J.R.R. Tolkien -- Enemy of Progress

Salon: A noted science fiction author traces humanity's fascination with Romantic heroes, from the Norse and Greek epics through the Middle Ages, Reformation, and Enlightenment, and into one of the 20th Century's modern myths. Think Tolkien has nothing to do with the SCA? To see this man's legacy within the SCA, one need only look as far as the Royalty's response to the Oath of Fealty, as quoted in many kingdoms: "This do We hear, and shall never forget, nor fail to reward that which is given: Fealty with Love, Service with Honor, and Oathbreaking with Vengeance." This passage is almost a direct quote from Return of the King.

In this lengthy, but quite interesting, essay, David Brin retraces the Romantic tradition historically and then discusses some of our Romantic notions of kings and gods and heroes in the context of modern civilization. Brin concludes that we can learn a lot about ourselves by viewing such legends from other perspectives than the obvious, and in the process, encourages us to challenge our own assumptions about good and evil.