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

4.12 of 5 stars 4.12  ·  rating details  ·  659 ratings  ·  28 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 Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. TolkienUnfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth by J.R.R. TolkienThe Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien by J.R.R. TolkienThe Atlas of Middle-Earth by Karen Wynn FonstadMaster of Middle-Earth by Paul H. Kocher
Tolkien Scholar's Bookshelf
12th out of 65 books — 11 voters
The Hobbit by J.R.R. TolkienThe Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. TolkienThe Two Towers by J.R.R. TolkienThe Return of the King by J.R.R. TolkienThe Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien
Middle Earth
118th out of 130 books — 62 voters

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Nov 17, 2011 Moriah rated it 5 of 5 stars
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.
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
"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
John Martindale
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
Feb 03, 2015 Desiree rated it 5 of 5 stars
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!
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
We are called to be faithful despite circumstances. God refuses to surrender this world to evil. He seeks redemption even for irredeemable evil.
May 22, 2013 Andrea rated it 4 of 5 stars
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.
Dec 31, 2007 Ruth rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
This is a quick read, but full of profound statements! My copy is full of highlights and underlines and comments.
It was a good read, not a page turner, but makes you think about your life with great examples from LOTR.
Absolutely incredible commentary! Marvelous insights and inspiration!
Dani marked it as to-read
Aug 29, 2015
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