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The Marquis de Leech

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On 14/02/2017 at 11:24 AM, Lord Varys said:

The point being there is that Anti-Judaism is basically an ingrained part of Christianity, most visible in conservative Catholicism as well as in present-day Protestant movements (not to mention Martin Luther). I mean, Christianity is basically the bad fan fiction sequel to Judaism, having the audacity to declare that the people who wrote the original holy texts the Christians stole had no idea what they were talking about.

 

I recognize this is an old discussion within the thread, so I hope you don't mind me raising the issues once more.....

Christianity began as an aberrant, apocalyptic sect within Second Temple Judaism. The initial rift between the early Christians and the Pharisaic (basically Rabbinic) Jews must be appropriately contextualized as an intra-religious dispute among competing Judaic factions concerning the proper interpretation of the scriptures, which later Gentile Christians simply inherited and developed.  The Gospel of John testifies to the fact that Christian Jews were facing expulsion from the synagogues in Palestine.

So no, this was not a case of biblical "theft" and misappropriation of holy texts belonging to another faith. 

If the Temple had not been demolished by the Romans in AD 70, the Church might have remained much more identifiably Hebraic in character with its administrative centre in Jerusalem, the mother church led by the Apostle James (the brother of Christ), rather than in Rome.

 

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As a Catholic you can accept the adherents of other religions since the Second Vatican Council as fellow human beings who are also searching for the truth, but you still have it, and you are still superior even to your fellow Christians of other denominations who don't believe as you do. Prior to that, though, the Jews were collectively guilty of rejecting the truth of Christianity, and condemned unless they saw the light before they died.

 

The attitude you refer to as being the child of Vatican II existed in the Catholic theological tradition long before the ecumenical council. 

Consider the following from Cardinal John Henry Newman (beatified since 2010):

 

"...We must confess, on the authority of the Bible itself, that all knowledge of religion is from God, and not only that which the Bible has transmitted to us. There never was a time when God had not spoken to man, and told him to a certain extent his duty. His injunctions to Noah, the common father of all mankind, is the first recorded fact of the sacred history after the deluge. Accordingly, we are expressly told in the New Testament, that at no time He left Himself without witness in the world, and that in every nation He accepts those who fear and obey Him. It would seem, then, that there is something true and divinely revealed, in every religion all over the earth...

The word and the Sacraments are the characteristic of the elect people of God; but all men have had more or less the guidance of Tradition, in addition to those internal notions of right and wrong which the Spirit has put into the heart of each individual.

This vague and uncertain family of religious truths, originally from God, but sojourning without the sanction of miracle, or a definite home, as pilgrims up and down the world, and discernible...may be called the Dispensation of Paganism, after the example of the learned Father already quoted. And further, Scripture gives us reason to believe that the traditions, thus originally delivered to mankind at large, have been secretly reanimated and enforced by new communications from the unseen world...

Accordingly, there is nothing unreasonable in the notion, that there may have been heathen poets and sages, or sibyls again, in a certain extent divinely illuminated, and organs through whom religious and moral truth was conveyed to their countrymen..."

- Blessed John Henry Newman (circa. 1845-65), cardinal & theologian of the Catholic Church

 

 

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  That certainly isn't exactly the same as modern Antisemitism but it is clearly its parent, because nobody in the modern world would have had any prejudices against the Jews if there hadn't been centuries of mainly religious prejudices against them. And even in the middle ages those prejudices certainly weren't only a matter of religion - the Spanish Inquisition and Martin Luther weren't very inclined to even believe they changed their evil ways after they got their forced baptism, and the whole scheme of the evil money-lending Jew also goes back quite some time.

 

Undoubtedly, anti-Judaism long had currency as the dark underbelly of Christendom, with its genesis in the New Testament and misapprehension of the original context of intra-Jewish conflict.  

Nevertheless, it is not accurate to say that "nobody in the modern world would have had any prejudices against the Jews if there hadn't been centuries of mainly religious prejudices against them".  

A cursory glance at the reception of Jews within the Hellenistic kingdoms of the pre-Christian era, such as the Seleucid Empire, undermines your argument. They were a much vilified minority due to the simple fact that a good number of them wouldn't assimilate to Greek social norms and customs.  

