Hobbits, Beer, and Theology

theology_on_tap_bannerFor 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)


About Brenton Dickieson

“A Pilgrim in Narnia” is a blog project in reading and talking about the work of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the worlds they touched. As a "Faith, Fantasy, and Fiction" blog, we cover topics like children’s literature, apologetics and philosophy, myths and mythology, fantasy, theology, cultural critique, art and writing. This blog includes my thoughts as I read through Lewis and Tolkien and reflect on my own life and culture. In this sense, I am a Pilgrim in Narnia--or Middle Earth, or Fairyland. I am often peeking inside of wardrobes, looking for magic bricks in urban alleys, or rooting through yard sale boxes for old rings. If something here captures your imagination, leave a comment, “like” a post, share with your friends, or sign up to receive Narnian Pilgrim posts in your email box. Brenton Dickieson is a father, husband, friend, university lecturer, and freelance writer from Prince Edward Island, Canada. You can follow him on Twitter, @BrentonDana.
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20 Responses to Hobbits, Beer, and Theology

  1. louloureads says:

    Unfortunately I’m on the other side of the pond, but this sounds excellent! I’ve always wanted to visit Prince Edward Island (as a life-long Anne of Green Gables fan), but it’s still a little far to travel for one evening. Hope you have a great evening 🙂


  2. traildustfotm says:

    It’s a mere 11 hour drive from Boston. If only I could convince my wife to let me go. 😀


  3. wanderwolf says:

    Wish I could go! I’m all the way in south Florida though, so I’ll have to have a beer in your honor and look for the recap. 🙂 Sounds super interesting!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. over 500 miles WSW for me
    and what wanderwolf said


  5. Fingolfinphile says:

    Will there be a video/audio recording, or at least a transcript?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Shannon says:

    Yay!!! I have noticed that Neville Longbottom is hobbitish before! (He has chosen the weak things of the world, … and the despised things, … and the things that are not… Strength perfected in weakness…)


    • Neville has the same challenge in the 1st HP book that Lucy has to face in Prince Caspian: to stand up to their peers. Neville is wrong… of course! But he has quite a discovery through the books. He is very Lucy-like in some ways.


  7. David Llewellyn Dodds says:

    So, how’d it go?

    (And does the ghastly-sounding Anne of Green Gables remake fall under an “anti-Hobbit” vision?)

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: A Hobbits Theology (2016 Pub Talk) | A Pilgrim in Narnia

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