It’s an incredible book exploring Christian themes found in Lord of the Rings. A book about my favorite book – and my religion! Seriously, does it get better? … I came across an preview of her book on Amazon. I read it. And then read it again. This was good stuff! I asked for the book for my birthday, and sure enough, I got it! … it was amazing!!! Five stars all the way. … If you haven’t already, I encourage you to read Moments of Grace and Spiritual Warfare in the Lord of the Rings. … trust me, you will not regret it.
This is the best exposition that I have read of an authentic mystical journey and the struggle of transformation and purification.
The longer I live my life, the more I am amazed at the things which God has dropped into my lap. The book Moments of Grace and Spiritual Warfare in The Lord of the Rings is one of those things. It would take way too much space to delineate all the circumstances which aligned to bring this book to my attention and ultimately bring it into my possession so I would be sitting at my computer composing this review. And if I tried to list them all, I would certainly miss something, including details of which I am unaware. But here are a few of which I am aware:
My decision to become a writer for Hollywood Jesus. HJ’s decision to put me in charge of coverage of the Hobbit films. Anne Marie’s decision to write the book. Her decision to comment on a book review of mine, making me aware of her book’s website. My decision to pursue obtaining a copy of the book – and to read it.
Theologians might say that our use of Free Will was directed by God to bring this all together. How Free Will and Providence work together is a mystery, but almost all Christian theologians acknowledge, to at least some degree, the validity of both. Charles Haddon Spurgeon is credited with this response to a question about reconciling God’s Sovereignty and the Free Will of man:
I never try to reconcile friends—they are both in the Bible.
Tolkien scholars have often commented on the themes of Providence and Free Will in The Lord of the Rings. For example, as Gandalf put it, Bilbo and Frodo were meant to have the Ring. The implication is that Middle-earth’s God was somehow involved. It was essential the hobbits cooperate in fulfilling their part, but Providence was also able to use the free acts of Gollum to accomplish the final purpose. As a devout Roman Catholic, JRR Tolkien understood the truth of both Free Will and Sovereignty, and it is no surprise to find these themes in his book. There are other Catholic themes in Tolkien’s works, and we are fortunate to have commentators who understand Tolkien’s beliefs write with that religion in mind. Anne Marie Gazzolo is one such writer. It quickly becomes obvious Gazzolo is just as devout as Tolkien was, and this devotion serves her well in creating Moments of Grace. Her devotion… and her scholarship. The Bibliography of Moments lists close to one hundred books, and it seems certain Anne Marie is familiar with each one. Her depth of knowledge concerning her subject is impressive. As she leads us on our journey through The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, she is able to draw from disparate sources without boring her audience. And she shares the insight and wisdom she has gained through her own personal journey with the text, without being condescending. I find this volume a welcome and excellent addition to my Tolkien library. But, it must be asked, do we really need another book about The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings? From a particular point of view, the answer is “No.” But, if all this talk about Providence is true, God must have some reason for the book existing, and for me sitting at my computer on a Thursday night typing away. Perhaps God has in mind one certain person who will read this review and be interested enough to give the book a read. Perhaps something unique in its pages will strike a chord and make a difference for that person, which in turn will affect other people’s lives. We may never know in this life what lasting effect our simple decisions will produce. In her discussion of Aargorn’s decision of whether to pursue the orcs who have captured Merry and Pippin, or to follow Frodo and Sam, Gazzolo quotes a prayer of Fr. Jacques Philippe from his Searching for and Maintaining Inner Peace.
Lord, I have thought about it and prayed to know Your will. I do not see it clearly, but I am not going to trouble myself any further. I am not going to spend hours racking my brain. I have decided such and such a thing because, all things carefully considered, it seems to me the best thing to do. And I leave everything in Your hands. I know well that, even if I am mistaken, You will not be displeased with me, for I have acted with good intentions. And if I have made a mistake, I know that You are able to draw good from this error. It will be for me a source of humility and I will learn something from it!
What a relief it is when we, after doing the best we can, leave the results in God’s hands. Just one of the lessons to be learned on our journey with Bilbo, Frodo, and the others. There are more lessons waiting for you to discover in this book.
Rave from my Moments of Grace Pinterest board:
I am currently reading your book and I am enjoying it very much. I have always known Tolkien wrote his books based on Christianity, but you have provided so many more examples of God’s grace and His teachings in your book that I have never seen before. Wonderful book!