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  1. #1

    Does LOTR have a religion?

    So me and my son were discussing LOTRO last night when he suddenly asked do the various races have a religion? I told him that I wasn't sure and not being a full on Tolkien geek it got me wondering too. So is there anyone out there who could enlighten us as to whether there are Gods or even Goddesses, do the various races worship anyone or anything?

    To add at Xmas I took part in the events (sorry the name of the xmas zone has escaped me), but it begs the question of how and why that came to exist in Middle Earth. Is it just purely for gameplay purposes or is it in fact part of Middle Earth lore.

    Sorry if it's a daft question but with my ability to fall asleep reading a book, I never get past page two of any book

  2. #2
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    LotRO does not. But maybe there is something written about it by Tolkien in the Appendices of LotR or Perhaps in the Silmarillion.

  3. #3
    Here's a good article to read concerning it.

    http://www.decentfilms.com/articles/faithandfantasy

  4. #4
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    LOTR does indeed have religion, though perhaps not in the same sense of what humanity sees religion as now. There is a singular God-like entity, then lesser divine beings called Valar (think angels). The Wizards and Eldar Elves fit in there somehow as well, but I'll leave it up to a lore expert or Wikipedia to fill in the blanks for you.

    Also, Lotro doesn't outright ignore these creations either. There is a quest-line in Enedwaith and early Dunland that introduces you to the Huntsman, one of the Valar that the Rohirrim (and apparently many of the southron people in the area) worship. The Winterfestival, on the other hand, isn't really necessarily as religious as say, Christmas, but same idea. It is based off the idea of Yule, a 12-day festival celebration in ancient times, most of which was adapted into the traditional "Christmas" that most would recognize today. Again, I won't go into the details, but a quick search on Wikipedia will surely answer most of your questions.
    Last edited by Krindus; Mar 13 2013 at 07:58 PM.
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    The Tolkien universe certainly has a religion, the problem is that most of it is material that is locked behind work Turbine doesn't have the license for to use. So only a few gods (valar) might are mentioned ingame, and only without a lot of explanation.

    Some Valar mentioned are Oromë (in a minstrel skill) and Elbereth (a name for Varda). Morgoth is mentioned as well, he is more or less the source of all evil in the world and was Sauron's master untill he was killed at the end of the First Age.
    Creatures like Gandalf, Saruman, Radagast, Sauron and the Balrog are maiar, the lesser gods serving the Valar.

    I am calling the valar and the maiar two different castes of gods, but they were created themselves by an even higher being: Illuvatar or Eru. Some people call him the only god and the ainur (the combined name of valar and maiar) angels. I don't make this comparison, to keep this fictional religion separate from the monotheïstic religions some people (not including me) believe in our own world.

    Keep in mind the article mentioned above is written by someone of a catholic news site, and 'slightly' biased in his view on the Tolkien religion. As I've understood it from the Silmarillion, Morgoth is not the antagonist of Eru, but the antagonist of the other valar.
    During the creation of the world, Illuvatar ordered the Valar to sing a song, and add things of their imagination to it enrich the world. Morgoth had it's own will, and added bad things to the song. But still at the end Illuvatar converted the song into the world, instead of starting over again (without Morgoth and his bad adjustments).
    Last edited by DobbelB_EU; Mar 13 2013 at 08:23 PM.
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  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by or_bill68 View Post
    Here's a good article to read concerning it.

    http://www.decentfilms.com/articles/faithandfantasy
    Thank you so much for that link, it certainly gives food for thought. I shall point my son in the direction of The Silmarillion so he can look into it more. Be interesting to find out more about Eru and Melokor. Thanks again and + rep for you

  7. #7
    Wow so many posts that explains a lot. I understand now why religion does not exist in the game itself, but that's not to say it isn't there at all in the books. Thanks everyone seems my and my son have a little project to do together

  8. #8
    Well the Silmarillion is a good choice for those who want to know more about the early history of arda including how the conflict between good and evil began. And by the way melkor wasn't slain but imprisoned in the Halls of Mandos.

