How did I miss this obvious opportunity all these years to lead teens to the Kingdom of God by way of Middle Earth?
In my latest essay at Patheos.com, I review The Christian World of The Hobbit, a new text by Tolkien scholar Devin Brown. His book explores the influence of J.R.R. Tolkien's Catholic faith on his writing of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings:
Brown's text deftly explores how Tolkien, a devout Catholic, deliberately chose not to turn his writing into an overbearing Christian allegory. Unlike his friend and contemporary, C.S. Lewis, Tolkien was not interested in creating "Christian" fiction or in simply throwing a fantasy template over the top of otherwise obvious biblical stories. Instead, he sought to craft a tale that, in a sense, absorbed a Christian ethos. So there are no clear one-to-one correlations between the characters in Tolkien's Middle-earth and the Bible. Rather...Tolkien's Middle-earth stories are imbued with elements of grace, forgiveness, redemption, and faith because Tolkien himself lived a faith-saturated life.
You can read the entire essay here.
What do you think? Could The Hobbit be useful in exploring Christian themes with youth?