Not many years ago, we were told we needed a new reformation, this time of deeds, not creeds. That was Rick Warren in 2005, some 17 years ago using church growth methods. The emergent movement took postmodern thought and said we need a new trajectory, a reformation not from a new (biblical/theological) center, but with a new direction.
Now we are a long way from those naïve decades, and so a new call arises:
Now comes the call for yet another reformation, this time employing the most up-to-date methods of the zeitgeist: trauma, structural/systemic measurements, and intersectionality.
I’ve always been a Tolkien fan, having been exposed to The Hobbit when I was young and then reading The Lord of the Rings as a jr. higher. No, thank you for asking, I wasn’t a nerd.
But I did fall head over heals for Arda and Tolkien’s mythos so much so that I didn’t go on a date until I was 25 memorized Elvish language and devoured The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales. So imagine my cautioned interest when I heard that Russian paleontologist Kirill Yeskov penned “The Last Ringbearer,” a re-imagining of Tolkien’s trilogy. Translated by Yisroel Markov, Yeskov’s vision of Middle Earth does away with what he perceives to be a romanticized and naive morality in Tolkien’s yarn, and instead speculates from a Mordor-centric understanding. Here, Gandalf is a war-monger who is trying to hold back the civilizing and modernizing effects of Mordor’s innovation.
All this makes me as equally intrigued as suspicious. What do you think? Is such fiction harmless and good for the franchise? Or can such a retelling with such a strong anti-Tolkien lens bear any fruit?