I have lost track of how many times I have read Lord of the Rings. For a while, it was an annual event, but as I began to wander farther afield into literature, the practice faded. I think part of the re-reading was simply for comfort in my troubled adolescence. It was a place of mental refuge.
Now I'm reading it in a different way. To be sure, I enjoy its familiar paths, but as I've become more aware of the richness of Catholic theology (and J.R.R. Tolkien's encyclopedic knowledge thereof), I'm intrigued to see it revealed to me more clearly.
I have done similar focused readings before, paying attention to characters, choice of language, prose style, and even religion, but now I want to see how Tolkien's descriptions of the various spirits and references to then align with what I've learned over the last few years. The Lord of Spirits podcast was a big part of this education, and there are times when I miss being able to listen to it on lengthy road trips.
Alas, as I noted months ago, the hosts began to run low on content and turned the show into Why Catholic Do Everything Wrong. Not only is there a glut on the market for that kind of thing, the show lost its sense of humor, which was one of its strengths. But I digress.
There is a movement to canonize Tolkien, and I think it is appropriate. His personal life was nothing short of exemplary, and he was clearly a faithful and conscientious father and husband. His work is infused with his faith and it is increasingly clear that his approach to sharing it is uniquely suited for our troubled times.
The open embrace of what were once derided as "fantasy" books filled with pagan symbols is nothing short of remarkable, but also entirely appropriate. His work is more subtle than that of his friend C.S. Lewis, but I think that gives it a qualitative edge.
After slogging through the sinful ways of Ford Madox Ford, I'm very much welcoming the change.