Tag: J.R.R. Tolkien

Christian Humanist Profiles 132: Philip Ryken

In his introduction to Beowulf, the scholar Friedrich Klaeber explains the great Geatish warrior’s resemblances to Christ by concluding that “the narrative derived a superior dignity from suggesting the most exalted hero-life known to Christians” (li). Readers of another Beowulf scholar, J.R.R. Tolkien, have also noted echoes of that “most exalted hero-life” in his epic…

Christian Humanist Profiles 61: A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War

Before the wars in Middle-earth, before the battles of Narnia, there was a war in Europe—the Great War, the war to end war, that fell tragically short of that dream of peace, and left men and nations broken in body and soul. Two young English army officers were caught up in this storm of war:…

The Christian Humanist Podcast, Episode #174: Tolkien for the Hostile

David Grubbs and Nathan Gilmour attempt to defend the works of J.R.R. Tolkien against Michial Farmer–a well-known hater. CORRECTION: Grubbs mentions Faramir meditating sympathetically about a dead human soldier allied with Mordor; that moment is not, in fact, Faramir’s, but belongs to Samwise Gamgee: It was Sam’s first view of a battle of Men against…

Christian Humanist Profiles 46: The Oxford Inklings

“Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” With this proverb, the ancient Hebrew sages defined the value of friendship. Similarly, the Stoic Marcus Aurelius began his Meditations enumerating the friends to whom he owed particular traits of character and wisdom. However, we need not return to ancient times to see this venerable model of…

Christian Humanist Profiles 36: Tolkien’s Sacramental Vision

In his introduction to George Macdonald’s Phantastes, C.S. Lewis credits the novel with baptizing his imagination, giving him a taste for the good and the numinous that led, ultimately, to Christian conversion. Some might use that same turn of phrase about Lewis’s own Narnia series, finding in their first introduction to the lion Aslan the…

Christian Humanist Profiles 25: The Hobbit Party

Imagine rolling green hills at twilight, speckled with the glow of round windows peeking from under eaves of turf, each opening to a scene of snug, domestic comfort. Imagine an idyllic pastoral land, full of small, happy inhabitants leading small happy lives. Who wouldn’t want to live in the Shire? But we can’t: Hobbiton is…

My Colleague J.R.R. Tolkien: A Review of Tolkien’s Beowulf Translation

Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary by J.R.R. Tolkien, edited by Christopher Tolkien 425 pp. Houghton MIfflin Harcourt. $28.00 There’s a special kind of joy that fills the air when a group of people, who share a certain sort of niche interest, get exciting news about their common niche.  Such are the moments that make me…

The Christian Humanist Podcast, Episode #144: Allegory

David Grubbs holds forth with Nathan Gilmour and Michial Farmer about allegory, both as a mode of reading and as a literary genre. The debate hinges on what terms mean in which contexts: is a literary text defective because it’s an allegory, or are there good or bad allegories? Explore that and other questions with…

The Christian Humanist Podcast, Episode #133: Psychology

General Introduction – Stay tuned ‘til the end for listener feedback Aristotelian Psychology – What does Aristotle mean by soul? – The soul and the body – Dante’s interpolation – Your undecaying mind – The final cause of the body – Types of souls – Thomas’s additions Christology and Psychology – The Nicene Creed –…

The Christian Humanist Podcast, Episode #132: Physics

General Introduction  – Our special guest – Listener feedback – I dream of The Christian Humanist Podcast – C.S. Lewis and universalism – In which we explain pop culture to David Grubbs – Tolkien and Ransom – Anti-vaccination and the Internet – Bible episodes Aristotelian Physics – Phusis and natura – From dirt to gods…

The Christian Humanist Podcast, Episode #131

General Introduction – A full slate of PhDs – Listener feedback – Some Lewis corrections and additions – A technical comment, plagued by technical problems – Yes, Grubbs knows about Tolkien’s Beowulf Hebrew Science – Our desert God – Weather as punishment – Deus ex turbine – The God who is not in the wind…

The Christian Humanist Podcast, Episode #130: A C.S. Lewis Overview

A note: You may notice a marked difference in tone between the General Introduction and the rest of the episode. This is because they were recorded on two different days. We had a lot more energy on the Thursday afternoon when we recorded the introduction than we did on the Friday afternoon when we recorded…

The Christian Humanist Podcast, Episode #107: Medieval 101

General Introduction  – A busy summer – How we spent our summer vacations – Three big announcements The Middle Ages and Antiquity – The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire – Rhetorical constructs – A slow and varied process – How did the Medievals see themselves? The Middle Ages and the Modern World –…

The Christian Humanist Podcast, Episode #100: Doxology

General Introduction – Spring Breaked, Spring Breaking, Will Spring Break – No listener feedback The Old 100th – Which tune? – A happy coincidence – Defining our terms – Words to frame God’s glory – Biblical doxologies Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow – A broadening experience – Our international outreach – Our own…

The Christian Humanist Podcast, Episode #94: The Forest

General Introduction – Grubbs is back! – Old English – Snow – Listener feedback Etymology – Not promising – Madness and wood Biblical Forests – The Epic of Gilgamesh – Wildernesses and deserts – Man-eating forests – Trees clapping their hands – Joseph the stonemason Classical Forests – Forests and mountains – Centaurs – Categories…