The queering of J.R.R. Tolkien

By Jonathon Van Maren

It was inevitable that the LGBT movement would eventually come for J.R.R. Tolkien. Those cultural figures too towering to be toppled must be co-opted to serve the new ideology: their work misinterpreted; their lives pored over for anything that can be called “queer”; their work transformed beyond all recognition. In short, they must transition. Truth does not matter—we can now identify things precisely as we choose to.

Thus, the Tolkien Society is hosting a conference in July called “Tolkien and Diversity.” The Catholic author’s work is being appropriated by the woke, and for two days, an epic literary vandalization is unfolding. Consider just a few of the lectures:

  • Cordeliah Logsdon – Gondor in Transition: A Brief Introduction to Transgender Realities in The Lord of the Rings
  • V. Elizabeth King – “The Burnt Hand Teaches Most About Fire”: Applying Traumatic Stress and Ecological Frameworks to Narratives of Displacement and Resettlement Across Cultures in Tolkien’s Middle-earth
  • Christopher Vaccaro – Pardoning Saruman?: The Queer in Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings
  • Sultana Raza – Projecting Indian Myths, Culture and History onto Tolkien’s Worlds
  • Nicholas Birns – The Lossoth: Indigeneity, Identity, and Antiracism
  • Kristine Larsen – The Problematic Perimeters of Elrond Half-elven and Ronald English-Catholic
  • Cami Agan – Hearkening to the Other: Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth
  • Sara Brown – The Invisible Other: Tolkien’s Dwarf-Women and the ‘Feminine Lack’
  • Sonali Chunodkar – Desire of the Ring: An Indian Academic’s Adventures in her Quest for the Perilous Realm
  • Robin Reid – Queer Atheists, Agnostics, and Animists, Oh, My!
  • Danna Petersen-Deeprose – “Something Mighty Queer”: Destabilizing Cishetero Amatonormativity in the Works of Tolkien

It is odd timing that I stumbled across that list just as I was reading philosopher Peter Kreeft’s latest book How to Destroy Western Civilization. It contains an essay titled “Lewis, Tolkien, and the Culture Wars,” in which Kreeft lays out why Lord of the Rings is the story of our times—and that Tolkien intended it that way. “If we read Tolkien’s masterpiece thoughtfully, we will find in its pages…wartime wisdom,” Kreeft writes. “The Lord of the Rings is not an allegory, of course, but it is a myth; and a myth is more, not less, than an allegory in its applicability, for a myth is universal, applicable to many situations, while an allegory is applicable to just one.”

“The setting is neither mythical nor allegorical but literal,” Kreeft went on. “We still live in Tolkien’s Middle Earth. We live literally in Tolkien’s world. It is the only one we know, the one designed by God, the same God, the only God we know, and designed according to the same principles, the only principles we know…and therefore it has the same truths embedded in all its events, especially its wars, including its culture wars. Here, too, victory depends on friendship and loyalty and courage and perseverance and gift-giving and sacrifice and promise-keeping more than on power or cleverness, control or foresight. And it depends on the foolishness of trusting great tasks to humble hobbits.”

I wonder if Kreeft has seen the lineup of lectures from the Tolkien Society yet. He ended his musing on Tolkien by writing that: “Some day perhaps someone will write a book about this strange philosophy of Tolkien. Perhaps they will call it The Philosophy of Tolkien. Perhaps some will actually read it. Perhaps they will even live it.” Kreeft, of course, wrote that book himself. He beat the queer theorists to the punch by laying out what Tolkien actually meant rather than those who would Gollumize the great man would like him to have said.

The culture wars are real wars, and millions of babies have already been killed and untold lives have already been destroyed. A full accounting of the destruction of the sexual revolution does not yet exist, but perhaps some day, on the far side of this century, someone will sit down and write it. “When you return to the lands of the living, and we retell our tales, sitting by a wall in the sun, laughing at old grief, you shall tell me then,” Faramir said to Frodo. And so it was.

There are a few lines from Tolkien that one of my pro-life colleagues and I have often quoted to each other after long days of pro-life activism and strategizing that never cease to bring a laugh and a smile. “There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while,” Tolkien wrote. “The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.”

And so it is.


2 thoughts on “The queering of J.R.R. Tolkien

  1. Kyle says:

    Tolkien was so Catholic that when the Mass was started to be offered in the vernacular in the 1960’s he could still be heard reciting the responses stubbornly and loudly in Latin.

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