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The Battle for Middle-earth: Tolkien's Divine Design in "The Lord of the Rings" [Paperback]

By Fleming Rutledge, John W. Rettig (Translator), Curvebreakers (Corporate Author), Russ Braun (Illustrator), Barry Kitson (Illustrator), Eric Myott (Contributor) & Tim Ohr
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Item Number 143924  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   373
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.22" Width: 6.28" Height: 0.99"
Weight:   1.25 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Nov 30, 2004
Publisher   Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
ISBN  0802824978  
EAN  9780802824974  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Explore the deeper meanings and hidden allusions of Tolkien's epic trilogy! In this unique interpretation, Rutledge treats the entire narrative, not just isolated themes, to show how Tolkien communicates a powerful vision of unseen divine design at work through flawed characters who struggle with the meaning of freedom and abuse of power. Lively and engaging!

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More About Fleming Rutledge, John W. Rettig, Curvebreakers , Russ Braun, Barry Kitson, Eric Myott & Tim Ohr

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Fleming Rutledge is an Episcopal priest widely recognized in North America and the UK as a preacher, lecturer, and teacher of other preachers. Her published sermon collections, most recently And God Spoke to Abraham: Preaching from the Old Testament, have received acclaim across denominational lines. Among her other books are The Bible and The New York Times, Not Ashamed of the Gospel: Sermons from Paul's Letter to the Romans, and The Battle for Middle-earth: Tolkien's Divine Design in The Lord of the Rings.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Drinking from the Deeper Well, with Occasional Sputtering  Mar 23, 2007
Long fascinated by the much-loved tale of The Lord of the Rings, I disappointedly find that most non-fiction books cashing in on its religious aspects to be simplistic illustrations of Biblical truths using Tolkien's story. No 'meat and 'taters' as Samwise Gamgee might say. Rutledge's book is very substantial and spiritually nourishing in many ways. She subtitles it 'Tolkien's Divine Design in The Lord of the Rings,' an apt clue to the direction of her well-researched and superbly structured analysis. There are occasional mis-steps, namely irrelevant interjections of her political views while discussing Tolkien's view of 'good v. evil', and mini-critiques of the Jackson films revealing an ignorance of the demands of cinematic drama. But this imperfect vessel - and sister in Christ - produces an overall entertaining, enlightening, and educational read. She follows the narrative storyline of the book, which makes for an enlightening journey through the story. Tolkien once wrote, 'The religious element is absorbed into the story and the symbolism.' (Letters, #142). This comment has long fascinated me as I re-read the story for clues to what this might mean. Rutledge's book is not a Cliff Notes retread, but an innovative means of illustrating Tolkien's concept to those who've read the book. Rutledge, an Episcopal priest, seems to have discovered clues to what Tolkien meant. The few over-labored Biblical connections used to support her interpretations of the Bible are not enough to sour the entire book. Consider them a side trip down the Withywindle, if you will, pending your timely return to the main path by Tom Bombadil. But thank God she was led to write this book. This is an especially satisfying read for those drawn to the story by its spirituality. Her analysis of the scene at the Grey Havens is very well done.
Very good  Mar 11, 2007
I like the way the writer approaches Lord of the Rings, bringing up Christian ideas in a way not commonly taken. I especially like it that he gives credit were appropriate to certain characters.
He sadly doesn't get it  Feb 17, 2007
Like nearly every other Protestant commentator (with notable exceptions such as David Wells) Rutledge just doesn't get it. It makes one wonder.

Is it that most evangelicals (and I'm an evangelical) don't know enough about Catholicism or English literature to understand what Tolkien is doing?

Is there something flawed and inadequate with the -American- evangelical worldview that shows up when they try to understand something Catholic?

Rutledge is not alone in this failing, I don't think it is a unique personal flaw. There are other Protestant books out on Tolkien due to the movies, and they share the same shallow, technique-y understanding of life, the universe and everything that makes them so clueless in understanding the depth and layers to the Tolkienan corpus. When there is a pattern, you start wondering what it means.

David Wells is an exception. Perhaps because he is an English prof. Perhaps because he loved the books before they became popular.
valuable and thoughtful addition to reflections on TLotR  Jul 29, 2005
Thoughtful, very well written, intelligent and highly readable exposition of the spiritual substructure of TLotR, focusing on its not named, mostly hidden, yet still primary character: God.

A notable, valuable addition to the growing body of literature on TLotR, one of the better books approaching the subject from a Protestant context. Definitely much worth it. Excellent source of potential Tolkien sermon illustrations.
Five minute Biblical meditations on Tolkien  Jun 19, 2005
Rutledge's book is essentially a series of short meditations followed by a Biblical reference.

She starts at the beginning (i.e The Hobbit) and goes on chronologically, paraphrasing an episode in her own words, then giving a Biblical insight--often quoting a specific Biblical verse-- to show how Tolkien's book harmonizes with the Bible.

What annoyed me was the literalness of the interpretations, and the Protestant approach to salvation. There are discussions of how evil exists in all men, and the need for God's grace. We are told that since all are evil, we should hesitate to fight in war or call those seeking to kill civilians "evil". I even ran across references to "total depravity" of men who need grace to save them, which is not quite the same as the Catholic concept of original sin, where men are good, containing the grace of God, but with flaws that can destroy the best of men...but that God's mercy is so vast that it will extend even to those we see as "evil".

And although most of the Biblical references are valid, some of them seem to stretch the point. One example is Pippin's complaints of inadequate food in Minas Tirith is compared to the disobedient Israelites wanting the fleshpots of Egypt (not, as I saw it, a wry description of growing lads with bottomless stomachs). And when Sam in Mordor sees the star above and remembers that hope exists high above despite his troubles, it is compared to God telling Job that He, God is a bigshot so stop complaining...I myself see the young soldier finding hope in the beauty of a star above the trenches of World War I--and most old fashioned Catholics would remember the hope expressed in the hymn Ave Maris Stella, to Mary, the helper of wanderers here below.

Indeed, what is lacking is what sociologist Andrew Greeley describes in his book "The Catholic Imagination": "....we (Catholics) see the Holy lurking in creation...objects, events, and persons of daily life are revelations of grace". By trying to place each event into a literal biblical straightjacket, the end result is to flatten the joy, wonders and the revelations of grace in Tolkien into dry dogmatism.

However, if you are a dogmatic Biblical Christian who needs literal explanations of why Lord of the Rings is a Christian book, you may enjoy this scholarly work.

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