Tolkien and the Arts

 By Dr. Melody Green

For the last month, now, each of these blog posts have been about one author, John Ronald Reuel Tolkien.  If you have been paying the least bit of attention to these, you will know that on Saturday, February first, Urbana Theological Seminary will be hosting its second conference on Tolkien. You may remember having read somewhere that he is a heavily influential writer, and he was a Christian, which are two good reasons to pay attention to what is going on with his work. On the other hand, you may be someone who loves Tolkien’s work and are looking forward to the chance to hear more about it.  You may even have been one of the attendees last year who enjoyed the experience and are looking forward to attending a second time.  Or you may still be deciding whether or not this conference is something you want to invest your time in.  Either way, hearing a little more about what is actually going to be happening at this conference might be exactly what you need to either help you make up your mind, find out what this is really all about, or get you even more motivated to join us!

So, what exciting things do we have in store for you?  First, because the theme of the conference is “Tolkien and the Arts,” artist Jef Murray, illustrator of Tolkien calendars, books, and the EWTN documentary Bilbo’s Journey, will have Tolkien-themed artwork on display (and for sale) both before and during the conference.  Anyone interested in visual art will find his use of color and design well worth viewing.  Then, there will be five excellent speakers, including two of our own students, Rick Williams and Bryan Meade.  Rick will be presenting an extended version of a paper on Tolkien as a Teacher that was originally written for a Tolkien class he took through the seminary two summers ago. Bryan, who already has degrees in film and is currently working toward his MAR, will be presenting on film presentations of Tolkien’s work.  Not only are these excellent topics in themselves, but if you have ever wondered what kind of work Urbana Seminary students are capable of, these two papers will be well worth hearing.

The other three papers are going to be presented by people who have done other work in the realm of Tolkien studies.  Both Father Charles Klamut and Dr. Melody Green have spoken at Tolkien conferences, and both either have or are working on multiple publications on Tolkien.  Father Charles will be presenting on leadership and stewardship in The Lord of the Rings; Melody will be talking about books by other authors that present Tolkien as a fictional character, and the implications of these sorts of stories.

Finally, Jef Murray, the artist we have brought in for the occasion, will be giving a fascinating and thought-provoking paper on what Tolkien called “Subcreation”—that is to say, the idea that we create stories and art because we were created in the image of a Creator.

One of the most exciting aspects of this conference is that the organizers who are bringing this event to you are working with Square Halo Press to get the papers from this year’s and last year’s Tolkien conference published in book form. The book will be titled Tolkien and the Arts, and will be published as a companion to their already-available book, C S Lewis and the Arts.

So, these are all excellent reasons to join us this Saturday, February 1st at 9:30 AM at University Baptist Church (314 E. Daniel St., Champaign, IL, 61820).  We hope to see you there!  For more information, go to