Are any of you fans of the Lord of the Rings series? J.R.R. Tolkien created an imaginary world like Harry Potter’s, rich in suspense, intricacy, and meaning. It was on this day in 1973 that Tolkien passed away. He was the author of the best-selling fantasy novels The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Of course this became the basis for the award winning movie trilogy.
No doubt there are millions of fans worldwide. The beauty and grandeur of the The Lord of the Rings books and movies has had a significant impact on our culture in the last century. It was also adapted for radio, theater, video games, music, and even a housing development – located in Bend, Oregon, and dubbed The Shire.
John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born on January 3, 1892, in South Africa, and raised in England. He graduated from Oxford, served in World War I and went on to become a linguist and professor at his alma mater. One day when Tolkien was grading exam papers, he reportedly was inspired in a moment of boredom to write across the top of one page, “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.” From there, he began developing the story into his novel The Hobbit, which was first published in 1937. A sequel, The Lord of the Rings, was published in three volumes between 1954 and 1955. The books are set in a place called Middle Earth and revolve around the adventures of a hobbit named Frodo Baggins who must destroy a powerful ring and save the world from evil.
I love the world of ideas and how a simple sentence scribbled across the top of a page can change the trajectory of our life. Interestingly enough C.S. Lewis, the great Christian writer and apologist, was a good friend to Tolkien. Theirs was a connection of faith, friendship, and fantasy – maybe even a little rivalry.
The two writers had a lot in common: Both taught at Oxford, both fought in World War I, and both preferred not to spell out their names. Their relationship was friendly for years, but became contentious later. Through late-night conversations, Tolkien, a religious Catholic, convinced Lewis to return to the faith; Lewis’ writing took off afterward, and he’s now best known for his books that are instilled with Christian themes, like the Narnia series and The Screwtape Letters. But Lewis then became a much-criticized unofficial spokesman for Christianity, which strained his relationship with Tolkien and Oxford. And while Tolkien struggled over the Lord of the Rings manuscripts for years, Lewis’ Narnia books were bestsellers.
I have grown to appreciate both writers and how they can draw on fantasy and story to discuss much larger topics. Remember – you don’t have to be a scholar at Oxford in order to bring an idea to life. Most of us don’t live in the world of fantasy. Bring your ideas to life and live them.
“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.” Gandalf the Grey