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Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Answering Life's Childhood Questions Through Writing

J.R.R. Tolkien had a vision for his work which went beyond simply telling a good story set within a vivid world, similar but unlike our own. He wanted more than anything to create a national mythology for his country. He wanted Britain to have gods and heroes greater than mere mortals, but still relatable and flawed. (Really. I took a class on Tolkien. I'm not making this stuff up!) To that end, he drew on the culture of his own country and the myths and legends of other nations that he found admirable to create a unique world. It goes without saying that this was the birth of The Lord of the Rings.

As a child I always wondered what to make of the many pantheons, the many myths, the many creations of the world. I always struggled to somehow fit them all together into one universe, one faith. I remember once asking my mother if the other gods, Zeus, Thor, Amun-Ra, Shiva, were the extended family of God. His cousins and aunts and uncles, his brothers and sisters, his nieces and nephews. Could they all be related? Family? Friends?

Though my mother was quick to dissuade me, the idea never left my mind completely. Despite my Christian upbringing, I still wanted to find a way to make it all fit together. Not unlike Mr. Tolkien, I wanted to create a new mythology. This was God’s world, but I wanted to find a way to let the other gods live in it. I wanted to blend the existing myths and legends, gods and heroes, into one big family.

My journey to this end began with The Book of Genesis, and Adam and Eve. It was fueled by classes in Norse Mythology and Classical History.

I'll tell you this--but the rest you'll have to read in the book that I ended up writing-- the other gods are NOT God's extended and dysfunctional family. But it was a fun idea when I was a kid. I like the answer I discovered through writing my book better though, anyway, now that I'm an adult.

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