It should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me that J.R.R. Tolkien would fit into this somewhere.
Brilliant Beards #4: J.R.R. Tolkien (Dwarves)
“Now, hold on one moment!” I can hear you say, “Tolkien is clearly an unbearded man.”
This is true. Aside from the fact that he smoked a pipe (which almost makes up for his bald-facedness), the most manly image of Tolkien that the internet can conjure up for you of is this one from during his military service in WW1. Not only is he in uniform but he is also sporting a handsome moustache.
However, once he moved on to his position at Oxford he seems to have dropped the ‘stache. But while the internet can’t conjure up a bearded Tolkien, I have no such limitations. Seriously, which is the more manly, sophisticated version of Tolkien?
Anyway, it obviously isn’t really Tolkien himself that had a brilliant beard but one of the races from Middle-Earth that he created.
Really, if one were to psychoanalyse me, this whole beard thing is probably based on some sort of latent desire of mine from when I was a young, LotR reading kid who just wanted to be Gimli; he was strong, steady, unflinching, loyal… axe-wielding, and had a sweet dwarvish beard!
Tolkien’s Dwarves clearly held their beards in high regard as can be evidenced by these dwarvish blessings, curses, and exclamations.
– Ch. 12 Bilbo to Thorin: “… O Thorin Thrain’s son Oakenshield, may your beard grow ever longer…”
– Ch. 16 Bombur about Thorin: “Not that I venture to disagree with Thorin, may his beard grow ever longer; yet he was ever a dwarf with a stiff neck.”
– Ch. 17 Thorin cursing Bilbo: “By the beard of Durin! I wish I had Gandalf here! Curse him for his choice of you! May his beard wither!”
– Ch. 18 Bilbo saying farewell to the dwarves: “Farewell… May your beards never grow thin!”
The Return of the King
– Ch. 9 Legolas to Gimli: “Up with your beard, Durin’s son!” he said. “For thus it is spoken: Oft hope is born, when all is forlorn.”
What else needs to be said? Tolkien’s Dwarves are awesome and, thus, beards are awesome.
May your beard grow ever longer!
So, I was assembling a list of the books that I’ve either already started or have been thinking I’d like to get around to during my sabbatical and I figured there might be a few of you out there who might find that interesting so here it is!
This is a self-imposed list, so I’m sure that books will be added or subtracted as the days and weeks go by.
Tim’s Sabbatical Reading List:
(s) – started; (x) completed; (_-rr) re-read
Main Study Goals:
– (s) Hebrew for the Rest of Us (Lee M. Fields)
– (s) Knowing Jesus through the Old Testament (Christopher J. H. Wright)
– Knowing the Holy Spirit through the Old Testament (Christopher J. H. Wright)
– Knowing God the Father through the Old Testament (Christopher J. H. Wright)
– (s) Against Calvinism (Roger E. Olsen)
– (s) The King Jesus Gospel (Scot McKnight)
– (s) Hearing Her Voice (John Dickson)
– The Blue Parakeet (Scot McKnight)
– A Community Called Atonement (Scot McKnight)
– How God Became King (N.T. Wright)
– Jesus Through Middle-Eastern Eyes (Kenneth E. Bailey)
Christian Living/Spiritual Life/Prayer/etc:
– (s) Letters from a Skeptic (Greg Boyd)
– (s) The Orthodox Way (Timothy Ware)
– (s) Beginning to Pray (Anthony Bloom)
– Praying with the Church (Scot McKnight)
– Life with God (Richard Foster)
– A Testament of Devotion (Thomas R. Kelly)
– (x) Lilith (George MacDonald)
– (s) Phantastes (George MacDonald)
– (s-rr) Dune (Frank Herbert)
– (rr)Dune Messiah (Frank Herbert)
– (rr)Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)
While I’m on the theme of renowned warriors of the bearded variety (See Brilliant Beards #2: Vikings) I obviously need to pay homage to the greatest of the ancient Greek warriors: the Spartans.
Virtually all men in ancient Greece were bearded, particularly warriors and philosophers. However it was the Lacedaemonians (ie. Spartans) who were the most feared warriors. It was Herodotus who first recorded the events of the Battle of Thermopylae where a small contingent of Greek warriors led by 300 Spartans held off the Persian masses until a greater Greek force could be assembled and a proper defence made. While stylish, Frank Miller’s graphic novel/movie “300” is nothing more than a flashy bastardization of history… at least Gerard Butler’s Leonidas had a beard!
Brilliant Beards #3: the Spartans
Before that fateful battle in which all of the Greek warriors died, Herodotus records (Histories 7:208) how the Spartans spent the evening before battle preparing their weapons and grooming their hair & beards. Apparently within Spartan culture if someone was deemed to be a coward his punishment was to have his beard shaven off (ie. he was a boy, not a man). So be a man; prepare your weapons and groom your beard!
Perhaps the Bearded Gospel Men best apply this lesson into our own culture: