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Local traditional priest says forget that rubbish, Tolkien OK February 6, 2014

Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, Basics, Dallas Diocese, fun, General Catholic, reading, Society, Tradition, Virtue.

I know that post on Tolkien I did on Monday sparked quite a bit of controversy. I am gratified I did not take a strong stand, either way.  I did find it troubling, to a degree, even if fantasy/myth just isn’t my thing.  But a local reader spoke to a local priest about it – this priest being familiar with Tolkien’s writings – and he dismissed the criticism as “rubbish.”

He alluded to the fact that Beowulf is a Christian fantasy and found criticism of LOTR trivial compared to the truly monstrous, egregious stuff out there in the culture now.  I certainly agree with that . One thought I had in the whole imbroglio was…….are we just supposed to read the Bible and Saints, then?  We can’t have any diversion that is not directly, strictly related to the Faith and sanctification?

I am also told the priest who posted this criticism of Tolkien is not a Fraternity priest. He’s from another tradition-leaning order – whatever difference that makes.

So go get your Tolkien on with abandon.  It’s been given the seal of approval by one of the strongest priests I know.


1. TG - February 6, 2014

Didn’t matter to me since I didn’t know who Tolkien was till someone said something about him on EWTN. I saw Lord of the Rings movie a long time ago. I didn’t know there was supposed to be Catholism in it and found the movie to be confusing and a bit boring at times. The priest may have been a real traditionist like Tradition in Action. I agree with some of what they say on the site but they go a bit too far on some issues. I got a kick out of a term Mundabor used in describing some too rigid Catholics or Christians. He called it an “Anglo Saxon” attitude.

2. maggycast - February 6, 2014

Sure, there are plenty of fiction stories out there that are perfectly fine to read. As long as the uphold Christian values and if they do present evil that it is called out as evil and seek the good:+) C.S. Lewis’s books…Jane Eyre by Bronte…Jane Austen’s novels…Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie…just to name a few. God bless~

3. maggycast - February 6, 2014

PS. I’m not a huge Austen fan…her values are a bit shallow/materialistic i.e. marrying the rich man…but they give you an idea of the time period:+) God bless~

4. DiscipleoftheDumbOx - February 6, 2014

I thought the condmenation of Tolkien and his works was a bit orcish. Now, my friend, you simply must pick up and read! 🙂

5. dymphna wilson (@dymphnaw) - February 6, 2014

Some people have gone overboard with LOTR. It’s their guide to life. I think the priest was saying don’t treat a work of fiction like it’s Imitation of Christ or the Summa.

DiscipleoftheDumbOx - February 7, 2014

Yes. By all means, have some perspective. But this goes both ways. No need to go all Michael O’Brien in this regard.

DiscipleoftheDumbOx - February 7, 2014

Oh, wait. Even Michael O’Brien approved of Tolkien…nevermind. 😉

6. idahobookworm - February 7, 2014

Who’s the priest? Rorate Caeli posted that talk, and is willing to post a rebuttal if it comes from a priest.

tantamergo - February 7, 2014

He’s a regular on AudioSancto. I cannot share his name. That’s his policy.

I’m sure he’s aware of Rorate’s willingness.

Maria - February 7, 2014

For some reason I can not trust a priest that does not have the courage to give his name.

tantamergo - February 7, 2014

It’s a divisive point. I can see merit on both sides. But does it really matter that we know his name so long as someone is saying it? His sermons are some of the most rigorously orthodox on Audio Sancto, and he rightly fears retribution.

idahobookworm - February 7, 2014

I don’t have a problem with anonymity. We don’t want people to turn to personal attacks on these priests. I disagree very much with the priest who condemned Tolkien, but I still don’t want to see him attacked personally.

And I guess most priests have more valuable things to do with their time than write a rebuttal to the anti-Tolkien priest, alas.

7. Joseph - February 7, 2014

I get the impression that the reader who spoke to that priest didn’t do the best job they could have of explaining the LOTR condemner’s reasoning.

He wasn’t condemning LOTR merely because it was fantasy. He raised the yellow police tape around it for its Gnostic falsehood and its being pure myth, with no reality to be found. Fantasy can be just find, but myth is not. Fantasy elements in a realistic/allegorical setting can be just fine. The problem with pure myth is that it promotes a false reality, something that all Catholics should be offended by, as Catholicism is complete Truth. That’s why video games and hours of unnecessary smart phone and internet use are bad, because they bring the mind out of reality, into a virtual world. A myth brings the mind out of reality into a mythical world.

That’s where the comparison with Beowulf doesn’t work. Beowulf is highly allegorical, with roots in reality. Beowulf is a real human in the real world, Grendel is said to be a descendant of Cain and can stand for sin, and Grendel’s mother, the dragon (which we all know is a common symbol for Satan) can be read as standing for Original Sin.

Besides, LOTR is fantasy written by a Christian, not Christian Fantasy. Most of the Gnostic philosophy is in the Silmarillion, not LOTR, but that origin story is very clearly and very greatly removed from Christianity, and those themes do show themselves in the main books.

As for the question you propose as to whether we should only read the Bible and works by or about the Saints, that is taking the matter very far. The speaker suggests Lives of the Saints as an alternative when the mind seeks grand, exciting, wonderment, he doesn’t ban the listeners of his talks from all fiction reading, nor could he justly do so.

There’s hundreds and thousands of good books out there, including much of what was written before the year 1920 or so, though the literary standard has been dropped as of late by the disgusting free-thinkers of our times.

Joseph - February 7, 2014

Please excuse me as I make another point in regards to finding criticism of LOTR trivial compared to all the worse stuff out there.

The more monstrous and egregious stuff out there is easily seen as being evil. LOTR is something that many people like and consider good entertainment, so it’s more important to criticize it, not anywhere near “trivial”.

It’s more important to advise against going to a pasture full of wolves in sheep’s clothing than to advise against going to a wolves’ den.

DiscipleoftheDumbOx - February 7, 2014

Or a hobbit against going into the Land of Shadow?

It may not be trivial to criticize the works of Tolkien but let us not make more of it than it actually is or was meant to be by the author as another commenter has already made note. (Gnostic? Oh, please.) Relax and you just might be able to appreciate this as one of the greatest works of fiction written by a Catholic in the 20th century. Not everything written after the 20s is chaff, after all.

My two loaves of lembas bread.

rosa - February 8, 2014

“Most of the Gnostic philosophy is in the Silmarillion, not LOTR …” How about citing some concrete examples of this allegation? Or did you merely take a few passages out of context, assuming you’ve actually read the Silmarillion?

Joseph - February 8, 2014

Everything has been said for me in the two conferences, the speaker showing very clearly that there is little to no Christianity in the Lord of the Rings books and it’s brethren, The Hobbit and The Silmarillion.

DiscipleoftheDumbOx - February 10, 2014

A fake history of a fake world and this is Gnosticism? Ugh. ‘Some people, you just can’t reach…’

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