Episode 114

Tolkien and Advent with Holly Ordway

Published on: 30th November, 2023

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In the beginning, creation. Millennia pass. Creatures alternately live peacefully then get it horribly wrong. Long genealogies. The rise of evil kings, good kings, battles and prophecies. A savior riding in on a white horse. And in between the exciting parts, lots and lots of waiting.

Is this the Bible? The spiritual life? Or The Lord of the Rings and Middle Earth legendarium? Yes. And it's chock-full of good stuff for Advent.

So is JRR Tolkien's own life. Today we'll talk with one of Tolkien's biographers, Dr. Holly Ordway. Holly is the Cardinal Francis George Professor of Faith and Culture at the Word on Fire Institute, visiting professor of apologetics at Houston Christian University, and a subject editor for the Journal of Inklings Studies. She has two books you should know about: the award-winning Tolkien’s Modern Reading: Middle-earth Beyond the Middle Ages (Word on Fire Academic, 2021) and her newest book, Tolkien’s Faith: A Spiritual Biography (Word on Fire Academic, 2023).  

Advent is a thick time. Within that tapestry we find suffering and grief, waiting and faithfulness, the mysterious timing of providence -- and much to learn from Middle Earth.

But we also get glimpses of what it means to live good life. Good food, a sense of humor, and divine grace are hidden inside Advent, too, if we have humble enough eyes to find them.

Whether Advent is for you like a cozy Hobbit hole full of goodies, or Denethor's grim tower looking out on an uncertain future, or some trippy place in between that I cannot imagine, we hope you enjoy the conversation.

Make an Advent donation to the Living Church.

Get 84% off a gift subscription to The Living Church

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About the Podcast

The Living Church Podcast
The Living Church Podcast explores ecumenical topics in theology, the arts, ethics, pastoral care, and spiritual growth — all to equip and encourage leaders in the Episcopal Church, Anglican Communion, and beyond. A ministry of the Living Church Institute.