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From: Matthew Malthouse <matthew.malthouse@guardian.co.uk>
Subject: Re: (urth) Religion of the New Sun
Date: Tue, 23 Nov 1999 18:39:41 +0000

Ouroboros wrote:

> I also, recall him [Tolkien] conceding that despite his devout,
> and practicing Faith, there was no real Religion in
> Middle Earth (unless you count the Swarthy Men's
> worship of Sauron), let alone a Judeo-Christian one.
> Although the Middle Earth sub-creation was supposedly
> placed in the nether-pre-historic past, it *was* still
> sub-creation. To insert the super-reality of his Faith
> into a fragile sub-creation would rend it to shreds
> and blur the line between Fantasy and Reality.
> While TBOTNS is set in the distant future, it is not
> speculative SF. Wolfe is NOT trying to argue that this
> is a possible future. I know there's an Increate in
> TBOTNS, there's one at the beginning of the
> Silmarilion. That's not religion. Wolfe is just trying
> to tell an interesting, plausible story. So despite
> the reference to a Christian saint, Wolfe is NOT
> speculating about the possible future of the Body of
> Christ.

although the world of Middle Earth has no overt worship or ritual
that's not quite the same thing as saying that there is no religion.

One profound difference between Middle earth and our world is that
Manwe and the Valar knew Illuvatar and the Eldar knew the Valar -
even men have known some of the Maia, even if only the wise
recognise this.  There is a certainty possible to them, even at
several removes, that has no analogue in this worlds faiths. Indeed
'faith' is not required when any passing elf could supply you with
the chief angel's address.

The situation on Urth is not dissimilar. Although we have ritual
with forms that we recognise as religious and orders such as the
Pelegrines we also have the Heirogramates who appear to have a
closer connection to the Increate of that universe than we do. Again
faith becomes moot if one can board ship and visit the Increate's

Faith however does rear its head (ugly or otherwise) in the matter
of the New Sun. In its promised coming we seem to have some root for
popular religion. We also have a parallel for the Second Coming.

Indeed that is not to indicate that here we have a predictive
statement directly about Christianity. What there is still room for
however is that which Tolkien denied writing: an alegorical
statement. Today God or the Increate is not susceptible to proofs of
reality. What might change if at some future date it were otherwise?


*More Wolfe info & archive of this list at http://www.urth.net/urth/

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