So, when Brandon and I were talking about working together on this coffee/podcast/whatever else would eventually be part it business, Brandon was almost apologetic about this idea he had for a name. We are both huge nerds, and we know and acknowledge this about ourselves. Sometimes, we nerd out in ways that many people can relate to, like when we take Marvel movies way too seriously. Other times, we manage to put ourselves in an incredibly tiny, obscure corner of the nerdom, leading to things that we find funny, and everyone else is confused by. Things like InkleDeux. The name hit Brandon on his drive out to meet with me, and we both loved it, but also knew we’d have to explain it many, many times.
The explanation is available on other pages in our site, but the quick version is this: CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien and some of their peers would meet at a pub to share their unfinished writings and called the group the “Inklings.” As Brandon and I are huge fans of both Lewis and Tolkien, and we admired the willingness to put imperfect, unfinished works out for critique and correction, we decided to borrow our inspiration from their name. Today, I’m going to go ahead and indulge my inner fanboy for Tolkien with a very limited, very partial list of reasons I love his work.
- World Building: I mean this in two main senses. First and foremost, the detail he builds into his fictional universe is amazing. I love reading his unfinished works precisely because it reveals how much thought went into a history that he knew most people would never bother with, but it was important for him as the author and creator of this world. The generations of elves and men who, for many, will never be more than a name in a genealogy is beautiful. When discussing beauty in Tolkien, however, my favorite example is his literal world building. In the Silmarillion, the valar and maiar(the lesser gods of the LotR universe) cooperate with Eru Iluvatar(the actual God) to, quite literally, sing the universe into existence. I can’t do it justice here, and won’t try. Find it. Read it. Trust me now, thank me later.
- Faith is Explicitly Implicit: I love the way Tolkien’s faith drips off the texts he wrote, and yet his literature can be read and enjoyed without ever consciously recognizing it. In the Lord of the Rings, for example, their isn’t a Christ figure, per se. Instead, and this I’m straight stealing from a podcast with Dr. Peter Kreeft, we have three people representing each of Christ’s offices. Frodo represents the priest as the one making the sacrifice on behalf of all. Gandalf is the prophet reminding the people of the importance of good and the danger of evil, often while being ignored. Aragorn, of course, is the king, the ruler/servant who leads for the sake of the people, not for his own interests.
- Redemption of the Broken: Boromir. The end. Just kidding, but seriously, here is a good man broken by the expectations of his father and the burden of believing he must be the savior of his people, and in a moment of weakness, tries to grasp the power he feels he needs. The moment passes, though, and he is left in despair at his own betrayal. His redemption results in one of the most epic death scenes in film and his admission of his wrongs and receiving forgiveness from Aragorn.
- Heroic Heroes: Sure, there are obvious examples. Aragorn, Gandalf, Legolas, and Gimli all have well earned places on the list of the baddest BAs in literature, but let’s talk about Eowyn, Faramir, Elrond, Bilbo, or any of the other hundreds of characters who, throughout the three ages, saved their people, their world, or themselves. When we talk about heroes in Tolkien, though, one will always have my heart in a special way.
- Samwise Gamgee: All this sweet hobbit wanted to do was tend to the garden at Bag End, get married, and raise a family while spending his time with Frodo. Then, he ends up as far from the Shire and safety as he could possibly be, cast out by his friend and master after the scheming of Gollum, and remains the most steadfast, courageous, faithful, noble, and heroic character I’ve ever seen. Gandalf said, “Saruman believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay.” Now, he said this speaking of Bilbo, but no character demonstrates this truth better than Master Samwise.
Now, I know this is an incomplete list, so let me know what you think I’ve missed. Hit us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.