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J. R. R. Tolkien's Sanctifying Myth: Understanding Middle-Earth (Anglais) Relié – octobre 2002

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Book by Birzer Bradley J

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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 4.5 étoiles sur 5 22 commentaires
47 internautes sur 48 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 An answer to the undergraduate 2 septembre 2003
Par Un client - Publié sur
Format: Relié
What I am going to write is going to be long and may sound like ramblings to some people, but it is something that I feel must be expressed. It has something to do with Tolkien's position as a theologian and a writer, and is meant to be an answer to the undergraduate's review below.
First off, his review seems to focus mainly on a vilification of Tolkien's faith as a Catholic. Here, I think it is only right to clarify the influences on Tolkien's Catholicism. Tolkien never got to know his father who died shortly after his birth. It was his mother who brought him up and was both a teacher and a guardian to him. It was little wonder that he soon grew attached to his mother. When his mother reverted to the Catholic faith, her Protestant relatives were horrified and severed all ties with her, even refusing to help out financially when it was necessary to save her life during her last illness, Tolkien's mother being a sufferer from diabetes. And since his mother was Catholic, he was sent off to a monastery where a Catholic priest took care of him, and played an important role as a foster father to the young Tolkien, he being only 12 years of age at that time. Vowing to keep the memory of his mother in his heart, it was little wonder then that he developed a Catholic faith instead of Protestantism. And yet, there are some who attack him for that very faith that help to give him hope.
Concerning Tolkien's position as a writer, far from being a lousy one, he was a very influential one. A clear testimony would be the sale of his book right up to this very day, and its position in the list of important books of the century. Indeed, it has several times remained in the upper echelon of those lists. The very reason his book had been embraced by so many different types of people is that it brings to the heart many universal messages such as the message of Friendship, of Courage, etc.. without being all preachy, and thus limiting the book to a select few. Why, even great men like C.S. Lewis were known to respect Tolkien as a writer and admired "The Lord of the Rings". Tolkien was also an Oxford professor, a position that not everyone could claim to achieve easily. I would have thought that as a mere undergraduate, he would have some respect for Tolkien for this, if for nothing else. Whether a movie will be brilliant or not depends solely on the quality of the work it is based on. If the source material was lousy, no amount of energy will help the movies to achieve the quality it has now.
Now, this is what I think. I think it's true that "The Lord of the Rings" does contain pagan elements. How can this be denied when Tolkien himself admitted that he used several pagan myths as influences in his work, the legend of Beowulf and of Siegfried, for example? But Tolkien never claimed that his work was ever meant to be an allegory. In fact, he was very adamant against the work being used as an allegory and in fact did not like Lewis' "Chronicles of Narnia" for this very reason, Lewis' work being to all appearance more of an allegorical work. What Tolkien did claim was that "The Lord of the Rings" was a distinctly Christian work, this meaning that it portrayed Christian values such as hope, redemption through faith and repentance, self-sacrifice, determination and endurance to do what is right no matter the cost, loyalty and friendship, mercy, the refusal of worldly power, etc.. So, in short, Gandalf and co. was never meant to be an allegorical representation of Christ. What Gandalf, for example, did portray was certain Christlike attributes such as Jesus' ever steadfast guidance, kindness, wisdom and what is most clear, the victory of Jesus over death and evil. This was what Tolkien meant when he said that the work was a fundamentally religious one, not as a Christian allegory in the same way as the "Pilgrim's Progress", but rather one that guide Christians to handle issues in a Christian manner. Indeed his work and testimony has brought numerous people into Christ's flock of believers, and in the process salvation for them, C.S. Lewis included.
