Finding God In The Hobbit, by Jim Ware
This book is fairly slim, coming in at around 200 relatively small pages if one includes its introduction. Yet, for its small size, much like a hobbit in fact, it is a worthwhile book in defending the worth of fantasy literature to a Christian audience. Perhaps it is a bit sad that a book with such obvious themes of grace and divine providence would require justification, but there are plenty of people who have such a narrow view of what kind of music or literature is acceptable that even something like Tolkien’s work falls short of their exacting standards . At any rate, this delightful little book keeps the sermonizing to a minimum but manages to draw wonderful lessons from the events and characters of the Hobbit, pointing out what should be fairly obvious to anyone who has read the Lord of the Rings and definitely anyone who saw the film adaptations of the book , which makes obvious what Tolkien wrote more subtly, as is often the case with films in general.
In terms of its contents, this book contains about twenty short chapters that quote and refer to various aspects of The Hobbit and draw Christian insights from them. These chapters are examined in chronological order and demonstrate that for the characters, as is true also in our own lives, that we are a part of matters much larger our own lives alone, and that we were created for adventure even if we live most of our lives in fairly mundane existence. With its combination of biographical and autobiographical materials, its worthwhile scriptural exegesis, and its skillful literary analysis, this book makes for a handy source of worthwhile material for those who feel the need to justify reading fantasy literature to themselves (if they are the sort of people who make pretensions to more serious reading) or to others who question the moral and spiritual value of such genre fiction of a potentially disreputable sort, with the hints of magic. At any rate, if that sort of justification is necessary, this book is easy to read and part of a series that deals with related books, so it is not hard to find or to appropriate for one’s purposes.
Besides being a practical book for those who feel it necessary to defend their reading choices in the fantasy genre, this book is a joy to read, and also full of thought-provoking material. For example, the author has this to say about dreams: “To sleep! Perchance to dream…Ay, there’s the rub indeed. For dreams can shatter restful, comfortable slumber. And the ramifications of a dream come true aren’t always what you had expected. Hopes and longings nurtured in the secret darkness having a way of taking on a different shape in daylight of reality (3).” This is spoken like someone who knows. The author also quotes a few scriptures to defend those who are thought of as a bit grim and skeptical of rose-colored visions of a glorious future. The author comments on the nuance of how God operates with mankind, and also very intelligently on the way that our creations, springing as they do out of our own hearts and minds, reveal our beliefs and practices, our experiences, our hopes and fears, our worldviews, even if we are not writing allegories consciously. This is a book that is small in size, but full of worth.
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