Inklings

Why Tolkien and Jack Matter (And We’re Kicking Off Inklings Week!)

IT’S FINALLY HERE!!! Inklings Week 2016! This is the second annual event and I’m so glad you’re joining in! I have lots of giveaways planned (some at the end of this post) and guest posts and all around Inklings awesomeness. So join the fun friends! (Also if you’re interested in last year’s posts, you can find them here)

I can say without a doubt, that the fictional works of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien have shaped my faith (and life) in more ways than any other pieces of literature. Some might say I’m a “fan” or maybe a bit “obsessed.” To which I say yep! That is 110% true. I can (and do) talk about them all the time. I can’t help it. Very few fictional works have spoken so deeply to my heart as those of Tolkien and Lewis.

There’s a scene in C.S. Lewis’ The Voyage of the Dawn Treader where, after all their adventures on the ship, Lucy and Edmund encounter Aslan for the first “real” time in the book. It is here they find out they will not be returning to Narnia. Lucy cries out because she fears she will never see Aslan again. His response is as such:

“I am,” said Aslan. “But there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there.”

Dead y’all. Dead. Outside of, you know, the Bible, Aslan has taught me more about God’s character and Jesus than any other fictional character.

And that’s what Tolkien and Lewis have done for me. They understood the power of story and were able to make themes of hope, redemption, love, sacrifice, friendship and adventure come alive.

What is it about their fantasy works that stir the heart the way they do? Well, let’s ask them shall we?

In Diana Pavlac Glyer’s Bandersnatch, Lewis offers the answer to those who condemn a book because it is fantasy.

“‘But why’, (some ask), ‘why, if you have a serious comment to make on the real life of men, must you do it by talking about a phantasmagoric never-never land of your own?’ Because, I take it, one of the main things the author wants to say is that the real life of men is of that mythical and heroic quality.” He continues, “The value of the myth is that it takes all the things we know and restores to them the rich significance which has been hidden by ‘the veil of familiarity.’ The child enjoys his cold meat (otherwise dull to him) by pretending it is buffalo, just killed with his own bow and arrow. And the child is wise. The real meat comes back to him more savoury for having been dipped in a story.”

Joseph Loconte also explains it rather well in his book, A Hobbit, A Wardrobe and War:

Mythmaking, what Tolkien calls “mythopoeia,” is a way of fulfilling God’s purposes as the Creator. By inventing a myth—by populating a world with elves and orcs, dragons and witches, gods and goddesses—the storyteller tries to retrieve the world he knew before man’s fall from grace. “There was an Eden on this very unhappy earth,” Tolkien explained many years later. “We all long for it, and we are constantly glimpsing it: our whole nature at its best and least corrupted, its gentlest and most humane, is still soaked with the sense of ‘exile.’ ” The mythmaker, fired by the sense of exile and the desire to return to his authentic home, reflects “a splintered fragment of the true light.”

That’s just the surface of it, yet packs a punch in explaining why their works matter so much. Plus, the stories are awesome!

Why do you love Tolkien or Lewis (or both!)? What are some of your favorite reads from them?

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