NORMAN, Oklahoma — In the years since J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy first captured the world’s imagination, the vivid imagery contained within the fiction series has fueled many spiritual discussions.
Is Gandalf the wizard a symbol Christ or is Frodo the humble hobbit to be compared to the Messiah?
The Rev. Jeremy Davis is inviting metro area residents to join him in a spiritual dialogue about the beloved Tolkien series.
Davis will host a five-week series of classes called “‘The Lord of the Rings’ and the Spiritual Life” at Holy Ascension Orthodox Christian Church, where he is pastor. The first class is set for Wednesday at the Norman church, 3350 12th Ave NE.
Participants will explore the spiritual images in the series and points of connection with Orthodox Christian spiritual concepts.
“The Lord of the Rings” trilogy chronicles the quest of a group of characters in the fictional setting of Middle Earth as they seek to destroy a powerful ring so that it cannot be used for evil purposes.
Davis said he has long held the series in high regard and he knows there are others who also claim the trilogy among their favorites.
“I love ‘The Lord of the Rings’ — the books and the movies and really immersed myself in the story,” he said. “I found as I was contemplating the story that there were all these connections to spiritual life and the spiritual quest that we have to overcome evil.”
The priest said the class is not dogmatic (“where it says this means this”), but it will be a way for people to get into dialogue and contemplate the imagery in the story.
“As Tolkien wrote it, the images are so rich with meaning and they also reflect his background because he was a dedicated Roman Catholic Christian,” Davis said.
He said the trilogy differs from C.S. Lewis’ “Chronicles of Narnia” series because while Lewis set the Narnia classics as Christian allegories, Tolkien meant “The Lord of the Rings” to be about myth. Davis said Tolkien was a professor who studied ancient languages and myth and specifically studied how myths served as literature.
So, while Aslan the lion in Lewis’ Narnia is easily identified as a Christ figure and Narnia’s White Witch is similarly seen as a metaphor for the devil, Davis said characters in “The Lord of the Rings” are not drawn in such an easily identifiable pattern.
“In Lord of the Rings, some people say Gandalf is like Christ because he died and then comes back to life. But then he’s not so much like Christ. Some say Frodo is like Christ because he has this great quest, but then he’s not so much like Christ,” Davis said.
“We will look at myth and how it can reflect your values and specifically how Tolkien’s myth reflected his Christian values.”
Meanwhile, Davis said it will be helpful to class participants if they have a basic knowledge of the trilogy, either through the books or the movies.
“You can watch a movie to prepare yourself for it. How cool is that?” he asked.
SOURCE: Daily Oklahoman
BY CARLA HINTON RELIGION EDITOR CHINTON@OKLAHOMAN.COM