I have been thinking about our conversation at the last book discussion meeting, particularly when the topic turned to Tolkien’s idea that the happy ending of the fairy-story and of history itself “reflects a glory backwards” so that all can ultimately be known to be good. This has always struck me as a view that could be arrived at by synthesizing Stoic and Epicurean philosophies–the former demanding that we see life as it is without sentimentality but embrace it anyway, the latter demanding that we revel in each moment as an expression of eternity. Just now, I came across this quote from the Stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius. He wrote that it is our duty to say to the Universe, “I love along with you,” acknowledging that, no matter what befalls us, it is because “the Universe loves to produce all that must be produced.” As a world-builder, Tolkien clearly loved to produce all that he felt must be produced (though he never felt satisfied that he had done so). He did not set out to take the reader on a pleasant stroll through Middle-earth but to trouble us with orcs and Witch-kings, knowing that even these foul things are “good in a tale” and not immune to the effects of transcendent, inescapable, eternal glory.