How the Silmarillion inspired a book of Bible Stories
Once upon a (student) time I got a copy of Tolkien’s The Silmarillion for Christmas. I took it back to college with me as term began, and rationed myself to reading one chapter a day—kind of like rationing chocolate to two pieces a day (which I also did), and cake to one slice. It was hard to read so slowly though. I really loved the book and was hooked right from the first tale—the Music of the Ainur. What a wonderful “creation” story! What a haunting blend of weighty prose, musical language, and thrilling fantasy. “Never since have the Ainur made music like to this music,” the author writes, “though it has been said that a greater still shall be made before Iluvatar by the choirs of Ainur and the Children of Iluvatar after the end of days.” The words begged to be sounded aloud, and the press of eternal meaning bore into me. But I was a mathematician, studying the logic of number systems and the vagaries of function and form. I was already a “mongrel Christian mathematician” though, so Tolkien’s Biblical hints dug deep. I went to Christian Union meetings, represented the Catholic Chaplaincy, and wondered—oh heresy of heresies—why didn't God use interesting authors like Tolkien to write the scriptures?
I was kind of an accidental mathematician really. When it came to a choice between studying mathematics or writing, I chose math because at least when you're right you're right and no-one’s going to tell you you're not good enough. In contrast my son, when faced with the identical choice, plumped for writing because those who judge words can only give opinions; they can't definitively declare your answer’s wrong.
So what’s an accidental mathematician, with a love of writing, a sudden total addiction to Tolkien (especially The Silmarillion), and a deep Christian faith to do? In my case, dreaming was way easier than doing, so I dreamed a set of Bible stories, written so kids (and teens, and students too) might actually want to read them, written to be fun and spoken aloud and shared, and going all the way from creation to revelation—from that first music of Tolkien’s Ainur until the end of days. Then I got a job and wrote computer programs, got married and had kids, got another job and broke computer programs, became infinitely more mongrel, learned tons of stuff about the Bible and Biblical times, lost my job… and then I started writing those stories I'd dreamed of long ago.
The kids are grown, and one of them even writes. So now the Bible, science and history feed my muse, Tolkien and faith inspire my intent, and the Five-Minute Bible StoryTM Series keeps growing, though Creation to Revelation’s already taking six books with Bethlehem’s Baby’s recent release, and many more in the works.
Meanwhile I still love The Silmarillion best of all my Tolkien books. I just found it again while tidying up the shelves, so please excuse me while I curl up and read.
Thank you so much for welcoming me to your blog, Anita.
Find Bethlehem’s Baby at: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00EY172MA/
More of the Five-Minute Bible StoryTM Series on the publisher’s website: http://capearagopress.com/Five-Minute.html
Connect with Sheila at:
Sheila Deeth: http://about.me/SheilaDeeth