Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Russian Orthodox Church Versus Sauron

No battle between the Dark Lord Sauron and the Russian Orthodox Church can be found in the works of J. R. R. Tolkien - not even in the Silmarillion. But that has not stopped the church from being angered by a Moscow property company's plan to place a replica of the Eye of Sauron as seen in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films on top of one of their skyscrapers. The Eye is a publicity stunt intended to coincide with the release of Jackson's final Hobbit movie. But the church fears that the replica will have evil powers.

A property company plans to raise what resembles a giant glowing eye on the 21st floor of a skyscraper this week to celebrate the release of the final part of Peter Jackson’s movie adaptation of The Hobbit.

In The Hobbit and also in Tolkien’s subsequent trilogy, Lord of the Rings, the Eye of Sauron is a giant flaming eye controlled by the “dark lord” Sauron, which allows him to watch anyone who puts on the fateful, power-giving ring at the novels’ center.

The installation is planned as a 1 metre (3.3 foot) sphere on top of a 21 storey building, with a light show projected from behind to create a 3-D effect, said Polina Murova, a spokeswoman for the property company behind the stunt.

But for the Russian Orthodox Church, the evil eye is no fiction. “This is a demonic symbol,” the Russian Orthodox Church’s head of public affairs, Vsevolod Chaplin, told Govorit Moskva radio station.

“Such a symbol of the triumph of evil is rising up over the city, becoming practically the highest object in the city. Is that good or bad? I’m afraid it’s more likely bad. Just don’t be surprised later if something goes wrong with the city.”

Let's break this down a bit. Tolkien's works are incredibly detailed and based on a back story as complex as any real-world mythology, but the bottom line is that they are fiction. There's no such thing as Sauron; he's a character from a series of books adapted into movies. As such, the idea that an image associated with a fictional evil character will create real-world evil is quite simply ridiculous. The Eye may be demonic in the context of Tolkien's invented mythology, but otherwise not so much.

More than anything else, this reminds me of fundamentalists who wanted the Harry Potter books banned because they were afraid kids would learn and practice the spells in them. You know, the completely fictional spells that any occultist would tell you do absolutely nothing. If the church wants to do battle against evil, it seems to me that there are enough real problems in the world that fictional ones should not be worth their time.

UPDATE: On the evening of December 10th it was announced that the property company has decided to forego the stunt due to pressure from the church and city leaders. It's really sad to see such nonsense taken seriously. At the same time, though, it may be that with the unexpected controversy the stunt would not have had the desired effect and been counterproductive to the company's image.

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3 comments:

Morgan Eckstein said...

Ok, I know that the following statement is wrong, but I am going to say it anyways:

Their whole religion is based on a work of fiction (the Bible), therefore of course, other works of fiction can do evil in their universe.

Scott Stenwick said...

Sure, it may be wrong, but it is the perfect thing to say if you want to ridicule folks like this. And they should be ridiculed.

However, I do think that grimoire magicians have found that they can work with spirits from Biblical cosmology and that they have an objective presence. That's a little different than trying to conjure a made-up entity like Sauron.

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