Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Literature, Books, Religion, Tolkien, Belief, Christians, Time, Witchcraft

Pages: 6

Words: 1650

Published: 2021/02/08

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The Lord of the Rings

Literature is fraught with ideas that are less than popular with many people. Whether it be for ideals that some deem as unacceptable or simple images and beliefs that run contrary to what is widely believed as proper some books are considered too risqué or just flat out wrong by those who would oppose anything that is too different to accept. Surprisingly the title The Lord of the Rings is firmly pinned to the lists of banned books that have gained attention throughout the years. Despite its fantastical settings and supposed underlying connections to Christianity, it is considered anti-religious and even harmful to young readers. The trouble with banning books is that once a line is crossed, it is almost impossible to go back.
In the case of The Lord of the Rings the harm is seen to come from the supposed anti-religious beliefs that are fostered by the use of witchcraft, magic, and other such manners of fantasy. While it has been stated that the author, J.R.R Tolkien, was a devout and practicing Christian, his book also covers several Christian-like themes that, while still based largely in fantasy, extol the same virtues as the religion to which he adhered. The selfless acts of heroism, the undaunted bravery in the face of adversity, and even the act of utilizing those who are considered by many to be lesser beings are all important themes that anyone can see within another rather important book which Tolkien followed in his life: the bible.
Many would argue this point that the books show nothing but fantastical images and scenes that are not fitting for young minds to absorb. Some would even go so far as to state that the books are harmful in that they promote witchcraft and the idea that Christian beliefs are synonymous with the “black and white magicks” that are depicted in the books. Minister Eric Barger even goes so far as to say that Tolkien managed to invent a gathering of lesser gods that were created to finish the work of an absent, undefined supreme being, thereby defying the warnings of the God spoken of in the bible concerning idolatry that is real and imaginary. (Barger, 2004)
J.R.R. Tolkien was a rather unique character in that he was a devout Catholic and a respected member of the congregation to which he belonged. So respected was he that his name has become synonymous with great writing throughout the years, a mark that he was in fact highly respected and more than a little bit of a genius in what he wrote. Like so many that are labeled as such however his ideals and assumptions concerning what he wrote have been under great scrutiny as of late, when the efforts to determine what is best for the youth of this generation is taken into account.
Sadly his greatest works, including the three books that consist of one of his greatest masterpieces, The Lord of The Rings, have been banned nationwide and even brought into a different view by a good many Christians regarding their content. Dealing in witchcraft, dark and light magicks, and subject material that is considered too risqué by the standards of many schools, these conjoined titles have been pulled from shelves and even stores after years spent as little more than books great literary interest and even assigned reading in some cases.
Recognized literature is that which essentially stands the test of time and is recognized and given such status by those who read it and those whose words are reputed to be those of wisdom when it comes to acknowledging such status. It is a difficult and often many-pronged process through which works of any author are considered to be classic literature, but Tolkien’s works are undoubtedly worthy of that classification for the same reasons that they are banned; they are unconventional and not at all clear, and as such lead the reader towards conclusions that somehow allude to the ending of the books no matter what path is traveled to get there. A true literary classic is one that challenges the reader, which speaks to more one generation, and has the ability to be analyzed and reviewed by several different methods.
The Lord of The Rings has done this quit well since its arrival upon bookshelves, within schools, and anywhere else it has appeared. From its rich, well thought vistas to the characters it presents and the many dilemmas they face, the three books are an epic tale of heroism, villainy, and the struggles that rise constantly between the two. Thought up by a genius amongst writers, the three books are a prime example of what imagination can do and what it can inspire amongst others.
While many would never have known of these books if not for the movies that were filmed first in a cartoon format beginning in the late 1970’s, and then the live action films that were first seen in theaters in 2001. Before that time the books had been in print since the 1950’s and been in circulation throughout the USA, becoming an iconic battle between good and evil that did not fully become appreciated until recent decades. Tolkien is described as a man ahead of his time, a visionary of sorts who wrote a story that, during its own time, was not fully realized and gained little ground among the public other than to be thought of as another fantasy, a tale meant to entertain and nothing more.
