Tolkien and conservative Catholicism
#1
We all know that Tolkien was a devout Catholic.
We also know that his views on society, the world etc were rather conservative. He disliked modernism and many of the derivative tendencies of modern society.

So my question is, was he also a conservative catholic.

One of the biggest and furthest reaching changes that happened inside the Catholic Church during his lifetime was the Second Vatican Couuncil (or Vatican 2) in circa 1962 in which the Catholic Church effectively changed its course in many fundamental questions. The most obvious ones were the use of vernacular languages rather than latin and changes to the form in which the Mass was held. Less obvious but equally important were some changes in theology. The changes were designed to better align the Church with what many people were thinking, but did also alienate a lot of people on its conservative fringe. Best known of these was the SSPX (society of Pius X) under Archbishop Lefebvre who refused to ackowledge many of the decisons of the council. This stance culminated in his excommunication in the 1980s, the recent recant of which has acquired much media attention. There were however also other groups pursuing more extreme points of view including those who went into open schiism and declared that in their view the official Roman Catholic Church had ceased to exist in a legitimate form and went on to form their own independent Catholic churches, some even with their own popes. I was wondering whether it is known what Toklkien thought of the theology of such groups.

One aspect that comes to mind especially is the concept of sub creation. The SSPX today teaches that God is external to man and can only enter his heart from the outside. Vatican 2 however, at least according to the SSPX interpretation, has replaced the concept of the external God by an internal God, who can thus be different for every man and is hence no longer universal. The concept of sub creation having an element of truth and obviously coming from inside the sub-creator, would seem to align better with the Vatican 2 theology than the traditional one. Any ideas on this?
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#2
His son, Father John Tolkien, confirmed that J.R.R. Tolkien was not comfortable with many of the reforms of the Second Vatican Council. There are a few books that mention Tolkien's ambivalence about the Council and his traditional views.
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#3
IIRC, having the Mass said in vernacular was particularly disturbing to him.
"What song the Sirens sang, or what name Achilles assumed when he hid himself among women, though puzzling questions are not beyond conjecture." - Sir Thomas Browne, Religio Medici
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#4
This is opposite view of C.S Lewis.He was raised atheist and became a protestant christian. His books are the protestant viewpoint especially Prince Caspian.
Don't insult the precious, my precious!:book:
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#5
Yes, and this was a primary reason of the rift between CSL and JRRT.
"What song the Sirens sang, or what name Achilles assumed when he hid himself among women, though puzzling questions are not beyond conjecture." - Sir Thomas Browne, Religio Medici
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#6
Attalus Wrote:Yes, and this was a primary reason of the rift between CSL and JRRT.


Because loyalty to a specific franchise of Christianity is worth so much more than friendship.

I'm sure the J man would agree.
Wrestling Darwin on a daily basis.

"Question boldly even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, He must more approve of the homage of reason than that of a blindfolded fear." -Thomas Jefferson
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#7
Ah, we canot argue with feelings. They are always true. And actions such as coolness in a friendship are personal to a high degree.
"What song the Sirens sang, or what name Achilles assumed when he hid himself among women, though puzzling questions are not beyond conjecture." - Sir Thomas Browne, Religio Medici
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#8
Attalus Wrote:Ah, we canot argue with feelings. They are always true. And actions such as coolness in a friendship are personal to a high degree.

from what I've understood, Tolkien didn't think highly of Lewis' Narnia books.

Tolkien's wife also dislike Lewis as a man, which is why he never visited the Tolkiens at home.

I think their estrangement is somewhat overstressed though. Lewis dedicated at least one of his books to Tolkien (The Screwtape Letters I think). He also wrote his obituary (although in the event he himself died first and this was published posthumously)
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#9
JRRT also resented CSL's use of the tern "Numinor" in one of the Space Trilogy books. Estrangement or not, it really shook JRRT when CSL died, vide Humphrey Carpenter.
"What song the Sirens sang, or what name Achilles assumed when he hid himself among women, though puzzling questions are not beyond conjecture." - Sir Thomas Browne, Religio Medici
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#10
People do grow apart. I have friends from college whom I haven't seen in years, much though I'd like, if only because I moved away from the Atlanta area and now live on the west coast. It's hard to maintain a close friendship when thousands of miles of separate you, but Tolkien and Lewis had many demands and interests for their time which also separated them.