Following the Jewish-Roman Wars, there was intense prejudice shown towards Jews by their pagan co-religionists, quite apart from anything Christian. From 135 AD onwards, Judaism was an illegal religion: Jews were forbidden, upon pain of death, from circumcision, reading the Torah and eating unleavened bread. A temple dedicated to Jupiter was constructed on the temple mount in Jerusalem while in the year 200, the Emperor Severus even forbade conversions to Judaism - and this was a good 70 years after the Bar Kochba rebellion.

The Christians operated within this hostile anti-Jewish environment - both imbibing it and contributing to it. There is a good argument to be made that the most caustic statements about Judaism in the New Testament were in large part reactions to these secular developments, namely the First Jewish War against the Romans. They obviously didn't want the Roman authorities to view them any longer as a Jewish sect.

Modern anti-Semitism is only in part attributable to historical Christian anti-Judaism. The other part stems from simple dislike of a numerous minority dispersed across different countries, which is one reason why the Romani Gypsies were also popularly despised (and murdered in the Holocaust), despite most of them being Christians. It is a common fixture of human socialization, unfortunately, to scapegoat perceived "outsiders" within communities riven by grave crises. This negative foisting of blame onto a hated "other" helps to foment group solidarity, at the expense of the scapegoated victims.

 

 

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Unlike the average Catholic I actually read a lot of Church fathers in my spare time, and am quite aware of the blatant Anti-Judaism in those writings. One can expect from an educated person like Tolkien (who was not only interested in the middle ages but also in the antiquity) that he, too, was aware of a lot of that stuff.

 

You should also, therefore, no doubt be fully aware of the other side to that coin, I wager? Namely the parallel trend in medieval Catholic thought, which I'm sure Tolkien (a very learned Catholic man, as you note) would have been cognizant of:

 

http://www.pravoslavieto.com/history/09/866_responce_pope_Nicholas_I.htm

 

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The Responses of Pope Nicholas I to the Questions of the Bulgars A.D. 866 (Letter 99) 

Chapter XLI.

Concerning those who refuse to receive the good of Christianity and sacrifice and bend their knees to idols, we can write nothing else to you than that you move them towards the right faith by warnings, exhortations, and reason rather than by force, proving that what they know in vain, is wrong: [cf. Jer. 1:16] namely that, although they are people with capable intellects, they nevertheless adore works of their own hands and senseless elements, or rather they bow their necks and sacrifice to demons...

Yet, violence should by no means be inflicted upon them to make them believe. For everything which is not voluntary, cannot be good; for it is written: Willingly shall I sacrifice to you,[Ps. 53:8] and again: Make all the commands of my mouth your will,[Ps. 118:108] and again, And by my own will I shall confess to Him.[Ps. 27:7]

Indeed, God commands that willing service be performed only by the willing...listen to the apostle Paul who, when he wrote to the Corinthians, says: Why indeed is it my business to judge concerning those who are outside? Do you not judge concerning those who are inside? God will judge those who are outside. Remove the evil from yourselves.[I Cor. 5:12-13] It is as if he said: Concerning those who are outside our religion, I shall judge nothing, but I shall save them for the judgment of God, Who is going to judge all flesh. 

 

Chapter CII.

We have taught above that violence should not be inflicted upon the pagan in order to make him become a Christian.

 

 

 

I find it rather ironic that in reproaching Tolkien for prejudicial scapegoating of entire ethno-religious or racial categories, you are yourself basically reducing practising Catholics - practitioners of a massive, ancient and varied faith tradition - to the same stereotypes.

While it is certainly true that there have been many historic instances of pervasive intolerance from representatives of the Catholic denomination towards practitioners of other religions (from pogroms against Jews to suppression of paganism and destruction of native mesoamerican religious practices), I do feel that this is a bit of a sweeping simplification.

Catholic attitudes towards non-Christians have varied enormously from age to age.

Consider for example the attitude of the papacy towards non-Christian religions. The severity of some of its historical stances on heresy (Christians espousing heterodox beliefs, itself mutable throughout the ages) are well known from infamous institutions such as the Medieval Inquisitions. By contrast, the medieval and early modern papacy often acted as a moderating voice within Christendom vis-a-vis non-Christian minorities.