  9. #9
    From a letter draft composed by JRRT in 1954:

    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,
    though no doubt knowing in theory as well as he that the power of the Vala was limited and derivative. But this is a
    'primitive age': and these folk may be said to view the Valar as children view their parents or immediate adult superiors,
    and though they know they are subjects of the King he does not live in their country nor have there any dwelling. I do
    not think Hobbits practised any form of worship or prayer (unless through exceptional contact with Elves). The
    Númenóreans (and others of that branch of Humanity, that fought against Morgoth, even if they elected to remain in
    Middle-earth and did not go to Númenor: such as the Rohirrim) were pure monotheists. But there was no temple in
    Númenor (until Sauron introduced the cult of Morgoth). The top of the Mountain, the Meneltarma or Pillar of Heaven,
    was dedicated to Eru, the One, and there at any time privately, and at certain times publicly, God was invoked, praised,
    and adored: an imitation of the Valar and the Mountain of Aman. But Numenor fell and was destroyed and the
    Mountain engulfed, and there was no substitute. Among the exiles, remnants of the Faithful who had not adopted the
    false religion nor taken part in the rebellion, religion as divine worship (though perhaps not as philosophy and
    metaphysics) seems to have played a small part; though a glimpse of it is caught in Faramir's remark on 'grace at meat'.

  10. #10
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    Thumbs up

    Some handy information here, I hadn't thought much about religion in LOTR or LOTRO but its certainly a topic I'll be reading further into.
    Funnily enough, I purchased the Silmarillion for the missus some time ago; I'll be reading that in work over the next few days I think.
    At the cutting edge of cocking about

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    Not sure about the races, the people on several servers have however discovered there really *is* something they can rely on ... Something which never disappoints them and creates a smile on every face

    You know what I mean, right


  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Krindus View Post
    LOTR does indeed have religion, though perhaps not in the same sense of what humanity sees religion as now. There is a singular God-like entity, then lesser divine beings called Valar (think angels). The Wizards and Eldar Elves fit in there somehow as well, but I'll leave it up to a lore expert or Wikipedia to fill in the blanks for you.
    The five Wizards, or Istari, are Maiar ... lesser angels, servants of the Valar. The Elves (including the most senior, the Vanyar and Noldor) are the First-born of the Children of Iluvatar. They are high and noble (unless they fall from grace, in which case their descendants are Orcs), but not angels.

    Tolkien, a devout Catholic, was very very careful not to put religion into LotR. Note that the Elves, some of whom were born in the Undying Lands and met the Valar before they came to Middle-earth, don't seem to indulge in worship even of Eru Iluvatar ... at least, not while anybody can see them. Men, who are mortal, have stories of how their ancestors used to live in Numenor, an island just out of sight of the Undying Lands, and a vague notion that someday something great will happen to them. But they don't know anything. Middle-earth is our world long ago, but the late Third and early Fourth Ages are long before Christ, long before Abraham even. Thus, though Tolkien's Christianity informed everything he wrote, it is nowhere actually displayed.

    Also, Lotro doesn't outright ignore these creations either. There is a quest-line in Enedwaith and early Dunland that introduces you to the Huntsman, one of the Valar that the Rohirrim (and apparently many of the southron people in the area) worship.
    I don't know if the Huntsman is a Vala. I rather doubt it. They don't come to Middle-earth unless in case of dire emergency -- and the last time they did, Beleriand and other chunks of Middle-earth were sunk beneath the Sea. My guess is that the Huntsman is a spirit of the woods and the earth, rather like Tom Bombadil: powerful in his own country, but not at the level of the Valar or Maiar. In practical terms, he's based on a Celtic god, appropriate to be worshipped by the Dunlendings, who are mock-Welsh.

