Future Priests of the Third Millennium

A little insight into the life of seminarians from various dioceses preparing for ministry as Roman Catholic priests, including daily activities, personal interests, special events, the spiritual life, news from the seminary, and almost whatever comes to our minds!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Apostles Creed in The Lord of the Rings

This is Part 1 of a multi-part series summarizing Dr. Peter Kreeft, PhD.'s work on Christianity in J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings.
Part 2 will post soon.

by James Lannan, Theology II - Saint Paul Seminary


Who is Dr. Peter Kreeft, PhD ?

Peter Kreeft is a highly respected Catholic Apologist and professor of theology & philosophy at Boston College. He is lauded as one of the best Catholic philosophers working in the United States. He is a solid Thomist that draws very much from the Christian religious and philosophical Tradition. Some consider Kreeft to be the world's leading literary authority on C.S. Lewis & J.R.R. Tolkien. He is also an respected commentator on G.K. Chesterton.

As one of the Catholic Church's leading Apologists, he has been teaching for 42 year and has written close to fifty books. His most famous are "Unaborted Socrates," "History of Moral Relativism," "Between Heaven & Hell," "Socrates Meets Jesus," "On Apologetics," and "The Summa of the Summa," "C.S. Lewis in Christian Perspective," "C.S. Lewis in the 3rd Millennium," "Shadowlands of C.S. Lewis," "Heaven & the Hearts Desire: Longing for God," and "The Philosophy of Tolkien: The Worldview Behind Lord of the Rings."

Kreeft holds The Lord of the Rings as perhaps one the greatest literary pieces ever written. He holds it on the level of The Illiad, The Odyssey, The Aenid, The Divine Comedy, and Paradise Lost.

J.R.R. Tolkien on what the Lord of the Rings is all about:

“In the Lord of the Rings, the conflict is not basically about power or freedom, though that is naturally involved. It is about God and his sole right to divine honor.”

J.R.R. Tolkien photo:

Lord of the Rings place in history tells us something very important:

Dr. Kreeft likes to point out an interesting and profoundly significant set of statistics as a result of polling on popular culture and literary works. In the year 2000, a major bookseller conglomerate from Europe "Waterstone Books" polled its base of consumers, asking what they thought were the Top 10 Books of the 20th Century. Lord of the Rings was #1 by miles.

Pop-media literary critics mocked these results claiming that something must be wrong with the polling sample, Dr. Kreeft likes to point out. A follow-up series of polling was completed, this time expanding the base to a worldwide search. The results were exactly the same. Lord of the Rings was officially a classic and what Dr. Kreeft says is "the [book] most loved and admired by humanity."

Dr. Kreeft says,

"The critics were scandalized. I think a similar scandal to the critics would surface from popular polls in any of the arts: music, painting, drama, poetry, architecture, and certainly liturgy. The critics are clueless. Humanities experts are out of touch with humanity. This is true in philosophical ethics, why should it not be true in aesthetics."

Dr. Kreeft likes to point out that three main things are revealed from all this:

  1. "The Lord of the Rings is a true classic"

  2. Pop-culture Literary critics are “an arrogant oligarchy of utterly out of touch elitist aliens.” [It is very funny when you hear him say things like this in a lecture]

  3. "Modern Western culture is not egalitarian" as it boasts that it is

Dr. Kreeft teaches a course at Boston College on Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. As an Apologist at heart, he rears against the broken foundations of philosophical and religious ethics Modern Culture proposes through its mainstream media. He points out how much the "teachers of our culture differ radically from the students." Teachers are are no longer priests and philosophers. Rather, "they are TV & Movie Producers, journalists, university professors, pop-psychologists, and so-called educational experts," he explains.

To be continued....

{Why the Lord of the Rings is judged a classic by humanity and what this has to do with Christian Apologetics}


Cookie said...

What a wonderful topic! Kreeft attended the Dutch Reformed college that my dad and his side of the extended family attended, and it's so nice to know that someone so influential and well-versed has a similar religious background to mine.

I can't wait to see further posts.

Anonymous said...

What is it with folks seeing Jesus, Eucharist, Church in Lord in the Rings???????
I think we need to leave the works to stand for themselves. JRT writings were mythic, they are not allegory like everyone makes them out to be.

Deacon Tyler said...

Tolkien is remembered as having said, "I cordially dislike allegory in all its manifestations, and always have done since I grew old and wary enough to detect its presence." Nevertheless, I think it can be admitted that Tolkien deep Catholic faith imbues his writing. The books are classic works of Catholic Literature. They need not be explicitly Catholic (i.e. Allegory) to deserve this title.

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