J.R.R. Tolkien (Christian Encounters Series)
By Mark Horne
Thomas Nelson (paperback, 176 pages)

Christian Encounters is a series of biographies made by Thomas Nelson. The biographies is based on people whose influences shaped the Church in glaring or understated ways. The books, all fewer than 200 pages, are to give us a glimpse into these peoples’ desires, struggles, and perspectives.

Christian Encounters, JRR Tolkien, was written by Mark Horne. The author book starts from the country of Tolkien’s birth, South Africa, and proceeds to his permanent move to England. The author explores the impact of his environment on him – mostly the climate and the vegetation, which fuels Tolkien’s love for hills, green lands, forests, and his growing distrust of modern machinery.

More prominent is the influence of Tolkien’s mother and the sacrifices she makes so that her children can go to school and attend a catholic church. Even when times are tough, she home-schools Tolkien to make sure he does not lag behind academically.

The author also unmasks the influence of friends on Tolkien’s life, especially during the World War I. Their lives and deaths inspire young Tolkien to follow his love for languages and continue to create myths and stories that will influence millions of readers and writers for many decades. Without Tolkien we might never have seen or read Harry Potter, Dungeons and Dragons, A Game of Thrones, even The Chronicles of Narnia.

Christian Encounters, JRR Tolkien, is priceless for those who want to have a peek into Tolkien’s childhood - his upbringing, trials, and pressures. It shows us how the mind and mentality that crafted The Silmarillion, The Hobbit, and Lord of the Rings was fashioned. More importantly, it highlights how the love, discipline, and sacrifice of a parent/guardian/friend go a long way in being a godly influence that sets us in the right way. It’s like Solomon said:

“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” (Proverbs 22:6) The Holy Bible, New International Version.

“He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.” (Proverbs 13:20) The Holy Bible, New International Version.

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