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The Battle for Middle-earth

Morning and Gathering Class at St. John's Roanoke
by

Carter Brothers

on 9 June 2015

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Transcript of The Battle for Middle-earth

Yet there is a sense of exaltation because so much suffering has been overcome. That is why joy with tears is so much deeper and more significant in this fallen world than a superficial joy without tears, without suffering. Not until the Last Day when the Kingdom of God comes in all its completeness will the Lord God "wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away" (Revelation 21:4). Meanwhile the joy that comes with tears is the closest joy on earth to that of the Kingdom of Heaven.
Why Tolkien?
England
Roman Catholic
Philologist
Northern Ireland
Atheist (then Anglican)
English Literature
Evil is not a component of God’s being
--God did not create and does not intend evil.
In the figures of Morgoth and Sauron, Tolkien has preserved
the concept of the fallen angel, which, though it does not explain
the possibility of how such an evil could have been permitted by the Creator, nevertheless—through metaphor and narrative—keeps Evil separate from God, allowing for the presence of an Enemy of monstrous but penultimate power whose wickedness, while neither created nor intended by the Creator, is nevertheless ultimately under God’s sovereign control.
“Dyson and Tolkien were the immediate human causes of my own conversion. Is any pleasure on earth as great as a circle of friends by a good fire?”
In C. S. Lewis' review of The Lord of the Rings, he addressed the question-- "Why myth?"
“But why,” (some ask) “why, if you have a serious comment to make on this real life of men, must you do it by [myth]?” Because, I take it, one of the main things the author wants to say is that the real life of men is of that mythical and heroic quality....The value of the myth is that it takes all the things we know and restores to them the rich significance which had been hidden by “the veil of familiarity.”
By dipping them in myth,
we see them more clearly.
By putting bread, gold, horse, apple, or the very roads into a myth, we do not retreat from reality; we rediscover it. As long as the story lingers in our mind, the real things are more themselves. This book applies the treatment not only to bread or apples but to good and evil, to our endless perils, our anguish, and our joys.
So what did they have in common?

This name hearkened to the telling of noble adventures and sagas around the roaring hearth. (Coalbiters are those who lounge so close to the fire in winter that they virtually bite the coal.) The image also emphasizes the intimacy shared by the group's members as they bundled themselves against the chill of world change and secularization, and regaled one another with the retelling of grand tales of history and myth.
Kolbitar -- the Coal Biters
Myths: Truths
or Lies?

Lewis acknowledged the power behind myths ("breathed through silver") but viewed them as lies,
and therefore worthless.
In fact, said Tolkien,
"the story of Christ
is simply a true myth:
a myth working on us
in the same way as others, but with this tremendous difference that it really happened. "
God is the Creator
We are Sub-creators,
"the refracted light through
whom is splintered from
a single White to many hues."
But, as the Ring saga so wonderfully shows us, we are not left to ourselves.
“In my story I do not deal with Absolute Evil.
I do not think there is such a thing…
I do not think at any rate any rational being is wholly evil.”
‘Alas, no,’ said Elrond. ‘We cannot use the Ruling Ring.... It belongs to Sauron and was made by him alone, and is altogether evil. Its strength, Boromir, is too great for anyone to wield at will, save only those who have already a great power of their own. But for them it holds an even deadlier peril. The very desire of it corrupts the heart. Consider Saruman. If any of the Wise should with this Ring overthrow the Lord of Mordor, using his own arts, he would then set himself on Sauron’s throne, and yet another Dark Lord would appear. And that is another reason why the Ring should be destroyed: as long as it is in the world it will be a danger even to the Wise.

Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
One Ring to rule them all,
One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.

Evil nevertheless, and paradoxically, did not come into being outside God’s control.
God is not powerless against evil, but
for some reason inaccessible to us
permits it to operate within appointed bounds.

