Tolkien, Chesterton and the adventure of mission

There is a common, and I’ll admit somewhat understandable, interpretation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy that sees the great work as a celebration of the virtues of the Shire, that little town where the hobbits dwell in quiet domesticity. Neat, tidy hobbit holes, filled with comfortable furniture, delicate tea settings, and cozy fireplaces are meant, this reading has it, to evoke the charms of a “merrie old England” that existed before the rise of modernity and capitalism. As I say, there is undoubtedly something to this, for Tolkien, along with C.S. Lewis and the other members of the Inklings group, did indeed have a strong distaste for the excesses of the modern world. 

A Catholic View - Bilbo, Frodo and relics

Some years back, I got to go to New Zealand. Before I left, I was given strict orders by my son Matthew to bring back something from The Lord of the Rings. The films were shot in locations all over New Zealand and there are still a few traces of the sets used in the production. For only a mildly exorbitant cost, enthusiasts such as myself could get a tour of the Alexander sheep farm and check out the remains of Hobbiton, including Bag End (where Bilbo and Frodo lived) and the Party Tree (where Bilbo gave his farewell speech and disappeared before the astonished eyes of all the Hobbit folk).

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