I've started rereading the Silmarillion on a bit of a whim ('tis the season....) and I've been thinking about the Ainulindale.
Specifically: why did Iluvatar "expound the theme" of the Song to the Ainur, rather than performing it himself, or indeed just having it exist in His Mind. What's the advantage of involving the Ainur, who seem to have been created particularly for this purpose? Broadly speaking, I mean — their role seems to be to take the general theme Iluvatar revealed to them and instantiate it, to give it a kind of reality. And obviously reality is better than merely conceptual/hypothetical in several important ways, but what's the value in doing this through third parties?
I have my theories drawing from some neoplatonic philosophy, and am toying with the idea of writing an essay on it all, just because I miss playing with the philosophy. But I'd be interested in what other people think, if anyone has any thoughts.
(*waves*, btw. I do realize I've been AWOL....)