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ABORTAR=ASESINAR El aborto es un asesinato, pues se mata a una persona con premeditación (se prepara reflexivamente, tal como lo marca la ley con su procedimiento, y se perpetra un delito, aunque sin pena, como también indica la ley) y alevosía pues no hay riesgo para los asesinos. R.A.E.: - asesinato. 1. m. Acción y efecto de asesinar. - asesinar. (De asesino). 1. tr. Matar a alguien con premeditación, alevosía, etc. - premeditación. (Del lat. praemeditatio, -onis). 1. f. Acción de premeditar. - premeditar. (Del lat. praemeditari). 1. tr. Pensar reflexivamente algo antes de ejecutarlo. 2. tr. Der. Proponerse de caso pensado perpetrar un delito, tomando al efecto previas disposiciones. - alevosía. (De alevoso). 1. f. Cautela para asegurar la comisión de un delito contra las personas, sin riesgo para el delincuente. Es circunstancia agravante de la responsabilidad criminal. (recuerdese que el aborto voluntario sigue siendo delito tipificado aunque se le elimine la pena)
«Cada año mueren en España por aborto químico más españoles que los caídos en los tres años Guerra Civil
Cada semana son asesinados por aborto quirúrgico en España tantos españoles como ETA ha asesinado durante sus 40 años de acciones terroristas
El aborto es legal en España, desde la Ley Orgánica 9/1985, aprobada por el Parlamento, ratificada por el Rey, y mantenida por los gobiernos del Sistema»

True Myth: The Catholicism of The Lord of the Rings

por Joseph Pearce

Una aproximación inteligente a los contenidos subyacentes en una obra muy popular. Esta conferencia del profesor de la Ave María University, organizada por el presidente de Arbil, esperamos poder ponerla traducida en la red

Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings has emerged as “the greatest book of the twentieth century” in several major polls conducted in recent years. In a poll of more than 25,000 British bibliophiles, conducted jointly by a major bookselling chain and a national television channel, Tolkien’s myth triumphed over all opposition. One-fifth of all people polled nominated The Lord of the Rings as their first-place choice. It was a runaway winner, securing 1,200 votes more than George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-four, its nearest rival. A similar poll, conducted by the Daily Telegraph, confirmed Tolkien’s dominance. He was voted the twentieth century’s greatest author, ahead of George Orwell and Evelyn Waugh in second and third place respectively. Two months later, a poll of the fifty thousand members of the Folio Society produced an even more staggering vindication of the literary position of The Lord of the Rings. The Folio Society asked its members to name their favourite books of any age, not simply those published in the twentieth century, and Tolkien’s myth triumphed once again. It received 3,270 votes. Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice was second with 3,212 votes and David Copperfield by Charles Dickens was third with 3,070 votes.

Tolkien’s triumph was greeted with anger and contempt by many literary “experts”. The writer Howard Jacobson reacted with splenetic scorn, dismissing Tolkien as being “for children … or the adult slow”. The poll merely demonstrated “the folly of teaching people to read … It’s another black day for British culture.” Susan Jeffreys, writing in the Sunday Times, described The Lord of the Rings as “a horrible artifact” and added that it was “depressing … that the votes for the world’s best 20th-century book should have come from those burrowing an escape into a nonexistent world”. Similarly, Griff Rhys Jones on the BBC’s Bookworm programme appeared to believe that Tolkien’s epic went no deeper than the “comforts and rituals of childhood”. The Times Literary Supplement described the results of the poll as “horrifying” while a writer in the Guardian complained that The Lord of the Rings “must be by any reckoning one of the worst books ever written”.

Probably the most bitter response to Tolkien’s triumph came from the feminist writer, Germaine Greer, best-known for her authorship of the best-selling handbook of women’s “liberation”, The Female Eunuch. Greer complained that the enduring success of The Lord of the Rings was a nightmare come true.

As a fifty-seven-year-old lifelong teacher of English, I might be expected to regard this particular list of books of the century with dismay. I do. Ever since I arrived at Cambridge as a student in 1964 and encountered a tribe of full-grown women wearing puffed sleeves, clutching teddies and babbling excitedly about the doings of hobbits, it has been my nightmare that Tolkien would turn out to be the most influential writer of the twentieth century. The bad dream has materialized. At the head of the list, in pride of place as the book of the century, stands The Lord of the Rings.

