I picked up your book Heaven because my pastor used to talk about it. I am struggling with one of your chapters. At the beginning of chapter 5 you quote a conversation between Pippin and Gandalf. I've never seen The Lord of the Rings, though I've seen clips of it. I don't see anything to do with God in it. It gives me the creeps, and I feel evil spirits in it. Could you please explain to me why you're using that in Heaven before I go any further?
I’m responding on Randy’s behalf. I’m so glad to hear that your pastor talked about Heaven, and it’s great that you’re reading the book yourself.
It’s OK if The Lord of the Rings books and movies are not your thing. However, Tolkien, the author, was a believer, and the books are filled with subtle Christian references and portrayals of Christ’s character. (See Is ‘Lord of the Rings’ Christian?) In fact, Tolkien was instrumental in C.S. Lewis becoming a Christian, and he later encouraged Lewis as he wrote his Narnia books.
Randy writes, “As a young Christian, I lost myself in the fiction of C. S. Lewis and J.R. R. Tolkien because they reflected a drama with eternal stakes. Though they were fiction, they were filled with far more truth than the world’s nonfiction.”
The Lord of the Rings is on Randy’s list of favorite fiction, and like any fictional story, it contains elements that appeal to some readers and not to others. Though the trilogy depicts evil that must be faced, fought, and redeemed, Randy definitely does not see the books themselves as evil, or he would not have included those quotes!
Later in Heaven, Randy writes, “The greatest novels, plays, and movies are stories of redemption. Think of Les Miserables or The Chronicles of Narnia or The Lord of the Rings trilogy. They draw their shape and power from the ultimate redemption story.”
Don’t let the fact that The Lord of the Rings doesn’t appeal to you stop you from reading and learning about Heaven. The quote you referenced merely sets up the chapter to get readers thinking about what lies beyond death. It’s not integral to what Randy says in the chapter and in the rest of the book.
You might also enjoy this video of a sermon Randy gave about Heaven.
I hope this helps. Happy reading!
Stephanie Anderson is the communications and graphics specialist at Eternal Perspective Ministries.