#400… sci., RELIG., etc.: “J. R. Tolkein on Love”


[This is the 400th post published by adozenseconds.com at the rate of 3 per week (MWF). To date, we haven’t missed a deadline…For more (in this case), go to the ♣ at the very end.]





Much to say, of course…


Here’s more (Part 2)

0n what Tolkein has to say.


For more go through the DOOR

(but close it behind you).




    In a letter to his son Michael, Tolkein makes some comments [according to Cuzman¹who quotes him] from which many modern men have been sheltered in their narrow, secular-oriented lives. [We’ll fiddle with Cuzman’s text with color and boldface, in case you’re a slow reader and you’re skimming  fast because your “dozen seconds” come and go too quickly.]

Men are not [monogamous]. No good pretending. Men just ain’t, not by their animal nature. Monogamy (although it has long been fundamental to our inherited ideas) is for us men a piece of ‘revealed ethic, according to faith and not the flesh. The essence of a fallen world is that the best cannot be attained by free enjoyment, or by what is called “self-realization” (usually a nice name for self-indulgence, wholly inimical to the realization of other selves); but by denial, by suffering. Faithfulness in Christian marriages entails that: great mortification².

For a Christian man there is no escape. Marriage may help to sanctify and direct to its proper object his sexual desires; its grace may help him in the struggle; but the struggle remains. It will not satisfy him—as hunger may be kept off by regular meals. It will offer as many difficulties to the purity proper to that state as it provides easements.

No man, however truly he loved his betrothed and bride as a young man, lived faithful to her as a wife in mind and body without deliberate conscious exercise of the will, without self-denial. Too few are told that—even those brought up in ‘the Church’. Those outside seem seldom to have heard it.

When the glamour wears off, or merely works a bit thin, they think that they have made a mistake, and that the real soul-mate is still to find. The real soul-mate too often proves to be the next sexually attractive person that comes along. Someone whom they might indeed very profitably have married, if only—. Hence divorce, to provide the ‘if only’.

And of course they are as a rule quite right: they did make a mistake. Only a very wise man at the end of his life could make a sound judgement concerning whom, amongst the total possible chances, he ought most profitably have married! Nearly all marriages, even happy ones, are mistakes: in the sense that almost certainly (in a more perfect world, or even with a little more care in this very imperfect one) both partners might have found more suitable mates. But the ‘real soul-mate’ is the one you are actually married to. In this fallen world, we have as our only guides, prudence, wisdom (rare in youth, too late in age), a clean heart, and fidelity of will…


   ¹ Sam Cuzman, founder and editor of The Catholic Gentleman, presents this in a July 13, 2015 post, quoting from The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkein (pp. 51-52). Though we are not Roman Catholics, we recommend that you examine this site [ catholicgentlemen.net ] for yourself that we’ve generously drawn from. Further, by clicking on PREV at the upper left of our screen, you can go back one post to the first part of Tolkein’s comments in our discussion on Love. Our two posts, or the post at Guzman’s website, would be good material to discuss at a Christian small group Bible study.

   ² This would be using Oxford’s second definition: “2 – the action of subduing one’s bodily desires: mortification of the flesh has a long tradition in some religions.”


[♣ About our history of posting, at 3 per week: Be aware of our great weakness–being too broad and general. To help with that we’ve established 9 different archives–SCIENCE, RELIGION, PHILOSOPHY, LANGUAGE, sources, events, facts, observations, curiosities–as well as a chronological one. Further, some articles are archived in more than one place (e.g. SCIENCE & RELIGION). The archives in caps denote major interests of the site; lower case archives hold posts that don’t easily fit elsewhere. A bit sloppy, a bit focused. Some readers enjoy the oddball stuff best, and so chase down “curiosities”; some are most interested in SCIENCE or RELIGION or how they go together, and so go to those categories, ignoring the rest. That’s fine. After a “dozen seconds” (or less) go on with the rest of your life. So an archival search that follows your main interest is quite easy. But if you occasionally strike out in our ballpark, because the action isn’t that exciting, come back for a return game.]



Author: John Knapp