Rarely has a book caused such controversy; rarely has the vitriol of the critics highlighted to such an extent the cultural schism between the literary illuminati and the views of the reading public.

It is perhaps noteworthy that most of the self-styled “experts” amongst the literati who have queued up to sneer contemptuously at The Lord of the Rings are outspoken champions of cultural deconstruction and moral relativism. Most would treat the claims of the Catholic Church with the same dismissive disdain with which they have poured scorn upon Tolkien. If, however, the secularist prejudices of Tolkien’s critics should cause Christians to pause for thought, they should not blind them to the merits or otherwise of Tolkien’s work. After all, our enemy’s enemy is not necessarily our friend.

Some Christians remain suspicious of The Lord of the Rings. They see within its mythological setting, hints of neo-paganism, possibly even Satanism. Can anything containing wizards and elves, and sorcery and magic, be trusted? Certainly, in the wake of the worldwide success of the Harry Potter books, many Christians fear the effect that “fantasy” literature might be having on their children. Are these fears justified? Should Christian parents prohibit their children from reading these books? Emphatically, in the case of The Lord of the Rings at least, the answer to these questions is “No”. Far from being prohibited, Tolkien’s epic should be required reading in every Christian family. It should take its place beside the Narnian Chronicles of C.S. Lewis (Tolkien’s great friend) and the fairy stories of George Macdonald as an indispensable part of a Christian childhood.

It is intriguing that the same Christians who express their suspicion of Tolkien are quite happy for their children to be exposed to the witches and the magic in C.S. Lewis’s stories. Clearly these naturally concerned parents are oblivious of the profound Christianity that threads its way through Tolkien’s myth. In truth, and “truth” is the operative word, the power of Christ speaks more potently and subtly in Tolkien’s Middle Earth than in Lewis’s Narnia.

The profoundly Christian nature and super-nature of Tolkien’s work can be demonstrated by adopting a tri-focal approach. First, by looking at Tolkien the Man we shall discover the soul of a Christian mystic; second, by studying Tolkien’s Philosophy of Myth we shall come to understand the theological basis of his own mythological world; and third, by looking at the Myth itself, as revealed in The Silmarillion and The Lord of the Rings, we shall see that Tolkien’s epic goes beyond mere “fantasy” to the deepest realms of metaphysics. Far from being an escapist fantasy, The Lord of the Rings will be revealed as a theological thriller.

In order to get to grips with Tolkien the Man – or as Tolkien as the Man behind the Myth of The Lord of the Rings – it is useful to start with how the Man saw himself. Specifically, it is useful to see how he saw himself in relation to his work. In a letter written shortly after The Lord of the Rings was published, Tolkien wrote that “only one’s guardian Angel, or indeed God Himself, could unravel the real relationship between personal facts and an author’s works”. Nonetheless, and having dismissed the pseudo-Freudian dabblings of “so-called ‘psychologists’,” Tolkien confessed that there was “a scale of significance” in the biographical “facts” of an author’s life. He then divided the “facts” of his own life into three distinct categories, namely the “insignificant”, the “more significant” and the “really significant”.

There are insignificant facts (those particularly dear to analysts and writers about writers): such as drunkenness, wife-beating, and suchlike disorders. I do not happen to be guilty of these particular sins. But if I were, I should not suppose that artistic work proceeded from the weakness that produced them, but from other and still uncorrupted regions of my being. Modern ‘researchers’ inform me that Beethoven cheated his publishers, and abominably ill-treated his nephew; but I do not believe that has anything to do with his music.

Apart from these “insignificant facts”, Tolkien believed that there were “more significant facts, which have some relation to an author’s works”. In this category he placed his academic vocation as a philologist at Oxford University. This had affected his “taste in languages” which was “obviously a large ingredient in The Lord of the Rings”. Yet even this was subservient to more important factors:

And there are a few basic facts, which however drily expressed, are really significant. For instance I was born in 1892 and lived for my early years in ‘the Shire’ in a pre-mechanical age. Or more important, I am a Christian (which can be deduced from my stories), and in fact a Roman Catholic.