God works through human agents
to challenge and resist evil,
so that each victory over evil in this world
is a sign of God’s ultimate victory.
Evil will be conclusively
and finally defeated and obliterated
in the final Day of the Lord,
also called the Last Judgment. Amen!
"Tolkien is most important."
“And after all that has happened since, the most lasting pleasure and reward for both of us has been that we provided one another with stories to hear or read that we really like." --Tolkien reflecting on Lewis' death.
Secondarily, it is about the universal propensity
of human beings (and angels) to fall into evil
unless they are aided by power from that
“unseen but ever-present Person."
It is primarily about the unseen Providence of God operating for good through human (and angelic) agents—especially the “little” ones that no one else has noticed.
Secondarily, it is about the universal propensity
of human beings (and angels) to fall into evil
unless they are aided by power from that
“unseen but ever-present Person."
It is primarily about the unseen Providence of God operating for good through human (and angelic) agents—especially the “little” ones that no one else has noticed.
God is the Creator
We are Sub-creators,
"the refracted light through
whom is splintered from
a single White to many hues."
The Battle for Middle-earth
Christian Understanding
of Evil
The Fall into
Then all listened while Elrond in his clear voice spoke of Sauron and the Rings of Power, and their forging in the Second Age of the world long ago. A part of his tale was known to some there, but the full tale to none, and many eyes were turned to Elrond in fear and wonder as he told of the Elven-smiths of Eregion and their friendship with Moria, and their eagerness for knowledge, by which Sauron ensnared them.

For in that time he was not yet evil to behold, and they received his aid and grew mighty in craft, whereas he learned all their secrets, and betrayed them, and forged secretly in the Mountain of Fire the One Ring to be their master. But Celebrimbor was aware of him, and hid the Three which he had made; and there was war, and the land was laid waste, and the gate of Moria was shut.

‘Some here will remember that many years ago
I myself dared to pass the doors of the
Necromancer in Dol Guldur, and secretly
explored his ways, and found thus that
our fears were true: he was none other than Sauron, our Enemy of old, at length taking shape and power again.
There he brooded in the dark, until he had
wrought for himself a new shape; and it was terrible, for his fair semblance had departed for ever when he was cast into the abyss at the drowning of Numenor. He took up again the great Ring and clothed himself with power; and the malice of the Eye of Sauron few even of the great among Elves and Men could endure.
There was more than
one power at work, Frodo.
The Ring was trying to get back to its master....So now, when its master was awake once more and sending out his dark thought from Mirkwood, it abandoned Gollum. Only to be picked up by the most unlikely person imaginable: Bilbo from the Shire!
Behind that there was something else at work, behind any design of the Ring-maker.
I can put it no plainer than by saying that Bilbo
was meant to find the Ring, and not by its maker.
In which case you also were meant to have it. And that may be an encouraging thought.
The Ring! What shall we do with the Ring...? That is the doom that we must deem.
That is the purpose for which you were called hither. Called, I say, though I have not called you to me, strangers from distant lands. You have come and are here met, in this very nick of time, by chance as it may seem. Yet it is not so. Believe rather than it is so ordered that we, who sit here, and none others, must now find counsel for the peril of the world.
Tolkien understands God in the biblical sense, not as the object of the human quest or journey, not as the goal of human moral striving or human religious activity, but as the active subject, calling and sending, independent of the creation but always engaged in redemptive activity on its behalf.
Tolkien wanted to show his readers how that unseen but ever-present activity manifests itself in earthly life. In particular, I believe Tolkien has given us a rare glimpse of what human freedom within God's Divine Plan really means.
It was the strangest event in the whole history of the Ring so far: Bilbo's arrival just at that time, and putting his hand on it, blindly, in the dark.
A great dread fell on him, as if he was awaiting
the pronouncement of some doom that he had long foreseen and vainly hoped might after all never be spoken....At last with an effort he spoke, and wondered to hear his own words, as if some other will was using his small voice.
"I will take the Ring, though I do not know the
way."
Elrond raised his eyes and looked at him, and Frodo felt his heart pierced by the sudden keenness of the glance. "If I understand aright all that I have heard, I think that this task is appointed for you, Frodo, and if you do not find a way, no one will....

