John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was reading an old Saxon poem “The Crist of Cynewulf” when a phrase leapt off the page. “Hail Earendel brightest of angels, over Middle Earth sent to men.” Middle Earth is an ancient expression for our world which lies between Heaven and Hell. For years he studied languages, inventing his own and making up stories set in a mythical past. Eventually, he combined all this material into a world called Middle Earth.
All writers write from within their own worldview. Tolkien wrote from his viewpoint as a Christian. This does not mean his stories are fronts for evangelism or simple allegories where such-and-such character stands in for a biblical character. Tolkien’s world is more complex than that. Yet we see in On Fairy Stories how his Christian faith relates to his writing, with the term Eucatastrophe: Christianity also appears in the ideas and symbols of his famous trilogy, The Lord of the Rings.
Tolkien said, “The gospels contain a fairy-story, or a story of a larger kind which embraces all the essences of fairy-stories.” The essence of the gospel and of fairy-tales is a surprising, hopeful turn in all man’s despair and sorrow. Joy is the result, a brief glimpse of intense delight springing out of unexpected good news.
When his good creatures think about good and evil, predestination, history, freewill and grace, mercy, providence, judgment and redemption, they follow their maker’s Christian mind. For instance, when an elf says, “But whereas the light perceives the very heart of darkness, its own secret has not been discovered,” he echoes the Apostle John who said, “The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.” (John 1:5).
“No half-heartedness and no worldly fear must turn us aside from following the light unflinchingly..” – J.R.R. Tolkien
Tolkien lived through both world wars and spent time in the trenches. Therefore, he knew first-hand about light and darkness.
Once, while based at Hull, he and Edith (his wife) were able to spend some time together. She danced for him in the woods and this became the inspiration for his tale Beren and Luthien. He pictured himself as Beren, and Edith as Luthien.
Getting The Lord of the Rings published proved quite difficult. A financial lose was the publisher’s expectations. Instead, it was so successful that by Tolkien’s death, on September 2, 1973, he was moderately wealthy. The Lord of the Rings has spawned hundreds of imitations, unfortunately, they do not share his Christian world view.
What novel, screen play, short story, or stage presentation is your Middle Earth? When you create stories what period in time do you set them? As a writer what is your world view? Where do you find or see the contrasts in your writings?
These questions are all formulated to help you examine your work as it relates to the bases of your creativity. To help you hone in on why you use a specific technique when you write and to better identify your Writer’s DNA.
Other posts that might help you…
- What Is Your Writer’s DNA?
- How Do You Manage Your Time?
- You Want To Be a Writer?
- Writing Beyond Opinions
- Writing With A Purpose
Thank you for your continued readership and support. Until next week…keep searching for your “Middle Earth!” Blessings and Peace!
Christianity.com. Tolkien’s Middle-Earth: A Christian World
J. R. R. Tolkien. Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J._R._R._Tolkien
Christ II, also called The Ascension. Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christ_II
Popova, Maria. J.R.R. Tolkien on Fairy Tales, Language, the Psychology of Fantasy, and Why There’s No Such Thing as Writing “For Children”
Hershey, David. Eucatastrophe – Tolkien’s On Fairy Stories.
The Lord of the Rings. Wikipedia. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lord_of_the_Rings
Beren and Lúthien. Wikipedia. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beren_and_Lúthien
C.S. Lewis. Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C._S._Lewis
Rhemalogy.com. Last of the Inklings’ Thursday Night Meetings