That has changed along with the times, as things are wont to do. Back in the time it was published, The Lord of The Rings was ahead of its time, but also able to skate under the radar of religious groups that might have burned it as has been done in more modern times for its reference to witchcraft and what might be deemed “satanic” references according to children’s author Judy Blume. (Blume, 2014) While it pulls from other bits of classic literature, such as elves, wizards, dwarves, and other such fantastical elements, it is still very much considered to be either anti-, quasi-, or even very religious in its many connotations and references.
Some would argue that it is based highly upon Christian beliefs and practices that the use of a seemingly innocuous character such as a hobbit exemplifies the need of God to work His miracles through someone that is quite insignificant yet carries all the qualities needed to carry out His great works. Also it would denote that the presence of a supreme light, an overall presence of good, is not the only thing that can stave off the darkness, or evil, but it is in fact a large factor in the decisions made by those must choose which way they will lean. In that regard it is very religious in its origins as cultures, no matter where in the world, are often built upon the foundation of religion, despite how they might progress throughout their long and storied history.
Tolkien saw the effect of his story upon others, and how it made them question their choices at times, though rarely if ever did The Lord of The Rings affect individuals in such a manner, as the story itself is not an easy read and is therefore difficult to emulate. Unlike other books in any genre, the prose that makes up the large part of the three books is such that it requires a steady and constant level attention to understand and comprehend. In that manner it is an epic tale and a great piece of literature, but hardly a book that needs concern those who are prone to the belief that works of literature can harm those who read it.
Some ideals that are placed in words and in text are harmful and malicious, and are generally intentioned to be so, but within the three books that Tolkien penned it is without a doubt that the greatest intent was to show a world in which the parallels between its shores and those of the reality we experience are not only similar, but in a way quite the same. While in this world we do not battle armies of orcs for survival, the courage and steadfast resolve that Tolkien imparts to his characters is a bold and underlying statement to the overall moods and attitudes that can be felt by the reader, and therefore emulated in a manner that is most fitting to the individual’s life. The books are harmful only to those who would think of ways to denounce what they cannot fully understand and that which flies in the face of their perceived realities and beliefs.
Literature is more than the words and pages that are penned by the author. They are ideals, fantasies, and worlds within worlds that are no more perfect nor more imperfect than the reality within which the author exists. Banning books is not only a narrow-minded and dangerous act, but one that breeds ignorance as well as fear for anything that is not fully understood.
Though it is a poor analogy and often demonizes those upon whom it is directed, there was an act of book burning so vile and so callous that it lives on in history still as common knowledge to many and an atrocity to others. Adolph Hitler burned a number of books during his reign, blaming the so-called poisonous views within their pages upon the Jewish people as he went on to “cleanse” the German people of such harmful ideals. The banning of books is not seen in such a light by many, and is filled with good intentions, but as a certain old saying describes that path often leads one down a rather ruinous road.
Tolkien saw something in a world that he managed to scribe for the benefit of others, a realm that was not so unlike our own save for the use of a force that some might deem as cultist or satanic, but is in fact a work of fantasy and little else. While the use of magic within a story might inspire some to perform their own acts of witchcraft, it is hardly a fitting correlation considering that witchcraft existed far before the books were even written, and will likely continue on when the last few pages remaining are dust. His vision was such that as a devout Catholic himself, he managed to incorporate his ideals and beliefs into a world that, while vastly different in some ways, is no more than a step away from the reality we know. By holding fast to his own set of religious beliefs he was able to create a realm where anything is possible, and where magic, despite its contradictory nature with his religion, abounded in more ways than one.
Everyone looks for miracles at one point or another in their lives; it is human nature to want more, to believe in more, and to ask for more than we are given. This is the basis of religion, fantasy, and reality alike. Humanity does not limit its imagination, only the reality with which we are presented. Imagination is the lifeblood of humanity’s rise, as is the use of its many different facets. If not for imagination, religion would not exist, and our many cultures would crumble. In that sense, banning a book is akin to an attack upon the very core of our existence.

Works Cited

Barger, Eric. “Lord of The Rings: Christian or Cultic?” Eric Barger’s Take A Stand! Ministries.
April 2004. Web. 9 April 2015.
Blume, Judy. “BrainPop Movies.” BrainPop Educators, 2014. Web. 9 April 2015.
Brunner, Borgna. “Banned Books.” Infoplease, 2007. Web. 9 April. 2015.

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