A well-known literary society that promotes the works of author J.R.R. Tolkien will hold a seminar July 3-4 to examine “diversity” within Tolkien’s stories, including the possibility of transgender and other LGBT characters.
The Tolkien Society Summer Seminar will be held virtually by the Tolkien Society, which was founded in 1969. Tolkien himself served as its president. His most famous works are The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings series. Both were made into movies.
“Representation is now more important than ever, and Tolkien’s efforts to represent (or ignore) particular characteristics requires further examination,” the Tolkien Society website says. “Spurred by recent interpretations of Tolkien’s creations and the cast list of the upcoming Amazon show The Lord of the Rings, it is crucial we discuss the theme of diversity in relation to Tolkien.”
A program schedule includes more than 15 topics, including “Gondor in Transition: A Brief Introduction to Transgender Realities in The Lord of the Rings,” “The Lossoth: Indigeneity, Identity, and Antiracism,” “Pardoning Saruman?: The Queer in Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings,” “Queer Atheists, Agnostics, and Animists, Oh, My!” and “Destabilizing Cishetero Amatonormativity in the Works of Tolkien.”
Theologian Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., criticized the society for holding the seminar.
“This is deconstruction, which means basically tearing down an entire literary edifice, such that the intention of the author and the words of the author are understood themselves to be a part of an oppressive cycle from which this kind of theorizing is supposed to liberate us,” Mohler said on his podcast, The Briefing. “What it liberates us to is absolute nonsense and the sexual ideologies of our day.”
Tolkien “wrote out of the historic Christian worldview” even as “he created an alternative universe that represented his own way of telling the human story, a human story that he actually personally believed in ways that were consonant with historic Christianity,” Mohler asserted.
The Tolkien Society is promoting “critical theory,” which Mohler argued, “undermines any understanding of objective truth and the authority of a text.”
“J.R.R. Tolkien wrote against the deconstruction of meaning and the subversion of morality of the modern age,” Mohler said. “Thus, you would think that any serious society that would be established in his honor would also honor him by continuing his understanding of the basic worldview that was necessary for Western civilization, but sadly you would be wrong.”
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Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.