How I Imagine Meeting Tolkien and Some Other Amazing Writers and Storytellers
My Very Serious, Very Adult Day Dream
This confession might seem strange, but sometimes I fantasize about returning to the Catholic church. Certain aspects about Catholicism continue to enchant me – the scholasticism with its host of theological studies and thoughts on the nature of the trinity, for one, the smell of incense used during the masses leading up to Easter, the joy of being doused with water as part of the mass (so funny to see some of your elders being sprinkled with water!) and the awkward, forced sign of the peace that always makes everyone uncomfortable.
The beauty of the Easter Vigil (I still remember the giddy feeling I had when I walked into the church carrying fire as part of my confirmation) arouses my wonder at all the rituals steeped in symbolism and history, all appealing to my mystical side. Consequently, I'm stoked to be going to the Easter Vigil as my lovable new step-dad is being confirmed. He is doing this for my mom, which is quite humorous as the woman didn't even ask him and herself goes to a Protestant church occasionally. Although I've had my own frustrating experiences with the Catholic church (going to a Catholic high school meant getting detention for an untucked shirt to say the least), some aspects about it still seem beautiful to me. Yet the one gem that Catholicism holds in its hand that will cause me unceasing doubt – even turmoil! – to the end of my days is J.R.R. Tolkien, a Catholic. And I am not.
Although Tolkien is dead, I used to always imagine that I would see him in heaven. Heaven seemed so appealing if it meant Tolkien was there. In my past imaginings of heaven, I would hug my dad, say the customary hello to Jesus, and then abashedly peep around, looking for Tolkien. How could I not want to find the one who gave me the book that made junior high bearable and life beautiful? But right when I would find him, the fantasy would ground to a screeching halt. What would someone like Tolkien say to one such as I, a non-practicing former Catholic? Although I've read some of his letters and believe him to be such a sweet, amazing man, I sometimes wonder if he would feel disappointed in me or that somehow my non-Catholicism would be a cause for some ire.
Standing before him, I would somehow forget all my frustrations and anger at the Church but instead see only its beauty because it would be beautiful to him. Besides, in my imaginary heaven, only beauty would gleam out of what once seemed so dark on earth. At this point, I would feel this heavy weight of sadness. Silly me! How could I not be Catholic for one such as Tolkien? The fantasy always ends right before we can sit down and have a good chat (and this after I pay homage to him for giving us such an amazing book). In the moments after the fantasy would end, I would think very seriously about going back. Being all right with God is kind of important to theology, I guess, but who was going to help me be all right with Tolkien?! Being a ringer, you can surely see the plight I'm in!
Unfortunately, the situation has become a bit more complicated as these days, I'm now fantasizing about having Mormon missionaries coming to my door and converting me. This wouldn't happen, much to my dismay. Religion is like a sandbox in which I no longer wish to play. Yet I always imagine that somehow my conversion would mean meeting Orson Scott Card – the man is a genius! – Stephenie Meyer – (not only do I admire her story-telling, but she seems so nice AND we have the English major bond), and lately, Brandon Sanderson – (I've developed something of a writing awe for the man just from listening to him on Writing Excuses). The man wrote thirteen books before he finally got it right! They are all Mormons and they're insight and spirituality in literature fascinates me! Plus, I see in them aspects that I admire.
In my dream, we would talk about their books and the spiritual themes running through them. I'm in love with the nun in Ender's Shadow, for one, who is hilarious and beautiful. Plus Card somehow manages to humanize even the antagonists, making them realistic instead of just flat one-dimensional beings. Peter in Ender's Game is one of the most haunting antagonists running through my mind. Stephenie Meyer's Carlisle is also an interesting story about becoming good after watching all the evils and horrors done in the name of religion. And Sanderson (whose work I have yet to read, but the Way of Kings has been calling my name for a while) also might add some insight into the discussion as the opening of the Way of Kings deals with dying many times. Having read their works, it would be interesting to learn more about how these writers came to the perspective and insight that they did -- and I'm certain they would have some amazing stories!
Then we would talk about the story writing process, and I would get a few pointers that would help me finally finish my novel. I think I could relate to Meyer the most on this one, as her writing process seems similar to mine. It seems we both have the need to just get alone in our head to just write. And we must be inspired! Or maybe we would just shoot the breeze and talk about something random. Yet in actuality, it would probably not go over very well – me, converting just to meet them. I probably would feel the crushing indemnity of my guilt mixed with a certain adolescent immaturity thrown in. Besides, there has to be some kind of spiritual consequence for my inauthentic conversions. But just what can I say? I have to carry some impish fantasy into this adulthood, otherwise I'll just become frightfully dull.
After I am done with my wistful longings, I return back to being just me, striving to write something beautiful and think deeper about humanity. Maybe if I ever meet such amazing writers, I will finally be a published novelist myself and I won't feel like some moonstruck, no-nothing girl. Till then, I keep dreaming and writing silly tidbits about my inner turmoil. Alas, is me!
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