Thus, according to Tolkien’s own “scale of significance”, his Catholic faith was the most important, or most “significant”, influence on the writing of The Lord of the Rings. It is, therefore, not merely erroneous but patently perverse to see Tolkien’s epic as anything other than a specifically Christian myth. This being so, and considering how the very concept of “myth” is often misunderstood, we should proceed to a discussion of Tolkien’s Philosophy of Myth.

Tolkien’s development of the philosophy of myth derives directly from his Christian faith. In fact, to employ a lisping pun, Tolkien is a misunderstood man precisely because he is a mythunderstood man. He understood the nature and meaning of myth in a manner which has not been grasped by his critics. It is this misapprehension on the part of his critics that lies at the very root of their failure to appreciate his work. For most modern critics a myth is merely another word for a lie or a falsehood, something which is intrinsically not true. For Tolkien, myth had virtually the opposite meaning. It was the only way that certain transcendent truths could be expressed in intelligible form. This paradoxical philosophy was destined to have a decisive and profound influence on C.S. Lewis, facilitating his conversion to Christianity.

When Lewis and Tolkien had first met, Lewis was beginning to perceive the inadequacy of the agnosticism into which he had lapsed, having previously discarded any remnants of childhood Christianity. By the summer of 1929 he had renounced agnosticism and professed himself a theist, believing in the existence of God but denying the claims of Christianity. Essentially, this was his position when, in September 1931, he had the discussion with Tolkien, and their mutual friend, Hugo Dyson, which was destined to have a revolutionary impact on his life. After dinner the three men went for a walk and discussed the nature and purpose of myth. Lewis explained that he felt the power of myths but that they were ultimately untrue. As he expressed it to Tolkien, myths were “lies and therefore worthless, even though breathed through silver”.

“No,” Tolkien replied. “They are not lies.”

Tolkien argued that, far from being lies, myths were the best way of conveying truths which would otherwise be inexpressible. We have come from God and inevitably the myths woven by us, though they contain error, reflect a splintered fragment of the true light, the eternal truth that is with God. Myths may be misguided, but they steer however shakily towards the true harbour, whereas materialistic “progress” leads only to the abyss and to the power of evil.

Building on this philosophy of myth, Tolkien and Dyson went on to express their belief that the story of Christ was simply a true myth, a myth that works in the same way as the others, but a myth that really happened. Whereas pagan myths revealed fragments of eternal truth through the words of poets, the True Myth of Christianity revealed the whole truth through the Word Himself. The poets of pagan antiquity told their story with words, but God, the omnipotent Poet, told the True Story with facts – weaving His tale with the actions of real men in actual history.

Tolkien’s arguments had an indelible effect on Lewis. The edifice of his unbelief crumbled and the foundations of his Christianity were laid. Twelve days later Lewis wrote to a friend that he had “just passed on from believing in God to definitely believing in Christ – in Christianity … My long night talk with Dyson and Tolkien had a good deal to do with it.” It is interesting – indeed astonishing - to note that without J.R.R. Tolkien there might not have been C.S. Lewis, at least not the C.S. Lewis that has come to be known and loved throughout the world as the formidable Christian apologist and author of sublime Christian myths, such as The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

Integral to Tolkien’s philosophy of myth was the belief that creativity was a mark of God’s divine image in Man. God, as Creator, poured forth the gift of creativity to men, the creatures created in His own image. Only God could Create in the primary sense, i.e. by bringing something into being out of nothing. Man, however, could sub-create by moulding the material of Creation into works of beauty. Music, art and literature were all acts of sub-creation expressive of the divine essence in man. In this way, men shared in the Creative power of God. This sublime vision found (sub)creative expression in the opening pages of The Silmarillion, the enigmatic and unfinished work that forms the theological and philosophical foundation upon which, and the mythological framework within which, The Lord of the Rings is structured.