I for one, would like to believe as Chuck Colson does that there is hope of bringing the Catholic and Protestants as one to worship the Lord. People such as Dave Hunt and his band of so-called 'Protestant Crusaders' however, have unfortunately rendered this very difficult. What they are doing, far from bringing people to Christ is rather making me, a Christian, disillusioned with Christianity for the hatred and utter chaos within it. This is not something new, and has been a problem for quite some time now. Read Gandhi's biography to get a picture of what I mean. I am a Protestant at the moment, and still believe that Martin Luther did what he did for a very real purpose. However, I am growing to respect the present-day Catholics more and more everyday for their faith under such extreme religious prejudice.
I appreciate what Mr. Birzer and Mr.Pearce are doing. I, of course, learnt a lot about Tolkien through their work. By all means, get their book for a clearer and more scholarly view of Tolkien's life and work. Another good book would be Tolkien: Man and Myth by Mr. Pearce.
- Due to limitations, I couldn't provide the counter-arguments against the points advanced by the undergraduate. I will try to advance those counter-arguments at a later date, if possible. If not, for anyone who wishes for a clearer understanding concerning those specific points, contact me at
- A good site would be featuring further articles by Mr.Birzer. Other good sites would be, and [...]
79 internautes sur 90 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Children, Hippies, and Environmentalists 11 décembre 2002
Par John E. Rocha - Publié sur
Format: Relié
Children, Hippies, and Environmentalists have always read J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings", but have they correctly understood the myth? No. Dr. Bradley J. Birzer completes the understanding of Tolkien as a Christian writer. Dr. Birzer presents Tolkien with a "Catholic Worldview". Based on Tolkien's own letters to colleagues and friends, we see that Tolkien lived and breathed Roman Catholicism.
Thanks to Bradley Birzer and Joseph Pearce, readers of all ages and faiths can begin to understand Middle-Earth. In Pearce's biography, we learn that Tolkien's Faith is significant in discovering the themes put before us in "The Lord of the Rings". Inferred in both Birzer and Pearce's books, the reader must have clear vision-a vision that is one with the "True Church", then and only then will your perception of Tolkien and his legendarium be clear and complete.
Dr. Birzer incorporates Pearce's thesis, but fulfills the truth about Tolkien and his writings. Birzer goes beyond "The Lord of the Rings" and offers a study of Tolkien's writings as a whole.
Viewers and readers of "The Lord of the Rings" are able to catch a glimpse of religious themes, but the vision presented is incomplete. Tolkien explicitly stated that the story was not an allegory, but part of an entire mythology. Dr. Birzer examines Tolkien's corpus and shows us how Tolkien is not just a fiction writer, a philologist, a Christian, but a Roman Catholic.
By the end of "Sanctifying Myth", we want to go back and study (yes...STUDY!), not just the trilogy, but all of Tolkien's writings. Dr. Birzer suggests that Tolkien, when properly read and studied, should be placed with other Christian Humanists of the 20th Century, such as T.S. Eliot and C.S. Lewis. This is true. But I suggest as the world continues in its understanding of Tolkien, he will be placed with the elite group of 20th Century Catholic Writers: G.K. Chesterton, Hilaire Belloc, Christopher Dawson, Romano Guardini, Josef Pieper, Fulton J. Sheen and today's, Ralph McInerny. These writers present the "Catholic World View", not in the sense of a religious denomination, but as its primary definition, that which is Universal.
Over the last century, the world has been bombarded by atheism and war, bringing upon mankind the death of the soul and the body. Tolkien reminds us of our Creator-Creature relationship. As we are surrounded by communism, existentialism, feminism, nihilism, relativism, all which have brought darkness and death to our imagination, Tolkien has taken on the humble task of an apostle and has carried us to the the Truth.
I highly recommend "J.R.R. Tolkien's Sanctifying Myth". Readers will not only discover the truth about Tolkien, but about the world.
28 internautes sur 30 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Tolkien's Profound Christian Vision Brought to Light! 18 mai 2003
Par Kathleen - Publié sur
Format: Relié
I found this book fascinating, beautiful, and moving. Mr. Birzer has done a credible job of analyzing and interpreting "The Lord of the Rings" and The "Simarillion" for those of us interested in Tolkien's writings. The reader leaves Sanctifying Myth with a better understanding of the main characters--specifically Gandalf, Frodo, Sam, Faramir, and Aragorn.
