My upbringing was, at least from my perspective at the time, fairly normal. My siblings were much older than I, so from my formative years on, I was the only child in the household. We had the basic TV channels, radio, and the monthly periodicals. However, there was little time for those things because I was busy playing. That’s right, using my imagination to make up for the lack of all the stimuli children have today. When I think back, I remember vividly the world I created for myself. Adventures pretending with the aid of toy guns, action figures, and usually whatever involved getting dirty. What I don’t recall is much imagining anything supernatural. I suppose the fantastical was just that, fantasy. We were taught not to believe in magic, otherworldly creatures or powers. I’m not sure where Santa and the Easter bunny fit in, but certainly goblins, ghosts, and dead people coming to life at Halloween were taboo. We could do the Halloween stuff of course but it was just for fun, not real.
I guess we have just become such an enlightened society that the supernatural or metaphysical is just a distraction best left to the fringe groups like “Wiccans” or Native Americans. Just for kicks, have you ever considered that those who dabble in the otherworldly may have an advantage over most “rational” human beings in legitimizing the truths of scripture? In fact it was not that long ago that the belief in the supernatural was the norm. To believe in the literal creation accounts all the way to the destruction of the earth as we know it, not by man made climate change but by God’s own version of global warming, would have been the norm just a few generations ago. In a previous post, entitled State of Grace: Part 1, I discussed this same topic as it relates to regeneration or being born again. I won’t repeat myself but I recommend you go back and read that post after this one.
I realize there can be a fine line when we enter the world of supernatural phenomena. There are always dangers, especially for children, when exposed to the horror and destruction that is often associated with these topics. For instance, as a teenager I saw the movie “Amityville Horror.” Let me tell you, that was my first and last horror flick. On the peer level it was cool to go to these movies and be frightened. Though some of my macho guy friends claimed not to be, but their dates were, and that was good for them. I however was shaken by the evil spiritual power, death and destruction. There was an innate sense of the possibility of the reality of it all, and I wanted no part of it. I am not promoting horror movies, Steven King novels, nor the “Long Island Medium” series, but rather just permitting yourself to open the door just a crack to see what your level of belief is.
We will never know for sure what Tolkien really believed about what he wrote. What he did believe in strongly was that the tales told for thousands of years before the Christianization of Europe were not just the result of ignorant people making up fantasy. There was an element of truth in those Viking legends, those Druid rites, and the Elvish tongue. Good verses evil, redemption, reprobation, powers of darkness and light, and promised messiahs were all story lines of peoples long ago who had never seen a bible. Tolkien was well aware of the story of the Tower of Babel and the subsequent confusing of languages and the dispersal of the people of earth, or Middle Earth, as he penned his words. The elements of truth contained in this ancient lore was passed on from generation to generation from the foundation of the world. In fact, if you believe the bible, these stories were told by the descendants of Japheth, Noah’s son. Oh by the way, if you are of European descent, these were your grandparents. The tribe of Japheth migrated from Asia to be the first Europeans. These are your family’s tales. Tolkien wanted it to live on, not as fact, but not as fiction either. He devoted his life to it. During a time when it was believed that the Renaissance was the beginning of quality literature in Briton and that Shakespeare was the bomb, Tolkien fought for the tale tellers who went before them.
What I am proposing here is not only enjoying a good story, but also examining what you believe concerning the mysteries of God. Don’t be led down the path of the higher critics of the bible, which leads to tearing out the supernatural aspects as if they are merely the remains of ignorance from another age. The fantastical tales of a primitive and scientifically bereft people, may actually be more advanced and accurate than what we believe to be truth today.