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Community & Business

27 July, 2022

Pastor's Viewpoint - July 26

Gilgandra Uniting Church

By Supplied

Tolkien’s Inspiration The Lord of the Rings, by John Ronald Ruel Tolkien (January 3, 1892 – September 2, 1993) is a work of fiction. It was however, born not purely from his imagination as commonly believed, but from his deeprooted Catholic faith.

Tolkien testified in 1953 “it is of course fundamentally a Christian and Catholic book…the religious element is absorbed into the story and the symbolism.”

Published in 1954, 150 million copies were sold and there’s fair claim it is the most widely read book of the 20th century and that Tolkien is "the author of the century.” A spellbinding read, it’s filled with ideas of Christian virtue, heroism, and timeless truth.

The storyline begins with the fall of mankind (just as the Bible does in Genesis) and biblical echoes, figures and images appear in characters such as orcs or fallen elves (like demons are fallen angels) Moses-like leaders such as Aragorn, who delivers his people from the evil Sauron (as Moses delivers his people from Egypt) and angel-inspired wizards such as the main one in the book called Gandalf, sent to help lesser creatures such as hobbits or halflings who inhabit Tolkein’s fictional middle earth.

The bravest and most pure hobbit Frodo, who is sent as ring-bearer to destroy the evil ring, finds at the climax that he is unequally matched against its might and power.

Spoiler alert: the ring’s final destruction falls to a pitiful figure, Gollum who, in stealing it for himself, falls to his death highlighting the biblical truth, that mere mortals cannot resist evil without divine assistance.

Tolkien’s epic is thrilling. Again, as in the Bible, we see how good resists and actively battles evil and salvation comes not from mighty kings but through the meekest of creatures (hobbits) a point noted in the 1950s by journalist Bernard Levin who after reviewing the book for truth, wrote that he was reassured that “the meek shall inherit the earth”.

Powerful scriptural concepts include: “to save your life you must be willing to give up your life (as in Matt 16;25) and “the last shall be first” (as in Matt 20;16).

 Born in South Africa, Tolkien had one brother. His mother Mabel returned to homeland England with both boys in 1895 because of Ronald's poor health. Her husband Arthur remained in Africa but died a year later. Too soon Tolkien was orphaned at age 12 and his mother’s will decreed that her Catholic priest, Father Francis Morgan from Birmingham Oratory, be their legal guardian.

Their life changed dramatically and centred around the oratory. They lived in boarding houses nearby, went to the priests’ house for breakfast and after school and during holidays and Tolkien’s one and only complaint regarding the priest arose when he fell in love with Edith Bratt at high school and was forbidden to pursue the relationship until his education was completed.

In the meantime, Edith, hearing nothing from Tolkien for years became engaged to someone else. Tolkien visited her immediately he graduated and romantically, won her back! Serving in WWI did not stop Tolkien from being a devoted husband and father to his four children.

He shared wisdom and illustrated letters from “Father Christmas” with them and when they were in the armed forces in WWII, he coached them in how to pray when far from home and church and how to claim the assistance of their guardian angel in times of trouble. Today Tolkien’s faith is consistently ignored despite it being his one deep root of inspiration and significant factor in C.S. Lewis’ conversion from atheism to Christianity.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for J.R.R. Tolkien’s life and talents and for the life - giving breath of your Holy Spirit that powered and animated his epic novel. We pray that your influence be more broadly recognised and acknowledged. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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