The Artistic Sphere

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Tolkien: Salvation Through Loss - by Sir Martin Donnelly

In his Lord of the Rings trilogy, and wider writing about Middle Earth, Tolkien creates a set of characters who in their different way face profound personal choices. Only if they choose the good can it prevail. But that choice involves loss and sadness which are equally deep. To choose rightly does not necessarily lead to personal fulfilment, often it requires further sacrifice. There is no final outcome promising that all will be well, only the right to maintain such choices in the future. Indeed Tolkien shows us through his narrative that morally right individual choices often lead to our being personally diminished, unable to return to the life and satisfaction that we enjoyed before being faced with such challenges. Although himself a devout Christian, his own moral view involves a deep sadness that infuses his world and its characters. There is a wider hope of joy and bliss, but not necessarily for each of us as we now are.

Sir Martin Eugene Donnelly KCB CMG is a former British civil servant. He was Permanent Secretary of the Department for International Trade and Permanent Secretary at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), until leaving the Civil Service in March 2017.