Following their 2021 Summer Seminar where they focused on “Tolkien and Diversity”, the Tolkien Society will now present a paper at their next Oxonmoot event arguing that there is an alt-right religious crusade to appropriate JRR Tolkien.
If you’re unfamiliar with Oxonmoot, the Tolkien Society describes it as “an annual event organized by the Tolkien Society that brings together Tolkien fans, scholars, students, and Society members from around the world.”
Oxonmoot 2022 will be held from Thursday September 1 and will end on Sunday September 4. The event will take place in person at St Anne’s College, Oxford as well as online.
RELATED: The Tolkien Society’s 2021 Summer Seminar Will Focus on “Tolkien and Diversity”
As part of the event’s lineup, the Tolkien Society has revealed that it will feature a talk or paper by Texas A&M University-Commerce professor Robin Reid titled “JRR Tolkien, Culture Warrior: The Alt-Right Religious Crusade’s appropriation of ‘Tolkien.'”
Although the actual content of the article or discussion is unclear, the title makes it very clear that it appears to be a political article and will more than likely highlight Robin Reid’s political views rather than any kind of actual Tolkien discussion.
And this type of discussion is no stranger to Reid as she once gave a talk at the New York Tolkien Conference at Baruch College titled “Atheists, Agnostics and Animists, Oh My God! : Secular Readings of JRR Tolkien’s Legendary” in 2019.
Regardless of the content of Reid’s speech or article, Tolkien made it clear that The Lord of the Rings was a Catholic work.
In letter 142 to Father Robert Murray SJ, Tolkien wrote: “I have been particularly encouraged by what you have said, this time and before, because you are more insightful, especially in certain directions, than anyone else in the world. other, and even revealed to shed more light on certain things about my work. I think I know exactly what you mean by the order of Grace; and of course by your references to Notre-Dame, on which my whole little perception of beauty in both majesty and simplicity is based.
“The Lord of the Rings is of course a fundamentally religious and Catholic work; unconsciously at first, but consciously during revision,” he said. “That’s why I haven’t inserted or deleted virtually all references to something like ‘religion’, to cults or practices, in the fantasy world. For the religious element is absorbed in history and symbolism.
“However, it is very awkwardly said and seems more important than I think,” Tolkien wrote. “Because in fact, I consciously planned very little; and above all to be grateful to have been brought up (since the age of eight) in a Faith that has nourished me and taught me all the little that I know; and which I owe to my mother, I clung to her conversion and died young, largely because of the trials of poverty that resulted.
RELATED: Vanity Fair’s Equality and Diversity Manager and Lord of the Rings Expert Accuses Tolkien of Orientalism, Applauds Amazon for Removing White Characters
In Letter 195 to Amy Ronald, Tolkien also clarified that he was a Roman Catholic.
Tolkien wrote: “One point: Frodo’s attitude to weapons was personal. He was not in modern terms a ‘pacifist’. Of course, he was mostly horrified at the thought of a civil war between Hobbits; but he had (I suppose) also come to the conclusion that physical combat is actually less effective than most (good) men think!
He then said: “Actually, I’m a Christian, and actually a Roman Catholic, so I don’t expect ‘history’ to be anything but ‘one long defeat’ – although ‘it contains (and in a caption may contain more clearly and movingly) some samples or glimpses of the final victory.
In letter 213 to Deborah Webster, Tolkien repeated again that you could see his faith and the fact that he was a Christian and a Roman Catholic from his stories.
He wrote: “I was born in 1892 and spent my early years in ‘the Shire’ in pre-mechanical times. Or more importantly, I’m a Christian (which can be inferred from my stories), and actually a Roman Catholic. This last “fact” cannot perhaps be deduced; although one reviewer (per letter) claimed that the invocations of Elbereth and the character of Galadriel as directly portrayed (or through the words of Gimli and Sam) were clearly linked to Catholic devotion to Mary.
Tolkien further wrote: “Another saw in the road bread (lembas) = viaticum and the reference to its food will be (vol. III p. 213) and being more powerful when fasting, a derivation from the Eucharist. (That is, far greater things can color the mind by dealing with lesser things from a fairy tale.)”
He further reiterated his comments on Galadriel’s letter 320 to Mrs. Ruth Austin, where he wrote: “I was particularly interested in your remarks about Galadriel. …I think it is true that I owe much of this character to Christian and Catholic teaching and to the imagination of Mary, but in reality Galadriel was a penitent, in her youth a leader in the rebellion against the Valar (the angelic guardians). At the end of the First Age, she proudly refused forgiveness or permission to return.
“She was pardoned because of her resistance to the final and overwhelming temptation to take the Ring for herself,” Tolkien added.
RELATED: JRR Tolkien Torched A Cinematic Treatment Of The Lord Of The Rings For Being Carelessly Carelessly Reckless And Showing ‘No Obvious Signs Of Appreciation For What It Is About’
In addition to Tolkien making it very clear that his work on The Lord of the Rings is Catholic in many letters, he also has many letters discussing his faith.
In letter 250 to his son Michael Tolkien, he writes: “The only remedy for the collapse of faith is Communion. Although always itself, perfect, complete and inviolate, the Blessed Sacrament does not operate completely and once and for all in each of us. Like the act of faith, it must be continuous and grow through practice. Frequency is of the highest effect. Seven times a week is more nourishing than seven times at intervals.
In letter 49 to CS Lewis, Tolkien wrote: “You will notice that you are very attached (with the Christian Church as a whole) to the idea that Christian marriage – monogamous, permanent, rigidly ‘faithful’ – is actually the truth about sexual behavior for all mankind: it is the only path to total health (including sex in its place) for all men and women.
“That he disagrees with current male sexual psychology doesn’t disprove that, as you see: ‘I think it’s instinct gone wrong,’ you say. Indeed, if this were not so, it would be an intolerable injustice to impose permanent monogamy even on Christians,” he wrote. “If Christian marriage was ultimately ‘unnatural’ (of the same type as, for example, the prohibition of meat in certain monastic rules), it could be imposed on a special ‘order of chastity’ of the Church , not universal. Church. No element of compulsory Christian morality is valid only for Christians.
Tolkien’s letters show very clearly that not only was his work Catholic, but that he also believed in the teachings and truths of the Church.
It’s hard to imagine any kind of argument made by Robin Reid that would have any validity on the appropriation of Tolkien. I’m sure she’ll find a way, but as Tolkien wrote to his son Christopher in Letter 64, “evil works with immense power and perpetual success – in vain: still only preparing the ground for ‘unexpected good may germinate’.
What do you think of the Tolkien Society presenting an article or lecture titled “JRR Tolkien, Culture Warrior: The Appropriation of ‘Tolkien’ by the Alt-Right Religious Crusade”?
NEXT: Sam and Frodo Aren’t Gay in The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien Made It Very Clear