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Tolkien's Ordinary Virtues: Exploring the Spiritual Themes of the Lord of the Rings

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4.04  ·  Rating Details ·  912 Ratings  ·  33 Reviews
For Christians who are fans of Tolkien, Smith compares the tales of the Hobbits to those of spirituality, wherein God calls those that listen to embark on a journey.
Paperback, 141 pages
Published February 1st 2002 by InterVarsity Press (first published December 21st 2001)
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The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien by J.R.R. TolkienThe Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. TolkienJ.R.R. Tolkien by Tom ShippeyJ.R.R. Tolkien by Humphrey CarpenterThe Road to Middle-Earth by Tom Shippey
Tolkien Scholar's Bookshelf
11th out of 67 books — 16 voters
The Hobbit by J.R.R. TolkienThe Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. TolkienThe Return of the King by J.R.R. TolkienThe Two Towers by J.R.R. TolkienThe Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien
Middle Earth
118th out of 130 books — 68 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,542)
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Elizabeth
Jul 01, 2016 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing
I've read a couple of other books about Tolkien from a faith perspective, but didn't care for them all that much. The austere Catholicism that imbues his work almost imperceptibly was not well-served by the others' overt evangelical Protestantism, although I certainly have no objection to the latter as a thing in itself.

This book is insightful and strikes just the right note, in my view. Eddy devotes different chapters to spiritual virtues such as generosity and sacrifice, introducing the occas
...more
Moriah
Nov 17, 2011 Moriah rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Any fans of the LOTR book trilogy
Not as good as "Walking with Frodo" or "Walking with Bilbo", but very very good! This is geared to fans of the books, and doesn't really include anything about the movies, which is actually a very good thing for fans of the books. Particularly "older" fans. (People who read and loved the books before the movies came out.) If you love the books, you will enjoy this one as well.
Meg
Feb 26, 2014 Meg rated it it was amazing
A beautiful work which explores the common gems we ought to glean from the landscape of Tolkien's Middle a Earth in his Lord of the Rings storyline. I would live to read this again and again, especially coupled with reading the trilogy itself. Smith captured exactly what every reader discovers each time they read: a deeper understanding of who they are. The author then finishes this with faith and scripture and little quests for the reader to utilize in practicing his or her newfound understandi ...more
Charlie Doggett
Nov 04, 2015 Charlie Doggett rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good, Not Great

It started out weak and shallow to me, but as I read on I got the hang of his writing. At times I felt like he was trying to"baptize" the story or make it Christian in nature which I'm not convinced is what Tolkien intended. He is not C. S. Lewis, just his friend. But this book did help me recall the Lord of the Rings stories in a new way. So Virtues is okay.
Eric
Apr 29, 2014 Eric rated it liked it
"Reading or writing about the virtues of fictional characters has little power to instill those virtues in us. Yet good books can gives us a template, a way of understanding the world, so that when our time of testing comes, when the deed is set before us that we alone have been called to do, we will know the choices we have to face"
Mark Eddy Smith, Tolkien’s Ordinary Virtues
Wiktoria
Mar 15, 2016 Wiktoria rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book is too simplistic at times, and sometimes includes too much summarising of the novel, more than is necessary for Tolkien fans for whom the work is supposed to written. However, it also includes some interesting insights and is overall an uplifting read, a reminder of joys brought about by "The Lord of the Rings" itself. It definitely motivates to reach for Tolkien's volume again, as there can never be too many re-reads of LotR :)
Chad Warner
This book explores several ordinary "workaday" virtues (such as generosity, sacrifice, and hospitality) demonstrated in The Lord of the Rings (and The Hobbit and The Silmarillion). Each chapter includes Bible examples and verses. I was underwhelmed; there's nothing especially deep, enlightening, or thought-provoking.
John Martindale
Jul 29, 2011 John Martindale rated it liked it
Shelves: christian, audiobook
I really enjoyed hearing Mark Smiths reflections on various virtues throughout the book. He has done what hope to do sometime off in the future, that is to read the LOTR books more contemplatively and draw from them the richness that is there. What I like is the LOTR story was fresh in my mind, so it was almost like having a conversation with a friend who is sharing with me what they liked from the book, and since they have a different perspective from mine, when they share there reflection from ...more
Stan Shelley
Jul 22, 2015 Stan Shelley rated it really liked it
For each virtue he discusses, the author sites passages in Tolkien's books. I think Tolkien would like this book because he admitted that his books were Christian but he did not like them to be overtly Christian. This book shows how he did that.
Josh
Mar 07, 2015 Josh rated it liked it
Good but not great. He draws some interesting examples of each of the virtues he chooses to examine. I don't really disagree but neither am I really astounded.

Mostly it reminded me that it has been too long since I read series.
Emily Michael
Jun 30, 2015 Emily Michael rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book chiefly because I enjoy reading about Tolkien's work. I didn't find that the author contributed any dazzling insights; the spirituality was confined to Christian teaching. However, the book was pleasant, if a bit shallow and moralistic.
Amy
Oct 24, 2015 Amy rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, religion
This is an interesting look at the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. The author, Mark Eddy Smith, looks at the virtues that he believes are represented in Tolkien's work. While the author's take primarily focuses on Christianity and how Christianity influenced Tolkien's work, I believe the inspiration Smith draws from Tolkien's work can inspire many different people. The book is pretty small and a fast read, but I really enjoyed it. Smith's love for Tolkien's work is clear throughout the book and it remi ...more
Brent
Jan 05, 2013 Brent rated it it was amazing
In this book, Smith shows how the actions of Tolkien's characters exhibit common virtues that we all should strive to develop. Some of these virtues I had found myself, others add more meaning to the Tolkien's masterpiece.

