J.R.R. Tolkien

Kids in Defense of the Culture

The shock troops against Conservatism, Inc. have arrived. Witness the rise of the groypers. These cowboys sent people ducking beneath barstools the moment they set a spurred boot in the Culture War saloon. It has been amusing, to say the least, but not everyone is laughing. Some have even warned that the pale rider of [...]

J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings: Handbook of Hope

“Where there’s life there’s hope, as my Gaffer used to say; and need of vittles, as he mostways used to add.” In this weary world, two of the most formidable pitfalls lying in wait for our stumbling feet are the temptations of doubt and despondency. Whether the cause of discouragement lies within or without, it can be [...]

Sauron Comes to Middle England

Tolkien, the new biopic about the master storyteller’s life, has come under criticism for giving the impression that Tolkien’s service in World War I was the decisive influence on his work. In fact, Tolkien was far more influenced by other factors—in particular by his love of mythology, and by his strong Catholic faith. Before her [...]

In Defense of Literature

Recently I was mildly rebuked by a reader for something I wrote on The Lord of the Rings wherein I reflected on the valuable lessons from this work, as well as the life and letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, and their applications to the current crisis being faced by Catholics. “Sorry, we don’t have the luxury [...]

Life Echoes in Eternity: On J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Leaf by Niggle”

Urging his troops to manly fortitude in the face of Germanic barbarians, General Maximus of the 2000 film, Gladiator does not downplay the certainty that some of his Romans are about die. “What we do in life echoes in eternity,” he cries, and indeed, Maximus argues that the fact of death is all the more [...]

Tolkien Alternatives to the “Benedict Option”

What’s happened to the world? Even a quick glance at the newsfeeds will confirm it: times are dark, full of spiritual confusions and physical dangers. Sweeping judicial fiats have redefined the nature of human relationships with a speed, boldness, and radicalness that even Comrade O’Brien might find injudicious; educational revisionists now baldly proclaim their utilitarian [...]

The Bilbo Baggins Inside All of Us

This past summer my junior honors theology students read The Hobbit in preparation for their morality class this fall. While reading, I discovered why so many enjoy The Hobbit. We can connect so well with Bilbo Baggins and the other characters because they are so real, so like us. One can also find many "hidden" [...]

Oh, White Lady: Faith as a Struggle

Faith has always been a struggle for me. Indeed, throughout my forty-six years of life, very rarely have I ever felt comfortable for any stretch of time with my religion or my religious practices. I readily and rather gleefully abandoned almost any faith and religious observance during my teenage years. I’m not totally sure what [...]

The Desolation of Peter Jackson

There must be something about New Zealand that brings out the megalomania in movie makers. It recently was announced that James Cameron, that titan of trite who brought us the “morality tale” of Titanic (with rich people falsely portrayed as scrambling for other people’s places on life boats, as if to say all rich people, [...]

Tolkien’s Farmer Giles of Ham: Hero for Our Time?

Set outside of Tolkien’s well-traversed Middle-earth, “Farmer Giles of Ham” is easily missed by the casual fan of “hobbitses.” It’s a fairy tale from a fictional medieval land known as the Little Kingdom, but it offers fertile soil for thinking about many of the social issues we are facing in the contemporary American political scene. [...]

William Morris as Inspiration for Tolkien’s Literary Art

Most of those involved in Tolkien fandom, at any rate, know that William Morris exerted a profound literary effect on the development of The Lord of the Rings.  This is most evident, in the case of The House of the Wolfings, in the way that both works are organized as prose narratives with lengthy intervals [...]

J.R.R. Tolkien: Husband and Father

Best known for his fantasy novels The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien is probably better known by members of his family for his profound example of true fatherhood. John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born on January 3,1892 in Bloemfontein, South Africa. His life growing up there and then later in England [...]

A Catholic Curiosity: The Life of Sir Jeffrey Hudson

Shakespeare’s Henry V offers this advice: “This story shall the good man teach his son…." Such counsel is urgent today, when children will learn little reliably of their history in schools, and so are all the more dependent on good souls at home who will teach them.  Children being children, will especially be fascinated by [...]

New Study Marred by Old Clichés about Preconciliar Catholic Writers

In 1989, Gregory Wolfe uttered a cri du coeur bemoaning academic neglect of the modern “Catholic Intellectual Renaissance.” He lamented that the “current establishment” treated thinkers like G. K. Chesterton, Christopher Dawson, and Evelyn Waugh with “amused condescension” as representatives of “an order that has largely been left behind in our progress toward a more [...]

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