Tolkien Was Deeper Than I Thought

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.

6 comments on “Tolkien Was Deeper Than I Thought

  1. Can you tell me where you read this bit?
    “This morning I read how … ”



    1. It’s on pages 8-9 of the book.

      My copy, by the way, was once the property of the North Yorkshire County Library. As a “Last of the Summer Wine” fan, I would love to visit Yorkshire.

  2. Sometimes I write something and when I reread it later, I have to say to myself, “Did I write that?” Yes, our Creator has a way of keeping the truth true to him! I love the comment by Dr. Caldecott (sp).

  3. Could you give us a few quotes from his book?


    1. Try this one: “God didn’t create all these things”–trees, flowers, birds, hills, etc.–“just to fill up space.”

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