With reference to Jews, for instance, most Popes firmly absolved them of blame for such anti-semitic myths (often resulting in massacres) as the "blood libel" and confirmed their right to practise their religion:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood_libel#Papal_pronouncements
 

    • Pope Innocent IV took action against the blood libel: "5 July 1247 "Mandate to the prelates of Germany and France to annul all measures adopted against the Jews on account of the ritual murder libel, and to prevent accusation of Arabs on similar charges" (The Apostolic See and the Jews, Documents: 492-1404; Simonsohn, Shlomo, p. 188-189,193-195,208). In 1247 he wrote also that "Certain of the clergy, and princes, nobles and great lords of your cities and dioceses have falsely devised certain godless plans against the Jews, unjustly depriving them by force of their property, and appropriating it themselves;...they falsely charge them with dividing up among themselves on the Passover the heart of a murdered boy...In their malice, they ascribe every murder, wherever it chance to occur, to the Jews. And on the ground of these and other fabrications, they are filled with rage against them, rob them of their possessions without any formal accusation, without confession, and without legal trial and conviction, contrary to the privileges granted to them by the Apostolic See...Since it is our pleasure that they shall not be disturbed,...we ordain that ye behave towards them in a friendly and kind manner.Whenever any unjust attacks upon them come under your notice, redress their injuries, and do not suffer them to be visited in the future by similar tribulations" (Catholic Encyclopedia (1910), Vol. 8, pp. 393–394). [1]
    • Pope Gregory X (1271–1276) issued a letter which criticized the practice of blood libels and forbade arrests and persecution of Jews based on a blood libel, ...unless which we do not believe they be caught in the commission of the crime. .[69]
    • Pope Paul III, in a bull of 12 May 1540, made clear his displeasure at having learned, through the complaints of the Jews of Hungary, Bohemia and Poland, that their enemies, looking for a pretext to lay their hands on the Jews' property, were falsely attributing terrible crimes to them, in particular that of killing children and drinking their blood.


Concerning papal policy:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sicut_Judaeis
 

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Sicut Judaeis (the "Constitution for the Jews") was a papal bull setting out the official position of the papacy regarding the treatment of Jews.

The first bull was issued in about 1120 by Calixtus II and was intended to protect Jews who suffered during the First Crusade, during which over five thousand Jews were slaughtered in Europe. The words "Sicut Judaeis" ("and thus to the Jews") were first used by Pope Pope Gregory I (590-604) in a letter addressed to the Bishop of Naples. Even then the Pope emphasized that Jews were entitled to "enjoy their lawful liberty."[1]

The bull was reaffirmed by many popes including Alexander III, Celestine III (1191-1198), Innocent III (1199), Honorius III (1216), Gregory IX (1235), Innocent IV (1246), Alexander IV (1255), Urban IV (1262), Gregory X (1272 & 1274), Nicholas III, Martin IV (1281), Honorius IV (1285-1287), Nicholas IV (1288-92), Clement VI (1348), Urban V (1365), Boniface IX (1389), Martin V (1422), and Nicholas V (1447).[2]

The bull forbade, besides other things, Christians from coercing Jews to convert, or to harm them, or to take their property, or to disturb the celebration of their festivals, or to interfere with their cemeteries, on pain of excommunication


 

Some examples from medieval papal documents:

 
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"...[The Jews] ought to suffer no prejudice. We, out of the meekness of Christian piety, and in keeping in the footprints of Our predecessors of happy memory, the Roman Pontiffs Calixtus, Eugene, Alexander, Clement, admit their petition, and We grant them the buckler of Our protection. For We make the law that no Christian compel them, unwilling or refusing, by violence to come to baptism. But, if any one of them should spontaneously, and for the sake of the faith, fly to the Christians, once his choice has become evident, let him be made a Christian without any calumny. Indeed, he is not considered to possess the true faith of Christianity who is not recognized to have come to Christian baptism, not spontaneously, but unwillingly. Too, no Christian ought to presume...to injure their persons, or with violence to take their property, or to change the good customs which they have had until now in whatever region they inhabit. Besides, in the celebration of their own festivities, no one ought disturb them in any way, with clubs or stones, nor ought any one try to require from them or to extort from them services they do not owe, except for those they have been accustomed from times past to perform. ...We decree... that no one ought to dare mutilate or diminish a Jewish cemetery, nor, in order to get money, to exhume bodies once they have been buried. If anyone, however, shall attempt, the tenor of this degree once known, to go against it...let him be punished by the vengeance of excommunication, unless he correct his presumption by making equivalent satisfaction..."

