He could only describe it by saying it was like actually meeting one of the characters he thought he’d made up–Gandalf the Grey, the wizard. If you haven’t read the book, trust me: this is not the sort of person anyone encounters in real life.
Once you’re able to see the Christianity in Tolkien’s work, you can’t unsee it.
Everyone who works in Christian fantasy owes him a debt.
I know, I know–none of these has ever been called Serious Mainstream Literature. You’d never catch Tolstoy writing about celebrity spiders; and Jane Austen wasn’t big on lost cities inhabited by maniacs.
But these are the authors I’ve learned from, and these are the authors whose works I love–and return to again and again.
I was especially gratified when he told me how his children loved Bell Mountain as he read it to them. They called it simply “Jack and Ellayne.” I think they were five or six years old at the time–way under the age of the target audience. But I’ve heard this a lot, over the years–mostly from adults.
Anyway, it’s an interesting article and I was very pleasantly surprised to find it available online.
King Arthur–whether he was ever really a king or not–eludes historical precision. But for some fifteen hundred years he was, after the Bible itself, the story, the earthly representative, of Christendom. That he has been almost forgotten, just in the past 50 years, shouts from the housetops the poverty of our culture.
Actually, the Orcs aren’t so much interested in colonizing as they are in tailgating and honking at you to drive faster–especially when you’re stopped at a red light. When they’re not doing that, they’re operating leaf blowers.
But what I really wanted to do with this post, back in 2014, was to call attention to what was then my newest Bell Mountain book, the seventh in the series, The Glass Bridge. I still marvel at the way artist Kirk DouPonce brought Gurun to life.
I find it very hard to remember she’s not a real person. And sometimes I don’t bother trying.
To boil it down all the way–C.S. Lewis was an atheist and could very easily have remained one all his life: so whatever quibbles we might have with his theology, however late he came to work in the Lord’s vineyard, he did the best he could.
Much as I cringe at having to take issue with Tolkien, I can’t help it. I think he’s wrong for looking at the fall of Arthur rather than his long-term legacy. Our own time, that we live in every day, would be very different, had there been no Arthur in the 6th century. We do have many serious problems; but it would be worse, I think, much worse, had Arthur never lived.
I really can’t blame readers who think fantasy is at best idle nonsense, and at worst, some kind of dalliance with the occult. But that can be said about anything, can’t it? There’s music that glorifies God, and there’s music that debases man and everything around him. When was the last time you heard somebody zoom down the road with a hymn playing on his car’s sound system?
So of course we can use fantasy in the service of the Kingdom: and the more who decide to try to do it, the better.