Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
Well, between the rash of campus cry-bully fascist incidents and the latest Islamist terror attacks in Paris, it hasn’t been a very good week for Western Civilization, has it?
Coincidentally, I read a book yesterday recommended to me by somebody in a Catholic FB group to which I belong, The Philosophy of Tolkien: The Worldview Behind The Lord Of The Rings by Peter J. Kreeft. The book is exactly what the title suggests. Kreeft organizes fifty different philosophical questions under thirteen different headings (metaphysics, philosophical theology, angelology, cosmology, and so forth). He then explores the questions themselves a bit deeper – giving some insight into Platonic and Aristotelean thought, for example – and shows how Tolkien wove his own answers to them into characters, themes, settings and plots within LOTR, sometimes also adding direct answers to the questions by Tolkien’s closest friend, C.S. Lewis.
It’s an awful lot of ground to cover in just over 200 pages and this is really nothing more than a quick survey, but it is thought-provoking, nonetheless. It’s been a year or two since I last went through the cycle. Having read this book, I can now go back with a fresh perspective. (Of course, Tolkien was classically educated and a devout Catholic and I already knew some of what Kreeft covers here. Nonetheless, he brought my attention to some other things I had not consciously noticed before.)
One thing Tolkien and Lewis were both absolutely opposed to was “Progressivism” in all its manifestations, the evil afflicting the Modern West which I hold directly responsible for both of the headlines mentioned above. Reading this book, you’ll either be heartened that there are still a few adults around (the author himself is firmly in Tolkien and Lewis’s camp) or else you’ll be mortified at just how far under the Wormtongue-like spell of Progressivism we’ve actually slid.
Incidentally, the cover blurb says that Kreeft is a philosophy professor at Boston College. How he’s so far escaped the tar and feathers of the Perennially Indignant writing this kind of thing is beyond me.