Updated: Feb 13
Every since I was a boy, fantasy and science-fiction has always fascinated me. The way that the stories, movies, and games stretched my imagination and filled my heart with wonder always kept me hungry for more. Faith/religion during that time did not, in fact, bring me nearly as much joy as these made up stories or mythologies (big surprise). Instead, going to church when I was younger did almost the opposite since I found it either boring, confusing and since it was obviously lacking (or so I thought) in glorious battles, epic adventures and magical creatures.
One of my favorite movie series when I was growing up was the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. I remember staying up late on special occasions with my father to watch the ludicrously long movies with my eyes glued to the screen. I was captivated with the beauty of the landscapes, enraptured by the epic music, and inspired by the glorious victory of good over evil. All of those things tugged on my heart strings as a boy and now totally capture my soul as a man. As John Eldredge explains in his book, Wild at Heart, inside the heart-of-hearts of every man are 3 desires: 1. To go on an adventure, 2. To rescue the beauty, 3. To slay the beast. All of these things are oozing out of the stories of Middle Earth. Ever since my first time watching those movies, these desires have been activated in my heart.
Fast forward to college, I actually start taking my faith seriously. I am a cradle Catholic and went to church my whole life but it wasn't really until I went on a certain retreat my freshman year at CSU that my eyes were opened to what I had been neglecting. I had even been on multiple mission trips up until this point and still had not experienced what a true relationship with Christ meant. Immediately following this retreat I joined the leadership staff for the next 7, started leading Bible studies, began mentoring other guys in the faith, pursued virtue in my personal life and dating relationship. Long story short, my heart was set on fire for Truth, Goodness and Beauty which I found present in the Catholic Church.
My re-version to Catholicism did not snuff out my passion for things of fantasy, poetry and beauty. In fact, all of those desires now had meaning beyond the fact that I enjoyed them. I now have a clear answer as to why I enjoy them so much. It is because I was made by a God who knew that I would find joy in them and that I would come to know Him more through them. What truly sealed the deal for me in my faith was learning that Tolkien was himself a devout Catholic and that much of the stories, themes and Characters in the Middle Earth epics were based on his Catholic faith! His love for beauty, goodness, triumph over evil, romance, song and poetry all came from God and the Church. Having re-read the books with a rejuvenated faith actually helped me to understand God better. I can't tell you how many holy hours I have done with the Lord of the Rings. I've been so inspired by the books and how they incorporate Catholicism that I've even lead a Lord of the Rings themed retreat!
Our God is Wonder, Beauty, Majesty, Glory, Victory, Adventure, Mystery. Myself and Tolkien found the source of our longing in the in the Creator of all adventure and His bride, the Catholic Church. So do yourself a favor; don't stop searching for the fountain of all your desires. If you keep looking, that quest will lead you home to Him (and maybe the Shire).