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    PaladinGuy

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    Default Darken Thundershield meets Saruman

    Lets say that Durkon Thundershield and Saruman of many colors walk into a bar. What do they talk about? How do they regard one another?

    Just a random thought which occurred to me, since both have a pathological hatred of trees.
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    Default Re: Darken Thundershield meets Saruman

    Darken Thundershield
    ... I have my new name for the vampire spirit controlling Durkon.

    This post is meant to be good-natured, tongue-in-cheek poking, not snide, and I hope it comes across as such.
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    First, I'm impressed that this topic went so far off topic that it ended up back at The Order of the Stick.
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    Default Re: Darken Thundershield meets Saruman

    I can't really see Saruman, at any point in his moral evolution, visiting a bar. Seems much too plebeian for him.

    That being said... Maybe they'd discuss religion? Durkon's a cleric and Saruman's an angel in human form, they might have something to talk about there.

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    Default Re: Darken Thundershield meets Saruman

    Quote Originally Posted by InvisibleBison View Post
    I can't really see Saruman, at any point in his moral evolution, visiting a bar. Seems much too plebeian for him.

    That being said... Maybe they'd discuss religion? Durkon's a cleric and Saruman's an angel in human form, they might have something to talk about there.
    It would make for an interesting discussion since one comes from a monotheistic setting and one comes from a polytheistic setting.

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    Default Re: Darken Thundershield meets Saruman

    Quote Originally Posted by pearl jam View Post
    It would make for an interesting discussion since one comes from a monotheistic setting and one comes from a polytheistic setting.
    I'm not so sure Tolkien's mythology is monotheistic....

    Sure he developed an uber-God, Eru Illuvatar, who is a father/creator figure to the Valar and Maiar, but the conception of the Valar were much more clearly that of a polytheistic pantheon. Simply having a father-god doesn't make the children less godlike (see the Greeks and Romans, for example).

    Both in the extent of their powers, and in the reverence with which they are treated, the Valar are far more god-like than angel-like. The most powerful of the Maiar, even (such as Osse, Sauron, Melian...) are closer to demigods than angels/devils.

    So Back to Topic:

    "Eh, so, yer a type of Solar then?"

    "No, I am Saruman of Many Colors, one of the Maiar, present at the singing of Ainulindale. (I'll have a pina colada, thanks.)"

    "Umm... Mehyarrr, is that? (Beer fer me, yeh)"

    "No, Maiar."

    "Meehargh? (Ahh, thanks, I see yeh haf import brews)."

    "No, Maiar. (Ugh, that is not a pina colada. Please take it away and just bring me some dorwinion wine)"

    "Deh yeh haf some phonetic way of spellin' tha'?"

    "<sigh> Why yes, several appendices explaining correct pronunciation, in many different languages. Perhaps you should study them?"
    Geez, what is it with that guy and needing to figure out all the fiddly little details?

    I know, right? It's called "Suspension of Disbelief"...
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    Default Re: Darken Thundershield meets Saruman

    Quote Originally Posted by DeliaP View Post
    I'm not so sure Tolkien's mythology is monotheistic....

    Sure he developed an uber-God, Eru Illuvatar, who is a father/creator figure to the Valar and Maiar, but the conception of the Valar were much more clearly that of a polytheistic pantheon. Simply having a father-god doesn't make the children less godlike (see the Greeks and Romans, for example).

    Both in the extent of their powers, and in the reverence with which they are treated, the Valar are far more god-like than angel-like. The most powerful of the Maiar, even (such as Osse, Sauron, Melian...) are closer to demigods than angels/devils.
    The Valar are called "gods" by many Men, but that's not what they are. They're comparable in role and power to the gods of OotS (since discussing real mythologies is verboten), but they have more in common with Men and Elves than with Eru himself. Eru is not a small caps father-god, but God, the Father.

