Published: Sunday, Nov. 18 2012 5:00 a.m. MST
Like any literary work, there are many interpretive themes to sift through in
Tolkien. Different interpretations stand out to different people. That said, I
don't understand the vehement denial that a particular theme exists when
the author expressly admits that it's woven into the text. Yes, there are pagan elements from Norse/Anglo-Saxon mythology. That
doesn't preclude Catholic themes from also existing. Indeed, many of the
ancient texts Tolkien studied and drew inspiration from contain blends of
paganism and early Christianity as it entered the British Isles (anyone read
'Beowulf'?) - it's no surprise if both can be found in
Tolkien's books. But denying *any* Christian elements is a stretch. Heck,
portions of the liturgical calendar correspond to key dates in the books.
Accident? Unlikely given Tolkien's penchant for detail.In a
complex work, one chooses what one wants to see in it. Paganism? Sure.
Catholicism? Sure. Seeing one over the other doesn't make other
interpretations wrong. A Catholic may find layered motifs that non-Catholics
will miss, in the same way that someone versed in LDS theology can find
additional layers of meaning in Orson Scott Card.
I think that it would be cool to take the writer of Beowulf to go see the movie
Lord of the Rings (of course, it would have to have Old English subtitles).
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