Since then, neo-pagans and new-age types have continued to embrace the Middle-earth mythology to varying degrees of insanity. There's even a religious group called the Elvin Holy Order of Mother Earth that runs the nerdiest sounding celebrations ever at their "sanctuary" in Indiana. This isn't surprising: After all, Tolkien even came up with his own set of gods, the Lords and Ladies of the Valar, which the characters in his books constantly pray and talk to.
But In Real Life ...
J.R.R. Tolkien was a Catholic. And not just a "go to church twice a year" Catholic, but a hardcore one who was so conservative that he reacted to changes in church services in the 1960s by storming out of the building. And Tolkien described Lord of the Rings as a fundamentally Catholic work.
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"And lo did he return three acts later."
Those Valar dudes? They're not gods, he said: They're more like angels, and anyone who thinks otherwise is dumb. According to him, pagan religions were "ultimately hopeless and futile," and his hippie fans were a "deplorable cultus" -- granted, this hostility might have been influenced by the fact that American fans repeatedly called Tolkien in the middle of the night to spout drug-fuelled ramblings about how they were at one with Tom Bombadil.