I’ve just finished reading Tolkien’s Silmarillion. Its plot is the Book of Mormon’s plot: the pride cycle. Great civilizations rise, grow over-proud, and ruin themselves in quarrels and strange oaths. The Silmarillion even has the land be broken and changed, several times in fact, just like the Book of Mormon does. Plus it has dispensations called Ages.
I’ve never heard a good explanation of what dispensations are or a good justification for having them. The Silmarillion certainly doesn’t fill that gap. But in the Silmarillion the dispensations feel right, they feel natural. If that’s true, if they’re right aesthetically, must there not be some deep logic behind them? Must they not correspond to some part of our experience that we have simply failed to consciously apply? I reckon so. If dispensations are beautiful I’d be surprised if they were without truth.
If dispensations are primarily an aesthetic concept, the breaking and remaking of the land is doubly so. It is essentially a metaphor. When wickedness grows too great, men need their hearts and spirits broken so they can be remade by Christ. So the land is physically broken as a symbol of it. Or, men have broken the order of creation and brought spiritual ruin on themselves. So the natural order of creation also breaks. Either way, like all metaphors do, the metaphor tends to bind men to nature. If nature is encompassed in our ruin it must pertain to us. Why and how I do not know. When Christ sits as a lawgiver, the mountains having been cast down and the vallies filled up, perhaps I will understand better.