I am reading a book which I discovered accidentally and which is blowing me away. It’s Secret Fire: The Spiritual Vision of J.R.R. Tolkien, by Stratford Caldecott (2003). The author with the unusual name is Director of the Chesterton Institute for Faith & Culture in Oxford, England.
This book explores the deep Christian roots of Tolkien’s fantasy writings. You hardly need to be told that fantasy may often serve as an indirect approach to truth. Sometimes you can see truth more clearly if you look at it from a funny angle.
This morning I read how, sometime after the publication of The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien was visited by a man, a stranger, who showed him “certain old pictures that seemed almost designed to illustrate The Lord of the Rings, but which Tolkien had never before seen. The man remarks after a silence: ‘Of course you don’t suppose, do you, that you wrote all that book yourself?'”
I read this to my wife and she said, “Hmm! Sounds like another fantasy writer I know.” Meaning me, of all people.
But it’s true. On one level I suppose we can’t deny that we “make up” the stories that we write. But on another level, we simply can’t shake the sense that the stories were there all along, somewhere, and that we have been shown them and given the privilege of writing them. Shown by whom? By Our Lord the Living God–who else?
I’ve only just started on this book, and can hardly wait to see what else is in it.