Jerry Root thinks “The Hobbit” is more than just a movie or book. The Wheaton College associate professor says the story gives a vision of true life.
The renowned international speaker will discuss Middle Earth and Tolkien’s fantasy characters Sunday during the seminar “Why is Tolkien’s Hobbit So Compelling” at Naperville Presbyterian Church.
Nate Conrad, the church’s associate pastor, said the program began as a way to connect with the community.
“People are reading ‘The Hobbit’ and ‘Lord of the Rings’ or other literature,” he said. “We want to engage with them in discussion. We want there to be a dialogue that’s informative and insightful for those who attend.”
Conrad, who is a former student of Wheaton College, said he was aware of Root’s reputation.
“He has done seminars like this one throughout the states and in other countries. He has great influence and is a highly regarded speaker and is a well-liked professor on campus,” he said. “I know him by association through family and classmates. He is highly regarded and well connected to the student body at Wheaton College.”
A member of the church suggested they invite Root to present a program.
Root uses the power of story and fantasy in literature, like “The Hobbit” or “Lord of the Rings,” as a natural segue to establish dialogue with people from the community about life and spiritual themes, Conrad said.
Tolkien’s works talk about universal themes, including loyalty, redemption, salvation, respect, faithfulness and joy, Conrad said.
“We also see these themes in scriptures in Jesus Christ,” he said.
When attendees leave the seminar, Conrad said he hopes they are “thinking critically about their world and their story.
“I want them to see the deeper truths in literature like this, which increases their enjoyment in life’s narrative,” he said. “I hope there will be a deeper enjoyment of fantasy literature, but more importantly an understanding of God’s narrative of hope, joy and salvation revealed in the Bible.”