Friday, November 21, 2014

On the Shoulders of Hobbits

On the Shoulders of Hobbits: The Road to Virtue with Tolkien and Lewis

C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien. 
There are so many books written about these men and their work, and I own a selection myself: "The A to Z of C. S. Lewis" by Colin Duriez, "If I had Lunch with C. S. Lewis" by Alister McGrath, "The Spiritual World of  the Hobbit" by James Stuart Bell, "Finding God in The Hobbit" and "Finding God in the Hobbit" by Jim Ware and Kurt Bruner.... 

If you've been to Narnia or Middle Earth, you understand that one does not simply read those stories. It's more than processing words on the page. You live them, and they mark your mind with images and phrases that return to you over and over. When you call LOTR and Narnia "unforgettable," you're stating a fact, not mouthing a cliche. 

I can see why so many modern authors want to explore the legacy and the lives of Tolkien and Lewis, and I've enjoyed each supplementary wok that I've read. They've reminded me that small moments build to grand plots and heroes come when ordinary men are brave and giving. 

The newest addition to my collection is "On the Shoulders of Hobbits~ The Road to Virtue with Tolkien and Lewis."  And that's what Louis Markos is talking about: virtue.

The excellence that we recognized in the original tales- the glories that made our hearts beat faster- they're drawn out and expounded upon in this book. 
The fidelity and justice, friendship and courage. 
The longing for your own home and hearth when you're out in the dark and the danger. 
The hope of purity and restoration, even when all circumstances shout against it.
The rightness of a King with hands of strength and healing.
The truth that terror cannot cancel out all beauty. 

Louis Markos expands on each theme, cross referencing Narnia and LOTRs and quoting theologians and philosophers. His goal isn't to read anything into the text, or transplant "religion" into the world of Middle Earth. (Save your breath if you're going to make that claim.) 
Instead, he points us to Goodness, Truth, and Beauty in those worlds and reminds us to seek those virtues in ours. 
The authors of Narnia and LOTR knew what made a good story. They knew about death and life and sacrifice and hope. They were sub-creating after the pattern of our own Author, who writes the best Stories of all. 

Thank you to MP Newsroom for my review copy. I recommend this book.

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