The Holiness of Hobbitry

Bernthal’s monograph demonstrates that the growing attention to religion in Tolkien studies has not only rectified misreadings of his work but also promoted deeper understanding of it. Discerning the holiness of hobbitry discloses that Tolkien’s Catholic sacramentalism shaped fundamental convictions about language, society, and human responsibilities toward one another and their fellow creatures. Belief that the world is charged with the grandeur of God gave Tolkien a heartfelt concern for authentic, truth-telling communication, the natural environment and the commonweal, and man’s duty to be a self-sacrificial steward of them. For him, such integrated relationships were a profound pathway for subcreators to learn and imitate the mind and heart of the Creator, making his vision akin to Dostoevsky’s: “Love all God’s creation, the whole and every grain of sand of it. Love every leaf, every ray of God’s light. Love the animals, love the plants, love everything. If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things.… And you will come at last to love the whole world with an all-embracing love.”

– Adam Schwartz reviews “Tolkien’s Sacramental Vision”.