For fans of J.R.R. Tolkien and the literary club that formed around him in the 1930s to the 1950s, you will know how beer, hobbits, and theology go together. Each week, for a two and a half decades, a group of mythmakers, poets, and fantasy writers gathered in college rooms or a local pub–and sometimes in both–to read from their works in progress. Unknown when they began, the figures of J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Charles Williams, Roger Lancelyn Green, and a few others became leading figures in their special fields and in the genres they loved most. The Inklings, as they were known, are now a part of our cultural canon.
While The Hobbit was born in darker corners, and Narnia did not capture everyone’s sympathy, much of The Lord of the Rings and Lewis’ speculative fiction and apologetics works were read aloud to a small cluster of literary men, veiled in cigarette smoke, manuscripts dampened by cider and covered in editorial marks. At these meetings the conversations could move from great books–and bad ones–to politics, history, and theology.
Given how the Lord of the Rings was brought to life in a pub, I thought some Hobbits’ tales would be perfect when I was invited to give a talk “Theology on Tap.” This is a local tradition, at least, where professors share their leading discoveries at a “Research on Tap,” or where they talk about the intersection between faith and critical thought at a “Theology on Tap.”
I’m quite looking forward to it.
I am speaking about How Hobbits Save the World. I am suggesting that there is a hidden, subversive quality to Tolkien’s work that has profound implications for faith, life, culture, and politics. I’ll be talking about how that quality works itself out in other authors like C.S. Lewis, Madeleine L’Engle, and J.K. Rowling–and to what extend other authors offer an “anti-Hobbit” vision.
Now I know that most readers are more than a little far from our local pub. 70% of Pilgrim in Narnia readers are American or British, and another 15% are from other parts of the world. You may not be able to make it to little Prince Edward Island, and it is difficult to Skype microbrew to one another.
But for those who are within striking distance, come on down to the Pourhouse at 7:00 on Thursday, Jan 28th. It’s right above the Olde Triangle, and as far as I know there are no celtic codewords needed. I invite you to raise a glass–or a question–on what should be a fun night. And who knows what might come of it?
Get the full poster here: Concerning-Hobbits (1)