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God in Lord of the Rings type books

Which is the best LOTR & God book?  

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Hi,

As part of my job I have to buy in books for our church and I noticed that there are 3 god / LOTR type books and I wondered If anyone had read any of them, or any like them that they could recommend.

Here are the three followed by two others that popped up on Amazon

Finding God in the Lord of the Rings by Kurt D. Bruner, Jim Ware

The Gospel According to Tolkien: Visions of the Kingdom in Middle-Earth by Ralph C. Wood

A Closer look at Lord of the Rings by Mark Eddy Smith

The Battle for Middle-Earth: Tolkien's Divine Design in "the Lord of the Rings" by Fleming Rutledge

Walking With Frodo: A Devotional Journey Through the Lord of the Rings by Sarah Arthur

Has anyone read any of these, would you recommnd any (that you may or may not have read), or are they just best avoided.

Ooh I might do a poll!

Matt

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Why not go directly to the author himself? I haven't read any of the books you list, but I'm currently reading The Letters of JRR Tolkien. It gives great insights into the man, his faith, and all of his works. I'm halfway through it. WhyFjord has read it and praised it. I'm sure he could add to my comments.

Diane

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J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century, by Tom Shippey, a medieval philologist. Excellent on the medieval connections, and also very good on the Christian echoes & symbolism, without arguing that LotR is actually allegorical, which Tolkien actively repudiated.

You might also take a look at J. R. R. Tolkien's Sanctifying Myth: Understanding Middle-Earth by Bradley J. Birzer & Joseph Pearce, who contend that the theology underlying the books is specifically Roman Catholic.

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I've just learned that the author of The Gospel According to Tolkien: Visions of the Kingdom in Middle Earth, Ralph C. Wood, will be lecturing here (Campbell U.) in March. I guess I'll have to read the book before his visit.

Looking forward to it, though I don't expect many surprises.

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Hi Beth,

Let me know how you find it. In reality our church probably wants something low brow (against my personal inclinations).

Matt

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Hi Beth, ...you ... low brow

Good point.

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Hi Beth, ...you ... low brow

Good point.

Good thing I already read the exchange between Matt & Ron in the "Leftovers" forum. smile.gif

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Hey Beth, I'm just finishing up an essay for my Introduction to Norse Mythology course. It's on Tolkien and Norse Myth, in which I used the Shippey's J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century as one of the main sources, as well as the Edda, Volsunga saga and other Old Norse sagas also.

Perhaps I'll post my draft tomorrow if anyone is interested?

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I'm interested, Anders!

If I'm the only one, you can send it to me off-list smile.gif

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I ended up posting it in this other thread here.

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For those still interested (Matt, I assume your church long ago decided on a book), I've nearly finished Joseph Pearce's Tolkien: Man and Myth. Before I comment on it, I have to admit that I'm probably a little uppidy when it comes to books about Tolkien. I've read portions of a number of selections the "God and Tolkien" genre, and been...um, rather underwhelmed or disappointed. Too low-brow for me! biggrin.gif But seriously, I've found them rather full of the "Oh, gee-wiz, this-represents-this" sort of critisicm (just the sort that Tolkien found dull, if not offensive), and rather lacking when it comes to genuine inquiry into the man behind the pen and the ideas behind the man.

But it's in just this area that Pearce shines. Even the title, 'Tolkien: Man and Myth', is wonderfully nuanced. The author writes to debunk, or at least shed light on, many of the myths that surround the man and his writing, while at the same time demostrating the way in which the concept of Myth was of fundamental importance to Tolkien. Pearce goes about the whole thing with the premise that the job is best (or at least most fruitfully) done by viewing the subject through the lens of Tolkien's most deeply-held beliefs: Catholic Orthodoxy and the essential truthfulness of Myth.

And it's fun too. Pearce manages to combine HIGH-BROW :wink: scholarship with genuinely interesting commentary. Lots of references to Tolkien's Letters and to primary sources by those close to him. And the reading is suprisingly easy.

Pearce quotes Tolkien saying that he saw religion not "as a set of beliefs to which one ascribes, but as a reality to which one submits." It's so satisfying to find an author who will look at a person in the context of that which is greater that the man himself, because that is ultimately what defines a person.

Great book...gives me hope for the genre.

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Thanks for your post John. I ended up deciding not to get a book as when I thought about it there wasn't much demand from people for such a book, and the feeling I got from you guys was that there wasn't really an accessible Tolkein book that did the job.

Matt

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I've just learned that the author of The Gospel According to Tolkien: Visions of the Kingdom in Middle Earth, Ralph C. Wood, will be lecturing here (Campbell U.) in March. I guess I'll have to read the book before his visit.

Looking forward to it, though I don't expect many surprises.

In some ways, better than expected, though not too surprising overall to me. Wood spoke twice Tuesday morning for the required "Cultural Enrichment Program" (formerly known as "Chapel") to a more than usually attentive audience, and then followed up with some of the same material and more at 7 p.m. Tuesday evening, speaking to a packed auditorium. Some were there only because they were seeking "extra credit," but again, all seemed transfixed by his lecture, highlights of which may be found here:

http://www.campbell.edu/news/releases/sp04...s_rel.0089.html

This article necessarily glosses over some key points, such as the link Wood pointed out between the Ring's power of making one invisible and the Ring of Gyges.

He seemed to make quite an impression on the students, so that was all to the good, especially if more of them read the books, as he encouraged them to do.

In conjunction with these lectures, all 3 LotR movies were shown on campus the weekend before & after Wood's visit.

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