- Pope Alexander III (1159-1181), Decree on the Jews



 
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"...We decree that no Christian shall use violence to compel the Jews to accept baptism. But if a Jew, of his own accord, because of a change in his faith, shall have taken refuge with Christians, after his wish has been made known, he may be made a Christian without any opposition. For anyone who has not of his own will sought Christian baptism cannot have the true Christian faith. No Christian shall do the Jews any personal injury, except in executing the judgments of a judge, or deprive them of their possessions, or change the rights and privileges which they have been accustomed to have. During the celebration of their festivals, no one shall disturb them by beating them with clubs or by throwing stones at them. No one shall compel them to render any services except those which they have been accustomed to render. And to prevent the baseness and avarice of wicked men we forbid anyone to deface or damage their cemeteries or to extort money from them by threatening to exhume the bodies of their dead..." 

- Pope Innocent III Letter on the Jews (1199 CE), From: Oliver J. Thatcher, and Edgar Holmes McNeal, eds., A Source Book for Medieval History, (New York: Scribners, 1905), 212-213.


 

Another example would be the strong line that the papacy undertook against the Spanish colonizers of the New World in their enslavement of native Americans (on the basis that they were devoid of souls and lacked faith in the Christian religion):

http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Paul03/p3subli.htm

 

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"...To all faithful Christians to whom this writing may come, health in Christ our Lord and the apostolic benediction...

The enemy of the human race, who opposes all good deeds in order to bring men to destruction, beholding and envying this, invented a means never before heard of, by which he might hinder the preaching of God's word of Salvation to the people: he inspired his satellites who, to please him, have not hesitated to publish abroad that the Indians of the West and the South, and other people of whom We have recent knowledge should be treated as dumb brutes created for our service...

We, who, though unworthy, exercise on earth the power of our Lord and seek with all our might to bring those sheep of His flock who are outside into the fold committed to our charge, consider, however, that the Indians are truly men...Desiring to provide ample remedy for these evils, We define and declare by these Our letters, or by any translation thereof signed by any notary public and sealed with the seal of any ecclesiastical dignitary, to which the same credit shall be given as to the originals, that, notwithstanding whatever may have been or may be said to the contrary, the said Indians and all other people who may later be discovered by Christians, are by no means to be deprived of their liberty or the possession of their property, even though they be outside the faith of Jesus Christ; and that they may and should, freely and legitimately, enjoy their liberty and the possession of their property; nor should they be in any way enslaved; should the contrary happen, it shall be null and have no effect.

By virtue of Our apostolic authority We define and declare by these present letters, or by any translation thereof signed by any notary public and sealed with the seal of any ecclesiastical dignitary, which shall thus command the same obedience as the originals, that the said Indians and other peoples should be converted to the faith of Jesus Christ by preaching the word of God and by the example of good and holy living..."


- Pope Paul III, Sublimus Dei, May 29, 1537

 



In 1695, the Vatican likewise censured missionaries that they were not to destroy or undermine the customs, cultural traits and heritage of the new peoples they encountered:

 

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"...Do not act with zeal, do not put forward any arguments to convince these peoples to change their rites, their customs or their usages, except if they are evidently contrary to...morality. What would be more absurd than to bring France, Spain, Italy or any other European country to the Chinese? Do not bring to them our countries, but instead bring to them theFaith, a Faith that does not reject or hurt the rites, nor the usages of any people, provided that these are not distasteful, but that instead keeps and protects them..."

—Extract from the 1659 Instructions, given to MgrFrançois Pallu and Mgr Lambert de la Motte of theParis Foreign Missions Society by the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith


For each of these policies, however, there are times when popes did enact legislation that undermined Judaism or other non-Christian religions. Yet the basic policy thus enunciated was one that accepted, as a basic doctrinal principle, that no one could be coerced into baptism against his or her will. This is something that the Church still fiercely believes, while admitting historic deviations from it: 

 

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"...10. It is one of the major tenets of Catholic doctrine that man's response to God in faith must be free: no one therefore is to be forced to embrace the Christian faith against his own will.(8) This doctrine is contained in the word of God and it was constantly proclaimed by the Fathers of the Church.(7) The act of faith is of its very nature a free act....12. In faithfulness therefore to the truth of the Gospel, the Church is following the way of Christ and the apostles when she recognizes and gives support to the principle of religious freedom as befitting the dignity of man and as being in accord with divine revelation. Throughout the ages the Church has kept safe and handed on the doctrine received from the Master and from the apostles. In the life of the People of God, as it has made its pilgrim way through the vicissitudes of human history, there has at times appeared a way of acting that was hardly in accord with the spirit of the Gospel or even opposed to it. Nevertheless, the doctrine of the Church that no one is to be coerced into faith has always stood firm..." 

