For it is by grace you have been saved...

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

T is for Tolkien

As I work my way through this A-Z challenge, if "L" was for Lewis, the "T" has to be for Tolkien.  Those two just go together.  Not just in the minds of fans, but in life as well.  As you know, it was J.R.R.Tolkien in part whom God used to bring C. S. Lewis to faith in Christ.

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, was an amazing man.  He was a writer and poet, a university professor, and a lover of languages.  Most people know Tolkien through his works like The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy.  Thanks to modern movie making, even the less than literate have a working knowledge of the worlds Tolkien created. 

What many overlook is that these stories were created in large part to house the languages Tolkien was inventing.  He created an entire world, with its own mythology and history, very detailed genealogies, etc.  The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings were just glimpses into the history of Middle Earth.  They aren't just fantasy stories, but epic histories of numerous races.  When Tolkien quotes some Elf or Dwarf, those words on the page are not just random words.  They are complete thoughts based on proper grammars of those races, with histories behind the words and phrases used.  It's heady stuff!

Furthermore, Tolkien himself put much more thought into the very idea of what "fantasy" is and why he was invovled in the writing of it.  In a well known quote, Tolkien said, “Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory. If a soldier is imprisioned by the enemy, don't we consider it his duty to escape?. . .If we value the freedom of mind and soul, if we're partisans of liberty, then it's our plain duty to escape, and to take as many people with us as we can!”

But what I enjoy most about these stories is that while Lewis' Narnia can be seen as a more obvious "allegory" in some ways (even though Lewis hated that term for his stories), Tolkien's work is more drenched in the depths of good and evil in the human heart.  Sure we can see Frodo carrying the ring to save the world as a Christ-like figure; but it's not nearly a one-to-one correlation as Lewis' Aslan.  (in fact, some would suggest the Samwise is the true burden bearer). Yet it's still there.  It requires more thought, more introspection.  But it's there.  I like that.

I said that our whole family read through Narnia together.  I've also required Tolkien.  I recently started reading through The Hobbit with our youngest.  There are so many rich lessons about life, love, God, salvation, etc. in these stories.  I think everyone ought to have to read them; before you see the movies!  But that's another story altogether. 

1 comment:

Gregg Metcalf said...

I agree. The books should be read carefully and for great fun. Quiet a man Tolkien was. Very good post about this wonderful man and writer.