Today is J.R.R. Tolkien’s Eleventy-first (+10) birthday. Tolkien was a creative genius who wrote poetry, songs, entire languages, created characters, races and landscapes that continue to inspire today. He is, in my opinion, the greatest fantasy writer of all time.
He was a devout Catholic and much of his writing was heavily influenced by his faith. Perhaps one of the cooler faith inspired moments is his account of how all things began in Middle Earth in his book “The Silmarillion”. Tolkien was a contemporary and friend of C.S. Lewis and was instrumental in Lewis’ conversion away from atheism. The two men would often compare notes on their books at a pub with a couple of others and they called themselves the “Inklings”.
I would have given anything to sit with those men for one night and hear their conversation and to hear them talk about God, theology and creativity as the worlds of Middle-Earth and Narnia took form. As it is, the best we can do is look at some of the written words. So in honor of Tolkien’s birthday, here are just a few of my favorite Tolkien quotes.
“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.”
“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”
“All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost”
“I will not say, do not weep, for not all tears are an evil.”
“Courage is found in unlikely places.”
“A man that flies from his fear may find that he has only taken a short cut to meet it.”
“Frodo: I can’t do this, Sam.
Sam: I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.
Frodo: What are we holding onto, Sam?
Sam: That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo… and it’s worth fighting for.”