The Bio of Tolkien
Out of the Frying Pan, Into the Fire
In the past few years, we have gone from one life-altering experience to another. We have been in a constant state of stress since the Pandemic. We have not only survived a pandemic that polarized the world, our nation, families, and friends, but we have also had to navigate racial tensions, political divides, a war on sexual identity, wildfires, and scandals in entertainment, politics, and religion. I feel like we haven't had time to catch our breath. Common quotes among church leaders and from society in general state, “When we get back to life as normal.” or “I can’t wait for all this to be over.” Now there is even more fear and division with the Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe V Wade (which I was pleasantly shocked about, being a pro-life pastor) and the reality of a legitimate drought and a genuine feeling of financial recession. A few months ago, while pondering the latest heap of bad news, I caught myself saying, “We are just going from the frying pan into the fire.” That famous quote I learned from The Hobbit by English author JRR Tolkien. My favorite author. And this was my muse to teach a series on the Biography of Tolkien.
The heroes of The Hobbit story left the peaceful quaint Shire, only to face peril and danger in the darkest of places. They were being chased through caverns under a misty mountain by monsters and malevolent forces bent on their destruction. They finally ascended and escaped to freedom to the above-ground world, only to find more monsters; this time, it was wolves chasing them through the woods. They were forced to climb trees in order not to be eaten. In “From the Frying Pan Into the Fire,” the heroes realize that “they are not going to get back to life as they knew it” and that this constant state of stress is now “the new normal.” And this is where the Church is now in relation to the World and the End of Days, the days of living in the “Shire” as a passive Christian are gone.
So, why do a series on “The Biography on JRR Tolkien,” you may ask? Why study an author who writes fairy tales about wizards, dragons, and elves? Well, for two reasons:
- I have a good argument that Tolkien is the most influential Christian of the 20th & 21st centuries. Tolkien was more influential in leading others to Christ than evangelists Dr. Billy Graham or Reinhard Bonnke. You will have to give me time and an open mind to flesh out that thread.
- Tolkien's personal life and times are very similar to our times. During Tolkien's time after World War I, society was a lot like ours, with political divisions, financial fears, and corruption that affected many. We can learn some parallels and lessons from Tolkien to apply to our lives to help us navigate dangerous times.
Tolkien is important to the Christian not because he wrote some of the best-selling, most beloved books of all time. He is essential to the modern Christian because he had a very powerful message to communicate, a message of warning against the pride and arrogance of this present evil age, a message of courage when faced with impossible circumstances, and a message of beauty and love and unwavering hope in God when all seems lost.
By Pastor Joshua Kapchinsky