The Silmarillion delved deep into the past of Middle Earth, Tolkien’s sub-created world, and the landscape of legends recounted in its pages formed the vast womb of myth from which The Lord of the Rings was born. Indeed, Tolkien’s magnum opus would not have been born at all if he had not first created, in The Silmarillion, the world, the womb, in which it was conceived.

The most important part of The Silmarillion is its account of the Creation of Middle Earth by the One. This Creation myth is perhaps the most significant, and the most beautiful, of all Tolkien’s work. It goes to the very roots of his creative vision and says much about Tolkien himself. Somewhere within the early pages of The Silmarillion is to be found both the man behind the myth and the myth behind the man.

The “myth” behind Tolkien was, of course, Catholic Christianity, the “True Myth”, and it is scarcely surprising that Tolkien’s own version of the Creation in The Silmarillion bears a remarkable similarity to the Creation story in the book of Genesis. In the beginning was Eru, the One, who “made first the Ainur, the Holy Ones, that were the offspring of his thought, and they were with him before aught else was made”. God, the One, “spoke to them, propounding to them themes of music”. He then allows the Holy Ones, or Archangels, to share his Creative gifts, declaring to them their role in Creation: “Of the theme that I have declared to you, I will now that ye make in harmony together a Great Music. And since I have kindled you with the Flame Imperishable, ye shall show forth your powers in adorning this theme, each with his own thoughts and devices, if he will.” In this way, the Archangels brought forth the Creation of God as a Symphony of Praise in His honour: “… and a sound arose of endless interchanging melodies woven in harmony that passed beyond hearing into the depth and into the heights … and the music and the echo of the music went out into the Void, and it was not void.”

Disharmony is brought into the cosmic symphony of Creation when one of the Archangels decides to play his own tune in defiance of the will of the Composer. Instead of being an instrument in the Great Music, the Rebel Archangel composes his own theme, bringing discord. This disharmony is the beginning of evil. Again, Tolkien’s myth follows the “True Myth” of Christianity with allegorical precision. The Rebel Archangel is named Melkor, later known as Morgoth, and is obviously Middle Earth’s equivalent of Lucifer, also known as Satan. Melkor is described by Tolkien as “the greatest of the Ainur” as Lucifer was the greatest of the archangels. Like Lucifer, Melkor is the ultimate source of the sin of pride, intent on corrupting mankind for his own spiteful purposes. Melkor desired “to subdue to his will both Elves and Men”, envious of the gifts which God had promised them, “and he wished himself to have subjects and servants, and to be called Lord, and to be master over other wills”.

The allegory becomes even less mistakable when Tolkien describes the war between Melkor and Manwe, who is clearly cast in the role of the archangel Michael. “And there was strife between Melkor and the other Valar; and for that time Melkor withdrew and departed to other regions and did there what he would.”

The parallels between Melkor and Lucifer are made even more apparent when Tolkien explains that the name, Melkor, means “He who arises in Might” – “But that name he has forfeited; and the Noldor, who among the Elves suffered most from his malice, will not utter it, and they name him Morgoth, the Dark Enemy of the World.” Similarly, Lucifer, brightest of all the angels, means “Light Bringer”, whereas Satan, like Morgoth, means “Enemy”. Tolkien’s intention, both as a Christian and as a philologist, in identifying Melkor with Lucifer is plain enough.

Taking his inspiration, no doubt, from the Book of Isaiah (Thy pomp is brought down to the grave, and the noise of thy viols: the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee. How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning. ISAIAH 14:11-12), Tolkien says of Melkor:

From Splendour he fell through arrogance to contempt for all things save himself, a spirit wasteful and pitiless. Understanding he turned to subtlety in perverting to his own will all that he would use, until he became a liar without shame. He began with the desire of Light, but when he could not possess it for himself alone, he descended through fire and wrath into a great burning, down into Darkness. And darkness he used most in his evil works upon Arda, and filled it with fear for all living things.

Apart from the scriptural influence, the other over-riding influence is Augustinian theology. Evil, as symbolized by darkness, has no value of its own but is only a negation of that which is good, as symbolized by light.

Shortly after this description of Melkor, Tolkien introduces Sauron, the Dark Enemy in The Lord of the Rings. Sauron is described as a “spirit” and as the “greatest” of Melkor’s, alias Morgoth’s, servants: “But in after years he rose like a shadow of Morgoth and a ghost of his malice, and walked behind him on the same ruinous path down into the Void.”