But if you take it freely, I will say that your choice is right."
Evil
"In my decades of ministry I have discovered that the idea of being chosen, called, elected or predestined has waned in many Christian communities. Congregations have lost faith in this basic theological doctrine."
"Many churchgoers today, even very faithful ones, seem hesitant to think in terms of an active agency at work in their lives, calling them forth and preparing them with special gifts for services."
"I am making a counter-proposal, hoping to show that this notion of calling, or election, is one of the principal motifs in Tolkien's deep narrative. We must keep in our minds the all-important question of WHO is doing the calling."
Fleming's
counter-proposal
It was afterwards said that the Wizards came out of the Far West and were messengers sent to contest the power of Sauron, and to unite all those who had the will to resist him. (App. B.)
The two powers strove in him. For a moment, perfectly balanced between their piercing points, he writhed, tormented. Suddenly he was aware of himself again, Frodo, neither the Voice nor the Eye: free to choose, and with one remaining instant in which to do so.
I am the servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the Flame of Anor. You cannot pass.
The dark fire will not avail you, flame of Udun! Go back to the Shadow. You cannot pass!
Gandalf the Grey
The rule of no realm is mine, neither of Gondor nor any other, great or small. But all worthy things that are in peril as the world now stands, those are my care....For I am also a steward.
If God has prepared good works for us to walk in, then it is a joy and a wonder to walk in them. If God is working in us both to will and to work for his good pleasure, then it is our delight and our fulfillment to realize that we are doing exactly what was planned for us to do all along.
I do not think that Frodo’s was a moral failure. At the last moment the pressure of the Ring would reach its maximum — impossible, I should have said, for anyone to resist, certainly after long possession, months of increasing torment, and when starved and exhausted. Frodo had done what he could and spent himself completely (as an instrument of Providence) and had produced a situation in which the object of his quest could be achieved.
Secondarily, it is about the universal propensity
of human beings (and angels) to fall into evil
unless they are aided by power from that
“unseen but ever-present Person."
Here is the key: the reader rejoices at Tolkien's astonishing denouement precisely because he sees himself or herself as one of those who would have failed also and therefore, strangely but wonderfully, as one who can still participate, free from the burden of guilt, in the great overall plan of redemption being carried forward by "the Writer of the Story."
A Word about Gandalf
Tolkien said that the Resurrection was "the greatest 'eucatastrophe' possible in the greatest Fairy Story" of them all– and produces that essential emotion: Christian joy which produces tears because it is qualitatively so like sorrow, because it comes from those places where Joy and Sorrow are at one, reconciled, as selfishness and altruism are lost in Love...a story direct from the realm of Truth itself" (Letters, 89).
Eucatastrophe
(Greek eu meaning well or good)-"the sudden happy turn in a story which pierces you with a joy that brings tears..."
Secondarily, it is about the universal propensity
of human beings (and angels) to fall into evil
unless they are aided by power from that
“unseen but ever-present Person."
Paul and John speak of a radical invasion of the kosmos by the saving power of God. This is what Tolkien is depicting also. Hidden under Gandalf's grey robes is the subversive might of an invader from another realm.
Click hear to listen
Lewis and Tolkien
The Beginning of a Beautiful Friendship
No, said Tolkien.
They are not lies...
The Inklings:
First Look at Middle-earth
the Useless Quack
Tolkien, Lewis, Lewis, Williams, Barfield, and
"The Hobbit is merely the adaptation
Tolkien's huge private mythology
"the whole cosmic struggle as he sees it but mediated through an imaginary world."
"The Hobbit’s successor, which will soon be finished, will reveal this
more clearly. "
"This is the private world of a Christian.
He is a very great man."
- C. S. Lewis
Our Next Class
A Quick Review
A Return to Middle-earth
Looking for Tolkien's Divine Design

When I began teaching for the English Faculty, I made two other friends, both Christians (these queer people seemed now to pop up on every side) who were later to give me much help in getting over the last stile. They were HVV Dyson... and JRR Tolkien.

