A symposium. (Weigh in!)
You may have noticed that the cast for the new Star Wars movie has been announced. Seizing the opportunity, we thought we’d take a break from articles about the future of the culture wars, Earth Day, and how to be an effective charitable giver, and deal with a REALLY important question:
Which provides a more morally complex universe: Star Wars or Lord of the Rings?
On one level, this is just fanboy fun. But as you’ll see in the essays below, it’s also a magnificent exercise in exploring how myth can sharpen how we see our own world–both as it is, and as it ought to be.
Enjoy! Please leave your feedback in the comments below–and if you think there’s an important argument that hasn’t been made that needs longer treatment, submit your own.
When you’ve read the essays, be sure to scroll to the bottom and VOTE!
May the Force be with you,
P.S. New to Humane Pursuits? We’re a community of imaginative people, dissatisfied with a lot of what we see in the world, exploring and imagining how we can live rounded lives in the modern boxes in which we find ourselves. Learn more about us here. If you’d like to support what we do by writing or donating, contact us at editors [at] humanepursuits.com.
Only Star Wars adequately answers this question through its plot.
Mos Eisley, the Green Dragon. Star Wars is a reflection of our world. Lord of the Rings is an antidote to it.
A little literary analysis reveals vastly superior depths in Tolkien’s characters.
A look at how each story views history.
The Lord of the Rings is like Caravaggio – high contrast, drama, and tenebrous lighting as symbols for morality’s definition and simplicity.
John Brewer Eberly
Morality and Fantasy – Alexander Hwang
Characters with Consequence – Casey Rath
A Less Elegant Moral Universe for a Less Civilized Age – Patrick Brown
A World Where Feelings Are King – Sean Hadley
Darth Vader and Solzhenitsyn – Nathaniel Torrey
The Church Needs Hobbits – Brian Brown
It Depends – Peter Schellhase
A Constellation of Worldviews – Jeff Hart
Harmony is Better than Balance – Luke Westcott
Glimpses of a Redeemer in Lord of the Rings – Riley Strong
When Competing Moral Claims Get in a Fistfight – Jonathan Bales
Based on the thoughts you’ve read, which universe is more morally complex? Share this page to unlock the poll.
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At Humane Pursuits, we want to be the explorers of an ancient originality, rediscovering the work of being human in 21st century America. Our approach is to thread the yearnings of our generation through the most compelling ideas of civilization, remembering our late and limited place in the flow of those ideas. On this site, we bring together the most imaginative minds of our time with the wisest minds of all time; exploring community, art, faith, and other topics. In this continuous tapestry, we seek—in a very real, concrete sense—how to live lives and build communities in modern America that reflect the pursuits that make life worth living…humane pursuits.