Just today I wrote Tolkien, Sex and the Central Challenge of the Church - which is about JRR Tolkien's view of the dangers of sex. Just two days ago I wrote Our Father Who Art ... Where?, which is about the absence of fathers and fathering both in our culture and in the Church.
It strikes me that today's Tolkien piece is an exact illustration of why I wrote the Missing Father piece.
Tolkien's musings on sex and love are excerpts from advice he gave to his son. They are brilliant examples of fathering in action.
Tolkien was doing precisely what a good father should do - he was passing along wisdom to his son, a young man about to embark on his own, who was in sore need of such wisdom (though young men typically don't think they're in sore need of anything from the "old man").
Tolkien laments, even as he writes to his son, 73 years ago, that the Church has dropped the ball on this and that Father at the parish probably won't bother to teach his spiritual children - his parishioners - what Father at home is teaching his son. People are disappointed in marriage, Tolkien observes, because the Church does not teach the true nature of love, the dangers of sexual temptations disguised as "sympathies", and the need to work hard, to mortify one's selfish desires, and to take up one's cross daily for the sake of one's bride. And what was true 73 years ago is doubly true today.
Dear Father in Heaven, may we have more fathers on earth like JRR Tolkien. May we serve as fathers to one another in the Church when our clerical "fathers" neglect their call to do just that. And may we always strive to be mature in our love, "mature in Christ", helping others to mature along with us - especially our own dear children, for whom we are given the awesome title "Father".