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The Marquis de Leech

Tolkien 2.0

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It is also a rather unchristian idea to view suffering in such a distant fashion. After all the core of Christianity is that God shares in the suffering of his creatures. (Now you will say that only a sadomasochist God would set the world up for such a path of redemption etc.)

But the mere theoretical possibility of a world free of suffering I do not find very compelling argument either. I often have the impression that people think that by the very fact of their existence they also deserve a pain-free existence (because an omnipotent God could teach/achieve whatever could be the ultimate purpose of suffering in an alternative way). This simply doesn't follow. Maybe there is no alternative way (or no better way for humans, maybe aliens or angels have different fates). And as we don't even "deserve" to exist, we should be grateful to exist in the first place.

(This does not change the incoherence of Tolkien's mix of Norse fatum and christianity in ME, I don't think it can be made coherent.)

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On 9/1/2018 at 10:29 AM, Lord Varys said:

But that is a just view drawn from taking the 'status quo' as your standard. Why should a god setting up the world need pain to make us feel or understand pleasure? And where is the pain going to be in heaven/Arda Remade/after the Second Coming? Surely I'm not going to feel any pain when I hang out with the Holy Trinity, right?

Tolkien's work can actually be taken as a magnifying glass on the shortcomings of theology here - we have the promise of Arda Remade in this world. A fact that, if correct, means the entire theater of creation was just that - a prelude to Second Ainulindale when everything is understood and corrected and made whole again. Even Melkor will understand what he didn't understand before, implying that he will be there, too.

But here's the thing - pain and suffering exist in our world, just as they exist in Tolkien's. If one is a Theist believer in a caring God (as Tolkien was), how should one present the inevitable existence of pain and suffering? I mean, Tolkien could have dropped the Theist thing altogether - at least on the page - but that would undermine his own cosmic themes.

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On 9/11/2018 at 4:42 AM, The Marquis de Leech said:

But here's the thing - pain and suffering exist in our world, just as they exist in Tolkien's. If one is a Theist believer in a caring God (as Tolkien was), how should one present the inevitable existence of pain and suffering? I mean, Tolkien could have dropped the Theist thing altogether - at least on the page - but that would undermine his own cosmic themes.

Tolkien doesn't just not find an answer to the inherent contradictions of Christian theology (I'm not sure I should expect that he does, but since he actually pulls more and more of that stuff into his works one should expect him to actually give doctrine a certain spin to make it work within the framework of his works), he actually makes things works by having the literal devil and his the highest-ranking lieutenant as rulers and politicians in this world. They are, in a sense, the stars of his stories (Melkor is the only character in the Silmarillion that's there from the Ainulindale to the War of Wrath), whereas the good forces either do nothing, of pale in comparison to them.

The idea that the devil ever was some 'dark lord' who ruled vast portions - or the entire world - in a political fashion and actually made men his thralls and creatures (in the orcs) would, if one actually takes that seriously, be considered more than just heretical. It would be blasphemous. The devil and his demons have great power, but their voices were never louder nor their power more obvious than that of god. God never speaks directly in Tolkien's work, and his angels abandon both the elves and mankind in the First Age. 

Tolkien paints a much more pessimistic and depressing picture of the world while at the same undercutting god's ultimate justice. There is no promise of salvation for the devil and his ilk in Christian doctrine. They and all who follow them are damned for all eternity, and rightfully so. Yet Tolkien implies that Melkor will have a place at the Second Music.

If pain actually has a purpose in human beings then god should properly have invented it, not the devil. Just as god actually should have created everything as he did in Christian doctrine. Tolkien's devil is far too powerful when you compare him to the Christian one.

There is talk about the children of Eru not being part of the themes given to the Ainur, but if pain was introduced into the world by Melkor then this actually factually untrue - the elves were originally designed to not faint yet Melkor made it so that they did. And if that stain is going to be removed it will only go away during the second round, not the first.

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That’s because you asume the Christian God can resolve logical contradictions or make paradox no longer be paradox.  That’s not what Christianity teaches or at least not what my church teaches.  

Edited by Ser Scot A Ellison

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Eru gives pretty broad leeway for his children - Ainur, Men, Elves, etc - to behave, although he then responds to and shapes the consequences of that behavior to his ends. 

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Maybe I'll look at a library copy. It doesn't sound like it's really worth buying (and the Fall of Gondolin was not one of my favorite segments of the Silmarillion). 

 

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I've got a copy as well and really like my purchase. It's nice to have it all in one volume and if you've not gone through all of the HoME books it's a worthwhile book anyway. I enjoy reading some of the expansions and commentary.

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I read The Fall of Gondolin story in The Book of Lost Tales Part 2 fairly recently, I thought it was a good story and there was more detail in it than there was in the Silmarillion. I didn't realize Chris Tolkien felt the need to publish another volume, the story felt already complete to me. My biggest disappointment about tBoLTP2 was how the Lay of Earendil was unfinished. I was really really looking forward to seeing the final chapter of the First Age finally be told in narrative form, only to have my hopes dashed. If anyone knows about a more complete version of the tale i'd be interested, but im not holding my breath.

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10 hours ago, Ghjhero said:

I read The Fall of Gondolin story in The Book of Lost Tales Part 2 fairly recently, I thought it was a good story and there was more detail in it than there was in the Silmarillion. I didn't realize Chris Tolkien felt the need to publish another volume, the story felt already complete to me. My biggest disappointment about tBoLTP2 was how the Lay of Earendil was unfinished. I was really really looking forward to seeing the final chapter of the First Age finally be told in narrative form, only to have my hopes dashed. If anyone knows about a more complete version of the tale i'd be interested, but im not holding my breath.

There isn't one.  Not really anyways, the only "complete" Silmarillion is in book 4 of the History of ME.  You do get to see the one ever telling of Dagor Dagorath there too.

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(I do need to read up more on Nietzsche. While I think Feanor was insincere, there definitely seems to be some scope for him being Tolkien's deconstruction of the Übermensch, and the Spirit of Fire certainly falls into some traps Nietzsche warns about).

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