Examining meanings behind works of Tolkien

Pastor offers a closer look at legendary author’s creativity

THERE AND BACK AGAIN - Reverend Ross Smillie reads The Hobbit

THERE AND BACK AGAIN - Reverend Ross Smillie reads The Hobbit

J. R. R. Tolkien is considered by many to be one of the greatest authors of the 20th century. However, he did more than write great adventure stories. And, starting Sept. 22, Lacombe’s Tolkien fans will have an opportunity to learn more about and discuss their favourite author and the meanings of his stories.

‘The Lord of the Rings: Exploring the Hidden Meanings of Tolkien’s Fiction’ is a series exploring the themes of power, ethics, morality, friendship, camaraderie and faith in Tolkien’s writing.

Reverend Ross Smillie, who will be coordinating the series, said he thought a conversation about these themes would be productive as he has noticed the many messages behind the story of The Lord of the Rings each time he reads the novels.

“Whenever I read those books, I always have a sense of being encouraged and inspired,” said Smillie. “I want to be a better person having read them.”

Smillie said he first read Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings as a teenager and has read them many times since.

He added that when Peter Jackson released his epic film trilogy based on The Lord of the Rings from in 2001-2003, he watched films with interest as well.

As many who have read Tolkien, Smillie began to notice the parallels between the stories and religion, as well as other themes.

He added that he knew that Tolkien had been a devout Catholic. And with his good friend and fellow novelist C. S. Lewis, he had many conversations with his friends about what it meant to express religious beliefs through their art form.

Of course, Smillie isn’t the first to notice the parallels between Tolkien’s writing and religion, or the parallels between Tolkien’s writing and any parallels for that matter. As such, a number of resources already exist on this topic, some of which Smillie said he has been researching and plans to use to aid in the discussions in the series.

Smillie said that there is a reason the teachings of the Gospel are in a narrative form rather than just a list of beliefs.

He went on to say that artists like Tolkien fashioned narratives in response to “That great narrative” of the Bible story that can really change a person’s perspective.

“They can help us to see life in a different way,” said Smillie. “To see our lives in a different way and to see the world we live in in a different way.”

In Smillie’s opinion, one of the great things about The Lord of the Rings is the moral universe Tolkien created as the setting for the story.

“It can help us to identify those ways in which good and evil, right and wrong, intersect in our lives.”

While the series is being hosted within St. Andrew’s Church, Smillie said anyone is welcome, regardless of faith tradition.

He added that the series will appeal to both fans of Tolkien and those looking to learn more about their faith and of course, those who fall into both categories.

Those interested simply as fans of Tolkien can take this as an opportunity to learn more about a beloved author and his writing, he said. For those approaching it from more of a faith perspective, Smillie said Tolkien’s writing can help them to understand their faith better.

“We certainly hope that people from outside the church who are interested in Tolkien will participate because that will add a great dimension to the conversation.”

‘The Lord of the Rings: Exploring the Hidden Meanings of Tolkien’s Fiction’ will focus predominately on The Lord of the Rings but will also reference its prequel, The Hobbit and other works by Tolkien as well.

The first meeting of the series will take place at 7 p.m. on Sept. 22, (the mutual birthday of The Lord of the Rings protagonist Frodo and his Uncle Bilbo from the novel) at St. Andrew’s United Church.

Participants are encouraged to bring copies of the novels as well as any other literature or resources related to Tolkien and The Lord of the Rings.

news@lacombeexpress.com

Just Posted

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney arrives at the 2021 budget in Edmonton on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta launches COVID vaccine lottery with million-dollar prizes to encourage uptake

The premier says the lottery will offer three prizes worth $1 million a piece, as well as other prizes

The City of Red Deer sits at 249 active cases of the virus, after hitting a peak of 565 active cases on Feb. 22. (Black Press file image)
Red Deer down to 119 active COVID-19 cases

Province identifies 179 new cases Saturday

Member Terry Parsons’ custom built track vehicle.
Forestburg’s Area 53 Racetrack gears up for action-packed season

Site will also host a portion of the ‘Miles of Mayhem’ event in July

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

This undated photo provided by Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails shows a scout donating cookies to firefighters in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, as part of the Hometown Heroes program. As the coronavirus pandemic wore into the spring selling season, many Girl Scout troops nixed their traditional cookie booths for safety reasons. That resulted in millions of boxes of unsold cookies. (Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails via AP)
Thinner Mints: Girl Scouts have millions of unsold cookies

Since majority of cookies are sold in-person, pandemic made the shortfall expected

In this artist’s sketch, Nathaniel Veltman makes a video court appearance in London, Ont., on June 10, 2021 as Justice of the Peace Robert Seneshen (top left) and lawyer Alayna Jay look on. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Alexandra Newbould
Terror charges laid against London attack suspect

Crown says Nathaniel Veltman’s four counts of first-degree murder constitute an act of terrorism

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

Denmark’s Christian Eriksen receives medical attention after collapsing during the Euro 2020 soccer championship group B match between Denmark and Finland at Parken stadium in Copenhagen, Saturday, June 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, Pool)
Christian Eriksen in stable condition, Euro 2020 match resumes

Eriksen was given chest compressions after collapsing on the field during a European Championship

Most Read