J.R.R. Tolkien: Writer For Our Time of Terror

Speaker(s): Ralph Wood
Date: July 1-12, 2013
Length: 17h16min
Product ID: RGDL4314S

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"There is only one Road," declares Bilbo Baggins, "and it's like a great river; its springs are at every doorstep, and every path is its tributary." "It's a dangerous business," he adds, "going out of your door. You step into the Road, and if you don't keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to." On September 11, 2001, more than three thousand Americans were swept to their deaths as a result of terrorist attacks. With uncanny prescience, J.R.R. Tolkien predicted that ours would be a time of terror, with frightful forces of evil striking both from within and without.

This course is devoted to identifying the nature of that terror as Tolkien fathoms it, especially in the sinister and addictive powers of the Ruling Ring: invisibility, deathlessness, and coercion. We also seek to identify the ancient Christian virtues that, though they remain implicit in his work, Tolkien proposes as ways for "the little people of the world" (i.e., Christians) of responding to terroristic violence, whether outward or inward: the Faith that persists through the communal life of friends who sacrifice themselves to a common lord and mission, the Hope that endures despite many betrayals and defeats, as well as the Charity that refuses to return evil for evil, but overcomes the desire for vengeance with divine mercy and forgiveness. Lectures include:

  • Introduction to Tolkien's Life and Work
  • Tolkien on Fantasy, Creation, and Calamity
  • Tolkien on Adventure, Greed, and Smallness
  • Tolkien on Community, Humor, and the Slow Movement of Time
  • Tolkien on Providence and the Prudence of Little People
  • Tolkien on the Nature of Beauty and Betrayal
  • Tolkien on the Natural Order, Magic, and Coercive Power
  • Tolkien on Heroism, Sacrifice, and the Heroism of the Weak
  • Tolkien on Failure, Mercy, and the Final Triumph of the Good
  • Tolkien's Place in Our Churches and Our Culture

See All Audio by Ralph Wood

Ralph C. Wood is University Professsor of Theology and Literature at Baylor University. There he has taught award-winning courses that are devoted to the relation of Christian faith to imaginitive literature. He is the author of The Comedy of Redemption: Christian Faith and Comic Vision in Four American Novelists., Contending for the Faith: The Church's Engagement with Culture, The Gospel According to Tolkien: Visions of the Kingdom in Middle-earth and Flannery O'Connor and the Christ-Haunted South.

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