December 20, 2003

My head, it hurts

Oh my god. Lord of the Rings is a "pagan fantasy world"? Kill me now -- I can't take it any more. In the Corner Stanley Kurtz says this in an aside in a post about the possible decline of Christmas observation in an increasingly secular world. I look forward to all the Tolkien admirers on NRO tearing Kurtz a new one for this -- probably in vain, since it was just an aside.

(Link via open book.)

Update: well, here's Kurtz's reaction to emails containing, among other things, complaints about this -- but unfortunately they were from stupid (okay, less informed) people saying "it's a catholic (sic) allegory." And Kurtz just reiterates his shtick: LOTR has a "pagan veneer." Asshead. LOTR has a Christian veneer. See, unlike members of some other religions Christians (or at least, Christians like Tolkien) don't dismiss the time pre-Crucifixion as a to-be-ignored "time of ignorance." Instead, they are forever trying to see signs of God's presence in the pre-Christian past; some go so far as to call the other sacrificial cults (that involved Christ-like deities who became human and were slain, etc.) and so on of pre-Christian times evidence of the "foreshadowing" of the Incarnation. Is it so strange to think that Tolkien looked at his imaginary past through a Christian outlook, and certainly did not mean for all the pagan-like cultish behavior that has sprung up among his fans (and which I am guessing are the real source of Kurtz's "pagan veneer" remarks) to be the result of reading his story? Oh whatever -- I am beginning to think it is no use.

PS: I went ahead and opened comments -- I need you to berate me for my nasty, druggie, uterus-having ways.

Posted by Andrea Harris at December 20, 2003 11:36 PM

Wow. Kurtz actually took time away to write on this from watching out for homosexual attempts to undermine the foundation to his and other upstanding, moral citizens' properly ordered houses so that they'll flood in spring, or their constant attempts to unscrew the tops of his salt shakers to tear down his enjoyment of breakfast? Doesn't he know allowing himself a distraction like this could allow the homosexuals to achieve their agenda to undermine the expiration dates on all his milk products?!?

At least for once he wasn't droning on about marriage.

Posted by: Rodya at December 21, 2003 at 12:14 AM

That's why I can't read the Corner.. Between him and Derbyshire, there's a lot of willful ignorance and pathetic reactionary sentiment there. I cannot stand people who wish it was still the 19th century.

Posted by: brett at December 21, 2003 at 01:20 AM

I just got back from a third veiwing of RotK which was marred by stupid parents with out of control kids. Next time it's going to be a weekday when school's back in!

Anyway, even with that, it still was magical. It's about 45 min. from the the theater to home and Nin and I talked nonstop about the movies, the books, and the intersecting of the two.

Posted by: Ith at December 21, 2003 at 03:53 AM

I see what you found offensive in Kurtz's statements, but I'm guessing he was trying to say that the Christian themes of the movies flew right over the head of the elites in question, and all they were left with was a pseudo-environmentalist theory of the movie (which, unfortunately, seems to be what most of the actors were left with. Execept JRD, apparently). But still, think he could have phrased that a bit better...

Posted by: Marm at December 21, 2003 at 10:23 AM

Great post. Your analysis is dead on.

Posted by: Yahmdallah at December 21, 2003 at 10:26 AM

What bugs me a lot more are the "experts" they had on the appendicies of the FOTR, which made no reference at all to the importance of Tolkein's religious beliefs, but did talk about pagan themes in the book? WTF? Seems purposeful to me. Hopefully we'll get better with ROTK, since Jonah will probably be on the disc.

Posted by: Marm at December 21, 2003 at 10:32 AM

Hm -- haven't gotten through all the interviews on the FOTR dvds... And I am allergic to expert-speak in general. I did listen to more of the Two Towers interviews. While the experts there ran the gamut from irritating to "eh," I am afraid that the guy I hated most was that executive producer guy, whatsisname... Ostrowski? (Too lazy to go to the other room and get the disc set out.) I couldn't put my finger on why his standard Hollywood spiel was more irritating than anyone else's on the discs, then I realized he reminded me of the World's Most Irritating Show Host, Don Kirschner of the Don Kirschner's Rock Concert show from the seventies. My no-doubt irrational inability to endure his flat, achingly slow, giving-every-word-equal-emphasis delivery made me miss many performances by stars of the time (such as David Bowie, Iggy Pop, etc.). I was told I should regret this but somehow I never did.

(PS: I am sure that Ostrowsky or whatever it is is a capital fellow, and he helped bring this film to me so I have no beef with him. I realize I am being irrational.)

Posted by: Andrea Harris at December 21, 2003 at 11:49 AM

It will be interesting to see what is in the "extended" version of the DVD. A mate of mine, Mr Tyke, has seen the movie and said he thinks he knows where exactly a scene was cut. Another friend of mine saw a cut for "industry types" that was 6 (or 7)) hours long...eek. I don't think I could sit in a movie house for the length the present one, probably because I loath going to the movies.

Posted by: Andrew Ian Dodge at December 21, 2003 at 12:03 PM

unfortunately they were from stupid (okay, less informed) people saying "it's a catholic (sic) allegory."

Stupid indeed . . . Tolkien was always crystal clear that if there was one thing he didn't want the trilogy perceived as, it was allegory.

I find my blood pressure's stabilized nicely since I quit reading the Corner. Bunch of asswarts in there, mostly.

Posted by: ilyka at December 21, 2003 at 03:58 PM

unfortunately they were from stupid (okay, less informed) people saying "it's a catholic (sic) allegory.

However, that is exactly what LotR is about: The Lord of the Rings - Catholic Epic leading to Bulletin, November 25 2001:

Building on this philosophy of myth, Tolkien explained to Lewis that the story of Christ was the true myth at the very heart of history and at the very root of reality. Whereas the pagan myths were manifestations of God expressing Himself through the minds of poets, using the images of their "mythopoeia" to reveal fragments of His eternal truth, the true myth of Christ was a manifestation of God expressing Himself through Himself, with Himself, and in Himself. God, in the Incarnation, had revealed Himself as the ultimate poet who was creating reality, the true poem or true myth, in His own image. Thus, in a divinely inspired paradox, myth was revealed as the ultimate realism.


Posted by: B. K. Oxley (binkley) at December 21, 2003 at 07:03 PM

Yay binkley. Where in that paragraph is Lord of the Rings mentioned? That's what this post is about -- that particular novel and the movie based on it.

By the way, I take my knowledge of what the book is not (an allegory) from the words of its author:

"As for any inner meaning or 'message', it has in the intention of the author none. It is neither allegorical nor topical." (from the "Foreward" to the first volume, Fellowship of the Rings

In other words, Frodo is not Christ, Sauron is not Hitler, etc. That's what an allegory is, by the way -- characters directly symbolize other things -- definition from "The representation of abstract ideas or principles by characters, figures, or events in narrative, dramatic, or pictorial form." You can claim that the characters and situations are meant to be something else other than what they are until you are blue in the face and it won't make it any less of an untruth. Lord of the Rings is a fantasy written by a Christian (Roman Catholic) British male of the scholarly class, and thus of course was shaped by his beliefs and attitudes but it is not meant to be read as a lesson or lecture on anything. It's a novel not a pamphlet.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at December 21, 2003 at 07:26 PM