The Allure of Middle-Earth

More than seventy-five years after J.R.R. Tolkien wrote The Hobbit, the glory and majesty of Middle-earth continues to draw millions of readers, and more recently, moviegoers. This week, theaters prepare for Friday's opening of the acclaimed new movie The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Partly, Tolkien's enduring popularity can be explained by the way he artfully touches the greatest themes of our collective experience of this world. Tolkien draws on themes of glory and majesty and kingship -- intangible and abstract realities not easy to tap in art -- and deeply embeds those themes into Middle-earth.

On a massive scale in The Lord of the Rings, and on a smaller, but no less significant, scale in The Hobbit, we encounter the longing for the right king to emerge from the shadows and to recapture his rightful empire, an ancient yearning older than mythical kings like King Arthur.

No Kings

Today, kings are mostly marginalized to meaningless pageantry. But there remains in kingship an enduring significance that is inescapable, something deeply burned into our souls, something telling us the world will only prosper when it’s ruled by the true king.

Where no kings reign, evil reigns. Tolkien knows this. This is what makes the Misty Mountains so treacherous for the company of Bilbo, the dwarves, and Gandalf, the travelers in The Hobbit. From the outset of their journey together, the wise wizard knows full well that to travel "over those great tall mountains with lonely peaks and valleys where no king ruled," meant danger and "fearful adventure."

[Read the rest of the article at Desiring God.]