As I’ve been playing catch up reading some of my favorite blogs, which i am still horribly behind on (my apologies to those bloggers whom I follow), I’ve happened across a few that have been striking. One such post was from what is becoming one of my favorite blogs, Recovering Agnostic. The post was titled “Loss of Faith as Modeled in Lord of the Rings.” In this post there is, what I think is a clever analogy at work. In this writing the author seeks draw a comparison between a few of the various fortresses featured in the Lord of the Rings saga and how the way in which the defenses of each are penetrated is representative of the various methods and mechanisms in which one experiences the loss of faith. Helm’s Deep with its multi-tiered walls is likened to the slow and gradual slide from a conservative faith, to a liberal faith, culminating finally in a faith lost. Similarly, Mount Doom, with only a single heavily fortified line of defense, which when penetrated falls almost immediately, is symbolic of an abrupt and radical shift from firm faith to absolute atheism. It’s an interesting post that I recommend you read.
This whole idea sparked a few thoughts of my own and I could not help but comment upon the post. I though it also might be good to share them with you all here. Below you’ll find my remarks. I hope you’ll enjoy them as well the original post, which I hope you’ll read first.
I too, am well acquainted with the loss of faith. I have found my experience to be quite like what you described as the Helm’s Deep methodology, in which I passed through a immense liberalizing of theology and belief, eventually conceding to a loss of faith altogether and an accepting embrace of atheism.
What sprang to mind in this line of thinking (Models of losing faith illustrated by the Lord of the Rings) is yet another way, although I’m sure there are many more. Early on in your post you suggested that you were uncomfortable with the phraseology of “losing faith” because of its value laden implications, as it insinuates a loss of faith as negative in which would should rigidly refrain from the loss and if lost one should do everything within their power to find it once again. Perhaps then this third way I’m describing should be called the Frodo effect, in which the faith carried, like the ring itself, is a burden, an albatross around one’s neck, becoming too heavy and two shameful to bear. In this case, one is slowly being turned into someone they are not, progressively degrading into a monster yet, all the while becoming more and more consumed by it, believing it is the one all important possession that matters more than anything else. Yet, there will eventually come a point when they absolutely must abandon this faith, it must be cast into the fires of Mount doom and destroyed if they ever hope to survive, to remain sane, or to be well again. In this model is a battle to let it go and when it is gone there remains a hole that will never be fully filled and a wound that will never be fully healed. They know they are better off for having let it go but, the emptiness remains…