I think the drift apart owed itself to many factors, but they simply didn't have a continued mutual interest to keep them together.
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#11
People certainly do grow apart, and that is natural, if sometimes unfortunate.

I was just reacting to how terrible it would be for one of the main factors to be whether one's brand of the same basic religion made you eat fish on Fridays.
Wrestling Darwin on a daily basis.

"Question boldly even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, He must more approve of the homage of reason than that of a blindfolded fear." -Thomas Jefferson
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#12
Mike of Quantum Muse Wrote:People certainly do grow apart, and that is natural, if sometimes unfortunate.

I was just reacting to how terrible it would be for one of the main factors to be whether one's brand of the same basic religion made you eat fish on Fridays.
I'm not all that clear on that aspect of Roman Catholicism, but it is myunderstanding that Vatican II did away with that.
"What song the Sirens sang, or what name Achilles assumed when he hid himself among women, though puzzling questions are not beyond conjecture." - Sir Thomas Browne, Religio Medici
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#13
Attalus Wrote:I'm not all that clear on that aspect of Roman Catholicism, but it is myunderstanding that Vatican II did away with that.

Yes, the Vatican II that is now fashionable to bemoan in conservative Ctholic Circles.

It got rid of a lot of really silly rules, like the fish on Friday thing, which I'll bet was initiated because some early Pope's brother in law had a bait shop and sales were slow.

Like the Latin Mass. There's no doctrinal basis for the Latin Mass. Jesus didn't speak Latin. None of the Apostles wrote in Latin. A Hebrew Mass would make sense. The Latin Mass has nothing to do with Catholic ideals and everything to do with tradition, specifically the tradition binding the Church to the power of the State. The Latin Mass originated when Catholicism became the religion of Rome, and thus represents the worst aspect of secular glory over spiritual honesty.

At least the people can understand Mass in the vernacular. But, why would the Catholic hierarchy want the plebs to know anything. Just do as we say.

I think Vatican II was a very good move, dragging the RCC into at least the 12th century. Now, assuming those who hanker for a return to the sixth don't drag it back, and if they stop being a social networking, travel and relocation service for pedophiles, I may someday set foot in a church again.
Wrestling Darwin on a daily basis.

"Question boldly even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, He must more approve of the homage of reason than that of a blindfolded fear." -Thomas Jefferson
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#14
Mike of Quantum Muse Wrote:...Now, assuming those who hanker for a return to the sixth don't drag it back, and if they stop being a social networking, travel and relocation service for pedophiles, I may someday set foot in a church again.

Mmmm, harsh but fair! Mmmm, well actually, its just fair!

Cheers


Padster
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#15
Mike of Quantum Muse Wrote:Like the Latin Mass. There's no doctrinal basis for the Latin Mass. Jesus didn't speak Latin. None of the Apostles wrote in Latin. A Hebrew Mass would make sense. The Latin Mass has nothing to do with Catholic ideals and everything to do with tradition, specifically the tradition binding the Church to the power of the State. The Latin Mass originated when Catholicism became the religion of Rome, and thus represents the worst aspect of secular glory over spiritual honesty.

Vatican II didn't just introduce the vernacular but actually prevented Latin as an alternative form of mass. This is comparable to some decison saying, you may sing only modern hymns. Permitting the use of modern hymns is definitely a good thing and helps make the Church attractive to more people. But some of the old hymns are fine too and it should be up to each individual parish to chose the form that best suits the tastes and expectations of their congegation (and this should include the ability to mix old and new).

