For those Christians who insist on promoting and celebrating the writings of J. R. R. Tolkien as a rich tapestry of Christian allegory and symbolism that powerfully informs their faith, some sobering facts need to be seriously considered. The sad truth is, that Tolkien, despite his personal Christian-based sensibilities, allowed his deep love of pagan Norse mythology to blind him to the fatal spiritual consequences of his creative endeavors and the flawed philosophy behind them. This point is not to bring into question the faith and salvation of Tolkien or of his devoted Christian followers, but simply to suggest that in his creative practice, Tolkien, figuratively speaking, “dropped the ball” and brought aid and comfort to the opposition of our faith.
The evidence is shocking: Neo-Pagans, Gnostics and other occult-based religionists absolutely adore Tolkien’s works, but are not turning to Christianity for spiritual understanding. Instead, they are extracting new beliefs out of his writings that support and bolster their own alternative religions. Why?
You’ve probably heard of the famous “Invisible Gorilla” study, conducted by Daniel Simons and Christopher Chabris several years ago. It was a work that won the Ig Nobel Prize for Psychology in 2004. In the study, Simons and Chabris asked volunteers to watch a one-minute long video of two teams (one group in white shirts; one in black shirts) passing around a basketball. The volunteers were specifically tasked with keeping count of how many times the ball is passed by a member of the white-shirted team. Halfway through the video, a person wearing a full-body gorilla suit walks through the scene, pounds the chest, then leaves. After watching the video, the volunteers were asked to give their official counts, but were also asked if they saw anything else in the video. Amazingly, only around 50% of the volunteers saw the gorilla.
The experiment clearly demonstrated what is known as “Inattentional Blindness,” a common mental phenomenon defined by a lack of expectation for an unattended stimulus. Test subjects didn’t expect to see a gorilla while they were focusing on their counting task, so quite often they didn’t even notice the ape in plain view.
We Americans find ourselves, slowly but surely, drawn farther and farther away from truth and reality. God’s revelation and His creation have been left in the dust of this current stampede towards the mirages of imagination and idolatry, a circumstance that Paul so perfectly articulated in Romans 1:18-25. Indeed the rising generation, fed with the milk of self-esteem and human potential, have become more enthralled with the things of fancy. The immense popularity of fantasy literature, movies, and video gaming belies this fact. The current American generation loves their fantasy: wizards, vampires, hobbits, Jedis, and Marvel superheroes are their role models and sometimes even their new religion.
Is the remarkable and astounding truth of the Bible so boring to us these days that we have to make things up to get excited?
Apparently God’s truth and stark reality are now old hat. These days, reality needs to be augmented by our creativity or replaced altogether by a VR world of our own making. Cold, hard facts have been replaced by the warmness of “story,” where a fuzzy narrative can dull the sharp edges and make bitter truth more palatable to our present-day sensibilities. Speaking objective truth in love is now frowned upon and the greatest sin is to “harsh someone’s buzz” and take away a person’s safe space. Much better, they think, to bring harmony to mankind by blurring the dividing line of God’s truth through loving acceptance, compromise, and syncretism.
When a website treads water in the vast ocean of the internet for several months with no rescue of new content in sight, it is only natural that its visitor traffic will suffer and sink to an almost nonexistent level, even for a fairly historically-popular site like mine. The Sandwich has surely suffered significant loss of readership during its recent malaise, but hopefully it has been presently retooled and refocused for the better. The question is whether or not anyone will stick around long enough to make that assessment. Bottom line, I’m glad you are here.
Many looky-loos hoping for a good laugh, including my faithful followers, are no doubt wondering about the move away from humor, and the sudden furrowing of my brow in lieu of the usual satirical fare. Is “Angus” in hospital still recovering from an emergency funnybonectomy, perhaps? Or something more sinister?