Tolkien's Ordinary Virtues : Exploring the Spiritual Themes of the Lord of the Rings

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9780830823123: Tolkien's Ordinary Virtues : Exploring the Spiritual Themes of the Lord of the Rings
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"I will take the Ring, though I do not know the way." --Frodo Baggins, at the council of Elrond

"The mere recollection of [this phrase] can move me to tears. I have been reading this tale since I was twelve years old, taking it from my shelf every year or so and returning to Middle-earth . . . . As I get older, and learn more of what sort of person I am, and continue sojourning to the rich soil of the Shire and the high towers of Minas Tirith, I discover that many of my notions of what is good and right and noble in this world have their source in that one." - from the introduction

The Lord of the Rings offers us the essential lessons in living. Here we discover ordinary virtues, like generosity, pity, hospitality and rest. We meet extraordinary people, like Bilbo, Gandalf, Tom Bombadil and Glorfindel. We learn about the roots of destruction in pride and betrayal. And we find the ingredients for success, such as community and sacrifice.

Each of us-even the most simple-is called to a journey. We may be asked to leave behind everything we have grown dependent on. And when this is the case, the tale of Frodo and his friends offers hope that we will be given the strength and the help we need to overcome every obstacle and defeat every foe. This book will help you find the way.

"Writing in graceful, easy prose, Smith invites us to admire Tolkien not only for the epic scope of his imagination but also for the depth of his spiritual insight." David C. Downing, professor of English at Elizabethtown College and author of Planets in Peril and The Most Reluctant Convert

"Mark Eddy Smith's gentle account of Tolkien's ordinary virtues gets to the very quick of the great storyteller's vision." Colin Duriez, author of Tolkien and the Lord of the Rings and The Inkings Handbook

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Review:

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

About the Author:

Mark Eddy Smith is a graphic designer at InterVarsity Press. He spent his early years in rural New Hampshire (which is not so different from the Shire) and currently resides in Oak Park, Illinois. Mark has read The Lord of the Rings trilogy a dozen times.

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