    Tolkien's mythology is monotheistic. Narratively it's basically polytheistic, with the "ultimate truth" of the myth being deeply monotheistic and compatible with what Tolkien believed.
    Last edited by hroşila; 2016-07-28 at 06:21 AM.
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    Default Re: Darken Thundershield meets Saruman

    Yeah, I'd say that theisticly speaking, if Saruman, being a Maia, is the rough equivalent of an angel, then the Valar are probably associable with Archangels, and Eru Ilúvatar is clearly the God of Middle-earth, even though that's not the clearest impression at first.
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    cool Re: Darken Thundershield meets Saruman

    Quote Originally Posted by InvisibleBison View Post
    I can't really see Saruman, at any point in his moral evolution, visiting a bar.
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    Default Re: Darken Thundershield meets Saruman

    Quote Originally Posted by hroşila View Post
    Tolkien's mythology is monotheistic. Narratively it's basically polytheistic, with the "ultimate truth" of the myth being deeply monotheistic and compatible with what Tolkien believed.
    Except that OOTS exists as a D&D game. The Dungeon Master is at least as much the "ultimate truth" that Eru Illuvatar is, and the so-called "gods" merely his NPCs. That said, if the PCs officially don't have players, I'm not sure that OOTS really has a DM.

    - edit: what happened to my quote? - fixed: thanks deliverance
    Last edited by wumpus; 2016-07-28 at 04:58 PM. Reason: fixed quote

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    Default Re: Darken Thundershield meets Saruman

    Quote Originally Posted by wumpus View Post
    Except that OOTS exists as a D&D game. The Dungeon Master is at least as much the "ultimate truth" that Eru Illuvatar is, and the so-called "gods" merely his NPCs. That said, if the PCs officially don't have players, I'm not sure that OOTS really has a DM.

    - edit: what happened to my quote?
    You failed at brackets; Specifically, your post is missing a right bracket to enclose the first quote statement. Presumably you deleted it by mistake.

    [QUOTE=hroşila;21045446Tolkien's blablabla lacks the terminating right bracket between 6 and T.
    Last edited by Deliverance; 2016-07-28 at 12:18 PM.

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    Default Re: Darken Thundershield meets Saruman

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord View Post
    Lets say that Durkon Thundershield and Saruman of many colors walk into a bar.
    Is the punchline "They start a metal band"?

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    Default Re: Darken Thundershield meets Saruman

    Quote Originally Posted by Ruck View Post
    Is the punchline "They start a metal band"?
    They're not druids, why would metal be banned?

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    Default Re: Darken Thundershield meets Saruman

    Quote Originally Posted by hroşila View Post
    The Valar are called "gods" by many Men, but that's not what they are. They're comparable in role and power to the gods of OotS (since discussing real mythologies is verboten), but they have more in common with Men and Elves than with Eru himself. Eru is not a small caps father-god, but God, the Father.

    Tolkien's mythology is monotheistic. Narratively it's basically polytheistic, with the "ultimate truth" of the myth being deeply monotheistic and compatible with what Tolkien believed.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jaxzan Proditor View Post
    Yeah, I'd say that theisticly speaking, if Saruman, being a Maia, is the rough equivalent of an angel, then the Valar are probably associable with Archangels, and Eru Ilúvatar is clearly the God of Middle-earth, even though that's not the clearest impression at first.
    Sorry, but no.

    Tolkien was a devout Catholic, for sure, but he was also a great scholar of the pre-Christian cultures of Northern Europe. The construction of his legendarium owed far more to the latter than the former. (Indeed, he at times expressed dislike of fantasy stories that were thinly disguised allegories for our own world, presumably a dig at his friend Lewis!)

    If you read the "The Book of Lost Tales", his original (and far more detailed than the edited highlights in the Silmarillion) telling of Eru, the Valar etc. it could not be more explicitly polytheistic. I opened Chapter II "The Music of the Ainur", and the very first lines include

    "`I would fain know who be these Valar; are they Gods?' [said Eriol] `So be they' said Lindo"

    and if you move on through Chapter III "The Coming of the Valar" you can hardly open a page without reading lines like "Yet did he speak the Gods fair" or "but of the Gods some took his words in faith" or "but the Gods held counsel", where "Gods" here is explicitly referring to the Valar (actually sometimes the Maiar too, depending upon the context). This, I emphasize, is Tolkien's own unedited writing, calling the Valar "Gods" with a Capital G, and he continues to refer to them in such terms right through. So, for example, in the version known as the Quenta, which he was working on in 1937 when the success of The Hobbit derailed him from the topic for about twenty or so years: "But Morgoth the Gods thrust through the door of the Timeless Void".

