Disney’s New Film “Tolkien” Erases the Christian Faith and the Western Literary Tradition From the Story of the Author of “The Lord of the Rings” | PJ Media

Disney’s treatment falls far short in addressing two fundamental touchstones of Tolkien’s life and work: the ancient and medieval texts of the Western literary tradition and the Catholic faith of the author.

Source: Disney’s New Film ’Tolkien’ Erases the Christian Faith and the Western Literary Tradition From the Story of the Author of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ | PJ Media

Disappointing but, sadly, not surprising:

The new Disney film cuts out some of the most important influences in his life. The movie does not once mention the great ex-atheist and Christian author C.S. Lewis, a close friend of Tolkien… The movie also does not mention the Inklings, the society of writers who read each other’s works and spurred both Lewis and Tolkien on to greatness. The film focuses on the early influences of Tolkien’s life, so these cuts may be justifiable.

Worst, however, is the film’s neglect for Tolkien’s faith, which inspired his entire life. The movie also cuts out the literary works that inspired his imagination — touchstones of the Western literary tradition. In fact, the author’s literary masterpiece The Lord of the Rings is heavily influenced not just by the Western literary tradition but by Christianity and Jesus in particular.

I had been looking forward to seeing this movie, but now I am not at all sure I want to spend the time or the money. Perhaps unsurprisingly, in light of all this, the Tolkien Estate have disavowed the film. In a statement on 23 April, the Estate said:

“The family of J R R Tolkien and the Tolkien Estate are aware of the Fox Searchlight motion picture entitled ‘Tolkien’ that is due for release in May 2019. The family and the estate wish to make clear that they did not approve of, authorise or participate in the making of this film. They do not endorse it or its content in any way.”

The PJ Media post linked above notes that “Joseph Loconte, Ph.D., an associate professor of history at The King’s College in New York City and author of the recent book A Hobbit, A Wardrobe, and a Great War: How J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis Rediscovered Faith, Friendship, and Heroism in the Cataclysm of 1914-18, saw the film… and noted the glaring omissions in remarks to PJ Media,” inter alia:

“As a student at the King Edward’s School at Birmingham and later at Oxford, Tolkien was immersed in works such as The Aeneid, Le Morte d’Arthur, and Beowulf. Here are stories of the noble quest: the tragic hero who answers the righteous call on his life, acts with courage, and performs his duty — regardless of the chances of success,” Loconte said. “The triumph of multiculturalism, however, has mostly marginalized these works from the academy, along with the ideals and virtues they embody. Despite its respect for Tolkien’s intellectual life, the film’s writers seem unable or unwilling to explore it with care.”

Worse yet, Tolkien’s strong Catholic Christian faith has been sidelined or ignored entirely in the movie, as Loconte explains:

“Tolkien’s Christian faith is another great factor in his life and career, a force that animates all of his creative energies… Yet there is no hint that Tolkien possessed a faith of his own, or that it was a source of strength and comfort during the tragedy of the war.

“In fact, Tolkien was a regular churchgoer, and even attended Mass whenever he could while a soldier at the Western Front. In explaining the power of myths to grip our imagination, Tolkien spoke of the eucatastrophe — the reversal of a catastrophe through ‘a sudden and miraculous grace.’

And the ultimate eucatastrophe, as Tolkien himself pointed out, was the Crucifixion and Resurrection itself, the core of the Christian faith, and the greatest outpouring of grace the world has ever known. Loconte continues,

“Until Hollywood acknowledges this grace as a divine reality, as an authentic source of literary imagination, its treatment of Tolkien will remain small and insular, like a fretful hobbit afraid to ever leave the Shire.”

Sad. But as I say, not surprising!

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Yale’s David Gelernter: Darwin’s Doubt Is “One of the Most Important Books in a Generation” | Evolution News

Yale University computer scientist David Gelernter is a polymath, a brilliant writer, artist, and thinker. Famed both for his specific scientific expertise, and for his cultural, political, and historical reflections, he’s also now a confessed Darwin skeptic.

Galernter credits reading Meyer’s book as the primary cause of his rejecting neo-Darwinian evolution, a “brilliant and beautiful scientific theory” now overtaken by science.

Source: Yale’s David Gelernter: Darwin’s Doubt Is “One of the Most Important Books in a Generation” | Evolution News

I am not a “young earth” Creationist, in the sense of one who accepts the calculations of Archbishop Ussher (an Anglican, it must be said!), who determined that the cosmos was just over six thousand years old, or who believes it essential to adopt a literalist attitude to the “six days” of the Genesis creation narrative.

Let’s remember that a) the Ancient Near East of the time used a hexadecimal system of calculation – our 360° circle, 365 day year (360 + 5 intercalculary days), 12-month year, and even 24-hour day are vestiges of this system – so six is an appropriate number of completion; and b) these literal, 24-earth-hour days make sense only for Earth itself, since every other planet in the solar system (and beyond) has a different length of day.

Also, there are plenty of indications that God – being eternal – views time quite a bit differently than we do: “For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night” (Psalm 90:4), and “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter 3:8, likely following the Psalmist), to cite but two examples.

(Note: we should not jump to the conclusion that “a divine day equals a thousand earth-years,” either: the Scriptures frequently speak symbolically and allegorically).

And evolution, in the sense of adaption / development in response to environmental stimuli, is an observable phenomenon, both in the lab and in the field. As an explanation of observed phenomenon, evolution makes sense. Anyone who denies this is either not paying attention, or is hampered by ideological blinders.

The problem comes when science spins off into “scientism,” and people try to make of evolution something it is not, or should not be – a motive force, a mechanistic, deterministic replacement for God – and “believe in” Darwinism as a replacement for religion.

The bottom line is this: I am a Christian, and a Christian cleric. As such, I believe that we are living in a Creation, and that it has a Creator: God the Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. All the glory and grandeur we see around us, in the heavens and on earth, did not “just happen,” as a result of the intersection of random happenings and (unoriginated, self-existent) natural laws. We do not live in an accidental Cosmos.

What is interesting to me is that more and more professional scientists are beginning to adopt the same view. Intelligent Design (“ID”) is not, itself, a theological position; the Designer of ID need not necessarily, by the tenets of ID, be the God of the Bible. But it is at least a step in that direction; a concession that the Cosmos did not “just happen,” that – in the terms of the old natural theology – if you happen to come upon a watch, the logical deduction is that there is a Watchmaker.

(It must be noted that a great deal of the challenge to the dominant scientific paradigm comes from secular, naturalistic scientists. However, as an article in The Federalist points out, the

“leading critics [of Darwinian evolution] have been intelligent design supporters, who are looked down on by naturalists.” [N.B. – in the sense of those who support solely naturalistic explanations for observed phenomena, not those who explain the natural world to families in parks and nature centers!] “But as each group adds to the scientific literature, certain critiques and findings inevitably bolster or redirect the research of the other [emphasis added].”

The originally linked essay by David Klinghoffer is an excellent introduction to the growing debate, and includes a large number of links for those who wish to follow up on it. As Klinghoffer concludes,

“Scientists, intellectuals, and ordinary thoughtful adults are giving up the old pledge of allegiance to Darwin. The evolution in thought is very gradual, admittedly, but it’s unmistakably happening.”