Tagged: J.R.R. Tolkien

Unexpected Party

Cooperating with Grace: The Luck of Bilbo Baggins

“Just let any one say I chose the wrong man or the wrong house, and you can stop at thirteen and have all the bad luck you like, or go back to digging coal.” When Gandalf tells the dwarves in The Hobbit that he has chosen Bilbo Baggins as their lucky number, Tolkien has introduced his readers to one of the most important themes of all of his works. This theme that begins with the story of Bilbo Baggins comes to full fruition in The Lord of the...

Rivendell, detail by J.R.R. Tolkien

At the Last Homely House The Hobbit Becomes a Classic

I’ve just finished chapter four of The Hobbit, “Over Hill and Under Hill,” for Brona’s Hobbit/Lord of the Rings Readalong, and for me this is where the story really begins to pick up (Minor spoilers of the first four chapters ahead). I especially love the book’s opening opening chapter, in which the story feels like a tale told by a grandfather to his grandchildren, with its authorial intrusions: …what is a hobbit? I suppose hobbits needs some description nowadays… Gandalf! If you had heard only a quarter of what...

The Hobbit - Ballantine Silver Jubilee Edition

There and Back Again – Rereading The Hobbit

Today is the first day of Brona’s Hobbit/Lord of the Rings Readalong, and I’m happy to be rereading The Hobbit during the month of February. As I’ve written elsewhere, The Hobbit has been a part of my life since my early teens, and I’ve always enjoyed revisiting The Shire and accompanying Bilbo on his adventures. A wonderful gift of Providence has me rereading The Hobbit at the age of 50, precisely the age of Bilbo Baggins when his adventures begin. Bringing a Walking Stick Like many, I used to think of The...

Gandalf Millennium Banner

Roads Go Ever On: A Hobbit and Lord of the Rings Readalong

This year as I enter the world of reading challenges, I’ve also jumped into my first readalong: Brona’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings Readalong 2017. It didn’t take much deliberation to decide to join. Since first reading The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings in 1979, I’ve probably reread them a good ten times or more. I think it’s pretty safe to say that The Lord of the Rings and J.R.R. Tolkien have had a profound influence on my life. In fact, my very first blog post ever, way back in...

Here There Be Dragons

Here, There Be Dragons by James A. Owen

Geared for young adult readers, Here, There Be Dragons is an excellent read for anyone who is a fan of Tolkien or C.S. Lewis. Literary allusions abound, and part of my enjoyment came from the way Owen connected various classic works with his plot. Here, There Be Dragons is for a more literate teen reader, someone who prefers authors like Tolkien, Lewis, Austen, Alcott rather than series like the Twilight saga or The Hunger Games. Not that readers of those books won’t like it, but it moves at...

Tolkien Artist and Illustrator

Nonfiction November Week 4: Be the Expert – Reading Lord of the Rings

This week’s Nonfiction November discussion prompt is hosted by Julz: Three ways to join in this week! You can either share 3 or more books on a single topic that you have read and can recommend (be the expert), you can put the call out for good nonfiction on a specific topic that you have been dying to read (ask the expert), or you can create your own list of books on a topic that you’d like to read (become the expert). One type of nonfiction that I...

The Lord of the Gifts: A Brief Meditation on Tolkien and PEZ

My family held a white elephant gift exchange this past Christmas–you know, where people bring gifts anonymously, exchange them, and get a chance to steal them from others. We fought over battery operated massagers, remote control cars, coffee mugs, and Hot Wheels. I was fortunate enough to get a set of PEZ dispensers in the shape of The Lord of the Rings characters, but the process made me think about other gifts we’ve received: our talents, life experiences, and environment. I wonder how many times we look at other...

J.R.R. Tolkien

The Purpose of Life According to J.R.R. Tolkien

In 1969, Camilla Unwin, daughter of publisher Rayner Unwin, asked J.R.R. Tolkien to help her with a school project by giving an answer to the question, “What is the purpose of life?” After a fairly lengthy letter, Tolkien gets to the heart of his response: “So it may be said that the chief purpose of life, for any one of us, is to increase according to our capacity our knowledge of God by all the means we have, and to be moved by it to praise and thanks.”...

J.R.R. Tolkien

Vocation in The Lord of the Rings

Though National Vocation Awareness Week has ended for this year, the working out or living out of our vocations goes on. Jeffrey Langan, Associate Professor at Notre Dame, delivers a fascinating lecture in which he uses Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings to illustrate the dynamic of vocation. Though he seems to be speaking mostly about the ordained or religious life, many of his remarks could also be applied to marriage and other vocations.

Tolkien Relaxing Under a Tree

Leaf by Niggle: One of Tolkien’s Most Overlooked Works

Today is J.R.R. Tolkien’s 120th birthday. Known, of course, mainly for The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, one of his most under appreciated works is a gem of a short story called “Leaf by Niggle.” This simple story is a beautiful allegory for the creative life and for the transition into eternal life. Similar to C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce, “Leaf by Niggle” is much more subtle. It is also deeply spiritual and rooted in a solid Catholic theology of art and afterlife. “Leaf by Niggle” complements...

Hobbiton

Chronological Middle-earth Reading List

If you’ve ever wanted to read Tolkien’s Middle-earth writings in chronological order, you might want to check out my Chronological MiddleEarth Reading List. It’s available in pdf format. This reading list is a guide for those who want to read Tolkien’s works in the order in which they took place in Middle-earth, rather than in the order Tolkien originally wrote them. The reading order is NOT recommended for those who have never read any of Tolkien’s works before. The reader should have already read The Hobbit, The Lord...

castle

Camelot – ‘Tis a Silly Place

My boys and I watched Monty Python and the Holy Grail a few days ago and that got me thinking about Arthurian novels. Here are a few of my favorites: The Once and Future King by T.H. White – A terrific book, but unfortunately I can’t get the Disney movie The Sword in the Stone out of my head when I read the first part. The Crystal Cave, The Hollow Hills, The Last Enchantment, and The Wicked Day by Mary Stewart – This was my first introduction to...

Mount Doom

What if Tolkien Wrote Stairway to Heaven?

I was purging some computer files the other day when I ran across these song lyrics I wrote a few years ago after Peter Jackson’s Fellowship of the Ring had just been released. It was something I did just for fun to show to my eighth grade students when we were studying The Hobbit. I forgot about until I found it the other day. I thought some of you might find it amusing. The song is about Aragorn and his role in the Fellowship and Middle-earth. It’s meant...