    The Winterfestival, on the other hand, isn't really necessarily as religious as say, Christmas, but same idea. It is based off the idea of Yule, a 12-day festival celebration in ancient times, most of which was adapted into the traditional "Christmas" that most would recognize today. Again, I won't go into the details, but a quick search on Wikipedia will surely answer most of your questions.
    Most cultures in the Northern Hemisphere celebrate the winter solstice in some form or another ... "Look! The sun really is coming back!"
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  13. #13
    I always thought of Melkor as Lucifer the fallen Archangel, with the rest of the Valar as the other Archangels. This making the Maiar Angels, but that is just me

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    The Valar and Mair are "gods" in that you can wound them ie "Fingolfin on Morgoth", have congress with them (Elwe and Melian), sometimes they answer a "prayer" ie turning Elwing into a swan when she was fleeing the sons of Feanor (oh for the wings, for the wings of a dove), other prayers (if they made them) fall on deaf ears and direct representation was required, ie Earendil having to sail to Valinor to entreat the Valor for help. Is the practice of yelling "Elbereth" at the forces of darkness similar to the exorcist or vampire hunter and his cross, or does it have more parallels with the knights of Ni in that its a physical aversion to the word Elbereth rather than a spiritual one. Creatures of darkness arent fond of water or fire (ie Nazgul) but some like the watcher in the water and the Balrog have no such restrictions.

    The Valar "sung" up Arda and reshaped middle earth after its marring with the destruction of the two pillars, this apparently made them shy of interferring in Middle earth but not shy enough to prevent them from rising up Numenor from the depths and then when its inhabitants were no longer showing them love sinking their gift again. So why didnt the valar drop the obligatory firey pillar on Mordor, "Oh we liketo take a softly softly approach to middle earth these days", somewhat inconsistant, would you worship these guys and girls?.

    When you can meet your "gods" in person are you more likely or less likely to want to "worship" them, Tom Bombadil does not inspire similar reactions as a manifestation of the angle Gabriel, although many threads have postulated that he may be Eru, occaisionaly Tom inspires awe, but many consider him foolish, do you need to worship in order to have a religion?.

    ps when Morgoths feet were hewn from under him does this infer he lost his feet and they survive as an umbrella stand mathom in some hobbit hole?.
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    In terms of religion, faith and belief, there is a profound difference between Earth and Middle-earth.

    To recap the creation of Middle-earth, Eru Illuvatar directed the Ainur to sing the Ainulindale and then instantiated the song as Ea, the World (of which Middle-earth is part). *Some* of the Ainur "entered into Ea". The major Ainur being known as the Valar, and the lesser Ainur as the Maiar. Among the Valar was Melkor, later known as Morgoth.

    The critical part of this is that entities that were involved in the creation of Ea are in Ea and have conversed with other entities that anyone could (potentially) meet. There are elves, such as Galadriel and Glorfindel that have had the opportunity to converse with Valar. There are the Istarii, who are Maiar sent to Middle-earth by the Valar, such as Gandalf, who anyone might talk to.

    In theory, one could *ask* Gandalf about the Ainulindale and Eru.

    Thus, the existence of a god--Eru--can be testified to by first-hand (Gandalf) or second hand (pretty much anyone, but especially Elves who have been in the Uttermost West). Thus, "faith" is not required to believe the existence of Eru. One does not have to rely on books that have gone through translation after translation or are interpreted innumerable times by different people. One can converse directly with an entity that roughly equates to an "angel" who was present at the creation of Ea, or--if you're willing to take someone's word for it, you can talk to any number of entities who have conversed with archangels.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cossieuk View Post
    I always thought of Melkor as Lucifer the fallen Archangel, with the rest of the Valar as the other Archangels. This making the Maiar Angels, but that is just me
    I assume Tolkien drew from ancient history and chose Sargon as a basis for Sauron.

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by djheydt View Post
    Note that the Elves, some of whom were born in the Undying Lands and met the Valar before they came to Middle-earth, don't seem to indulge in worship even of Eru Iluvatar ... at least, not while anybody can see them.
    Connected to that, I was trying to think if there is anyone (at least amongst the named characters) left in Middle Earth by the War of the Ring who has actually seen the Valar, other than the Istari and Sauron of course. Cirdan I'm pretty sure of. Even Galadriel, while she is a Noldor of Feanor's family I'm not 100% sure she was born in Valinor (I should look this up). I suppose Glorfindel might count, depending on which version of his lore you agree with. I think there's the son of Feanor that is still mooning after a Silmaril (Maeglos?). After that, I'm not sure if there are any left.


