In this companion course to The Hidden Meaning of The Lord of the Rings, Professor Joseph Pearce highlights the "fundamentally religious and Catholic" nature of Tolkien's famous novel, The Hobbit, or There and Back Again.
In this course, Joseph Pearce shows that Tolkien's own words about The Lord of the Rings being a "fundamentally religious and Catholic work" also apply to The Hobbit. Some readers mistakenly believe that The Hobbit is just a simple children's story. Tolkien might have written the book for his children's entertainment, but the best children's literature always has a deep level of meaning, and The Hobbit is no exception.
Professor Pearce gives you three keys to a true understanding of The Hobbit's applicability to everyday life:
• Bilbo grows in maturity, wisdom, compassion, self-sacrifice, and heroism over the course of his journey to the Lonely Mountain. At the end of the novel, Gandalf proclaims that Bilbo is no longer the hobbit he was, and we know that he is changed for the better. The meaning of life is to grow in virtue and holiness by learning the lessons of our adventures so that we can return "home" to God in Heaven.
• In The Hobbit, Bilbo is time and again protected and rewarded by "luck" or "good fortune." The "luck" present in The Hobbit is nothing other than the hand of providence and grace. In order to survive our life's journey like Bilbo, we need the supernatural assistance of grace and providence.
• Over and over again in the book, Tolkien presents characters who have fallen prey to dragon-sickness: pride and lust for gold or other material possessions. The Hobbit serves as a cautionary meditation on Matthew 6:21: "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
Bilbo Baggins of Bag End and his adventures can serve as a mirror for our journey through life. Even though we won't find ourselves travelling through goblin-infested mountains, chased by spiders, or threatened by trolls, we can see that virtue is only attained through grace by slaying the monsters and demons which try to prevent our passage into eternal glory. Tolkien's profoundly Catholic worldview allows us to transcend the literal meaning of the story and apply its theological lessons to our own lives.
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: C505 (Grouped)
Publisher: Saint Benedict Press, LLC
Publication Date: 2012
Binding: DVD, CD, MP4 Video Download, MP3 Audio Download and Group Study Edition
8 Lectures (Approx. 30 min. each)
1. Bilbo's Pilgrimage Bilbo's journey reflects our own journey through life, involving growing up and growing in virtue - through grace.
2. An Unexpected Parting Gandalf prompts Bilbo into an adventure, which, on the moral level, encourages growth in wisdom and virtue, through suffering and sacrifice, of Bilbo himself.
3. Trusting in "Luck" Through Bilbo's early encounters, we learn that "luck" is not merely chance, but is evidence of meaning and purpose in the cosmos.
4. Goblins and Gollum
The adventure continues as goblins reflect cruelty, wickedness, and the evils of technology and Gollum shows how hatred often hurts itself.
5. Bilbo Comes of Age
Gandalf leaves the party, allowing Bilbo to grow up through defeating obstacles on his own.
6. The Return of the King
Thorin Oakenshield returns to Lake-town as the rightful King under the Mountain, and must vanquish the usurper, the dragon Smaug.
7. The Dragon Sickness of Pride
Bilbo discovers the dragon's weakness which becomes its downfall, but not before the dwarves fall prey to its sickness of greed and pride.
8. Blessed Be the Poor in Spirit
As the adventure ends, a humble and grown-up Bilbo finds great contentment back at home, just as our life's pilgrimage leads us back to our home in Heaven.