Joseph Pearce, who spoke recently at Assumption Grotto Church in Detroit on the subject of Tolkien's novels, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, argues compellingly that Tolkien's works and the characters in them represent a sort of parallel history of redemption, although he didn't use the word, a parallel 'Gospel,' as it were. He has two books that elaborate this thesis, one on Frodo, the other on Bilbo. Very interesting. I'm struck by how so much in his work reads, in places, like a commentary on our own times:
'What about Rivendell and the Elves? Is Rivendell safe?'In many ways, Tolkien created the classic Anglo-Saxon Catholic myth, a myth for the English-speaking people, a Catholic myth that has its own truth by representing a parallel to another great 'myth,' the greatest 'myth' of all, the 'myth' which turns out to be true; that is, true history from God's point of view: the Bible.
'Yes, at present, until all else is conquered. The Elves may fear the Dark Lord, and they may fly before him, but never again will they listen to him or serve him....
'Indeed there is power in Rivendell to withstand the might of Mordor, for a while: and elsewhere other powers still dwell. There is power, too, of another kind in the Shire. But all such places will soon become islands under siege, if things go on as they are going. The Dark Lord is putting forth all his strength.'
The world we live in is falling into darkness; and the darkness cannot be understood spiritually without penetrating behind the scrim that divides us from the unseen world of principalities and powers at war in the spiritual world. Tolkien takes us there if we have eyes to see. What he shows us is that there is always hope; but our true hope does not always lie in the world around us and the temporal means at hand. There are powers we haven't the means to resist within ourselves. But there are powers greater than those of Mordor for those with the spiritual discernment to understand this truth.