I woke up this morning thinking about last night’s meeting of The Grey Havens Group. (I do this a lot and I suspect that others do, too.) I thought about how often one of us (frequently me) finds a religious (Christian, Buddhist, Hindu) tenet expressed in the plot of The Lord of the Rings. I have decided that this is not because Tolkien set out to write a story of religious instruction but because he set out to write a story that is true or to create a secondary world that participates in the truth of the primary world. The philosophy that one can derive from The Lord of the Rings is reflected in the religions of the primary world because it is true or, at least, universal. Another word for universal is “catholic” with a lower case “c.” It is helpful for me to identify these catholic principles as they are articulated in the articles of faith with which I have become familiar because it gives me a kind of shorthand for understanding the principles. It is even more helpful, however, for me to see them brought to life in the quest of Frodo and his friends because shorthand should only help us to remember; it should never be confused with the thing itself. I believe Tolkien and his friends understood that principles are not static ideas but living things with which we must become as intimate as we are with our dearest family and friends. It is one thing to recite an idea as dogma but it is quite another to live it and, if we are to live it, we are aided incalculably by witnessing it being lived in Story. It is very important that we read Tolkien’s work, each in our own way, and that we discuss his work so that our own individual ways can be enriched by the ways of others, but it is even more important that we try our best to live it. What matters most is that we become better people because of it. What else could it be for if not for that? I don’t want to imagine a world that I could never, in some sense, live in. I think this is what Tolkien meant when he spoke of Fantasy as a means of Escape. What do you think?