Tolkien and Abuse

Recently, a post in highlighted J.R.R. Tolkien’s lesser-known references to the impact of failures in the Church on faith. The comments may prove helpful to our readers.

In his August 28, 2018 post entitled “J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lost Prophetic Message on Abuse in the Church,” Billy Ryan pulled excerpts from a letter Tolkien wrote to his son, noting how 55 years ago Tolkien was talking about having an “unwavering faith despite grave scandal in the clergy.”

Two excerpts from Letter 250, The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien:

Besides the Sun there may be moonlight but if the Sun were removed there would be no Moon to see. What would Christianity now be if the Roman Church has in fact been destroyed?

Our love may be chilled and our will eroded by the spectacle of the shortcomings, folly, and even sins of the Church and its ministers, but I do not think that one who has once had faith goes back over the line for these reasons.

There is much more in Billy Ryan’s blogpost, including the centrality of the Eucharist for withstanding the downward pull of scandals and ecclesiastical failures on faith. This observation echoes what many survivors of clergy abuse describe – the centrality of the Eucharist that drew us back to the Church despite its terribly hurtful and damaging role when we were younger.

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