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TCG Letter #625 / Carpenter Letter #250

J.R.R. Tolkien
Michael Tolkien
1 November 1963
Tolkien remarked that Michael apparently had not inherited a dislike of letter-writing, but the inability to write briefly. Inevitably it meant that they both would seldom write about family matters but more in the way of "business".

Michael had been depressed and Tolkien was sorry for it, hoping that it was partly due to Michael's ailment. But it was also a nearly universal malady at his age, and Tolkien recalled the same point for him, in 1935. Devotion to "learning" was a high and even spiritual vocation. Being high it was inevitably lowered by false or tired brethren, or by the desire or need of money, or by pride.

It was quite another matter to hear of Michael's "sagging faith". Tolkien said that at the last resort faith is an act of will inspired by love. If you once had faith not all the shortcomings, follies, or even sins of Church and ministers would make you break away, especially for one with historical knowledge.

Tolkien stated that it takes a fantastic will to unbelief to doubt that Jesus "happened" or that his sayings had been uttered. No one could have invented such sayings at that time. We must therefore believe in him and what he said and take the consequences. The cure for sagging faith was Communion, said Tolkien. While itself was perfect, the Blessed Sacrament does not operate just once, completely, for any.

Turning to his health, Tolkien felt as well as his old bones would allow. He was getting as unbendable as an Ent. His doctor recommended no drugs or assistants except when occasionally prescribed. Tolkien warned that speaking of "Income Tax" to him would make him boil over. They had all of his literary earnings until he retired. He was being taxed to the extent that it crippled his desire to distribute real largesse to each of his children. However, he said he would do something.

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