International Institute for Culture


Tolkien's 111th Birthday!

111th Anniversary of
J.R.R. Tolkein's Birthday!

DATE: Friday, January 3rd
Time: 7:30 p.m. followed by Birthday cake reception!
Event: Special Lecture and Party to honor the 111th Anniversary of J.R.R. Tolkein's Birthday!
Dr. Bradley J. Birzer, Assistant Professor of History at Hillsdale College and author of the recent ISI book, J. R. R. TOLKIEN'S SANCTIFYING MYTH: Understanding Middle-earth. Foreword by Joseph Pearce
Topic: An Augustinian Understanding of The Two Towers: In Honor of a "The Long Deserved Party" for J.R.R. Tolkien's Eleventy-First Birthday!
Bradley Birzer is Assistant Professor of History at Hillsdale College. A Senior Fellow with the Center for the American Idea in Houston, he has written extensively on Tolkien, James Fenimore Cooper, the American Frontier and American Indians, and Christopher Dawson. Description of Lecture: In honor of the 111 Anniversary of the birth of J.R.R. Tolkien and the release of the second film adaptation of the Two Towers by director Peter Jackson (released December 18, 2002), Dr. Birzer will lecture on the Two Towers from an Augustinian perspective. In 1958,at a Dutch bash for him, Tolkien told the audience: "I look East, West, North, South, and I do not see Sauron. But I see that Saruman has many descendants. We Hobbits have against them no magic weapons. Yet, my gentle hobbits, I give you this toast: To the Hobbits. May they outlast the Sarumans and see spring again in the trees."

Outline of the lecture:
  • Discussion of what J.R.R. Tolkein said to the Dutch group in 1958 (above)
  • Tolkien and St. Augustine
  • Sauron vs. Saruman
  • Sauron-The City of S-t-n
  • Saruman-The City of Man: "Ye Too Shall Be as Gods"/perversion, industry, and ideological tyranny
  • The City of God: Aragorn, Gandalf (St. Boniface) return to Christendom/Sanctifying the World, Bringing all things back to Christ
  • Conclusion: What would Tolkien think at his Eleventy-first Birthday?
Cost: $15/person, $25/couple, free for students and religious
The following book by Dr. Birzer will be made available for purchase and a book signing or can be ordered at
Understanding Middle-earth
By Bradley J. Birzer
Foreword by Joseph Pearce
Peter Jackson's film version of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and the accompanying proliferation of Rings-related paraphernalia, has once again brought the work of J. R. R. Tolkien to a popular audience. There are, however, few full and accessible treatments of the religious vision permeating Tolkien's influential works. Bradley Birzer has remedied that with his fresh study, J. R. R. Tolkien's Sanctifying Myth: Understanding Middle-earth. In it, Birzer explicates the religious symbolism and significance of Tolkien's Middle-earth stories. More broadly, Birzer situates Tolkien within the Christian humanist tradition represented by Thomas More and T. S. Eliot, Dante and C. S. Lewis. He argues that through the genre of myth Tolkien is able to provide a sophisticated—and appealing—social and ethical worldview.

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