John Ronald Reuel Tolkien would have turned twelfty-one (121) today, an age not entirely unreachable for a hobbit of course. In an interview Tim Keller said the following about Tolkien’s influence on his spiritual life:
Tolkien has helped my imagination. He was a devout Catholic — and I am not. However, because he brought his faith to bear into narrative, fiction, and literature, his Christianity — which was pretty ‘mere Christianity’ (understanding of human sin, need for grace, need for redemption) — fleshed out in fiction, has been an inspiration to me.
What I mean by inspiration is this: he gives me a way of grasping glory that would otherwise be hard for me to appreciate. Glory, weightiness, beauty, excellence, brilliance, virtue — he shows them to you in some of his characters.
When people ask me how often I have read The Lord of the Rings, the answer is, I actually never stop. I’m always in it.
As an aside, if you’d like to purchase a copy of LOTR, an edition that will withstand repeated use, Westminster Books now carries a gorgeously illustrated box set. I bought two sets last week and was really impressed with the quality. Find details here.