    There is not the shadow of a hint that he conceived of the Valar as being understood in any lesser way.

    (Quotes from: The Book of Lost Tales vol 1, Chapters II & III, HME Vol 1, and The Shaping of the Middle Earth Chapter III, HME Vol 4)
    Geez, what is it with that guy and needing to figure out all the fiddly little details?

    I know, right? It's called "Suspension of Disbelief"...
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    Some speculation turns out to be accurate, some doesn't. I'll deal with it the same way I deal with all other speculative theories I read and/or come up with: by continuing to read the comic, and enjoying it whether the speculation turns out to be right or wrong.
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    Default Re: Darken Thundershield meets Saruman

    Quote Originally Posted by DeliaP View Post
    There is not the shadow of a hint that he conceived of the Valar as being understood in any lesser way.
    That can be reconciled to some extent by the fact that there is a massive gap between a monotheistic, omnipotent, omnscient God and and the by definition limited sphere afforded to any polytheistic God. Most of the Valar can be defeated but not truly destroyed, and Melkor/Morgoth is bound to a physical body, which can be maimed or scarred when the High King of the Elves or the Biggest Darn Eagle Ever (pretty much Tolkein's words) decides to tussle with the dark lord. By comparison, Melkor/Morgoth isn't even capable of presenting a negligible risk of overthrowing Eru, and even his rebellion ultimately works to the creator god's greater good. There's a qualitative difference between the creator and the created.

    For all intents and purposes, Manwe and the other Valar are gods in basically the same sense that Thor is. Saruman is essentially a demigod, like the King of the Dwarves. Terminology is personal preference.

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    Default Re: Darken Thundershield meets Saruman

    The Book of Lost Tales was written in frickin' 1917. Since you've read the HoME series, you'll know that Tolkien spent his whole life rethinking the philosophical and theological implications of his world building. There's plenty of discussions in his Letters about the nature of Eru and his role in the whole mythology.

    Sure, much of the published Silmarillion comes straight from the 1937 version. But you only need to read his Letters to realize how much stuff he simply never got around to rewriting, even though his conception had changed dramatically. Regardless, my comment on the capitalization of "god" wasn't about Tolkien's use, but about yours, since you were drawing a distinction between "the god(s)" and "God".
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    Default Re: Darken Thundershield meets Saruman

    Yeah, I have trouble accepting BoLT as a credible source for how Tolkien meant his work to be interpreted, especially given details from that time such as Beren being an Elf, and the massive changes in genealogy of the Noldor that would hugely impact the story, as well as what hroşila mentioned: evidence in Letters of Tolkien very much rethinking his metaphysics. For example:
    Quote Originally Posted by Letter 153
    As for 'whose authority decides these things?' The immediate 'authorities' are the Valar (the Powers or Authorities): the 'gods'. But they are only created spirits--of high angelic order we should say, with their attendant lesser angels--reverend, therefore, but not worshipful*...
    *There are thus no temples or 'churches' or fanes in this 'world' among 'good' peoples. They had little or no 'religion' in the sense of worship. For help they may call on a Vala (as Elbereth), as a Catholic might on a Saint...
    The asterisk is Tolkien's addition, not mine.

