Sunday, December 16

Finding God in The Hobbit by Jim Ware

I was in fourth grade when my parents read The Hobbit to me.  Through the weeks of reading I was transported to Middle Earth.  Though Bilbo’s adventure eventually came to the end, I discovered there were further tales of Middle Earth and soon listened to my parents recount the tale of The Lord of the Rings.  These stories have remained among my favorite ever since.

Having read a couple of biographies on J.R.R. Tolkien, I knew he was Christian, and though his stories may not always have obvious spiritual themes woven in them, I knew they were present, at least in part.  This led me to Jim Ware’s Finding God in The Hobbit.  Knowing of Tolkien’s Christian background, I was interested in the insight given.

Each chapter begins with a passage of The Hobbit.  Ware then begins to pull apart the passage to look at what spiritual lessons could be learned from it.  In the end, it seemed like it was set up like a devotional, with a single question ending each chapter.  As I did not go into this expecting devotional, I found it a bit disappointing, as I was hoping for a more in depth look at the spiritual themes in the book.

Instead, Ware seems to nitpick individual sentences and sometimes draws extremely wild conclusions (though to his credit he does occasional admit that some might think he is stretching the material).  The most egregious chapter I found in this regard was the chapter titled “A Bit of Rope.”  He talks about how important rope has been in society, and then concludes that God’s grace is like a rope that rescues us.  While I think the image of grace as rope may be fine, it felt as if he was taking the smallest of threads and trying to make a chain.

Other chapters had more promise, but unfortunately did not delve far into the material.  At one point Ware takes a look at the use of magic in Middle Earth and how that might fit in a Christian worldview.  He had some interesting thoughts, but they were brief, and I was left wanting much more.

Unfortunately there was little middle ground.  Either he stretched things too far, or didn’t take them far enough.  Overall, I thought it could’ve benefited from more depth.  The passages from The Hobbit often take as much as a third of the whole chapter.  Considering the quoted passages are only 2 pages, it shows that the material is easy to skim over.  Even something such as cutting the ‘stretched’ chapters (such as ‘A Bit of Rope) could allow for           the other chapters to be expounded on a bit.

If you are looking a devotional oriented book and are a fan of The Hobbit, there’s a chance this book might be OK for you.  But if you want an in depth look into the spiritual themes found in Tolkien’s writing, you’d be better off looking elsewhere.

2/5 stars

I received this book free from Tyndale. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255

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