Part Three – A Journey of Recovery: Natural Theology in “The Lord of the Rings” by J.R.R. Tolkien

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“If there’s any magic about, it’s right down deep, where I can’t lay my hands on it, in a manner of speaking.” “You can see and feel it everywhere,” said Frodo. “Well,” said Sam, “you can’t see nobody working it.”

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Part Two – A Journey of Recovery: Natural Theology in “The Lord of the Rings” by J.R.R. Tolkien

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“Pity? It was Pity that stayed his hand. Pity, and Mercy: not to strike without need. And he has been well rewarded, Frodo. Be sure that he took so little hurt from the evil, and escaped in the end, because he began his ownership of the Ring so. With Pity.”

~ J.R.R. Tolkien, “The Lord of the Rings”

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A Journey of Recovery: Natural Theology in “The Lord of the Rings” by J.R.R. Tolkien in Three Parts

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“The realm of fairy-story is wide and deep and high and filled with many things: all manner of beasts and birds are found there; shoreless seas and stars uncounted; beauty that is an enchantment, and an ever-present peril; both joy and sorrow as sharp as swords.”[1] 

~ J.R.R. Tolkien, “On Fairy-stories”

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From “The Abolition of Man” to “That Hideous Strength” Part Four: Why Myth?

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Fellows’ Garden, Exeter College, Oxford, 1903 (by John Fulleylove)

Ransom:  “…what we need for the moment is not so much a body of belief as a body of people familiarized with certain ideas. If we could even effect in one per cent of our readers a changeover from the conception of Space to the conception of Heaven, we should have made a beginning.”

Why Fairy-tale, Myth, and Legend?

“On the whole, novels are better when there are no miracles in them,” wrote George Orwell in his review of That Hideous Strength.[1]  According to him, it “would probably have been a better book if the magical element had been left out.”[2]  The relevance of Lewis’s use of the fairy tale form, medieval cosmology, and Arthurian legend completely escaped Orwell.  Still, it should be noted that the book’s anti-materialistic, anti-reductionist message was able to come through for him in spite of this.  Orwell understood the philosophy behind Lewis’s fairy tale, but, without an appreciation for spiritual things, the fantastic elements in That Hideous Strength were merely noise.

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From “The Abolition of Man” to “That Hideous Strength” Part Three: The Innovators and Conditioners

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14th Century Illumination of Dante’s Inferno

“He saw clearly that the motives on which most men act, and which they dignify by the names of patriotism or duty to humanity, were mere products of the animal organism, varying according to the behavior pattern of different communities. But he did not yet see what was to be substituted for these irrational motives. On what ground henceforward were actions to be justified or condemned? ‘If one insists on putting the question in those terms,’ said Frost, ‘I think Waddington has given the best answer. Existence is its own justification.'”

The Innovators – The Progressive Element and the N.I.C.E.

The last chapter of Lewis’s Abolition of Man explores a possibility that concerned Lewis greatly, namely, the “the image of infinite unilinear progression” of “a progressive emancipation from tradition and a progressive control of natural processes resulting in a continual increase of human power.”[1]  He concludes that the increase in power is merely illusory, being in reality the power of the few over the many, even of one generation over all subsequent generations.  Lewis’s top scientist at the N.I.C.E., Filostrato, tells Mark as much when he says, “the power will be confined to a number—a small number—of individual men. Those who are selected for eternal life.”[2]

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From “The Abolition of Man” to “That Hideous Strength” Part Two: The Pupils – Jane and Mark and the Abolition of Marriage

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Mars and Venus by Botticelli, 1483

“There when a young man takes a maiden in marriage, they do not lie together, but each lies with a cunningly fashioned image of the other, made to move and to be warm by devilish arts, for real flesh will not please them, they are so dainty [delicati] in their dreams of lust. Their real children they fabricate by vile arts in a secret place.”

Part Two:  The Pupils Jane and Mark and the Abolition of Marriage

A key to understanding That Hideous Strength is the idea that under the tutelage of such debunkers, the results are students for whom “the world of facts, without one trace of value and the world of feelings without one trace of truth or falsehood, justice or injustice confront each other, and no rapprochement is possible.”[1]  Arguably, this is the kind of education that puts asunder what God has meant to join, the union of reason and emotions, instincts and mind, the natural and the supernatural, of which “the chest” or conscience joins in harmony as an “indispensable liaison officer”.

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