January 24, 2018

Father Zehnle’s Lecture on J. R. R. Tolkien, "Joy Like Swords': Hobbits, Franciscans, and the Crucifix"

Father Daren J. Zehnle (whose homilies we featured here and here) presented a lecture on the work of J. R. R. Tolkien at the Wade Center on January 16, 2018. Fr. Zehnle, a priest of the Diocese of Springfield, Illinois, serves as Pastor of St. Augustine Parish in Ashland, Illinois, Director of the Office for Divine Worship and the Catechumenate, Adjutant Judicial Vicar, and Judge on the Diocesan Tribunal.

After Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee heard a minstrel sing of the deeds of the Fellowship of the Ring, J. R. R. Tolkien wrote that “their joy was like swords, and they passed in thought out to regions where pain and delight flow together and tears are the very wine of blessedness.” By exploring the phrase, “their joy was like swords,” we learn to understand the reality of joy mingled with sorrow and experience God’s merciful love as we embrace the Cross.

The Marion E. Wade Center at Wheaton College, is a research library devoted to the Inklings, (a literary discussion group at the University of Oxford from 1931-1949), whose members included the great J.R.R. Tolkien. The library houses original manuscripts, translations of the authors' works into various languages, and information about the writings and lives of the Inklings. Among its treasures is the desk at which Tolkien wrote The Hobbit and most of The Lord of the Rings.

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