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Finding God in The Lord of the Rings Paperback – September 19, 2003

3.3 out of 5 stars 77 customer reviews

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There's more to Middle-earth than meets the eye, argue Kurt Bruner and Jim Ware in Finding God in The Lord of the Rings. J.R.R. Tolkien, a devout Christian, helped bring C.S. Lewis into the faith and met weekly with Lewis and Charles Williams at an Oxford pub for heated religious and literary discussions that informed The Lord of the Rings. Although Bruner and Ware avoid any simplistic claim that Tolkien's saga is "a covert allegory of the Gospel," the authors assert that the books have evangelistic power because they "can open the heart's back door when the front door is locked." Twenty-one short chapters describe various scenes and themes from Tolkien's work in order to illustrate truths of Christian life. For instance, Frodo and Sam's awareness that their adventures are part of a larger story "reflects the Christian understanding of providence, that we are all part of a story being written by the creator of all that is." Finding God successfully clarifies the ways that Tolkien's Christian worldview influenced the creation of his fantasy world, while respecting the artistic integrity of his achievement. --Michael Joseph Gross --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Bruner, v-p for Focus on the Family's Resource Group, and co-author Ware say that they have written this book "to help fans of The Lord of the Rings discover how the rich fabric of Tolkien's fantasy world enhances a Christian understanding of our real world." They assume that readers will already be familiar with the entire trilogy. Each chapter explores a theme found in Tolkien's series, illustrates it from the story and then shows how this theme can also be found in the Bible. Most of the themes illustrated here that our small individual stories are part of a larger story that gives them more meaning, that we are called to undertake challenging missions beyond our comfort zones or that evil powers are actively scheming in the world will already have been obvious to Christian readers with the intelligence needed to read through the entire trilogy. Readers already familiar with the trilogy will find a few gems of insight, especially the epilogue on Tolkien's literary theory. But it seems much more likely that this book will appeal to those who, having seen the movie, are deciding whether to read the books for the first time. (Nov.)Forecast: Timed to coincide with the release of New Line Cinema's movie The Lord of the Rings, this guide will find an audience, but probably a different one from that which the authors envisioned.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Tyndale Momentum; Reprint edition (September 19, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 084238555X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0842385558
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 4.2 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,637,199 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
If you were able to find this book amidst the nine billion other "Lord of the Rings" resources currently in circulation, consider yourself fortunate. "Finding God..." is not just another mindless marketing vehicle capitalizing on the Tolkien-mania currently sweeping the planet. There is real depth and substance to this work - Jim Ware has done an excellent job of exploring the faith that drove the author of the greatest book of the 20th century. It's easy to see why Tolkien's writings have stood the test of time. In addition to crafting an adventure yarn of mythic proportions, the Professor infused LOTR with virtues that never go out of style - virtues like honor, friendship, and self-sacrifice. "Finding God in the Lord of the Rings" would be an excellent place to start if you'd like to get inside the head of the man who once wrote: "...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. To do as we say in the Gloria in Excelsis: ...We praise you, we call you holy, we worship you, we proclaim your glory, we thank you for the greatness of your splendour." Once you know where Tolkien is coming from, the struggle between good and evil recounted in LOTR - set against the majestic backdrop of Middle Earth - takes on a whole new significance.
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Format: Hardcover
The authors make a valiant effort here to bring some of their own respect for Tolkien's work into the light of Scriptural themes. What I expected to be an in-depth look at "The Lord of the Rings" turns out to be more like a daily devotional, with short chapters that sum up Biblical ideas as seen in Tolkien's work. The idea is laudable; the execution only scratches the surface.
First, let's make it clear that Tolkien never intended his works to be allegorical--most fans know this already. On the other hand, he said that "In 'The Lord of the Rings' the conflict is not basically about 'freedom', though that is naturally involved. It is about God, and His sole right to divine honour." (The Letters of JRR Tolkien, pg. 243) It is impossible to read Tolkien without taking into account the context of his faith. For that reason, "Finding God in the Lord of the Rings" is a book that many have waited for. While it may satisfy the thirst of some, it will only whet the appetite for others. Overall, I recommend what the authors have done here. They write clearly and with great affection for Tolkien's writing; they speak plainly of Godly characteristics throughout this fantasy epic; they do not, however, plunge headlong into the deeper waters that I hoped to explore.
I'll enjoy this book as a coffee-table piece, one to be thumbed through for daily thoughts and encouragements. For more insight to Tolkien's meanings, I'll turn back to his own letters.
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Format: Hardcover
With the installment of the hit movie adaptations of "The Lord of the Rings," there have been dozens of books reprinted or published in an effort to jump in on the cash wagon. "Finding God in the Lord of the Rings" has a more unusual purpose, as it seems to be more of a reassurance that the trilogy (books or movies) is in no way objectionable and has good stuff in it.
Bruner and Ware examine various passages in "Lord of the Rings," and then examine Biblical passages and teachings that can be associated (indirectly) with the scenes from Tolkien's work. Themes such as humility, friendship, knowing that good and evil are not packaged obviously, the nature of evil, and so on are explored.
The Lord of the Rings, the foremost and best fantasy work, is not a religious book the way we think of it. However, as Tolkien was a devout Catholic, it would have been nearly impossible for him to not frame the heroes of Middle-Earth in his beliefs. Themes about temptation, redemption, punishment, good and evil, and theology are included in his created universe. However, as I am glad the authors acknowledged, Tolkien disliked parables and would never have made those beliefs blatant. Rather they were elements of morality, and actions that the heroes took.
Several of their chapters are quite nice and even thought-provoking. Some of them, such as "Shutting Out The Night" and "The Last Homely House," get a little sidetracked and start to sound slightly strained. And many of the lessons are pretty basic and bland, skimming the surface but never going into the deeper implications of morality and the impact of religion upon the book. But the writing style is breezy and the authors never get too tangled in their own words and theories.
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Format: Hardcover
There's a lot of Christian, and specifically Catholic, symbolism, theology, and morality in =LotR=, but that's not quite what this book is about. For that you'd be better advised to turn to Joseph Pearce's =Tolkien: A Celebration=. Instead, it's a collection of brief essays or sermons in the form of Christian theological and ethical homilies on texts (or more accurately themes) taken from =LotR=, pretty much in chronological order. The lesson is how Tolkien's characters can serve as models for a Christian life and ethical behavior. The authors write in a traditional sermon style, and as is typical of sermons they quickly leave the text behind, moving to Biblical parallels and broader considerations which the texts inspire or exemplify.
What theis essentially Protestant books mostly leave out of their discussion of Tolkien's Catholic work is consideration of the roles of worship, iconography and symbolism, and holy awe in =LotR=. But though selective, it does not distort. Unlike someone's aborted attempt to teach the business secrets of Tolkien's characters, at least these lessons fit. For Tolkien studies, the main value is the demonstration that his characters =are= ethical, and that ethics were thus basic to the author. Sermons like these could not easily be written on many other fantasy novels.
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