarity the text of the letter reads:
 
"Bilbo Baggins was a Hobbit who lived in his Hobbit hole and never went for adventures, at last Gandalf the wizard and his Dwarves persuaded him to go. He had a very exiting (sic) time fighting goblins and wargs. At last they get to the lonely mountain; Smaug, the dragon who guards it is killed and after a terrific battle with the goblins he returned home — rich!

This book, with the help of maps, does not need any illustrations it is good and should appeal to all children between the ages of 5 and 9."

Obviously, poor 10-year old Rayner was not privy to the "no spoilers" review. I mean, why not just tell them the plot of the entire book?

Today is also the combined birthdays of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins. Three cheers for Bilbo and Frodo, the most famousest of all hobbits-s! Hip-hip hooray! May the hair on their toes never fall out!

Don't forget to celebrate today with a reading of your favorite Tolkien book and a toast to the professor.

And finally, may the hair on your toes never fall out!


Thursday, August 27, 2015

Lembas and the Blessed Sacrament

Lembas, is a food of the Elves in Middle-earth. It was given to the fellowship to sustain them on their long journey. It is a "bread substance", but its origins are "heavenly". It was originally made by Yavanna, who was one of the Aratar, or "the Exalted", the "High Ones of Arda" Yavanna was the "Queen of the Earth" and responsible for all growing things. She was one the Valar. Yavanna was the first to make lembas and give it to the Elves for their Great Journey. Elves traditionally kept it for themselves, and seldom gave it to mortal men, except for special occasions. The quest to destroy the One Ring was just such an occasion.

The website Tolkien Gateway suggests that Tolkien's inspiration for lembas came from "hardtack", a typical military ration. It had other names, and was known amongst soldiers as "tooth dullers", "molar breakers", "sheet iron", or even "dog biscuits". It was not a favorite ration. Now, while I can see the similarities between hardtack and lembas, I submit that Tolkien had another source of inspiration. Being a devout Roman Catholic, I believe that Tolkien may have been slightly (or more than slightly) influenced by the Blessed Sacrament, that is to say the Eucharist.

Given that Tolkien has said that The Lord of the Rings is "of course a fundamentally religious and Catholic work," I do not believe it is a far-fetched theory.

First, I submit the heavenly origins of lembas. It is translated into "waybread" in the common tongue. According to Gimli (son of Gloin) it was similar to cram, a Dwarvish 'biscuit-like' food. However, the Elves claimed it was more pleasant tasting and more strengthening than any food of men. Another factor of lembas was that it was repugnant to evil creatures. That is why Gollum hated it, and the Orcs of Mordor would not even touch it when they found it on Frodo after he was captured by them.

In Quenya, lembas means "life-bread", or the "bread of life". if you are even remotely familiar with Catholic theology, the Eucharist is the also called the "bread of life". As Jesus said himself in John 6:35 "I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall not hunger: and he that believeth in me shall never thirst." (Douay-Rheims)

Further, in a 1958 letter to Forrest J. Ackerman expressing his resentment to lembas being treated as a "food concentrate" in a film 'treatment' of The Lord of the Rings Tolkien wrote that lembas has "two functions," the first was "to make credible, long marches with little provisions," but the second function was the larger one. Tolkien wrote that lembas served a "religious kind" of significance.

Then in a letter found on page 288 of his Collected Letters Tolkien uses lembas and the Latin word Viaticum in the same sentence.

Lembas did more than just feed the stomach. It also fed the will, and gave one the strength to endure long journeys and hardship.

When Catholics, including your humble servant partake in the Eucharist at the Mass we a given more than just a wafer. It is feeding us spiritually. It feeds our will and gives us the strength to endure life's hardships and overcome temptations. The Eucharist, like lembas is also despised by evil.

Finally I present a few quotes of Tolkien on the Eucharist.

"The only cure for sagging or fainting faith is Communion. Though always itself, perfect and complete and inviolate, the Blessed Sacrament does not operate completely and once for all in any of us. Like the act of Faith it must be continuous and grow by exercise."


and...

"Seven times a week is more nourishing than seven times at intervals.
Also I can recommend this as an exercise (alas! only too easy to find opportunity for): make your Communion in circumstances that affront your taste. Choose a snuffling or gabbling priest or a proud and vulgar friar; and a church full of the usual bourgeois crowd, ill-behaved children—from those who yell to those products of Catholic schools who the moment the tabernacle is opened sit back and yawn—open-necked and dirty youths, women in trousers and often with hair both unkempt and uncovered. Go to Communion with them (and pray for them)."


and finally...

"It could not be worse than the mess of the feeding of the Five Thousand—after which our Lord propounded the feeding that was to come.”
Tolkien as a devout Catholic certainly knew the power of the Eucharist. Therefore, when he said that lembas served a "religious kind" of significance I believe he meant that it was akin to the Blessed Sacrament.



Tuesday, August 11, 2015

New Tolkien Book coming this month for U.K. fans...Oct. for the U.S.

There is a new Tolkien book coming this month, (if you live in the U.K.) and in October if you live in the U.S. The Story of Kullervo was written in 1914 by Tolkien. It was his retelling of a tale from the Finnish epic the Kalevala, and it is centerpiece to his Legendarium, setting the groundwork for his own tale about Turin Turambar from The Children of Hurin.

The official information on the book states:
"Kullervo son of Kalervo is perhaps the darkest and most tragic of all J.R.R. Tolkien’s characters. ‘Hapless Kullervo’, as Tolkien called him, is a luckless orphan boy with supernatural powers and a tragic destiny.

Brought up in the homestead of the dark magician Untamo, who killed his father, kidnapped his mother, and who tries three times to kill him when still a boy, Kullervo is alone save for the love of his twin sister, Wanona, and guarded by the magical powers of the black dog, Musti. When Kullervo is sold into slavery he swears revenge on the magician, but he will learn that even at the point of vengeance there is no escape from the cruellest of fates.

Tolkien himself said that The Story of Kullervo was ‘the germ of my attempt to write legends of my own’, and was ‘a major matter in the legends of the First Age’. Tolkien’s Kullervo is the clear ancestor of Túrin Turambar, tragic incestuous hero of The Silmarillion. In addition to it being a powerful story in its own right, The Story of Kullervo – published here for the first time with the author’s drafts, notes and lecture-essays on its source-work, The Kalevala – is a foundation stone in the structure of Tolkien’s invented world."
Source

This book has been edited by Tolkien expert and scholar Verlyn Flieger who has worked on numerous other Tolkien works. It is scheduled for release in the U.S. by Houghton Mifflin and to be published on 27 October 2015.

Reserve yours today. You know you want to. ;)