Join our Lenten Campaign 2024.
While many know that fantasy author J.R.R. Tolkien was a devout Catholic, some readers are surprised that God is not featured at all in his epic Lord of the Rings series.
First of all, for The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien took a more subtle approach with his Catholicism, weaving in his faith through different themes.
For example, before The Lord of the Rings was published, he wrote a letter to a priest, Fr. Robert Murray, saying, “The Lord of the Rings is of course a fundamentally religious and Catholic work; unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision. That is why I have not put in, or have cut out, practically all references to anything like ‘religion,’ to cults or practices, in the imaginary world. For the religious element is absorbed into the story and the symbolism.”
Tolkien let his Catholic faith guide his writing, even though God is not explicitly mentioned in the text.
Secondly, when building his mythological world, he did clearly feature God in his creation narrative.
In what would later be published as The Silmarillion, Tolkien named the Creator “Iluvatar.” This fictional name means “Allfather,” and is the most obvious reference to God the Father.
In The Silmarillion, Iluvatar creates the world through “music,” and sings creation into being. Tolkien expanded upon the Genesis narrative where God “spoke” the world into existence, linking it to a beautiful song.
Iluvatar is featured heavily in the first part of The Silmarillion, but then takes a more backstage approach as the story progresses.
God may not be named on every page of Tolkien’s story, but divine providence is clearly seen in all of the events that transpire in Middle-Earth.
Tolkien used his Catholic faith to weave a beautiful story that was clearly inspired by his faith, even though it is not as explicitly Christian as some would have preferred.