    Quote Originally Posted by djheydt View Post
    I don't know if the Huntsman is a Vala. I rather doubt it. They don't come to Middle-earth unless in case of dire emergency -- and the last time they did, Beleriand and other chunks of Middle-earth were sunk beneath the Sea. My guess is that the Huntsman is a spirit of the woods and the earth, rather like Tom Bombadil: powerful in his own country, but not at the level of the Valar or Maiar. In practical terms, he's based on a Celtic god, appropriate to be worshipped by the Dunlendings, who are mock-Welsh.
    The other possibility is that he is based on some half-remembered version of Orome.

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    I would read the silmarillion. It will show you the theology of the lord of the rings universe.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tiadrop View Post
    So me and my son were discussing LOTRO last night when he suddenly asked do the various races have a religion? I told him that I wasn't sure and not being a full on Tolkien geek it got me wondering too. So is there anyone out there who could enlighten us as to whether there are Gods or even Goddesses, do the various races worship anyone or anything?

    To add at Xmas I took part in the events (sorry the name of the xmas zone has escaped me), but it begs the question of how and why that came to exist in Middle Earth. Is it just purely for gameplay purposes or is it in fact part of Middle Earth lore.

    Sorry if it's a daft question but with my ability to fall asleep reading a book, I never get past page two of any book
    It's not a daft question, in fact it is a very intelligent one. Tolkien was a devout Catholic all of his life. In the early drafts of Lotro the Elves were angels, but he watered down the religious aspect a lot in later drafts, and in addition he felt the English lacked a mythology, unlike the Norse people, and he wrote LOTRO to try to tell the story in myth form of the English people.

    A Christian Myth

    Here are some of the ways The Lord of the Rings is a Christian myth.
    1. Darkness pervades Middle-earth where man, beast and nature are called to an adventure full of peril and hope. No matter how bad things are, no matter how much evil there is in this world, there is always some good worth fighting for, worth standing up for, and worth some effort in carrying on. A biblical theme.
    2. The One Ring illustrates how evil can entice and enslave.Beautiful gold rings are enticing to wear. But when we slip them on our fingers we announce our devotion and loyalty to their owner. The ring is the Christian story of temptation and how it can overpower us.
    3. Gandalf and Saruman, while not analogous, have traits, goals, and experiences similar to those of Jesus and Satan.Gandalf is even tempted in a battle with Saruman not unlike Christ is tempted by Satan in the wilderness. Philip Pullman a known atheist hated Tolkien's work because it emphasised the Christian view of good versus evil. I will find links later that show this.
    4. Evil is parasitic and can only destroy that which was created.Everything that Ilúvatar (God) created in Middle-earth (and in our world) is good. It is the perversion and corruption of what was created that is evil. Good can exist on its own. Evil can only live off what is good. The Orcs etc are a perversion of the Elvish race, they were originally Elves, but were so tortured by evil that they lost their goodness and became corrupt caricatures of what they once were.
    5. Like all Chritians, Frodo is called to risk his life through great peril to save others.Frodo, like us, does not appear to be up to the task. He does not have any obvious talent suited for a cosmic world war. But he is chosen, as we are, to attempt the impossible in a world dominated by evil.
    6. In the Shire, the Hobbits come naturally to living a beatific life that Christ calls Christians to live by.The Hobbits are the meek that inherit the earth, the merciful who receive mercy, the pure in heart, and the peacemakers. (Mt. 5:3-12)
    7. Like all Christians, Tolkien's characters are called to play roles in a story that is much greater and more important than they are aware. Just as we are not aware of all that has happened before us, so Gandalf, at the end of The Hobbit, says to Bilbo, "You don't really suppose, do you, that all your adventures and escapes were managed by mere luck, just for your sole benefit? You are only quite a little fellow in a wide world after all!"
    8. There is a longing for the return of the king. As Christians long for the return of Christ the King, so the free people of Middle-earth long for their kingdoms to be once more united in peace and justice under the rightful heir. Aragorn looks like Christ in the films, due to being physically described that way on the book.
    9. The Fellowship of the Ring is constituted of different characters with different gifts suited for battling evil — the diversity keeps them united.This is not unlike the diversity of spiritual gifts and temporal talents given to the different members of the Christian community for the unity of the Church, so that it might be dependent on each other. I'm not going to quote scripture and verse, but it is all biblically based.
    10. Upon leaving Lothlorien, each of the Fellowship members are given custom fitted Elvish hooded cloaks not unlike St. Paul's amour in Ephesians 6:10-17 to fight against evil. Tolkien disliked allegory; so the cloaks are not exactly like St. Paul's amour of salvation. But they do have mystical traits of great aid that keep them safe in their battle with evil.

