Christendom College

Christendom’s Dr. Adam Schwartz Explains Sacramentalism of Tolkien in Academic Journal

May 27, 2015

schwartzDr. Adam Schwartz, professor of history at Christendom College, was recently published in The University Bookman for his scholarly review of author Craig Bernthal’s Tolkien’s Sacramental Vision: Discerning the Holy in Middle-earth. Schwartz, whose academic interests include the history of the Inklings and the Catholic literary revival, has been frequently published in the Bookman for his scholarly work on both J.R.R. Tolkien and G.K. Chesterton.

In his article titled “The Holiness of Hobbitry,” Schwartz lauds Bernthal for providing a helpful contribution to the thought that Tolkien was a key protagonist in the Catholic literary revival that swept though English literature in the 18th-19th centuries. While some still perceive Tolkien differently, Schwartz believes that Bernthal correctly fights against this view by focusing “on the significance in Tolkien’s work of the sacramental principle: the Catholic conviction that external reality is a visible sign of God’s invisible, but real, presence as the creative and sustaining source of Being.”

Schwartz, who is the author of The Third Spring: G.K. Chesterton, Graham Greene, Christopher Dawson and David Jones, writes further that the turn in scholarship toward focusing on Tolkien’s religious beliefs has helped clarify the centrality of Catholicism in both his life and in his great literary works as well.

“Bernthal’s monograph demonstrates that the growing attention to religion in Tolkien studies has not only rectified misreadings of his work but also promoted deeper understanding of it,” says Schwartz.

“Discerning the holiness of hobbitry discloses that Tolkien’s Catholic sacramentalism shaped fundamental convictions about language, society, and human responsibilities toward one another and their fellow creatures,” he writes.

Adam Schwartz earned his B.A. from Marquette University, before pursuing graduate studies at Northwestern University, where he earned his M.A. and his Ph.D. An expert in twentieth-century Christian thought, Schwartz has been frequently published in many academic journals, including Touchstone, Logos, Faith and Reason, and The Chesterton Review. In 2005, Schwartz published The Third Spring: G.K. Chesterton, Graham Greene, Christopher Dawson and David Jones, which went paperback in 2012. He is currently a professor of history at Christendom College.

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