“The Hobbit Party” &
“Called to the Life of the Mind”
Review by Byron Borger
(Capital Commentary, January 19, 2015)
The Hobbit Party: The Vision of Freedom That Tolkien Got, and the West Forgot
Jay W. Richards and Jonathan Witt (Ignatius Press; 2014) $21.95
Called to the Life of the Mind: Some Advice for Evangelical Scholars
Richard J. Mouw (Eerdmans; 2014) $10.00
It is said that many of our most popular actors, filmmakers, and contemporary novelists have a liberal political bent; from John Steinbeck to Robert Redford, from Barbara Kingsolver to George Clooney, I suppose this is so. But J.R.R. Tolkien, one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century whose epic books have been made into some of the most popular films of our time, was a classic Roman Catholic conservative. Indeed, he often described himself as a hobbit “in all but size” and was, as this new book winsomely explains, “socially and politically conservative even by hobbit standards, and his conservatism was closely bound up in his deeply Christian, and specifically Catholic vision of man and creation.”
The Hobbit Party will be of interest to many, and perhaps will be appreciated as a refreshing study of the Middle-Earth stories. An accessible book of Christian political philosophy, it reflects how our deepest convictions about the nature of humans and our understanding of creation truly do shape our basic views of what constitutes a just social order.
This careful study of Tolkien’s socio-political views makes it a thrilling read and a great discussion book for anyone interested in either the novels or contemporary public affairs. The authors respond to the various misunderstandings and misappropriations of Tolkien by others, and, as learned conservative Catholics themselves, they see things that others may not.
[...] Richard Mouw has long advocated a uniquely Reformed vision of social and political thinking, and has written helpfully about how such a project can be pursued. His brand new book -- a slim collection of short essays -- is magnificent, if humble. Mouw offers advice for anyone who wants to do overtly Christian scholarship. As Kuyperian philosopher James K.A. Smith writes, “Called to the Life of the Mind is a distinct call for the faithful cultivation of the mind in the service of Christ.” As J.I. Packer notes, “Mouw’s wise genius for Christ-honoring straightforwardness has never been better displayed than it is here.”