- Dignitatis Humanae (Declaration on Religious Freedom), Second Vatican Council, 1965

 

Edited by Krishtotter

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Was reading this piece last night after seeing Alan Lee's beautiful painting of the scene of Hurin, bound by Morgoth's will.

Great stuff.

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  Hurin was brought before Morgoth, for Morgoth knew by his arts and his spies that Hurin had the friendship of the King of Gondolin; and he sought to daunt him with his eyes. But Hurin could not yet be daunted, and he defied Morgoth. Therefore Morgoth had him chained and set in slow torment; but after a while he came to him,and offered him his choice to go free whither he would, or to receive power and rank as the greatest of Morgoth's captains, if he would but reveal where Turgon had his stronghold, and aught else that he knew of the King's counsels. But Hurin the Steadfast mocked him saying: "Blind you are Morgoth Bauglir, and blind shall ever be, seeing only the dark. You know not what rules the hearts of Men, and if you knew you could not give it. But a fool is he who accepts what Morgoth offers. You will take first the price and then withhold the promise; and I should get only death, if I told you what you ask."
    Then Morgoth laughed, and he said: "Death you may yet crave from me as a boon." Then he took Hurin to the Haudh-en-Nirnaeth, and it was then new-built and the reek of death was upon it; and Morgoth set Hurin upon its top and bade him look west towards Hithlum, and think of his wife and his son and other kin. "For they dwell now in my realm," said Morgoth, "and they are at my mercy."
    "You have none," answered Hurin. "But you will not come at Turgon through them; for they do not know his secrets."
    Then wrath mastered Morgoth, and he said: "Yet I may come at you, and all your accursed house; and you shall be broken on my will, though you all be made of steel." And he took up a long sword that lay there and broke it before the eyes of Hurin, and a splinter wounded his face; but Hurin did not blench. Then Morgoth stretching out his long arm towards Dor-Lomin cursed Hurin and Morwen and their offspring, saying: "Behold! The shadow of my thought shall lie upon them wherever they go, and my hate shall pursue them to the ends of the world."
    But Hurin said: "You speak in vain. For you cannot see them, nor govern them from afar: not while you keep this shape, and desire still to be a King visible upon earth."
    Then Morgoth turned upon Hurin, and he said: "Fool, little among Men, and they are the least of all that speak! Have you seen the Valar, or measured the power of Manwe and Varda? Do you know the reach of their thought? Or do you think, perhaps, that their thought is upon you, and that they may shield you from afar?"
    " I know not," said Hurin. "Yet so it might be, if they willed. For the Elder King shall not be dethroned while Arda endures."
    You say it," said Morgoth. "I am the Elder King: Melkor, first and mightiest of the Valar, who was before the world, and made it. The shadow of my purpose lies upon Arda, and all that is in it bends slowly and surely to my will. But upon all whom you love my thought shall weigh as a cloud of Doom, and it shall bring them down into darkness and despair. Wherever they go, evil shall arise. Whenever they speak, their words shall bring ill counsel. Whatsoever they do shall turn against them. They shall die without hope, cursing both life and death."
    But Hurin answered: "Do you forget to whom you speak? Such things you spoke long ago to our fathers; but we escaped from your shadow. And now we have knowledge of you, for we have looked upon the faces that have seen the light, and heard the voices that have spoken with Manwe. Before Arda you were, but others also; and you did not make it. Neither are you the most mighty; for you spent your strength upon yourself and wasted it in your own emptiness. No more are you now than an escaped thrall of the Valar. And their chain still awaits you."
    "You have learned the lessons of your masters by rote," said Morgoth. "But such childish lore shall not help you, now they are all fled away."
    "This last I say to you, thrall Morgoth," said Hurin, "and it comes not from the lore of the Eldar, but is put into my heart this hour. You are not the Lord of Men, and shall not be, though all Arda and Menel fall in your dominion. Beyond the Circles of the World you shall not pursue those who refuse you."
    "Beyond the Circles of the World I will not pursue them," said Morgoth. "For beyond the Circles of the World there is Nothing. But within them they shall not escape me, until they enter into Nothing."
    "You lie," said Hurin.
    "You shall see and you shall confess that I do not lie," said Morgoth. And taking Hurin back to Angband he set him in a chair of stone upon a high place of Thangorodrim, from which he could see afar the land of Hithlum in the west and the lands of Beleriand to the south. There he was bound by the power of Morgoth; and Morgoth standing beside him cursed him again and set his power upon him, so that he could not move from that place, or die, until Morgoth should release him.
    "Sit now there," said Morgoth,"and look out upon the lands where evil and despair shall come upon those whom you have delivered to me. For you have dared to mock me, and have questioned the power of Melkor, Master of the fates of Arda. Therefore with my eyes you shall see, and with my ears you shall hear, and nothing shall be hidden from you."

