Disclaimer: I received this book for free in exchange for my review. The thoughts and opinions are my own.
This past summer I decided to read “The Hobbit” to my oldest son as part of his bedtime routine. I only read a couple of chapters to him because one night, he took it with him to bed and stayed up late, reading most of it without me. I think the only other chapter I read was the last and final one. While I know everything turned out good in the end, I know nothing of the adventures in between.
Because my son loved the book so much, I was intrigued when I came across a book titled, Finding God in The Hobbit to review for Tyndale. I wanted to read it and use it to initiate discussions with him about the book. it is also timely that the movie is coming out this month.
A question could be asked, “Is God even mentioned in The Hobbit?” Not unlike the book of Esther in the Old Testament, where God’s name is never mentioned but His presence is obvious, in The Hobbit, the behind the scenes work and sovereign hand of Somebody is evident. While The Hobbit is not religious in nature, and not an obvious allegory like Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, there are many spiritual truths found in the book.
That is the purpose of Finding God in the Hobbit, to point out the spiritual truths and parallels between Scripture and the book. Each chapter in this book contains a portion from The Hobbit, followed by commentary from the author pointing out a specific spiritual truth. Drawing from additional books and letters of Tolkien, the author reveals how Tolkien’s faith cannot be separated from his writing.
The spiritual truths in this book are many. A few of my favorite chapters in Finding God in the Hobbit were:
1. The author pointed to the examples of the reluctant hero, Bilbo, unexpectedly getting himself out of dire circumstances, not by his own ability, and seemingly by accident. This reminds us that God is always at work in our lives. Scripture is filled with examples of unlikely heroes whom God used in his story of redemption.
“Surely you don’t disbelieve the prophecies, because you had a hand in bringing them about yourself? You don’t really suppose, do you, that all your adventures and escapes were managed by mere luck, just for your sole benefit?” from The Hobbit, chapter 19
2. In another chapter the author showed the folly’s and mistakes that Bilbo and company made turned out for the good. This reminds us of how God uses all things, even our mistakes and blunders to accomplish His purposes.
3. The author pointed out another spiritual truth in the pivotal event when Bilbo handed over the Arkenstone to help end the war. It was a priceless treasure and certainly well deserved after all he had gone through. This is a reminder of the importance that we surrender all those things which bring us only temporary joy.
“Perhaps we, the readers, feel the weight of Bilbo’s decision all the more forcefully because we understand that learning to hand it over is central to the meaning of the human experience. Somewhere deep down inside we realize that our lives in this world are fleeting and that it is folly to cling to any temporal thing. As a result, though we may not be able to put the thought into words, we sense that surrender is somehow the door to eternity–that a yielding spirit is the key to a vibrant relationship with the living God.” (p.123, Finding God in the Hobbit)
If you’ve read The Hobbit, plan on reading it, or expect to watch the movie this month, I highly recommend Finding God in the Hobbit. As for me, I need to go back and read all the chapters I missed, now with eyes more aware of and eager to see the deeper spiritual truths.