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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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With insight, humor, and a good deal of personal passion for his subject, Mark Eddy Smith offers glimpses into the deeper spiritual meaning of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings by looking at 30 virtues exemplified by its characters throughout the tales. He then invites readers to embrace these virtues for themselves. Using a persuasive, conversational style, Smith offers reflective commentary, sometimes with a direct call to action: "Are there not enough heroes left in the world? Become one yourself." Tolkien aficionados will appreciate such attention to detail as Smith's note that he uses the Ballantine paperback edition, 95th printing, for references. The author writes that he has found in Middle-earth "a training ground, a place where I can apprentice to those whose gifts of charity, wisdom, kindness, mercy, love and faithfulness far surpass my own." Readers who love the Tolkien tales will be challenged to make changes to their own lives through Smith's gentle, thoughtful prose. --Cindy Crosby --This text refers to the MP3 CD edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Smith, a graphic designer at InterVarsity Press, is clearly an avid fan of J.R.R. Tolkien's epic tale The Lord of the Rings. His emotional attachment to the book is unfortunately not coupled with the skill needed for the kind of thematic analysis he undertakes. Each chapter explores a different virtue, such as friendship, sacrifice or humility. However, several of the topics, such as resurrection or providence, cannot be appropriately categorized as "virtues." Within each chapter, Smith's thoughts meander and sometimes even contradict. "Wise generals lead from the rear," he notes, but he counsels on the very same page that "the proper position of leadership is in front, partaking fully in the dangers of the lowliest of soldiers." Smith's chapter about the virtue of justice is actually entirely about mercy. Many Tolkien fans will disagree with much of Smith's interpretation, particularly the assertion that Gandalf clearly dies and is resurrected, or that Gollum and Sam are very similar characters. Christian readers will also be disappointed at the paucity of theological thought; Scripture references are rare and often appear to be tacked on as afterthoughts. Also puzzling are the indications that Smith believes the story to reflect some actual past time somehow "revealed" to Tolkien. Although it contains some original ideas, especially in the chapter on community, this book lacks depth and clarity of expression.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to the MP3 CD edition.
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This is what you feel when you read this work of Mark Eddy Smith, who - perhaps most of all for himself - has tried to work out what exactly it is that is touching him so deeply through Tolkien's work. And it is a wonderful fact that he has decided to share his cognitions with us. The feelings that the author might have experienced during the writing are passed on to the reader to leave him in a grateful and contemplative mood. Mark Eddy Smith has classified Tolkien's novel according to values and virtues to give us a clear vision of what we have to rediscover and cultivate to satisfy our contemporary desires. This book is simply a fantastic work.