Fiction can be true

Why spend time blogging about a fictional origin story? Shouldn’t a pastor use the bible? 🙂

While it wasn’t at all the reason I fell in love with Tolkien’s work, his writings are steeped in his Roman Catholic theological framework. So many (rightly) appreciate his creativity and the epic scale of his trilogy, but far fewer discuss the depth of his philosophical and theological contributions.

Long ago, I became quite comfortable with the love of “myth” in the best sense of the word. Myths speak a truth that is not concerned with the question of “literally true”. Myths speak to relational truth, deep truth, and may or may not be “literally true”. (Read from my archives here and here.) Tolkien’s invented story about the creation of his invented world is not literally true, but it screams deep truth, relational truth, through each evocative phrase.

Those who know the Judeo-Christian origin story in Genesis can’t miss that Tolkien is riffing off of it. One God, a void, selfishness and pride, fall and corruption, relentless redemption. Yet by changing the creation metaphor–from speaking to music–something strikingly powerful rises up…something, dare I say it? Could it be better than the scriptures? In some ways, perhaps!

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