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Meanderings by josh m. shepherd: A Brief Middle-Earth History
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Righteous!The race of man, all his stories and personalities, came about in one thought by God. "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness," says Genesis 1:26. "Let them have dominion…" As the turtle from Finding Nemo might say: "Righteous, dude, we rule!"—but we did not. God placed Adam and Eve in a majestic garden, they screwed up, and we were cut us off from bliss. End of story, right?

Now that is Biblical distortion if I've ever heard it. Like Professor Tolkien, however, I think one gains more by taking some time arriving at the real ending.

The HeavensMiddle-earth has much the same history we do, only twisted a bit. Iluvatar (the eternal Deity in the Tolkien myths, also called Eru the One) reigned supreme in the Undying Lands of Aman and desired to create for His own joy. He first made Guardians for His future world: the Valar, a pantheon of sorts who aided Iluvatar.

(Some contend The Lord of the Rings is pagan because of the inclusion of plural "gods." But look at Psalm 82:6, where God is talking to humans—"I said, 'You are gods, and all of you are children of the Most High.'" Tolkien is not making a doctrinal statement, merely using the creative powers the Almighty vested in him.)

Some ElvesAfter being revealed plans by the One, the Guardians created Elves. These were the firstborn race and shared the One's immortality, nobility, and purity of spirit. The planet Arda (where Middle-earth is a large continent) was flat in those days, and the "heavenly continent" of Aman could be reached by sea. Thus, during the First Age, Elves sailed to Aman and received their own corner of the blissful Undying Lands.

Willing mentors they had in the Valar, who taught them many joys including speech, sight, and song. Music held a special place in the angelic world, for it was in symphony that each being's "thoughts and devices" were made known—in acknowledgement of their Creator. Harmonies and beauty flowed freely.

These concepts take some getting used to; theology sticklers may be downright offended. Yet through such a tale we see again what life is: the greatest story ever told, of worship and salvation by Divine grace. Of course, our story is like any other; we have an Enemy to be saved from. The Silmarillion gives Tolkien's take on the Fall.

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