Friendship with the latter marked the breakdown of two old prejudices. At my first coming into the world I had been (implicitly) warned never to trust a Papist, and at my first coming into the English Faculty (explicitly) never to trust a philologist. Tolkien was both.
to children of part of a
huge private mythology
but mediated through an imaginary world."
as he sees it of a most serious kind:
the whole cosmic struggle
Flannery O'Conner defined the Christian novel not as a novel about Christianity, Christians, or a Christian world,
Far above the Ephel Dúath in the West the night-sky was still dim and pale. There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him.
For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.
A Christian novel is "one in which the truth as Christians know it has been used as a light to see the world by."
-Silmarillion
Remember, The Hobbit was written BEFORE LOTR!
The UnseeenProvidence
Of God
1930 - 1937
1917 - 1973, 1977 (C. Tolkien)
1937 -1955
1954
1954
1955
For nothing is evil in the beginning. Even Sauron was not so. I fear to take the Ring to hide it. I will not take the Ring to wield it.’
Barad-dûr
Don't orcs eat, and don't they drink?
Or do they just live on foul air and poison?
--Sam
No, they eat and drink, Sam. The Shadow
that bred them can only mock, it cannot make: not real things of its own.
Start here. "All hope left him."
Gandalf the White
Naked I was sent back -- for a brief time, until my task is done.
It seemed to Frodo then that he heard, quite plainly but far off, voices out of the past:
What a pity Bilbo did not stab the vile creature, when he had a chance!
Deserves death! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some die that deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then be not too eager to deal out death in the name of justice, fearing for your own safety. Even the wise cannot see all ends.
'Very well,' he answered aloud, lowering his sword. 'But still I am afraid. And yet, as you see, I will not touch the creature. For now that I see him, I do pity him.'
Pity? It was Pity that stayed his hand. Pity, and Mercy: not to strike without need.
I do not feel any pity for Gollum. He deserves death.
Gollum looked at them. A strange expression passed over his lean hungry face. The gleam faded from his eyes, and they went dim and grey, old and tired. A spasm of pain seemed to twist him, and he turned away, peering back up towards the pass, shaking his head, as if engaged in some interior debate. Then he came back, and slowly putting out a trembling hand, very cautiously he touched Frodo's knee-but almost the touch was a caress.

"But where have you been to - sneaking off and sneaking back, you old villain?
The fleeting moment had passed,
beyond recall.
The Third Age was my age. I was the Enemy of Sauron; and my work is finished. I shall go soon. The burden must lie now upon you and your kindred.
There was more than
one power at work, Frodo.
Behind that there was something else at work, behind any design of the Ring-maker.
I can put it no plainer than by saying that Bilbo
was meant to find the Ring, and not by its maker.
In which case you also were meant to have it.
So what is Tolkien telling us about Bilbo and his finding of the Ring?
"Take this ring, Master, for your labours will be heavy; but it will support you in the weariness that you have taken upon yourself. For this is the Ring of Fire, and with it you may rekindle hearts in a world that grows chill."
"I know that such things happened but I cannot see them. No taste of food, no feel of water, no sound of wind, no memory of tree or grass or flower, no image of moon or star are left to me."

