Apple vs Kindle: What Would JRR Tolkien Do?
Jan 17, 2014
Tolkien truly loved nature and was suspicious throughout his life of machines. Although I am not aware if he ever communicated what standards he used to judge whether a particular "advancement" was a thing of Mordor or instead, worthy of the Elves, I think things like beauty, simplicity and "does no harm" would be high on his list.
The problem with such values is that they require two things our consumer culture does not tolerate well: patience and subtlety. A recent ad that compares the new Kindle to the new iPad is a good example. The ad focuses on nothing but the raw specs of each device. There is no mention of beauty or ease of use, much less environmental impact or the justice of the manufacturing process. If anything, values like these are made fun of.
1 Timothy 6:6 urges us to pursue godliness and contentment. I wonder how much environmental harm could have been avoided in our history if we had just slowed down a little bit? Tolkien argued that the "magic" of the elves was no magic at all: the beauty and power of their craft grew, instead, out of their intimate knowledge of how things worked.