picture:

http://lotr.wikia.com/wiki/File:Alan_Lee_-_Hurin_in_his_chair.jpg

Edited by Calibandar

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1 hour ago, Calibandar said:

Was reading this piece last night after seeing Alan Lee's beautiful painting of the scene of Hurin, bound by Morgoth's will.

Great stuff.

picture:

http://lotr.wikia.com/wiki/File:Alan_Lee_-_Hurin_in_his_chair.jpg

I think that the Tale of the Children of Hurin is Tolkien's best story, but I'm surprised that such a devout Catholic should write it.  It's a story in which God simply leaves Hurin's the family to the mercy of a vindictive archangel, and is entirely without hope.

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16 hours ago, SeanF said:

I think that the Tale of the Children of Hurin is Tolkien's best story, but I'm surprised that such a devout Catholic should write it.  It's a story in which God simply leaves Hurin's the family to the mercy of a vindictive archangel, and is entirely without hope.

In terms of Tolkien's Catholicism, it really only makes sense when viewed as the darkness before the eucatastrophe. Where the pagan source material and Tolkien's own faith really come close to a collision is in the treatment of fatalistic wyrd vs the Catholic belief in Free Will. Is Hurin's family screwed by Morgoth, or by their own choices? (It's likely a combination, but a Christian Devil really shouldn't be able to curse people like that). 

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3 hours ago, Roose Boltons Pet Leech said:

In terms of Tolkien's Catholicism, it really only makes sense when viewed as the darkness before the eucatastrophe. Where the pagan source material and Tolkien's own faith really come close to a collision is in the treatment of fatalistic wyrd vs the Catholic belief in Free Will. Is Hurin's family screwed by Morgoth, or by their own choices? (It's likely a combination, but a Christian Devil really shouldn't be able to curse people like that). 

Why does God allow suffering is something that Jews and Christians have wrestled with for millennia.  The traditional answers were that God has plans for the world that are beyond the comprehension of mortals, and/or people must be allowed free will, including the ability to do evil and/or the Lord chastises those whom he loves.

But, this story is different.  Hurin and his family get cursed by the Devil, and there's nothing they can do about it.  There's no suggestion that this forms part of any Divine plan, or that Hurin's family can do anything to avoid their fate. Worse, by taking their own lives, neither Turin nor his sister die in a state of grace.

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8 hours ago, SeanF said:

Why does God allow suffering is something that Jews and Christians have wrestled with for millennia.  The traditional answers were that God has plans for the world that are beyond the comprehension of mortals, and/or people must be allowed free will, including the ability to do evil and/or the Lord chastises those whom he loves.

But, this story is different.  Hurin and his family get cursed by the Devil, and there's nothing they can do about it.  There's no suggestion that this forms part of any Divine plan, or that Hurin's family can do anything to avoid their fate. Worse, by taking their own lives, neither Turin nor his sister die in a state of grace.

I disagree. An admittedly strained reading of the story would place Turin's fate at his own door, rather than blaming it on the curse.

(There's an entire can of worms here, though. If Turin and Nienor are simply puppets of their dark wyrd, their suicides are not a rejection of God as per Catholicism. This is what I mean by the collision between Tolkien's pagan source material and his own Christian faith).

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16 hours ago, Roose Boltons Pet Leech said:

In terms of Tolkien's Catholicism, it really only makes sense when viewed as the darkness before the eucatastrophe. Where the pagan source material and Tolkien's own faith really come close to a collision is in the treatment of fatalistic wyrd vs the Catholic belief in Free Will. Is Hurin's family screwed by Morgoth, or by their own choices? (It's likely a combination, but a Christian Devil really shouldn't be able to curse people like that). 

