Finding a devotional that is challenging and focused on building
character can be hard. Finding one that engages young people where
they live is harder still. In Walking with Frodo, author
Sarah Arthur has accomplished both.
Arthur points to J.R.R. Tolkien himself in explaining that the Lord
of the Rings (LOTR) trilogy is neither allegory nor overtly
Christian. However, she finds in the books and movies a clear
relationship between Tolkien's faith and the literary world he
created. She explains that she wears two hats in her writing
of this book: literary critic and teacher. She further explains
that the teacher hat is merely a student's hat turned backward.
It is from this perspective of seizing teachable moments that
she has turned a great literary classic into a means of engaging
young people in serious devotional consideration of their own
faith and character.
The book opens with an explanation of its purpose and how it can
be used. Though it is designed to be nine weekly devotions on opposing
character traits, we found that it could be extended beyond the
nine weeks; one could also incorporate the devotions into a family
reading of the Tolkien stories or viewing of the movies. However,
the devotional texts do not follow the order of the storyline.
Instead, the Lord of the Rings trilogy serves more as
a backdrop than a road map.
The 18 devotions are divided into contrasting pairs such as darkness
and light, pride and humility, betrayal and loyalty, etc. Each
zeroes in on an aspect of the LOTR storyline in view of the devotional
topic. Then Arthur challenges the reader to consider the topic
in light of Scripture with a section of verses under the heading "The
Word On . . ." These Scriptures provide a Biblical view of the
topic. Each devotion ends with a section of discussion questions
called, "Going Further." These can be thought provokers for an
individual or icebreakers for a family or group reading the book
together. They end with the most important challenge: "What are
you going to do about it?"
Walking with Frodo, which sells for $9.99, is a well
laid out and readable break from traditional devotionals that kids
sometimes see as preachy or "stuffy." Yet it does not compromise
depth or purpose. If you or your child is a LOTR fan, take this
character-building walk with Frodo.