    Edit: here's another good one, in a footnote to letter 156.
    Quote Originally Posted by Letter 156
    *There is only one 'god': God, Eru Ilúvatar. There are the first creations, angelic beings, of which those most concerned in the Cosmogony reside (of love and choice) inside the World, as Valar or gods, or governors...
    Both letters were written in 1954.
    Last edited by Jaxzan Proditor; 2016-07-28 at 09:20 PM.
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    Default Re: Darken Thundershield meets Saruman

    Quote Originally Posted by Jaxzan Proditor View Post
    Yeah, I have trouble accepting BoLT as a credible source for how Tolkien meant his work to be interpreted, especially given details from that time such as Beren being an Elf, and the massive changes in genealogy of the Noldor that would hugely impact the story, as well as what hroşila mentioned: evidence in Letters of Tolkien very much rethinking his metaphysics. For example:

    The asterisk is Tolkien's addition, not mine.

    Edit: here's another good one, in a footnote to letter 156.

    Both letters were written in 1954.
    As a guy who studied this at Oxford, I can confirm that this is the correct way to interpret Tolkien's vision for Middle-Earth's cosmology.

    I realize that the above paragraph adds pretty much nothing of value to the conversation, but I never get to obnoxiously mansplain the obscure minutiae I studied at university, so humor me.
    Last edited by Emanick; 2016-07-28 at 10:46 PM.
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    Default Re: Darken Thundershield meets Saruman

    I have to say, I'm rather fascinated by how a throwaway quip about tree-hate morphed into a fairly interesting discussion about the theology/cosmology of Middle-earth.
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    Default Re: Darken Thundershield meets Saruman

    Quote Originally Posted by Jaxzan Proditor View Post
    Yeah, I have trouble accepting BoLT as a credible source for how Tolkien meant his work to be interpreted, especially given details from that time such as Beren being an Elf [...]
    Or Sauron's precursor being a giant evil cat.

    Well, I suppose "evil" is redundant.
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    Default Re: Darken Thundershield meets Saruman

    Quote Originally Posted by ti'esar View Post
    I have to say, I'm rather fascinated by how a throwaway quip about tree-hate morphed into a fairly interesting discussion about the theology/cosmology of Middle-earth.
    No one even commented at the "pathological tree hate" angle - yet.

    I don't even buy the premise:

    Durkon: I hear ye slayed thousands o' those evil trees. Yer a true hero.
    Saruman: Are you kidding? I just needed the wood to build war machines. How would I know they would come after me?
    Durkon: What'd ye've done different, if ye'd known?
    Saruman: Suppose I would have ditched the orks and corrupted the ents instead, growing them into unstoppable killer machines and covering Middle Earth with impenetrable forest... Seriously, why would I need siege machines with an army of war-ents?
    Last edited by Onyavar; 2016-07-29 at 04:47 AM.
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    Default Re: Darken Thundershield meets Saruman

    Ah, yeah, I should really retract that:

    Quote Originally Posted by DeliaP View Post
    There is not the shadow of a hint that he conceived of the Valar as being understood in any lesser way.
    written in haste (it was late night in my neck of the woods when I wrote it). I had in mind "when he first conceived of the Valar", but it was a poor choice of words, and overstating things.

    But it's not just waaaaaay back in BoLT that he did that. He was still writing of the Valar in a polytheistic way* twenty years later, in the Quenta, which brought much of the tales of the elder years into their final forms (No more Prince of Cats!)

    But, yes, also, during the interregnum while he added the Middle Earth tales, and the Numenor tales, he shifted, so when he returned to the tales in the post-LoTR period he wanted to think about them in a monotheistic way.

    Complicating matters, neither the pre-LoTR nor post-LoTR tales were ever considered finished. So to me, narratively speaking, the tales read most naturally in the polytheistic way originally conceived. But, fair point, I'll concede that the later Tolkien was trying to change that.

    Also, I just prefer to think of Gandalf as the avatar of a demigod, rather than some wussy angel.

    *OK, so I'll ask the scholar: any evidence that Tolkien had come to the monotheistic view of the Valar prior to, say 1945?
    Last edited by DeliaP; 2016-07-29 at 05:06 AM. Reason: poor choice of words

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    Default Re: Darken Thundershield meets Saruman

    Most of Letters dealing with religion come on response to fan letters written after LotR was published, so naturally there isn't much about it until 1954. I'm guessing I'd have to go through LotR proper and the related HoMe works to see his earlier opinion. Of course, I defer to Emanick's knowledge; I'd love to see him show off what he's had a chance to learn.

