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Frodos Quest: Living the Myth in The Lord of the Rings Paperback – November 1, 2002
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I was expecting a discussion of the anti modernism theme of Tolkiens' work.
Instead I found a book promoting theosophical theology disguised as a book of mythology.
This is deliberate, since the essays expound the ""divine master within" and our "higher self", and at the end of each essay we find meditations so that we get deeper into "finding our wizard" or "scanning the different planes within".
Ironically, one wishes a "professor of religion" would see that one theme of Tolkien (as opposed to Harry Potter) is that wholesomeness/holiness is found in humility, not in expanding one's powers, even one's "spiritual" powers. Tolkien's theme is similar to the Hindu tale where a guru wished to see the holiest person on earth, and Krishna took him to a poor farmer's family hut...the implication that the duties of one's daily life can make saints better than mental exercizes in private...
Those who wish to be initiated into a higher mental plane might be interested in this type of book. For the rest of us, I would not recommend this book, whose preachiness alone makes it a more obnoxious addition to the library of Tolkien literature.
Questions subsequently answered include 1) how to meet your guide (unseen guardians - p.36); and 2) and to discover how the victories of the hobbits "brings a vision of the esoteric meaning of one or more the planes of reality as understood by Theosophy" (p.65).
Ironically, the publishing house of the Theosophical Society is "Quest Books". But the quest they want to send us on is not the quest of which Tolkien wrote, but one bent to their own means.
Be aware that this book is contrary to the general teaching of Christianity, and does not square with the teachings in two excellent books that can be purchased on Amazon, "Finding God in the Lord of the Rings" and "Tolkien's Ordinary Virtues" (subtitled Exploring the Spiritual Themes of the Lord of the Rings).
Ellwood's book is most touching. You may feel your soul respond to the written words and therefore may - whenever you are put to the test yourself - remember that your life is woven into the same cosmic pattern and that the universal life force has been dancing in its predestined rhythm since the world began.
So it remains for us to find the courage to live out of the ancient wisdom, to mine for the treasures hidden in the legends and to plait the threads of our own existence into the mythical tissue. Robert Ellwood has done a wonderful job to light up the way for us.
Dr. Robert Ellwood who, according to his web page, is both a priest, retired college professor, and a teacher / scholar of world religions, helped me understand just why Tolkien's Lord moves its loyal readers so. Ellwood, with insightful extracts from Tolkien's other works, shows that Tolkien wove into his story the universal themes of mankind's spiritual quest. After reading Frodo's Quest, one can never again see Lord as a mere fantasy story, for Ellwood demonstrates its appeal is that, at its core, it is about our own personal spiritual search. Frodo's Quest makes use of references and quotes from psychological and religious sources to establish that Lord is a quest story in the highest spiritual meaning of that term. In this sense, Frodo's Quest will ring true to readers familiar with the works and viewpoints of Joseph Campbell or Carl Jung. The reader of Frodo's Quest, like Frodo himself, will come to realize, like we all must sooner or later, that we all live in a world that is much more than just that which can be seen or touched. More importantly, we all have a role in the eternal drama of life
But Frodo's Quest is not for everyone. It unabashedly presumes that its audience both knows the Lord books and also has a the insight / spiritual discernment to understand exactly what a universal myth is, and what it does, so it is going to put off some people of a more rigid religious outlook. But if that is the price of such insights, so be it. Frankly, I don't find the exercises at the end of chapters especially useful to most people, but they don't detract from the main message of the book. Frodo's Quest has shown us Tolkien's grand vision of mankind and revealed that Lord of the Rings' appeal is that it speaks to the Frodo within each of us, ala Campbell or Jung. Frodo's Quest is a book well worth reading over and over again.