- Paperback: 154 pages
- Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (December 21, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1466345446
- ISBN-13: 978-1466345447
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 12 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,327,602 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Tolkien's Ordinary Virtues: Exploring the Spiritual Themes of The Lord of the Rings Paperback – December 21, 2001
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It was a joy to read and sparked good conversations
Smith does recognize that Tolkien was a devout Catholic -- but fails to bring this perspective into the book's development. In addition, the two most important virtues (according to Tolkien's own letters) found in the book, Pity and Mercy, were not dealt with in nearly enough depth -- and this is a loss.
From a literary basis, Mr. Smith does make some basic errors in fact. (For example, the length of time between Bilbo's departure and Frodo's departure was 17 years, not 12 as was stated twice.) From my perspective, he seriously misunderstands the character of Aragorn (and to a lesser extent, Merry and Pippin).
Why then the (almost) four stars? Because the passion in Smith's writing does come through, as does his humanness and his love for the subject. Mr. Smith has taken an enormous risk in revealing the deep parts of his soul to be shot at by callous reviewers! I respect this -- and I respect that Mr. Smith has made the attempt to bridge the gap between merely an enjoyable read and a spiritual read. I hope that he continues to make the attempt and that his future attempts are more successful.
What both these 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, they do not distort. Unlike someone's aborted attempt to teach the business secrets of Tolkien's characters, at least these lessons fit. For Tolkien studies, these books' main value is their 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.