Mythos and Logos – Tolkien’s Spiritual Fruitfulness – a testimony

J R R Tolkien is spiritually fruitful. Ever since I was young boy and a Benedictine monk on the Isle of Wight told me that there was a life’s project to be found in reconciling “mythos and Logos” I was fixed on the idea in my heart and mind. The idea that the mythical imagination might come to the peak of its desire in the flaming heart of Jesus Christ… the Desire of all human hearts.

In 2009 I found out serendipitously of J. R. R. Tolkien’s Cause for Canonisation in the Roman Catholic tradition. The idea had just been sparked in my head like a light, and then there it was on Facebook… other people hooked on the idea. I learnt about the Bardschool about that time and for the next 10 years I would be dedicated to helping grow the Cause of the Tolkien and below details the many merry adventures it got me into…

The first stop for me was to start amassing Tolkien books into a Tolkien library from 2009 onwards (photo below) that would stock up the Bardchool library. One bard read a Tolkien book and ended up writing his undergraduate on Tolkien and finally pursuing an MA. The Holy Spirit moved:

In 2012, it took to dressing up in Tolkien related costumes, such as Tom Bombadil and later Frodo.

When walking the Camino de Santiago in 2015 looking for answers I ended up by Providence helping to establish an English Literature Catholic camp in Roncesvalles, just the other side of the Pyranees. Here the children had “mythos” from Harry Potter/Lord of the Rings and encountered the Gospel and the Sacraments. We had a quidditch match on brooms made by a pilgrim, a sorting hat to bring people into St Francis, St Bede, St John Paul II and St Benedict teams for the camp. An archbishop and a future Bishop popped in and there was a homily about “fighting giants”… about 40-50 children came and we ended up feasting in a medieval cloister. There was also a play about John Paul II, that featured a cheese-roller, a young married couple and music from Mumford and Sons!

This experience inspired me to try and use Quidditch as way of building community and bringing an experience of Christ’s presence in a secular world. When on OE in New Zealand from 2014-2015, I helped set up a quidditch team in Christchurch, which even featured at Hearts Aflame Catholic camp in 2015 and had a Catholic brother come and join us once! The Captains received their very own copies of “Baptising Harry Potter” – a book written by a Benedictine. After charismatic prayer I decided with the guidance of the Holy Spirit to stop the quidditch team and look for better ways to evangelise (Such as dancing! We had a Frozen Ball and a Christmas Ball!)

In New Zealand from 2014-2015 we also had a regular Tolkien reading and illustration group, frequented by students and young professionals. It involved a reader who read out in parts the whole of the “Fellowship of the Ring”… whilst a young group sketched and illustrated and drunk beer! This fellowship also included prayer.

On return to UK from 2016-2017 I looked to see how medievalists and Catholics could meet up. I led a group to Buckfast Abbey and Exeter Cathedral to see the Exeter Book … we were able to see the acorn ink written words in the Crist written by Cynewulf: éala éarendel engla beorhtast / ofer middangeard monnum sended. “Hail Earendel, brightest of angels, over Middle-earth to men sent.” These words had sparked Tolkien’s fiery mind! I also took a group up to the Ruthwell Cross in Scotland and read out the full poem of “Dream of the Rood”… this was Tolkien all over! Talks were given by medievalists at the foot of the Cross and a spontaneous bardic poetry session.

We had fundraising for the Catholic community through J. R. R. Tolkien between 2016-2018. This included two Tolkien Tables at the Youth 2000 Catholic Balls and two Tables at the Good Counsel Network. On one occasion 53 people came to the Tolkien tables and a special call-out was given for “Mr Tolkien” as the inspiration for the overflowing goodness.

On the way to World Youth Day in Poland, the English Dominicans played all the trilogy of the Lord of the Rings on the epic journey, over the tv system! And J. R. R. Tolkien’s films were also used to great success at a Confirmation Group for Christ the King!

In 2017 I set up a Tolkien Marathon for the elderly in Oxford that had 3 runners and we all ended up in the “Eagle and Child” with cold pints for all our efforts.

In 2018 I returned to Exeter to start filming a film called “Tolkien About Faith: Call of Beauty” – the film is set to released in 2019. I was also able to pass on a picture of Tolkien’s Eucharistic teaching to Cardinal Burke, through the Friars of the Immaculate.

In 2018 I started working to set up a Tolkien Conference for his canonisation ( that never materialised in that year but extended to the upcoming one), here are my first posters at the foot of Mary in the pictures below… In 2017 a Mass was offered praying for Tolkien’s canonisation in Oxford Oratory and attended by a member of the Tolkien family. In 2018 a Mass was offered in New York, well attended by young people for that same intention of Tolkien’s canonisation. Articles alluding to the Canonisation Cause appeared in “Mass of Ages” magazine and also the Catholic Herald. The letter from the Archbishop Bernard Longley was also finally published online, which allowed the spreading of a prayer for the beatification of Tolkien and asking for his Catholic faith and life to be made known more widely. The prayer to this day is in 8 languages.

I even got a picture of Dr Joseph Pearce holding one of my posters for the Conference which was being planned to be hosted in a “hobbity room” at Littlemore in Oxford… the very room in which Bl. John Henry Newman converted to Catholicism. Incidentally Faith Tolkien made a sculpture of that event in the Catholic Church next door!

The fruitfulness continues. No more so than at Silverion 2019. A LOTR-inspired catholic youth camp I helped set up in New Zealand after getting inspiration from the Canadian version Arcathēos and Captivenia. Our version had a priest and a nun involved and was full of the Holy Spirit! The mythical realm was known as “Fiæll Erda”… campgoers were immersed in a medieval narrative that unfurled around them in the Bush. They fought with swords and lanterns of light in the service of the White Stag, against the terrible Wraith Zalak. I gave also two talks called “Tolkien about Faith”, one in Hamilton and one in Auckland. The talks highlighted Tolkien’s Sacramental Vision. A similar talk was given in the UK on return, that included an Anglo-Saxon literary overview, which I did with the Bardschool. A group of young acdemics and beer drinkers has been meeting in the Eagle and Child and other venues under the title “The Brinkling’s” since 2018 to discuss faith, literature and the arts as well as history, and long may this continue…

Tolkien is spiritually fruitful. Let us pray for his Canonisation as we approach the up and coming “More than Mermory Conference in Oxford” in May 25-26.

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