Best known for his work, The Lord of the Rings, J. R. R. Tolkien taught at the University of Leeds before becoming a Fellow of Pembroke College, Oxford. He later became a Fellow of Merton College. A scholar specializing in Old and Middle English, Tolkien was a founding member of the well-known literary society “The Inklings,” in which C. S. Lewis was also a member. As a friend and colleague, Lewis credited his conversion to Christianity in part to Tolkien’s influence upon his life.
Though The Lord of the Rings was not necessarily written as an intentional analogy of the Christian faith, Christian themes emanate from a classic struggle between good and evil—between the free peoples of Middle Earth and Sauron and his minions. Below is a quote from the first book of the epic, The Fellowship of the Ring. Gandalf the Wise, a leader of the opposition against evil Sauron, has just explained to Frodo the desperate situation that is before them. While Frodo’s mournful response is understandable, Gandalf does not accept a spirit of despair, instead he points Frodo to what they can and must do—exhibit courage in their critical moment.
“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”1
1 J. R. R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring, 2nd edition (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1993), 60.