"I am naked in the dark, Sam, and there is no veil between me and the wheel of fire."
Never in my wildest imagination did I conceive, or could I have imagined, the "catastrophe" that Tolkien has wrought for us.
And yet it is so brilliantly, so profoundly, so astoundingly right that it produced, for this reader at least, the same effect that the ending of classic tragedy produces: a sense of exaltation in the midst of pity and terror.
--Fleming Rutledge
His humility (with which he began) and his sufferings were justly rewarded by the highest honor; and his exercise of patience and mercy towards Gollum gained him Mercy:

his failure was redressed.
(Letters, 325)
Surely this is one of the most staggering
turns of plot in all literature.

but "one in which the truth as Christians know it has been used as a light to see the world by."
Sam looked at him and wept in his heart, but no tears came to his dry and stinging eyes. ‘I said I’d carry him, if it broke my back,’ he muttered, ‘and I will!’
‘Come, Mr. Frodo!’ he cried. ‘I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you and it as well. So up you get! Come on, Mr. Frodo dear! Sam will give you a ride. Just tell him where to go, and he’ll go.’
"But I do not choose now to do what I came to do. I will not do this deed. The Ring is mine!" And suddenly, as he set it on his finger, he vanished from Sam's sight.
The Quest would have been in vain, even at the bitter end. So let us forgive him! For the Quest is achieved, and now all is over. I am glad you are here with me. Here at the end of all things, Sam.’
In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.
I have not much hope that Gollum can be cured before he dies, but there is a chance of it. And he is bound up with the fate of the Ring. My heart tells me that he has some part to play yet, for good or ill, before the end; and when that comes, the pity of Bilbo may rule the fate of many – yours not least. (Gandalf to Frodo)
"So far I have felt the normal feelings of a man of my age--like an old tree that is losing all its leaves one by one: this [Lewis' death] feels like an axe-blow near the roots."--Tolkien in response to sympathy letter from his daughter
Correcting the Critics
Stop here
Lewis' and Tolkien's First Literary Club
I have come.
Eucatastrophe
Stop at "I will go alone. At once!"
Start here.
‘Lo! lords and knights and men of valour unashamed, kings and princes, and fair people of Gondor, and Riders of Rohan, and ye sons of Elrond, and Dúnedain of the North, and Elf and Dwarf, and greathearts of the Shire, and all free folk of the West, now listen to my lay.

And when Sam heard that he laughed aloud for sheer delight, and he stood up and cried: ‘O great glory and splendour! And all my wishes have come true!’ And then he wept.

And all the host laughed and wept, and in the midst of their merriment and tears the clear voice of the minstrel rose like silver and gold, and all men were hushed. And he sang to them, now in the elven-tongue, now in the speech of the West, until their hearts, wounded with sweet words, overflowed, and their joy was like swords, and they passed in thought out to regions where pain and delight flow together and tears are the very wine of blessedness.
For I will sing to you of Frodo of the Nine Fingers and the Ring of Doom.’
--Fleming Rutledge
'No, Sam!' said Frodo. 'Do not kill him even now...He was great once, of a noble kind that we should not dare to raise our hands against. He is fallen, and his cure is beyond us; but I would spare him, in the hope that he may find it.'
Consider Saruman
[After Melkor was defeated and Sauron repented], he hid himself in Middle-earth; and he fell back into evil, for the bonds that [Melkor] had laid upon him were very strong.'
In my story, I do not deal with Absolute Evil. I do not think there is such a thing....I do not think that at any rate any rational being is wholly evil.
--C. S. Lewis
Fellow, Oxford (Magdalen College) 1925, age 27
Ralwinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon, Oxford (Pembroke College) 1925, age 32
But there was a new broom coming into the English Faculty at this period...[who] appeared to be more radically reactionary. This was the Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon, who had been appointed to his chair at the age of thirty-two, in the same year that Lewis got his fellowship at Magdalen. His name was J.R.R. Tolkien.
When Jack met
Tollers.
To one who said that myths were lies and therefore worthless, even though 'breathed through silver.'
Mythopoeia:
1. Only a pretty fairy tale (trivial)
2. An escape from reality (disengagement)
3. A conservative allegory

The Typical Complaints of Tolkien:
Tollers, there is too little of what we really like in stories. I am afraid we shall have to try and write some ourselves.
Tolkien and Lewis shared a great love of Northern Epic Literature (Myths)
Flannery O'Connor on what makes a novel "Christian" :
Mythopoeia:
Tolkien's great "Creation" Theology
1930-1937
1937-1954
1954

