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

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  1,109 ratings  ·  44 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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4.04  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,109 ratings  ·  44 reviews

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Oct 01, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. Very approachable, and great for quick reference and clear explanations. I would have loved if each chapter had been more fleshed out.
I would probably have given this easy guide to the many theme's in LotR 5 stars if not for the many religious comparisons.
Donald Owens II
Feb 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Friendly, thoughtful, and just long enough.
Aug 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: faith, owned, reviewed
Great analysis! It just makes me also very aware that it's been way too long ago that I last read the Lord of the Rings, plus that I probably read it when my English was not actually good enough to fully understand it.

I should read the Lord of the Rings again soon!
Moriah Elizabeth
Sep 02, 2011 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.
Jori Kandra
Jan 13, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: essays-prose
Tolkien's Ordinary Virtues was nothing to write home about. While Mark Eddy Smith does a sufficient job of identifying and characterizing the main themes or "virtues" in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, there was much to be desired. First and foremost, I would have loved more: more incorporation of the text, more analysis of the text, more correlation and relevance to the bible, I just wanted more. Additionally, much of Smith's analysis seems to be very half-assed. Some virtues he included text fr ...more
Apr 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It's amazing to me how many profound spiritual insights are packed into this slim book. I will be re-reading and referencing this one for years to come. It is beautifully and sensitively written for any Christian who is drawn to LOTR for its many deeply Christian parallels. One of the biggest reasons that I love the LOTR so much is how it compliments scripture so deeply, and even amplifies the mysterious and unknown qualities of the Bible (as in The Simarillion) in awesome ways.
Jun 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A thoughtful analysis of Tolkien’s Christian an moral themes. Jim Belcher should have read this book.
Feb 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Mark Smith's book, Tolkien's Ordinary Virtues, is filled with interesting and thoughtful insights into the moral and ethical foundation of J.R.R. Tolkien's books. I listened to the audiobook version, just after finishing The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit, and it certainly gave me a better appreciate for the lessons embedded in the book. For the reader who wants to gain a better understanding of these aspects, I would recommend Mr. Smith's books.

Having said that, I gave the book 3 star
John Martindale
Jul 29, 2011 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
Jun 29, 2016 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
Jan 05, 2013 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
Feb 01, 2015 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
Nov 02, 2007 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.
Feb 26, 2014 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
Jul 28, 2010 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.
Mar 06, 2016 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 :)
Jan 16, 2013 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.
A short little book pointing out some of the themes that lie embedded in the story but are too easily missed or not thought upon distinctly. When my children first read the series I'll certainly use this little book to aid good conversation about it.

It could have said a good bit more, all the same. Perhaps the book I got recently, 'The Philosophy of Tolkien', will build on what Eddy has said.

Liked it.

Noelle Campbell
Dec 15, 2011 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.
May 21, 2009 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.
Apr 29, 2014 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
Mar 28, 2011 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.
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.
Charlie Doggett
Nov 03, 2015 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.
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).
Nick Koher
Jun 18, 2014 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.
Emily Michael
Jun 26, 2015 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.
Jan 12, 2013 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.
Feb 08, 2012 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.
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