      A Catholic Core


      The Lord of the Rings is firmly Catholic, in it's view of good versus evil, as was Tolkien himself.
    11. There are sacraments not symbols. For their journey, Galadriel graciously bestows upon the Fellowship — a representation of the church — seven mystical gifts; no mere symbols these, but glimmering reflections of the Church's seven sacraments — the conveying of spiritual grace through temporal rites. And at her Mirror, Galadriel derides the Reformers' taunt of Eucharistic magic in the Mass when she says: "For this is what your folk would call magic, I believe; though I do not understand clearly what they mean; and they seem to use the same words for the deceits of the enemy."
    12. As grace and creation is experienced through a sacrament, so control and destruction is experienced through an anti-sacrament — the One Ring.The ring that Frodo bears is not symbolic, but rather operates as an anti-sacrament. Dependent on a person's spiritual disosition, a sacrament literally allows grace and life to flow into a person through the physical realm. Likewise in Middle-earth, the characters' spiritual disposition makes them more or less susceptible to the anti-sacrament power of the ring, which if worn, literally brings evil and destruction upon the bearer.
    13. The protagonists pursue absolutes, rejecting any willingness to compromise or relativize. In Middle-earth there is an absoluteness of what is right and wrong. There is no hint of moral relativism that separates the different peoples, races, or creators of the freelands. Aragorn says "Good and ill have not changed since yesteryear; nor are they one thing among Elves and Dwarves and another among men." )
    14. The protagonists embrace suffering as a requirement of working out their salvation. It isn't enough to simply believe or have faith to be free of the tyranny of evil each of our protagonists must sacrifice, and work hard through great peril to secure their salvation and the right ordering of their world.

    15. The Shire, described as the ideal community, reflects the social teachings of Catholicism. The Hobbits benefit from a community structure with little formal organization and less conflict. They work only enough to survive and otherwise enjoy each other's company. There is no jealousy, no greed, and rarely does anyone do anything unexpected. There is a wholeness and graciousness about it that seems to come naturally out of selflessness.
    16. Gandalf, the steward of all things good in the world, reflects the papacy. Gandalf is leader of the free and faithful. He is steward of all things good in the world. As the Popes of history did with kings and emperors of our world, so Gandalf crowns the king and blesses him to rule with justice and peace.
    17. Middle-earth ideology reflects a corporate moral hierarchy and not individualism.There is no democracy or republic in Middle-earth. There are spiritual leaders like Gandalf, and Kings like Theoden and Elessar with lords and vassals. There is no defense of individualism, no claim of choice, and no justification for an individual to follow his conscience. Good is good and evil is evil.
    18. There is a mystical Lady, like The Blessed Mother, who responds miraculously to pleas for help.The Lady is named Varda (or in Elvish, Elbereth or star-queen) and although she is never seen, she's is described as holy and queenly; and when her name is invoked — "O Elbereth! Gilthoniel! — as Frodo and Sam do onoccasion, miracles follow that protect the quest and defeat the present enemy.
    19. The sign of the cross.At the end of the first movie (and the beginning of the second book) Aragorn kneels beside the mortally wounded Boromir — and as he dies, Aragorn makes a rudimentary sign of the cross touching first his forehead and then his lips. It is a salute to the One who created all. The silmarillion mentions this creator they all acknowledge.
    20. There is a last sharing of cup and bread, not unlike O.T. manna and its fulfillment in The Eucharist.Before the Fellowship departs, Galadriel bids each to participate in a farewell ritual and drink from a common cup. More significant is the mystical Elvish food is given to the fellowship — lembas or waybread. A small amount of this supernatural nourishment will sustain a traveler fo many days, as in the Catholic mass.
    This is a very basic and simple explanation, but if you study and read a lot about Mr Tolkien himself, you will realise that that the religion that inspired LOTRO was his own Catholic faith, the symbolism of which is literally littered throughout everything he ever wrote. LOTR is thoroughly Catholic and Christian.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Carolas View Post
    Connected to that, I was trying to think if there is anyone (at least amongst the named characters) left in Middle Earth by the War of the Ring who has actually seen the Valar, other than the Istari and Sauron of course. Cirdan I'm pretty sure of. Even Galadriel, while she is a Noldor of Feanor's family I'm not 100% sure she was born in Valinor (I should look this up).
    Galadriel was indeed born in the Undying Lands. When Feanor led his kin to Middle-earth in search of the Silmarilli, Galadriel went along, not as a fellow rebel, but in hopes of finding a land of her own which she could rule. Her status as a non-rebel is among the reasons (along with her having refused the Ring when it was offered to her) that she was allowed to return to Aman.

