“I asked him if he could help me understand that better, and he described a letter from Tolkien in response to a priest who had questioned whether Tolkien’s mythos was sufficiently doctrinaire, since it treated death not as a punishment for the sin of the fall but as a gift. ‘Tolkien says, in a letter back: “What punishments of God are not gifts?” ‘ Colbert knocked his knuckles on the table. ‘ “What punishments of God are not gifts?” ‘ he said again. His eyes were filled with tears. ‘So it would be ungrateful not to take everything with gratitude. It doesn’t mean you want it. I can hold both of those ideas in my head.’”