    In general, I definitely can agree that the world as originally conceived and as it immediately appears is polytheistic, largely to maintain the feel that Tolkien was looking for of a Anglo-Saxon epic. However, I do think it is more accurate to describe it now as he later conceived it in total.

    I guess this conversation has shown us that some of us are massive LotR nerds that will drag any related thread off topic.
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    Default Re: Darken Thundershield meets Saruman

    My understanding of the conflict here is that there isn't one. I recall hearing, (Granted, I can't cite this) that the LOTR cosmology was an explicit attempt to reconcile the polytheistic mythology Tolkien loved with the religion he practiced. Thus, the Valar operate as "gods" in the pagan mythological sense, while Eru Illuvitar is quite clearly the equivalent of the Judeo-Christian god. So the answer to the question is sort of "Both, but home team advantage to monotheism."



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    Default Re: Darken Thundershield meets Saruman

    Quote Originally Posted by Onyavar View Post
    No one even commented at the "pathological tree hate" angle - yet.

    I don't even buy the premise:

    Durkon: I hear ye slayed thousands o' those evil trees. Yer a true hero.
    Saruman: Are you kidding? I just needed the wood to build war machines. How would I know they would come after me?
    Durkon: What'd ye've done different, if ye'd known?
    Saruman: Suppose I would have ditched the orks and corrupted the ents instead, growing them into unstoppable killer machines and covering Middle Earth with impenetrable forest... Seriously, why would I need siege machines with an army of war-ents?
    Thank you for fulfilling the entire reason I started this thread in the first place.
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    Default Re: Darken Thundershield meets Saruman

    Quote Originally Posted by stormtemplar View Post
    My understanding of the conflict here is that there isn't one. I recall hearing, (Granted, I can't cite this) that the LOTR cosmology was an explicit attempt to reconcile the polytheistic mythology Tolkien loved with the religion he practiced. Thus, the Valar operate as "gods" in the pagan mythological sense, while Eru Illuvitar is quite clearly the equivalent of the Judeo-Christian god. So the answer to the question is sort of "Both, but home team advantage to monotheism."
    It's somewhat more complex, I think. Tolkien never wished to insert incarnation in a way similar to the Christian meaning, for example, and he stated it in a letter. My personal take is that the start was inspired by a polytheistic world (Kullervo and Turin), but the aesthetics were immediately determined by both Christianity and pagan literature. Tolkien's work is choke full of salvific figures, which are nowhere to be found in European "pagan" literature (literature written by pagans or written by Christians but with pagans as characters, like many Northern sagas) but are very frequent in Christian literature (Chivalric poems, hagiography, and so on). In the end, the problem of good ended up being solved with an apparent take of Christian tradition (1 God, 1 Satan, 7 Archangels) and pagan myth (creation of the Dwarves, Maia families and half-maiar, the fact that the 7 Valar actually are 15 and 13 are married, the corruption of Maiar a while after the fall of Melkor, which means that they live in the physical world as in space and time...). The movement was towards an increasing metaphysicization of the Maiar, so that some ideas were dumped or never spoken of again (Gothmog son of Melko and an orkess; Varda and Manwe having a kid; Melko on a tree, throwing stuff down at other people). Anyway, Tolkien does say that LOTR is a Christian book in one of the letters, but he gave a specific meaning to this definition, which I can't recall right now, but I don't think it had as much with setting and cosmogony to do, as with character choices. And then there's the concept of Grace, which is never named in the book, but is actually one of the main themes (still to be found explained in the letters).

    Anyway, Durkon doesn't smoke, does he? Saruman liked smoking, although he didn't like to be noticed doing that. I think they would talk about beards, and maybe Durkon will let some information skip about a certain Sevenfold Veil class, which goes pretty well with Saruman's colour scheme (and grand scheme of conquest). Also, Saruman would speak very ill about halflings, and I wonder what Durkon would say, given his experience with Belkar.

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