CESNUR - center for studies on new religions

Tolkien and The Lord of the Rings Saga

Baptists find morality in first 'Rings' movie

(Register-Guard, December 22, 2001)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Some conservative Christians have attacked the movie ``Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone'' and related books by J. K. Rowling, claiming they foster occult religion. But two Southern Baptist theologians are hailing J.R.R. Tolkien's ``Lord of the Rings'' fantasies.

``Fellowship of the Ring,'' the first of three movies based on the Tolkien books, is out this week and already being touted as Oscar material.

President R. Albert Mohler Jr. and professor James Parker of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary noted in a radio discussion reported by their denomination's Baptist Press agency that the novels of Rowling and Tolkien both include magic.

But they said Tolkien was an orthodox Christian believer whose theology and values were the opposite of those in Harry Potter.

Tolkien's wizard, Gandalf, is a kind of archangel sent from God who has special abilities to help people, Parker said, while the Potter wizard is a supernaturally empowered human being who performs magic that can be used for selfish or evil purposes.

Tolkien's mythical Middle-earth reflects the Christian understanding of reality, Parker said. That includes accountability to God and a sharp distinction between right and wrong, he said, while there's moral fuzziness in the Potter books.

Other Christians have defended the Potter books as moral, or harmless. Rowling calls the religious complaints ``absurd.''

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