I want to divide my talk into four themes:
Indeed, in his Foreword to instead of allegory he said
Barnard’s photograph, taken in those same days, says that Atlanta is taken, that Sherman is victorious, and that the war needs to be fought to its conclusion. The proof is in the photographic glass, in the stone and rail and wood, and in the man at the center of the ash. Neither black nor white (it is impossible to tell his race), he solemnly acknowledges the massive destruction of the southern war machine and makes the case implicitly for more of the same violence as the only way to bring peace. In Photographic Views of Sherman’s Campaign, true enough, there will be many scenes of obliteration still to come after the Destruction of Hood’s Ordnance Train. Relentlessly, the rebellion will be flattened to the ground. When it is not flattened, picturesque windows will be left in its broken walls only so that the viewer can examine how little of the defeated place still exists. On September 12, Sherman wrote to the mayor of Atlanta, who had implored him to stop bombarding the city: “You might as well appeal against the thunder storm as against these terrible hardships of war.”
There is no self-understanding without God-understanding.
Tolkien’s decision not to invent an eternal destiny for the elves or orcs or dwarves helps him avoid creating a new theology. Men do have a destiny beyond the grave (and there is no reason to suspect that this is not a similar destiny to that which Christians believe comes after death). Tolkien does not put the elves on a par with God. Here, surely, are the angelic hosts, the cherubim and seraphim, who make up the heavenly order and whose history sometimes meets our own. Lothlorien is their domain: and here "no blemish or sickness or deformity could be seen…On the land of Lorien there was no stain."