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placeholder February 18, 2013   •   VOL. 51, NO. 4   •   Oakland, CA
Unlocking the work of Tolkien

Joseph Pearce

Catholic author and Tolkien scholar Joseph Pearce will present a series of lectures March 2 on "The World of Tolkien," sponsored by St. Anne's Guild of St Margaret Mary Parish Oakland.

Two of the lectures will be presented at the Cathedral Event Center, 2121 Harrison St., Oakland. They are "Unlocking 'The Lord of the Rings'" at 11 a.m. and "The Hidden Meaning of 'The Hobbit'" at 1:30 p.m.

"The Evangelizing Power of Beauty: Evangelizing the World through the Beauty of Catholic Art and Culture" will be presented at 6 p.m. at St. Margaret May Church, 1219 Excelsior Ave., Oakland.

Tickets for each lecture are $25 for adults and $15 for students. Discount packages are available for those who wish to attend a combination of lectures. Tickets are available at www.theworldoftolkien.com.

In addition, a private event for benefactors will be 6 p.m. March 1 at St. Margaret Mary Church. Benefactor tickets are $150; ticket-holders will receive tickets to all four Joseph Pearce speaking engagements and preferred seating at all events.

Event sponsors include Ignatius Press, Immaculate Heart Radio and the C.S. Lewis Society of California. St. Anne's Guild was founded in 1931 with the purpose of building a parish community, service to the pastor and raising money for the care and maintenance of the sanctuary.

As a young man, Pearce was a member of the National Front, a white nationalist party in his native England. The works of G.K. Chesterton helped lead him to the Catholic Church in 1989.

He has hosted a series on EWTN about Shakespeare's faith and has been filming documentaries for the network about Tolkien and "The Lord of the Rings." He is the co-founder and co-editor of the St. Austin Review, an international magazine dedicated to reclaiming Catholic culture, and is the series editor of the Ignatius Critical Editions.

Pearce, who became the writer-in-residence at St. Thomas More College of the Liberal Arts in Merrimack, New Hampshire, last year, responded to a few questions by the Catholic Voice.

How does "The Lord of the Rings" speak to Catholics?

Tolkien stated that "The Lord of the Rings is, of course, a fundamentally religious and Catholic work." The Catholic dimension in The Lord of the Rings is manifold but is rooted in the Ring as being symbolic of sin and its effect upon the soul. It is no coincidence that the Ring is destroyed on March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation.

How knowledgeable about "The Lord of the Rings" does an audience member need to be?

An audience member doesn't need to know anything about "The Lord of the Rings." For those who have never read the book or seen the movies, the talks will serve as a very accessible introduction to the Catholic dimension of the work. For those who have read it many times, the talk will be full of fascinating insights about the Catholic dimension, which will surprise them.

Anything an audience member should review before attending?

It would be helpful if audience members had checked out my books on the subject — "Bilbo's Journey" and "Tolkien: Man & Myth" — but it is absolutely not necessary.

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