Finding God In The Lord Of The Rings, by Kurt Bruner and Jim Ware
Like its companion volume on Finding God In The Hobbit, this volume is short and seeks to demonstrate the moral intent and worldview behind Tolkien’s classic fantasy novel. Although The Lord Of The Rings is a much larger work of literature than The Hobbit, this book is somewhat shorter than its companion volume, coming in at around 120 or 130 pages worth of material including the introduction, but the text is somewhat smaller as well so it gets more writing on each page. Be that as it may, this book also is full of thoughtful analysis, scriptural exegesis, stories about Tolkien and about the book’s authors and their fondness for this novel, and also contains thoughtful literary analysis. The book presupposes among its reading audience a familiarity with the novel, and so the book does not explain its citations, which would have required more length.
In terms of its contents, this book contains about twenty chapters about material spread out over the six books of The Lord Of The Rings that average around five pages apiece or so. Among the massive amount of material to choose from, the authors select a blend of references that are familiar, like the eucatastrophe of Gollum helping to finish the quest of the ring, albeit unwittingly, along with more obscure matters such as the importance of being reminded of life in the face of death, the fact that what is good does not always appear so from outside appearance, and vice versa, the importance of wise counsel, the danger of seeking power for selfish benefit, and the need for redemption. The authors mix quotations from Tolkien’s novel with scriptural citation and personal reflection, to make a book that is appealing and easy to read for those who are very familiar with The Lord Of The Rings as a novel. Since one of the stories mentioned is about Tom Bombadil, those who are only familiar with the movies will likely not understand this reference.
As is the case with its companion volume, this book is full of thought-provoking material. For example, the authors have this to say about bulling: “Schoolyard bullies start by picking on the small, unpopular kids. Others watch from afar, glad that it’s someone else being victimized. What they fail to realize is that their cowardly reluctance to defend the weakest kids will eventually bring about their own jeopardy,. Total playground intimidation is inevitable once the bully learns that he faces no opposition. Before you know it, every child will be terrorized.” Although the book only discusses World War II a little, the authors of this book write in such a way that it is impossible not to think of the Lord of the Rings being connected with World War II and with the problem of fighting against evil without becoming evil. When one looks at strategic bombing and the nuclear bomb, perhaps the Allies did not succeed very well in that aim. Be that as it may, this book is a worthwhile companion in a series that demonstrates that God can be found even in fantasy books about dark times, demonstrating that to the extent that a belief in God motivates someone, that belief will be present in whatever they happen to create, something we would do well to realize and appreciate if we are creative people ourselves.