I have long struggled to articulate why I despise Peter Jackson's movies. This book has given me the means to do so. Like Mark Smith when I was young I recognized something of the Bible in Tolkien's work--especially after I read the Silmarillion. These books have become a part
...more
Jennifer
Mar 03, 2015 Jennifer rated it liked it
I did like this book, he obviously knows his stuff on the LOTR series and I liked how he identified them into stories to live by. Thankfully the chapters are short which makes this an excellent daily devotional.
Nick Koher
Jun 27, 2014 Nick Koher rated it it was amazing
This book is a helpful and refreshing reminder to us of the many virtues that are displayed in The Lord of the Rings. These virtues are important in our everyday lives and should be remembered more often. Mark Eddy Smith does a excellent job at capturing these virtues.
Laura
Apr 06, 2014 Laura rated it liked it
A nice little book. It's not a particularly comprehensive or scholarly review of Tolkien, and I didn't always agree with the author's doctrine, but it was still worth reading.
Desiree
Feb 03, 2015 Desiree rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: LOTR fanatics, especially Christians, parents, educators, and theologians!
This is a positively wonderful book on Tolkien and LOTR! It's also a quite easy read! I look forward to reading more from Mark Eddy Smith!
Joe
Nov 02, 2007 Joe rated it it was ok
This is a nice devotional type of book, one that gets you into the mode of thinking of the virtues inherent in Tolkien's trilogy The Lord of the Rings. It contains no special insight into Tolkien's own life, beliefs, or intent. Rather, it consists of Smith's own thoughts as he applies LOTR to life. Any religious person could come up with the same ideas. Still, it enjoyed this book and the points it brings out.
Audrey
Jul 28, 2010 Audrey rated it it was ok
Shelves: books-i-own
I read this book when doing research for my undergraduate thesis, and it really did not contain anything I hadn't seen already or knew myself. Smith stays close to the surface of each virtue that he explores, only giving two or three pages to each section. If you are a serious Middle-earth lover, I would suggest passing this one over. If you're new to Middle-earth and haven't done much extra reading, this might be a good place to start.
Jen
Sep 12, 2014 Jen rated it liked it
I love Tolkien, and his books, so I'm super disappointed to be lukewarm about this book. It's one of my favorite authors with one of my favorite topics--spirituality--so how could this not be awesome? Because it's pretty flat, that's how. It feels a lot like just praise of how great Tolkien's writing was, which is true but not really book-worthy. There are some great quotes, but overall I was just not impressed.
Noelle Campbell
Jan 07, 2012 Noelle Campbell rated it it was amazing
I can't recommend this book highly enough. If you are in need of spiritual recharge, this is the book. I have read it repeatedly since I bought it and I'm never tired of it (which is more than I can say for LOTR, actually). This is a beautiful homage to the Authors favorite author--a short but extremely uplifting and inspirational book. Recommended to fans of fantasy and inspirational novels.
Melinda
Mar 28, 2011 Melinda rated it really liked it
Shelves: essays
I really enjoyed the short essays here, devotional meditations on virtues such as faith, hospitality, wonder, temptation and failure. I'm not a Tolkien scholar, nor do I know much about Middle Earth. It was wonderful to have someone connect the spiritual dots for me, pointing out specific scenes where the spiritual themes occur. Good book for both private pondering and a group discussion.
Baylee
Nonostante a tratti sembri impartire lezioni di catechismo, si tratta di un libriccino interessante. Dà una prima infarinata sulle influenze della profonda fede cattolica di Tolkien ne Il Signore degli Anelli. I capitoli sono brevi e rendono il libro estremamente scorrevole, mentre i riferimenti all'opera di Tolkien sono chiari (almeno per me che ne sono un'adoratrice).
Barry
Jul 03, 2009 Barry rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Some nice reflections on virtues as expressed in LOTR. From a Christian perspective - that's appropriate, as it is where Tolkien was coming from, but at times does stray a little into Sunday School territory, I feel. I would have enjoyed it more if instead of telling me what to think it prompted me to look at the text and think for myself, but that's just me.
Christine
Feb 07, 2013 Christine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Lord of the Rings is one of my books. As a Christian I saw many themes interwoven throughout, however, Smith does a wonderful job in pointing out the virtues and how they were written as not only part of the story itself but the Characters as well.
Amanda
Feb 08, 2012 Amanda rated it really liked it
Simon Vance narrated this entertaining and insightful study of one of my very favorite works, The Lord of the Rings. This is one I will listen to again, and now I'm ready to track down an audible version of the actual books and give them a listen.
Kyle
Interesting book, but I thought Finding God in the Lord of the Rings was much better, especially because this one seemed to lack critical research. You need to do the research to write a good book, especially if it involves LotR
Vincent
May 03, 2012 Vincent rated it it was amazing
Some books are profound precisely because of their simplicity. This is such a book. It is throughly insightful and draws the reader into deeper reflections of his own.
Meg
Sep 17, 2010 Meg rated it liked it
We are called to be faithful despite circumstances. God refuses to surrender this world to evil. He seeks redemption even for irredeemable evil.
Andrea
May 22, 2013 Andrea rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Christians who enjoy Tolkien
Not too heavy, but a nice linking of themes and characters in Lord of the Rings with Christian ideals and values.
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