The Hobbit and Tobit (basically only – cause they rhyme).

(Tobit and Hobbit (auto-evil-corrupt managed to make Tobit into ‘to it’ at least five times, but I soldiered on)

In 1904, Mabel Tolkien died leaving 12 year old Ronald and Hilary orphans but she had made arrangements for the boys before her death.   As she wanted them to continue in the Catholic faith rather than leave them with their Protestant grandparents, Mabel appointed Father Morgan as their legal guardian and he placed them in a boarding house where other orphans attending the Oratory school lived. Tolkien missed the quiet village of Sarole and although he hated the poverty and squalor of Birmingham he came to enjoy the museums, libraries and parks.  Father Morgan took them on trips to the English countryside, to Wales and once even to the Alps for mountain climbing.Tolkien eventually outgrew the physical weaknesses he had as a child and by age 16 he was an enthusiastic athlete.  It was also when he was 16 that he met Edith Bratt, who lived at the same boarding house.  She was his first and only love. Edith was also an orphan and from a similar background to Tolkien’s.  Because of their youth and because they were expected to concentrate on their education, they were kept apart.  In fact, they were even forbidden to write to each other until Tolkien was at Oxford and Edith reached the age of majority!Tolkien studied at King Edward VI School and chose to focus on Anglo-Saxon studies rather than the usual Classics.  In 1911 he was able to begin studies at Exner College at Oxford as an ‘exhibitioner’ which was similar to a scholarship that provided his tuition.Tolkien and The WarThe world was drastically changed in 1914 when the Great War began but Tolkien was determined to finish his degree before joining the army. When he did join as an Oxford graduate he was automatically given a commission. Before being sent to the front in France in 1916, he went on a short leave to Birmingham where he and Edith were married.   In France he took part in the terrible Battle of the Somme where many were killed. After 1917, after suffering trench fever, Tolkien did not see active service again and later that year he and Edith had their first child, John Francis Ruel, named after Father Morgan.  He later became a priest following in the footsteps of Father Francis.  The war ended in 1918 and Tolkien worked for a time at the Ministry of Labour.  He was able to join the faculty of the University of Leeds in 1921 and returned to Oxford to teach in 1925.Tolkien at OxfordOne of Tolkien’s closest friends was C.S. Lewis, the author of Tales of Narnia, whom he met while at teaching at Oxford.  Lewis wrote in his autobiography, “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.”  (Lewis, p. 216)  Tolkien was, of course, a major influence in the conversion of Lewis from atheism to Christianity.  Tolkien told a friend, “I got him as far as the Church of England from atheism”.  Lewis, who was from Belfast, never became a Catholic although his thinking fits well with Catholicism and his books are loved by many Catholics.  The two were part of an informal literary group, known as The Inklings, who met at the pub, The Eagle and Child, in Oxford.Tolkien as AuthorTolkien doesn’t mention Catholicism or Christianity in his books and many of his readers are not aware of the influence that his faith had in writings.  Tolkien once wrote to a friend, “The Lord of the Rings is fundamentally a religious and a Catholic work.”  (quoted by Pierce in “Tolkien, Man and Myth: A Literary Life”)Middle Earth is created, monotheistic and fallen; the primary sin is that of pride.  Evil is bound to failure and ‘God’ will bring good out of evil.  The enemy, Morgoth, is like Satan.   The ring (the symbol of original sin) is destroyed on March 25 which coincides to the Feast of the Annunciation, that is, the date when God became man.  In medieval times people believed that this was also the date of the resurrection.  Frodo is the one who ‘takes up his cross’ and follows Christ.  In our world the cross is the symbol of sin, in Frodo’s world, the ring is the symbol of sin. ‘Elves bred’ is bread to help them on their way. Tolkien once said, “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. Frequency is of the highest effect.”  The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter to his son.

            The Discursive Truth-telling of Mythology vs. the  Inferential Intuititivity of Perceived Historicities in a Constructive & Authentic Hermeneutic.

 In recent years, among conservative Christians, the issue of inerrancy has come into the forefront, over and over. Other theologians have  conversely countered this trend with a counter-assertion of the importance of authority – arguing that it is a more responsible interpretive hermeneutic from which to work.  The reasoning behind the thoroughgoing assertion of inerrancy, as an exclusive, necessary hermeneutic method/interpretive strategy, is essentially a weltanschauung/worldview that is born out of what is tantamount to more or less the end-point derivative of a modernist mindset: one where ‘scientific accuracy’ and ‘reproducibility’ are the real prime movers in the epistemological mix – and not the message of the text itself and its own self-asserting authority. Inerrancy, by its nature, trumps the idea of any authoritative quotient being present in a non-historical text. If these same standards were held against most modern writing – only historical, documentative written works would remain – and all other forms of writings would be committed to the flames, at least in terms of having any intrinsic or inspirational value. If this kind of thinking were carried out to the full extent, then writings such as C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia and J.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings books would lose their own sense of the near canonical authority that they at least indirectly enjoy among Conservatives – however both true and ironic as this may be.[1] This opens up an important question into the value of a given text – specifically, its authority or right to inspire, establish doctrine, and then teach; either on a personal-existential level, or on a church doctrinal ecclesiastical level – as all of these books have been, once again – by virtue of their remakes into movies – thrust into the forefront of the public theological imagination and their value as an asset for such endeavors has neither been lost, nor squandered by those who are the most eager to both explain and inculcate the values that they contain into present and forthcoming generations.It would seem that to exclude all that is written and interpreted through the lens of the imagination would indeed be a crass move. Is it equally crass to assume that everything that is ‘imaginative’ is necessarily equal to the ‘actual’? Somewhere along the line, some degree of weight must be given to the ‘mythological,’ just as it is also given to the ‘historical.’ The work of the postmodern philosopher and linguist Jurgen Habermas sets itself at this corrective-to-an-overreaching modernity task.  For Habermas, the greatest asset of mythological narratives is their deep and intrinsic capacitance – not just for Absolute, or Historical Truths; as much as these things may or may not be important – but more so for their ability to convey Discursive Truths, or potentially non-intuitive ideas; ones that have arguably served as the bedrock of Western Civilization for much of its better history. In Habermas’ thought, the most important ideas that are imparted into a culture, are the ones that come from the imagination, and are the ones that are best told through it- and not necessarily through the structured, reproducibility of a sterile, intuition-only method of finding truth.[2] For the ancients – this was much of the purpose of Mythology: it told not as much the history and the stories of the gods, but more so of importance, was the telling of the truths behind the stories[3] – the narratives of which were much more important to the tellers of the stories, then whether or not they actually ever took place. In this sense, Modernism has inverted the criticality of both the Subjective Writing that drives Imagination and its concurrent Discursive Truth-telling – placing above it a more highly valued Objective Writing style and a bias towards its corresponding methods that emphasize Intuitive Truth. What have been the results of this ‘inversion’ – in terms of biblical hermeneutics? The book of Tobit tells this tale as well – perhaps also discursively.

for tolkienophilmophiles here’s a decent hit:

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