I especially liked the depiction of Sam Gangee as the true hero of "The Lord of the Rings." Frodo is important, of course, but he remains somewhat in the abstract as "The Ringbearer" or "The Hero on a Great Quest." I instinctively liked Sam and admired the qualities of loyalty, honesty, common sense, and affectionate humor which Sam displayed throughout all three parts of LOTR.
Gandalf is also explained very well as the saintly emissary of Eru/Iluvatar/God-a Christlike figure "dying" and coming back to life to serve Middle Earth with new powers.
I think Tolkien's Sanctifying Myth is profound and very relevant to our time of secularism, Islamic Jihad, moral distintegration, and crumbling traditional morals.
I hope everyone gets a chance to read this book.
32 internautes sur 36 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Sanctifying the Ordinary 22 janvier 2003
Par Steven Felix - Publié sur
Format: Relié
Bradley J. Birzer's book is the best analysis to date of the Christian (and more specifically Catholic Christian) themes in Tolkein's Lord of the Rings trilogy (LOTR). While a previous reviewer has found no reference to God or other Christian themes, this is to substantially miss the point. Great literature according to Aristotle, did not explicitly draw attention to the themes that one sought to explain. Rather, they were subtley concealed within the text so that the reader, through reason, could draw them out.
Such themes abound in LOTR. Simple examples include the character of Gandalf. He is a pure spiritual being - an Ishtari - who choses to become incarnate in order to combat evil. If this does not in part reflect a Christocentric theme what does. Also, in his fight with the Balrog in Moria, Gandalf dies, but returns to earth, no longer as Gandalf the Gray, but rather Gandalf the White. His powers are increased and all are awed in the revelation of his glory in Fangorn forest. Can one not envision the parallel to the glorified Christ after the Resurrection.
Then there is the Lembos - the Elf bread - which sustains the members of the Fellowship through their journeys. What more specific example of the Catholic view of the Eucharist does one need.
One final example is the date chosen for the destruction of the Ring - March 25th. In the Catholic liturgical calendar, this is the date of the feast of the Incarnation - the date when Christ became incarnate in the womb of Mary and the saga of the Redemption of Man began. What other event can one identify more closely with the Christian understanding of the destruction of evil than this.
But the overall key to Tolkein's LOTR is not that it is a specifically Christian work, but rather a work of myth that is infused with a Christian spirit. Let me explain another way. We each have are everyday activities. We go to work, take care of our families and tend to social duties. These are rather mundane secualar activities for the most part and seem far removed from God and Church. But that is the drama of the Christian life - to take the ordinary, and transform it into a work done for God. Much as Christ lived an ordinary life as son and carpenter, transforming this life into the extraordinary, so Tolkein harkens us to this image. The image that all human activities, from the drama of Helm's Deep, to the simple daily lives of hobbits, can be transformed into something truly dramatic in Christ. This is the meaning of a Sanctifying Myth and also the meaning of our lives as Christians (Catholics and Protestants)- to sanctify the ordinary.
Bravo Birzer
17 internautes sur 18 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Review the book not the religion 2 février 2003
Par Un client - Publié sur
Format: Relié
This book provides an excellent analysis of how Tolkien's devotion came out in his writing. As Tolkien said he did not intetionally write a religious work but he did edit one. No matter what one believes they cannot deny the excellent work done by the authors.
The Reader from Walpole, MA obviously never read LOTR or this book because he/she doesn't appear to know anything about either book. Please do not take his/her review seriously because he/she has simply used his/her review as a forum for his/her theological views. This is not the proper place for such a discussion and has nothing to do with the facts that Tolkien was a devout Catholic, he did not intentionally write LOTR to be a religious work but he admitted to editing it in such a way as to make it one, and that no matter what protestant religion one looks at they all have their roots in Catholicism whether they like it or not.
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