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November 28, 2006

Lord of the Rings

In my British Literature class today, I'm doing a lecture on J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, so my mind has been in Middle-Earth for the past several days as I've been working on the lesson. I once heard Professor Ralph Woods remark about a student of his who said, "Reading LOTR makes me feel clean." I love that line because I think it speaks to why the books (and now their excellent film adaptations) continue to have such an impact. They're books that are infused with Christian values, though there is nothing overtly religious in any of them. Yet they speak of self-sacrificing love, honor, courage, mercy, tenacity, endurance, friendship, and the willingness to fight against evil, and even die, so that others may live in peace and safety. It also speaks of hope. Tolkien understood the deadly nihilism of post-World War I culture, and he wrote the book to counter the rejection of traditional values and the cultural and personal pessimism that was so evident in his lifetime (and is so much worse in our own day).

So, fellow Tolkien fans, why do you love Lord of the Rings?

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Laura Hartness

FYI... the professor's name is Ralph Wood, without the "s". I enjoyed studying under him in college and highly recommend his book, "The Gospel According to Tolkien".


It baptised my imagination and led me to read The Silmarillion, which led me to Christ. Niggle's Country is indeed and excellent preparation for the Mountains.

Donald Williams _Inklings of Reality_ (the only protestant I've read on the subject who 'gets it')
_Tolkien, Man and Myth_ by Joseph Pearce,
_The Philosophy of Tolkien_ by Peter Kreeft, _Celebrating Middle-earth: The Lord of the Rings as a Defense of Western Civilization_ edited by John G. West, Jr.
_, Tolkien, A Celebration_ edited by Joseph Pearce;

These are the critical works that will get you started. More in-depth critical works lie beyond them.

Other recent works aren't worth the bother - The Battle for Middle-earth, Following Gandalf, and other attempts to understand Tolien without a grounding in history and Christian theology any deeper than a seeker-sensitive sermonette are just sad and insipid.

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