J R R Tolkien
Dates: 3 January 1892 to 2 September 1973
Occupation: Writer, Oxford University professor, creator of the Lord of the Rings trilogy
Tolkien only just qualifies as a convert, having been received into the Church at the age of eight when his mother converted despite great opposition from her family. Tolkien himself, though, was a Catholic who thought deeply about his religion and whose outlook was certainly shaped by his faith.
Tolkien was a major influence in the conversion to Christianity of his friend C S Lewis. Lewis had a Northern Ireland Protestant upbringing but was an atheist. Tolkien was disappointed that Lewis, though a wonderful apologist after he embraced the Christian faith, did not join the Catholic Church, maintaining that Lewis had been unable to shake off “the prejudices so sedulously planted in boyhood”. Tolkien was personally aware of those prejudices having witnessed hostility both to his mother and to his wife.
“Out of the darkness of my life, so much frustrated, I put before you the one great thing to love on earth: the Blessed Sacrament ... There you will find romance, glory, honour, fidelity, and the true way of all your loves on earth.”
“The only cure for sagging or fainting faith is Communion. Though always Itself, perfect and complete and inviolate, the Blessed Sacrament does not operate completely and once for all in any of us. Like the act of Faith it must be continuous and grow by exercise. Frequency is of the highest effect. Seven times a week is more nourishing than seven times at intervals.”
"When I think of my mother's death … worn out with persecution, poverty, and, largely consequent, disease, in the effort to hand on to us small boys the faith, and remember the tiny bedroom she shared with us in rented rooms in a postman's cottage at Rednal, where she died alone, too ill for viaticum, I find it very hard and bitter, when my children stray away."
“The Lord of the Rings is of course a fundamentally religious and Catholic work.”
The internet provides a huge amount of material for readers interested in Tolkien, with this page offering a good starting point.
© Ray Chidell 2010