Thus, the evil powers in The Lord of the Rings are specified as direct descendents of Tolkien’s Satan, rendering impossible, or at any rate implausible, anything but a Christian interpretation of the book. Catholic theology, explicitly present in The Silmarillion and implicitly present in The Lord of the Rings, is omnipresent in both, breathing life into the tales as invisibly but as surely as oxygen.

The sheer magnificence of Tolkien’s mythological vision precludes any adequate appraisal, in an essay of this length, of the Christian mysticism and theology that gives it life. In the impenetrable blackness of the Dark Lord and his abysmal servants, the ring-wraiths, we feel the objective reality of Evil. Sauron and his servants confront and affront us with the nauseous presence of the Real Absence of goodness. In his depiction of the potency of evil, Tolkien presents the reader with a metaphysical black-hole far more unsettling than Milton’s proud vision of Satan as “darkness visible”.

Tolkien is, however, equally powerful in his depiction of goodness. In the unassuming humility of the hobbits we see the exaltation of the humble. In their reluctant heroism we see a courage ennobled by modesty. In the immortality of the elves, and the sadness and melancholic wisdom it evokes in them, we receive an inkling that man’s mortality is a gift of God, a gift that ends his exile in mortal life’s “vale of tears” and enables him, in death, to achieve a mystical union with the Divine beyond the reach of Time.

In Gandalf we see the archetypal prefiguration of a powerful Prophet or Patriarch, a seer who beholds a vision of the Kingdom beyond the understanding of men. At times he is almost Christ-like. He lays down his life for his friends and his mysterious “resurrection” results in his transfiguration. Before his self-sacrificial “death” he is Gandalf the Grey; after his “resurrection” he reappears as Gandalf the White, armed with greater powers and deeper wisdom.

In the true, though exiled, Kingship of Aragorn we see glimmers of the hope for a restoration of truly ordained, i.e. Catholic, authority. The person of Aragorn represents the embodiment of the Arthurian and Jacobite yearning – the visionary desire for the “Return of the King” after eons of exile. The “sword that is broken”, the symbol of Aragorn’s kingship, is reforged at the anointed time – a potent reminder of Excalibur’s union with the Christendom it is ordained to serve.

Significantly, the role of Men in The Lord of the Rings reflects their divine, though Fallen, nature. They are to be found amongst the Enemy’s servants, though usually beguiled by deception into the ways of evil and always capable of repentance and, in consequence, redemption. Boromir, who represents Man in the Fellowship of the Ring, succumbs to the temptation to use the Ring, i.e. the forces of evil, in the naïve belief that it could be wielded as a powerful weapon against Sauron. He finally recognizes the error of seeking to use evil against evil. He dies heroically, laying down his life for his friends in a spirit of repentance.

Ultimately, The Lord of the Rings is a sublimely mystical Passion Play. The carrying of the Ring – the emblem of Sin – is the Carrying of the Cross. The mythological Quest is a veritable Via Dolorosa. It is true that Tolkien’s detractors, and many of his admirers, have failed to grasp this ultimate truth at the heart of his myth. Unfortunately, those that are blind to theology will continue to be blind to that which is most beautiful in The Lord of the Rings. One is reminded of Chesterton’s complaint that, however much he sought to make the point of a story stick out like a spike, there were always some who would insist on impaling themselves on something else. Yet one is also reminded of the words of C.S. Lewis that a diligent atheist, or, for that matter, a delicate neo-pagan or agnostic, can not be too careful of what he reads. In straying too deeply into Tolkien’s world he will be straying into the world of truths that he had not previously perceived. If he continue to follow the Fellowship of the Ring into the depths of Mordor and Beyond he might even come to see that the exciting truths point to the most exciting Truth of all. At its deepest he might finally understand that the Quest is, in fact, a Pilgrimage.

•- •-• -••• •••-•
Joseph Pearce

VII Congreso Católicos y Vida Pública
VII Congreso Católicos y Vida Pública
«Llamados a la Libertad»


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