Joseph Pearce offers a fascinating and insightful course on The Lord of the Rings, which is the greatest and most popular work of literature of the twentieth century. The course discusses the book's phenomenal success and the life of its author, J. R. R. Tolkien, before embarking on a tour of the world and characters of Middle-earth.
Despite the absence of any direct mention of Christ or the Catholic Church, Tolkien described his work as "fundamentally religious and Catholic." He was able to infuse his fictional world with theological orthodoxy through his creation myth and world order. Endowing his protagonists with Christian virtues, he also incorporated themes of grace and mercy.
Tolkien's deep faith and creative philosophy emerge from the narrative as an unmistakable Catholic presence. The very foundation of Tolkien's Middle-earth, from its creation by Iluvatar, the one God, to angel-like Melkor's sinful rebellion, to the menacing presence of Sauron, the dark lord, supports Professor Pearce's argument for the Catholicity of the work. You'll learn how the One Ring symbolizes Original Sin, how the dates Tolkien chose for events in the story are theologically significant, how the Elvish waybread, lembas, figures as the Eucharist, and how Frodo acts as a Christ-like figure.
Tolkien also describes his work as an allegory of "power usurped for domination" - a theme which is all the more important to examine in our modern world. Characters throughout The Lord of the Rings are tempted by power and the urge to seize and wield it for personal gain and unlawful control. Throughout the journey of the Fellowship, various characters face the temptation of the One Ring - the wizard Gandalf, through whom the Ring would wield a terrible power; human warrior Boromir, who would use it to save his people; and elf queen Galadriel, weary from fighting the "long defeat" against evil. Among the characters who do usurp power for domination are Saruman, the white wizard who succumbs to evil, and whose machinations at Isengard only bring more evil to Middle-earth.
Over the eight lectures in the course, Professor Pearce highlights connections, allegories, and insights which will expand your reading of The Lord of the Rings. It is said that art holds the mirror up to life. This is the reason that art is "real" and fiction is "true." The Lord of the Rings enjoys such fame and popularity because, in a way, it shows us ourselves in the characters. Learn more and discover for yourself the truth written into The Lord of the Rings with Professor Joseph Pearce.
About the Author
Joseph Pearce is Director of the Center for Faith and Culture and Writer in Residence at Aquinas College in Nashville, Tennessee. He is a renowned biographer whose books include his autobiography, Race with the Devil: My Journey from Racial Hatred to Rational Love (Saint Benedict Press, 2013); Candles in the Dark: The Authorized Biography of Fr. Ho Lung, Missionaries of the Poor (Saint Benedict Press, 2012), Through Shakespeare's Eyes: Seeing the Catholic Presence in the Plays (Ignatius Press, 2010); and Tolkien: Man and Myth, a Literary Life (HarperCollins, 1998). He is the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate of Higher Education from Thomas More College for the Liberal Arts and also received the Pollock Award for Christian Biography. He is co-editor of the St. Austin Review and has hosted two series on Shakespeare for EWTN, as well as hosting several EWTN productions on J. R. R. Tolkien.
Item No: C500 (Grouped)
Publisher: Saint Benedict Press, LLC
Publication Date: 2011
Binding: DVD, CD, MP4 Video Download, MP3 Audio Download and Group Study Edition
8 Lectures (Approx. 30 min. each)
1. Introducing J. R. R. Tolkien: The Man Behind the Myth In our first lecture, we will look at the importance of understanding the personhood and beliefs of the author in order to understand his works. We will J.R.R. Tolkien's life and his theological and philosophical beliefs.
2. True Myth: Tolkien, C. S. Lewis and the Truth of Fiction During this second lecture, we'll discuss J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis's friendship and the philosophy of myth which developed as fruit of their friendship. This philosophy of myth shaped Tolkien's creative vision and helps us to understand the hidden meaning of The Lord of the Rings.
3. The Meaning of the Ring: "To Rule Them All, and in the Darkness Bind Them"
Our third lecture is devoted to the One Ring which seeks to rule all and bind all in darkness. We'll reveal the Ring as a symbol of sin in general and Original Sin in particular and look at the consequences of indulging in sin.
4. Of Elves and Men: Fighting the Long Defeat This fourth lecture considers how Elves and Men are integral to Tolkien's description of The Lord of the Rings as an allegory of death and immortality. We'll also discuss the role of a memento mori, the reminder of death, in the story and how it directs us to consider the Four Last Things.
5. Seeing Ourselves in the Story: The Hobbits, Boromir, Faramir & Gollum as Everyman Figures In this fifth lecture, we'll discover the various characters in The Lord of the Rings who reflect our humanity. Art is the mirror of reality and these characters can reflect important truths about ourselves.
6. Of Wizards and Kings: Frodo, Gandalf & Aragorn as Figures of Christ Our sixth lecture discusses how Frodo, Gandalf, and Aragorn work particularly as Christ figures given certain characteristics and various points in the story. Through these characters, Tolkien introduces Christ into the story with a subtlety that refuses to be labeled as "allegory."
7. Beyond the Power of the Ring: The Riddle of Tom Bombadil & Other Neglected Characters
For our seventh lecture, we're exploring some of the lesser-known characters of The Lord of the including Tom Bombadil, Treebeard, Radagast, and others. Far from being "throw-away" characters, they all have important significance and point to Tolkien's deep Catholicism.
8. Frodo's Failure: The Triumph of Grace
During our final lecture, we'll look at the climactic moment of Frodo's failure on Mount Doom, his struggle with Gollum, and the paradox of triumphant providential grace.
secrets unlocked Review by mama
This opened new worlds of meaning in the Lord of the Rings. So many clues I had missed, from dates to mountains to the Waybread. The fiction is a beautiful lens we look through to see the factual happy ending we hope for. (Posted on 12/21/2014)