World War I and the Inklings

By |2019-07-18T21:38:17-05:00July 18th, 2019|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, C.S. Lewis, Christian Humanism, Inklings, J.R.R. Tolkien, Literature, Senior Contributors, War, World War I|

The Great War destroyed much the Inklings had held true, personally and culturally. Each lost friends, and each felt the guilt that any survivor of a war feels. Many of them refused to talk about their own experiences, for good or ill. J.R.R. Tolkien, perhaps, provides the best example. Though not the best-known Inkling, [...]

Friendship Among the Inklings

By |2019-07-05T19:02:56-05:00July 5th, 2019|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, C.S. Lewis, Christian Humanism, Friendship, J.R.R. Tolkien, Literature, Senior Contributors|

J.R.R. Tolkien not only held onto friendship for dear life, but he also incorporated it into every aspect of his literary mythology. And for the Inklings, friendship had a mystical element. “Is any pleasure on earth as great as a circle of Christian friends by a fire?” C.S. Lewis once famously asked. Surely not, [...]

The Immortal Four: Tolkien and the Barrovian Society

By |2019-05-28T13:45:43-05:00May 27th, 2019|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, History, J.R.R. Tolkien, Senior Contributors, Tolkien Series|

During summers away from school, J.R.R. Tolkien led a debating society called the TCBS, or “Tea Club, Barrovian Society.” When the horrors of the First World War began, Tolkien considered the mission of the group a holy, prophetic, and, perhaps, even messianic one. He was sure that their fellowship—”The Immortal Four”—would survive even the [...]

Living With Tolkien

By |2019-05-23T22:08:33-05:00May 23rd, 2019|Categories: Books, Bradley J. Birzer, Character, Imagination, J.R.R. Tolkien, Literature, Senior Contributors, Tolkien Series|

J.R.R. Tolkien connected me to a world beyond anything I had yet experienced in rather idyllic Kansas. I so desperately wanted to escape into his mountain scene, explore every nook and cranny of that invented world, and meet a God who sang the universe into existence. Though I have read The Hobbit, The Lord [...]

How I Was Wrong About the Movie “Tolkien”

By |2019-05-18T22:09:39-05:00May 18th, 2019|Categories: Culture, Film, J.R.R. Tolkien, Joseph Pearce, Literature|

There is no doubt that “Tolkien” is a good film with an adroitly crafted storyline, bereft, thankfully, of the poisonous wormtongued agenda that I feared it would have. I have a confession to make. Indeed, I need to make an apology. A few weeks ago, I wrote an essay entitled “Wormtongue’s Revenge”, in which [...]

Imagination and Conservatism

By |2019-07-03T14:24:21-05:00August 26th, 2018|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, Conservatism, Education, Great Books, Imagination, J.R.R. Tolkien, The Imaginative Conservative|

Our world drowns in information, facts, bites, noise, opinions, and other particulars. Yet, even the best of our students have the most difficult time connecting one thing to another. It is myth that allows us to transcend the immediate and the ephemeral... About ten years ago, I proposed a course of study for first-year college [...]

Pride and the Fall in Tolkien’s Second Age

By |2019-04-16T16:26:36-05:00August 15th, 2018|Categories: Books, Bradley J. Birzer, C.S. Lewis, Christianity, J.R.R. Tolkien, Literature|

J.R.R. Tolkien's story of Númenor is the story of Athens, Rome, Great Britain, the United States, and every power that began with the best of intentions and saw itself decline because of envy and pride. It is the story of the Fall in Eden. It is grim, timeless, and true... Unquestionably, Tolkien's mythology was massive [...]

W.H. Auden’s Tolkien

By |2018-08-02T22:25:03-05:00August 2nd, 2018|Categories: Books, Fiction, J.R.R. Tolkien, Poetry|

W.H. Auden realized that J.R.R. Tolkien’s greatness was not simply the result of a capacity for the fantastic, but rather that it relied just as much on his scholarly acumen as on his imagination… W.H. Auden was a great admirer of the fantasy writer J.R.R. Tolkien. Having heard Tolkien’s lectures while an undergraduate at [...]

Tolkien at Exeter College

By |2019-04-18T12:41:41-05:00July 2nd, 2018|Categories: Books, Bradley J. Birzer, Catholicism, Christian Humanism, Education, J.R.R. Tolkien, World War I|

Though J.R.R. Tolkien arrived at Exeter College as a Classics (Great Books) scholar, he found his real passion resided in Germanic and Northern language and myth… Tolkien at Exeter College: How An Oxford Undergraduate Created Middle-earth by John Garth (66 pages, Exeter College, 2015) Never judge a book by its size. This little book is [...]