Tolkien's forward to The Lord of the Rings makes it pretty clear that his writing wasn't intended to be allegorical, though. Obviously his culture and beliefs shape his writing, but is Morgoth supposed to be a direct parallel to anything? I don't think so.

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On ‎11‎/‎25‎/‎2017 at 3:00 AM, Yukle said:

Tolkien's forward to The Lord of the Rings makes it pretty clear that his writing wasn't intended to be allegorical, though. Obviously his culture and beliefs shape his writing, but is Morgoth supposed to be a direct parallel to anything? I don't think so.

In the case of Morgoth, yes, I think he is meant to be the Devil.  The most gifted of the archangels, who rebels against God.

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14 minutes ago, SeanF said:

In the case of Morgoth, yes, I think he is meant to be the Devil.  The most gifted of the archangels, who rebels against God.

Maybe. I read it more as a literary tribute of Milton's Paradise Lost. That's the story that actually has the fallen angel elements to it. Milton was directly inspired by scripture, in that he decided to make the story the forces of evil a story of turning away from God due to vanity.

So I think Tolkien is reusing an established literary trope, rather than making a direct parallel to the "sin of pride," as such. He also has magic as an established aspect of his realities, rather than as the majesty of a god's power, which would undercut the way that Milton's Lucifer was aiming to use the power of God as a display of his own supposed divinity. For Tolkien there's nothing Morgoth seems to do that wouldn't be in the capability of any sufficiently powerful magic user, that I can recall. Although I have to admit not being massively good on the nitty-gritty. Beyond The Hobbit, LOTR, and The Santa Claus Letters, I've not re-read any of Tolkien.

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On 25/11/2017 at 4:00 PM, Yukle said:

Tolkien's forward to The Lord of the Rings makes it pretty clear that his writing wasn't intended to be allegorical, though. Obviously his culture and beliefs shape his writing, but is Morgoth supposed to be a direct parallel to anything? I don't think so.

It's not allegorical to the real world, but Morgoth certainly plays the role of Satan in Tolkien's mythos. There's even a letter where Tolkien refers to him as such. 

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2 minutes ago, Roose Boltons Pet Leech said:

It's not allegorical to the real world, but Morgoth certainly plays the role of Satan in Tolkien's mythos. There's even a letter where Tolkien refers to him as such. 

Yeah, I'm reading through your essay at the moment. Haven't finished it yet, but you've certainly changed my mind on that matter. :)

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1 hour ago, Roose Boltons Pet Leech said:

I've ended up writing a 4000+ word essay, inspired by SeanF's comment on The Children of Hurin:

https://phuulishfellow.wordpress.com/2017/11/28/tolkiens-juggling-act-paganism-and-christianity/

That's a great essay, many thanks.

In the Children of Hurin, it seems that Morgoth was telling a lot of truth to Hurin.  He seems more like an evil rival to God (like Ahriman to Mazda) rather than a being who, however great his power, is ultimately subject to God.

Although it's a very small tale (and a very minor part of your essay) I've always been intrigued by the tale of Imrazor and Mithrellas.  I suppose it only began to dawn on Mithrellas what she'd signed up for, once her husband began to grow old, rather like Arwen.  She realised that she'd have to watch him die, and then watch her descendants die, and she couldn't face it.  Unlike Arwen, though, she had not chosen mortality, and indeed, may have had no right to choose mortality.

Edited by SeanF

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On 11/24/2017 at 6:41 PM, Roose Boltons Pet Leech said:

I disagree. An admittedly strained reading of the story would place Turin's fate at his own door, rather than blaming it on the curse.

(There's an entire can of worms here, though. If Turin and Nienor are simply puppets of their dark wyrd, their suicides are not a rejection of God as per Catholicism. This is what I mean by the collision between Tolkien's pagan source material and his own Christian faith).

Here's the thing.  Morgoth's curse of Hurin and his kin is such that it twists what they see, not to make them see something that isn't there, but to see it in it's darkest possible aspect.  It isn't a change in reality itself, but, in the way the people under the curse perceive reality.  

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As one of the Valar, Morgoth holds real power over the earth that are more than a tempter. After ge is thrown out in the void, he works more like a tempter only, or rather even less than that.

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