From the immortal spirits of Ainur, to the race of Woses, Middle Earth is richly peopled. Although each of the principle races, Elves, Hobbits, Men, Dwarves, Ents and Orcs interact heavily in Tolkien’s tales, the various peoples of Middle Earth have a distinctiveness to them. Where one race is earthy and concerned more with the roots of a garden than the roots of an ancient war, another concerns itself with forgotten arts and knowledge of creation. One race may live their lives over the course of 80 years while another grasps immortality.
In many ways, Middle Earth functions like the Catholic Church—and that’s no mistake, since Tolkien was an apt and brilliantly creative Catholic.
Likewise, the various peoples begin to resemble religious orders. It makes me wonder, then, what race would make for the best Benedictines and which order would Elves be drawn to? Which order would grow the finest Old Toby?
Learn now the lore of Living Creatures!The Long List of the Ents – The Two Towers – J.R.R. Tolkien
First name the four, the free peoples:
Eldest of all, the elf-children;
Dwarf the delver, dark are his houses;
Ent the earthborn, old as mountains;
Man the mortal, master of horses.
Diocesan priests stand as the guardians of the parish. Though, by definition, they are secular, not religious, they have the pride of place. For almost as long as the Catholic Church has had bishops, her bishops have had their presbyters.
Though rarely popular, there was a brief stint where Bing Crosby, as Fr. O’Malley, raised their profile, diocesan priests have lived much like the Woses, or Drúedain, black eyed wild men who lived within reach of the society of other men, protecting it from Orcs. The Drúedain were often misunderstood, maligned and attacked for their appearance, but faithfully guarded the cities and tribes of men.
Longer lived than ordinary men are the Dúnedain. Descended from the Númenóreans, they to came Middle Earth after the loss of the island of Númenor. Because of their connection to the older race of Númenóreans, they are caught between two worlds. In many ways they are like the Fraternal Society of St. Peter (FSSP). The FSSP live lives similar to Diocesan priests, but within a religious order. Like the Dúnedain, they are men of memory, dedicated to the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. With the black eyed Drúedain they protect the cities of men from the ravaging of the Orcs.
Elves are the eldest of the free peoples of Middle Earth and are essentially immortal. Because of their endless lifespans, they are not as concerned with the minutiae of the lives and seasons that pass around them as they are with eternal realities and ancient knowledge. Thomas Aquinas, Dominican friar, would have fit in well, spending long years discussing and debating the nature of the creator. The Black Friars themselves, founders of so man universities would have felt at home among the stone walls of Rivendell.
Toiling beneath mountains, turning dirt and stone, dwarves pass the ages in each of precious jewels and metals. They are a secluded race, hidden away together in their tunnels. They would have much to talk about with the Benedictines and Cistercians. These two closely related orders are familiar with the cloisters of the monastic life, and the relentless search for hidden jewels in the practice of Lectio Divina. Verse by verse these monastics slowly work through the words of scripture. They sift more than they dig, and they search diligently for a word from God.
The Hobbits, halflings, are tied to the land. They are known for their love of nature, pipe tobacco and their bare feet. There are three distinct ‘families’ of hobbits, the Harfoots, Stoors and Fallohides. Much like the orders of Franciscans, only God knows how many Harfoots there are, being by far the most numerous of the Hobbits. And the barefooted Fallowhides, with their close relationship with the elves, and their interest in the eternal mysteries, would match temperament with Carmelites like St Theresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross. Both of these orders, like their halfling brethren are known for care of nature, simple living and jovial tempers.
Ents, unique among the free peoples are tree-like creatures, who act as shepherds for the forest. Speaking rarely, and slowly when they do, Ents are largely solitary creatures, but do share some communal life similar to the hermetical life of the Carthusians who come together for prayers and weekly walks together for recreation. They are almost timeless and unchanging. Ents watch the ages pass and are usually unconcerned with the affairs of the world, so long as their forests remain undisturbed. The Carthusians live their lives today largely as they have for most of the last 1100 years. Their motto “Stat crux dum volvitur orbis” translates “The Cross is steady while the world is turning”.