    I suppose Glorfindel might count, depending on which version of his lore you agree with.
    Glorfindel died at the end of the First Age and returned to Middle-earth. I'm assuming he came back because he was needed, just as the Istari were sent because they were needed, but I don't have textual evidence. Still, wherever Glorfindel was born, he has been in Aman and seen the Valar.

    I think there's the son of Feanor that is still mooning after a Silmaril (Maeglos?). After that, I'm not sure if there are any left.
    No, Feanor and his sons have gone to the Halls of Mandos, and where they are now, the Silmarillion does not tell us.




    The other possibility is that he is based on some half-remembered version of Orome.[/QUOTE]
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    There is, but it's not mentioned directly in the Lord of the Rings books. You'll have to read Tolkiens OTHER books about Middle-Earth to get the full picture. LOTR is just a very vague description of Tolkien's world.

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    Quote Originally Posted by djheydt View Post
    Galadriel was indeed born in the Undying Lands. When Feanor led his kin to Middle-earth in search of the Silmarilli, Galadriel went along, not as a fellow rebel, but in hopes of finding a land of her own which she could rule. Her status as a non-rebel is among the reasons (along with her having refused the Ring when it was offered to her) that she was allowed to return to Aman.
    And she specifically did NOT swear the oath that Feanor bound his supporters with.

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    Keep in mind that people with a strong religious affiliation will often go to great lengths to fit anything they personally like into their world view. There are those who will go on and on about LotR being a "biblical" adventure, or a catholic story -- Tolkien was certainly rooted in catholicism, but he was also exceptionally (one might say uniquely) well-versed in the histories, mythologies, lore, languages, and traditions of a number of Germanic and Northern Germanic (basically Scandinavian) peoples. He drew inspiration from a wide range of literary traditions. For every point-by-point list demonstrating whatever christian symbolism there is, a similar list could be composed for many other mythologies of which he knew. A few of us once worked up such a list, but there was a great forum purge and some things that should not have been forgotten were lost. The Human experience is universal, and at the core we have the same hopes, fears, and dreams which by necessity come out in our stories, regardless of happenstance of birthplace.

    It's been said -- read the Silmarillion, there is much there that pertains to the question you pose. Note however that this tome is not to every reader's taste, and it's a very different feel than LotR or The Hobbit. I've read it years ago, but don't think I would do so again. I have been known now and again to slip Blind Guardian's Nightfall in Middle Earth into the CD player before a long drive.

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    As you can probably tell already by the variety of replies, much of this is open to interpretation.

    The Silmarillion IS a very heavy read and not exactly easy to swallow, but there's plenty of summaries online and short(ish) snips that can give you enough knowledge to draw your own conclusions.

    I have a short -1 page- essay I wrote on this for a University literature class on a 'pop quiz' day, if you want .
    And then, forever remains that change from G to E minor.

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    I know my character exclaims 'By Eru!' at times.

    He doesn't pray or worship, but he recognizes the existance of greater powers and the greatest among them all.

 

 
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