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Tolkien Allegory


Jonah: I’ll take a stab at your allegory question. You’re right, Tolkien insisted LOTR wasn’t an allegory. So what do we make of the Secret Fire/Holy Ghost issue? I would argue that the Secret Fire isn’t an allegorical representation of the Holy Ghost; it is the Holy Ghost, going by a different name. As you know, Tolkien didn’t intend Middle Earth to exist in some kind of alternate universe–it’s our own world at a very early age, so early that its reality has been lost in the mists of time. The only records we have of it come down to us through fairy tales and the like. Tolkien was a believer in the Holy Spirit, and so he believed it would operate eons ago in Middle Earth, even though M.E.’s inhabitants haven’t experienced Christian revelation (they are pre-Christian, not un-Christian). Anybody who wants to probe this matter more deeply is encouraged to read a wonderful new book from ISI called J.R.R. Tolkien’s Sanctifying Myth, by Bradley J. Birzer; Tolkien: Man and Myth by Joseph Pearce is also worth checking out.


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