One day a young angel, only three and a half billion years old, very naive, with limited experience of the wide universe and eager for more, was called over by one of her elder brothers. “I have a special mission for you,” he said. “It is said that Life has appeared somewhere in the universe, in accordance with the purpose and timing of the Almighty. It is your task to seek out this Life, and when you find it, tell us so that we may visit the planet to nurture and guide it.”
Here’s how it happened for me. I was sitting in the back seat on the passenger side. I had just asked the driver how long he’d been with Uber, and he said, like he’d answered the question a thousand times, “Six months.” Then I asked how many rides he’d given, and there was a sort of cool pride in his face and I was expecting a big number, when I saw—or really felt—a presence to my right, a buzzing, looming mass. I looked out the window, and there was the wheel of an eighteen-wheeler right beside my door, coming closer. I still don’t know whether it was changing into our lane or we had drifted into its.
J. R. R. Tolkien wrote The Lord of the Rings over a long interval that began well before World War II and ended a few years after. Both Tolkien and his adult son Christopher regularly attended meetings of the Inklings, a literary group of which C. S. Lewis was the guiding star, and the two Tolkiens took turns reading The Lord of the Rings as it came together. Lewis had therefore heard most of The Lord of the Rings before receiving the typescript of the finished novel in October 1949. After reading it he wrote this letter to Tolkien. Continue reading “C. S. Lewis’s Letter to Tolkien upon First Reading The Lord of the Rings”