The Bible, J.R.R. Tolkien And The Meaning Of Life

Day 1 of 7 • This day’s reading


A Baptised Imagination

Imagination is important because it creates avenues to explore the meaning of life. When we think we usually think in images. We create and recreate our experiences based on our imagination. Our interactions with people and our work are dependent on the honing of our imagination. We behave in a certain way because we imagine in a certain way. If our minds have been constantly exposed to unwholesome content our behaviour will eventually reveal it. However, Ephesians 4:23-24 says, our minds can be renewed and we can become new people. 

Though the books Tolkien wrote were not Christian nor did they attempt to allude to Christianity they were  written by a man who had a baptised imagination. Archbishop William Temple said, ‘…worship is the nourishment of the mind with God’s truth and the purifying of the imagination by God’s beauty.’ Tolkien’s books reflect that his mind and imagination were all baptised by God’s truth and beauty. 

It is no wonder now that the themes Tolkien explored in The Lord of the Rings (LOTR) were baptised by truth, goodness, and beauty. True, because his analysis of the human experience resonates with reality. Good, because good eventually triumphs over evil. Beautiful, the characters in LOTR appeal to us because their beauty is dependent on goodness. The whole plot appeals to us despite contrary opinions on beauty and goodness because we all want our experiences to be hinged on truth. 

I Thessalonians 5:23 says, ‘may the God of peace completely sanctify you. And may your spirit, soul, and body be kept sound and blameless.’ Having a baptised imagination can have significant implications on our lifestyle. For instance, our work, regardless of what we do; our families, regardless of how they might behave; and our neighbours, regardless of who they might be, will all be viewed with a renewed imagination. Our reactions in each of these situations will be sanctified by Christ. 

When Jesus said I am the way, the truth, and the life. He was offering us a way of living that will be good for us and beautiful for others. Having a baptised imagination not only helps you create something meaningful but it helps in recreating a better world. Today we have a choice to allow Christ to overhaul our minds.