Thursday, 7 May 2020

"It is as if the earth there is cursed" - Tolkien, Ireland and the Roman Church

George Sayer wrote the best biography of CS Lewis; and he was also a significant friend of JRR Tolkien. Sayer wrote a fascinating memoir later published in Tolkien: a celebration edited by Joseph Pearce (1999).

In one section Sayer recorded:

[Tolkien] had a very low opinion of his own merits and fairly easily got into a depressed state when thinking of his faults and deficiencies. 

Life was a war between good and evil. He thought the sacraments freed one from enthrallment to Sauron. 

Once he spoke to me of Ireland after he had spent part of a summer vacation working there as an examiner: 

"It is as if the earth there is cursed. It exudes an evil that is held in check only by Christian practice and the power of prayer."

Even the soil, the earth, played a part in the cosmic struggle between the forces of good and evil...

[Tolkien] found little or nothing wrong with the pre Vatican II Church, and therefore thought the reforms of the 1960s misguided and unnecessary...

The context is that Tolkien, by choice and with enjoyment, made many visits to Ireland both on holiday and as an external examiner for several universities; and said in a letter to his son Michael that he was always happy while there. 

My inference is that Tolkien's love of Ireland was bound-up with its being a Roman Catholic nation - and one of the most deeply and devoutly Catholic in the world.

And, just as Tolkien would have been very distressed by the state of his church nowadays; likewise he would have probably have been strongly averse to the modern, secular Ireland; which was built-upon rejection of the church, and embrace of the European Union and its ideals.

This is as clear an example as may be wished of how things have changed and reversed over the past half century; how so many institutions and nations that were then net-good have since become net-evil.

And an example, too, of how this is related to the end of traditionalist, institutional Christianity - which once permeated the minds of Men. By Tolkien's analysis, the cursed nature of Ireland is no longer held in check and transformed by the church - so what remains after this subtraction is (overall) evil.

Something analogous, but different in detail, has happened everywhere. Once good nations become inexorably horrible, decadent, depraved; after the influence of their traditional Christian church is removed.  

Yet, as with Vatican II, the churches removed-themselves from their various nations (or at least actively colluded in the process).

So, the experiment has been done; all over the world. And we can each of us see, all around, in exaggerated form (if we have the capacity think and make the choice to be honest) the terrible consequences of Christian apsostasy and unopposed materialism.

It turns-out we all live on 'cursed ground': when Christianity is deleted and materialism is triumphant.

This has become undeniable in the past weeks; with the truly despicable spectacle of most-of-the-world embracing totalitarian, materialist monomania; and the masses succumbing to fear, resentment, spite and despair.

Yet we can get no help from the churches, nor from any other institution. That era is finished.

So we must do now what we probably should have done long ago; which is to take direct and personal responsibility for our Christian faith; to make it a faith of the heart, fuelled by the fires within.