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Reviewed in Amon Hen, Bulletin of the Tolkien Society, May 2013

Reviewed in Amon Hen, Bulletin of the Tolkien Society, May 2013

More than ever before, we of today each need a reminder of our worth and of the fact that each of us was placed on earth deliberately by Almighty God for His Plan. This enlightening book presents a detailed summary of a certain tale brought to light by J.R.R. Tolkien which stands as a perfect aid for such a reminder for us. Going through the stages of the tale, Anne Marie Gazzolo illustrates with analyses and sentiments by her and others, the many “moments of grace” throughout the story: the many examples where we are privileged to see how God allows everything to occur according to His Will and the Plan He has set for the course of our brief history on earth. The old saying “Everything happens for a reason” is no understatement as we realize through the events of Middle-earth’s tales how amazingly God’s intersession works. From the mercy of Bilbo in sparing the life of Gollum, to the seemingly hopeless events in Frodo & Sam’s journey through Mordor, and everything in between, the realization of the presence of God on every page of the story makes us aware that the coincidences in the salvation of Middle-earth are no coincidences at all. God’s grace touches the characters in the story, and shapes them for their respective roles: Aragorn as the honorable yet humble Ranger-to-be-King, Sam as the undaunted, devoted servant/brother, Frodo as ‘”the Lamb whose only real strength is his capacity to make an offering of himself”‘ (quoted in book, uoncc.wordpress.com) The book lovingly illustrates the processes of these shapings, and helps on reflect on our own spiritual shapings for our own roles in God’s plan for us.With her book, Anne Marie Gazzolo has re-confirmed that Tolkien’s stories are not only Christian works, but that they are very much a part of history: just like in every other part of history, God has played no small role in this one; neither must we fail to learn from it.
Margaret Watkins
Moments of Grace and Spiritual Warfare in The Lord of the Rings by Anne Marie Gazzolo is a wonderful book. I have read almost every book out there that explores the Christianity and spirituality of Tolkien’s work and this is both one of the best in my opinion and also one of my favorites. What makes it so appealing are both its depth and its style. Ms. Gazzolo writes in very knowledgeable way that shows her depth of understanding but also in warm way constantly reminding the reader of the life applicability of Christianity as demonstrated through Tolkien’s story and characters. She does a wonderful job of showing the Christianity of Tolkien’s work in all aspects and how it applies to us in our own faith journey. I highly recommend this to any reader striving daily to live their Christian faith and who has a passion for Tolkien’s works.
Michael Haldas
Anne Marie Gazzolo’s book is an amazing trip through Tolkien’s world through the eyes of a Christian. She leads you step by step through The Lord of the Rings, describing all the ways that God influenced the events in the War of the Ring. It contains wonderful quotes by other Tolkien enthusiasts; she wraps her own ideas together with already published works and makes the whole experience of reading The Lord of the Rings even more magical. She explains how every event affected Frodo’s journey, how even the bad experiences were meant to happen or things would not have turned out the way they did. I highly recommend this to anyone who has read The Lord of the Rings. It gives you such a deep look into the story that you will never look at it the same way again.
Mandy Martindale

Middle Hyrule blog

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.


5 star reviews on Amazon:
I love how Anne Marie Gazzolo has discovered Biblical principles
By Kathy Green on November 11, 2014
I love how Anne Marie Gazzolo has discovered Biblical principles that have been embedded throughout The Lord of the Rings. It is chock-full of such principles which can be found in the Bible, all of which we can apply to our own individual quests. Gazzolo has done a wonderful job of finding those principles and explaining them for the reader.
By Gerry L. Smith on July 19, 2014
This is an absolutely wonderful book…particularly for those who see a Christian perspective in LOTR. Although the author is unabashedly Catholic, she has great insight for all Christians.
Christian wisdom from a Saint
By Nathan Coursey on February 10, 2015

This is the best exposition that I have read of an authentic mystical journey and the struggle of transformation and purification.

A wonderful book, full of wise words
on March 23, 2015

A wonderful book, full of wise words. We should all take them to heart! Thank you, Anne Marie Gazzolo! I love your book!

Review from the The Tolkien Library:
While I’m not a believer, like Anne Marie Gazzolo (a Christian), the fluent writing style and the logic explanation of complex themes makes it a book worth-while to read. Non Christians will at several times disagree with some of the interpretations of the author, but it will however explain the topics from a perspective that Tolkien probably would have understood (or even held). While the target public is obviously spiritual, the book is attractive to read for all. It reads extremely well and is a very interesting read!
Moments of Grace and Spiritual Warfare in The Lord of the Rings
Providence and Free Will on the Journey
An excellent addition to your Tolkien library
Mark Sommer | 05/01/14

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. 

The Lord of the Rings tale is known quite well to all. ‘Moments of Grace and Spiritual Warfare in the Lord of the Rings’ discusses the themes of the novel and how they can be carried to the nature of spirituality and be used to inspire readers well and through their lives, telling the stories of the characters, their personal struggles, and what we can learn from them. ‘Moments of Grace and Spiritual Warfare in the Lord of the Rings’ is a choice pick for fans of the novels seeking a spiritual perspective on the series.
Stephen C. Winter’s blog, Wisdom from The Lord of the Rings:
Just to say here that I have just begun to read your Moments of Grace and I think that the word that comes to mind as I think of it is, beautiful. Grace is not just your subject matter but it is also in the way that you write. I look forward to reading the rest of the 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!



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