The present pope has made good amends by announcing that the old mass and prayers are now also permissible as an alternative form, and churches no longer need special permission to use them. This overthrows maybe one of the worst and most intrusive and divisive excesses of Vatican II. I really don't see why the progressive branch has so much of a problem with that or should think this is the first step towards abolishing all of Vatican II.
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#16
You know, I would consider Vatican II to be a social experiment on a grand level. Maybe it didn't turn out well in all cases but it certainly propelled the Church forward, in both expected and unexpected ways. I don't know much about Church history in the modern age but several people have told or implied to me that it really was a response to powerful needs within the Church.
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#17
Vatican II as social experiment is a perfect description. The anti-Latin crowd is practicing their variant of the ad hominem which they cannot recognize because they have so little education, not to mention Latin. Vernacular is great, but so is Latin. ............ The correction of the excesses of Vatican II (such as the denial of the Latin Mass altogether!) is being corrected.

Canticle for Liebowitz, anyone?!
inked
"Aslan is not a tame lion. Safe?
No, he's not safe, but he's good."
CSL/LWW
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#18
Vatican II definitely had its good sides, if only because it encouraged the traditionally elitsist and internally focussed Catholic Church to align more with what the people were thinking and wanting, even if this did lead to the influx of a lot of wishy washy "feel-good and be happy" thinking which were effectively a watering-down of real beliefs and practices.

What is however very revealing is the way the liberal wing inside the Church has handled criticism over this. Despite accusing the Church of having been heavy-handed with criticism, mavericks and dissenters in the past, they had no qualms over using the same tools against those who disagreed with them. The excommunication of Bishop Lefebve should never have happened in my opinion. An excommunication is the worst of punishments the Church can administer as it basically bars a person from receiving the sacraments, which for a believing person is very grave indeed. And here we had the guys who had previously said excommunications were something that should have been left behing when the middle ages came to an end suddenly applauding the decison to excommunicate an old guy who had done nothing wrong other than to tech his trainee priests how to celebrate the Latin Mass.

But interestingly it looks as if the tide is firmy against them. The traditionalist branches of the Catholic Church are right now enjoying a far higher turnover in terms of people coming forwards to be trained as priests and are also managing to hold onto or even grow their congegations whereas many of the "feel good and be happy and don't let anything that God says worry you" types of Church are looking strangely empty on Sundays. Maybe it is this that embitters them so.
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#19
Right, right, so the Catholic church recognises its increasing irrelevancy, prior to Vatican II, due to its strict observance of various beliefs and practices, so it tries to update itself to modern day thinking with Vatican II. Good for them, in some way, bad in others.

You know, I actually have more respect for staunch Evangelicals (whatever their fundamental religion) than I have for most religious liberals or the Catholic Church, which I have slightly more respect for than the Anglican Church. At least Evangelicals have the courage of their convictions, even if what they preach could easily be termed as thoroughly prejudiced, racist and just downright rude, and SO easily shown to be total rubbish. The Anglican Church, on the flip side, just seems to prostitute itself out to the flow of modern day thinking, as they know they need to move with the times or become totally irrelevant instead of just increasingly irrelevant.

One might say "They just can't win then, can they! If they change you criticise, if they don't you criticise". Well maybe, but that's not my problem. They need to get a more flexible fundamental belief system if they want to be taken seriously.

And I don't believe that ANY particular denomination of Christianity is growing in numbers that can offset the general trend towards the abandonment of such pre-medieval rubbish. Yeah in ONE year it may be that a denomination gets slightly more attendance, but I have no doubt that the overall trend is very much down. Indeed in The Times (UK) today, it clearly shows Anglican Church attendance has dropped a MASSIVE 59% from 1960 to 2007, from 2.8mil to 1.1mil congregation. Yes this is the Anglican Community, which IS the wishy-washy end of the scale, but I just don't believe any of the other breeds are faring much better either.

Cheers


Padster
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#20
Padster, you need to read THE NEW CHRISTENDOM by Philip Jenkins. Your data points are in error. Your opinions are your own. However, Christianity is growing at a prodigious rate worldwide. Your backyard may differ. You need to broaden your scope.
inked
"Aslan is not a tame lion. Safe?
No, he's not safe, but he's good."
CSL/LWW
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