1954
1955
1917-1973
The question is not "What is Middle-earth?" but "When is Middle-earth?" Middle-earth is Earth, but post-creation and pre-incarnation.
Of old there was Sauron the Maia....In the beginning of Arda Melkor seduced him to his allegiance, and he became the greatest and most trusted of the servants of the Enemy, and the most perilous, for he could assume many forms, and for long if he willed he could still appear noble and beautiful, so as to deceive all but the most wary.
Mount Doom
Secondarily, it is about the universal propensity of human beings (and angels) to fall into evil unless they are aided by power from that “unseen but ever-present Person."
The Ringwraiths (the Nazgul)
Nine he gave to Mortal Men, proud and great, and so ensnared them. Long ago they fell under the dominion of the One, and they became Ringwraiths, shadows under his great Shadow, his most terrible servants. (Gandalf to Frodo, The Fellowship of the Ring)
The greatest of the Kings seduced by Sauron was the Witch King of Angmar (Lord of the Nazgul: NOT Sauron, but Sauron's greatest weapon)
A mortal, Frodo, who keeps one of the Great Rings, does not die, but he does not grow or obtain more life, he merely continues, until at last every minute is weariness...[and] he fades; he becomes invisible permanently, and walks in the twilight under the eye of the Dark Power that rules the Rings...[and] sooner or later the Dark Power will devour him.
Sauron at the End of the Second Age
Sauron as Annatar: the Lord of Gifts
--The Fellowship of the Ring
The Council of Elrond
The Council of Elrond
Sauron
The Power of the Enemy is too great for the unaided human being to resist.
Evil
The Fall into
Don't orcs eat, and don't they drink?
Or do they just live on foul air and poison?
--Sam
No, they eat and drink, Sam. The Shadow
that bred them can only mock, it cannot make: not real things of its own.
‘Alas, no,’ said Elrond. ‘We cannot use the Ruling Ring.... It belongs to Sauron and was made by him alone, and is altogether evil... The very desire of it corrupts the heart....as long as it is in the world it will be a danger even to the Wise. '

For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.
But, as the Ring saga so wonderfully shows us, we are not left to ourselves.
Secondarily, it is about the universal propensity of human beings (and angels) to fall into evil unless they are aided by power from that “unseen but ever-present Person."
The Power of the Enemy is too great for the unaided human being to resist.
-Silmarillion
The question is not "What is Middle-earth?" but "When is Middle-earth?" Middle-earth is Earth, but post-creation and pre-incarnation.
...and he fell back into evil, for the bonds that [Melkor] had laid upon him were very strong.'
Sauron
For nothing is evil in the beginning. Even Sauron was not so.
The Council of Elrond
‘But do you remember Gandalf’s words: Even Gollum may have something yet to do? But for him, Sam, I could not have destroyed the Ring.
Hints of Providence Already
Far above the Ephel Dúath in the West the night-sky was still dim and pale. There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him.
For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.
Gandalf did not move. And in that very moment, away behind in some courtyard of the City, a cock crowed. Shrill and clear he crowed, recking nothing of wizardry or war, welcoming only the morning that in the sky far above the shadows of death was coming with the dawn. And as if in answer there came from far away another note. Horns, horns, horns. In dark Mindolluin’s sides they dimly echoed. Great horns of the North wildly blowing. Rohan had come at last.
--Fleming writes "That is a passage beyond praise, and we should pause to allow it its full measure of glory."
Boromir of Gondor (the South)
Gimli of the Lonely Mountain
Legolas of Mirkwood
Frodo of the Shire
Gandalf
Aragorn (Strider) of the North
And that may be an encouraging thought.
For a fleeting moment, could one of the sleepers have seen him, they would have thought that they beheld an old weary hobbit, shrunken by the years that had carried him far beyond his time, beyond friends and kin, and the fields and streams of youth, an old starved pitiable thing.
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