J.R.R. Tolkien, author of “The Lord of the Rings,” calls us to be heroic and to sacrifice for one another, according to the author of a new book on Tolkien’s “Sanctifying Myth.”

“I’m very glad when I look at the numbers of how many books of Tolkien’s still sell and that almost anything that is publishable has been published by Tolkien,” Bradley Birzer, a history professor and the Russell Amos Kirk chair in American studies at Hillsdale College, tells The Daily Signal.


Birzer, who recently published a second edition of his book “J.R.R. Tolkien’s Sanctifying Myth: Understanding Middle-Earth,” calls Tolkien’s enduring popularity “a healthy sign in society.”

“I don’t think society is healthy right now, but I think that’s one of the healthier signs of society,” he explains. “I think Tolkien teaches us to be ourselves in the best way, to be our authentic selves, to be made in the image of God, to do what we’re meant to do. I think he calls upon our uniqueness, each of us made individually in the image of God, and I think he calls us to be heroic.”


“I think he calls us to sacrifice for one another, and that was as true in Tolkien’s life as it was in his writing,” the Hillsdale professor says. “I think one of the great things about Tolkien is, when we praise him, we can praise him as a person. There aren’t real serious personal failings. He didn’t own slaves. He didn’t have all these other things that we can dismiss Thomas Jefferson for.”

Birzer addresses the “literary archaeology” of Tolkien and explains why he thinks “The Lord of the Rings” is “our great story of the modern world.”


The history professor also addresses his personal dislike for the Peter Jackson films, why Tolkien initially distrusted the very modern technology that led his books to become one of the most popular movie trilogies in existence, and how Tolkien addressed the world of Middle-earth.


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