The meat of our analysis of each chapter takes a form inspired by lectio divina (Latin for ‘divine reading’), which is a four-part method of encountering a text—historically, the Christian Scripture—with reading, reflection, and prayer.
Although we have adopted the Latinate nomenclature of lectio divina, we have made some modifications to the process in order to accommodate the fact that our approach to Tolkien is, for all intents and purposes, a secular one.
- lectio ‘reading’—One of the hosts chooses and reads aloud a passage from the chapter at hand. (This privilege is frequently offered to the guest speaker!) The reader sums up the literal meaning of the passage in its context.
- meditatio ‘meditation’—After the literal meaning of the passage has sunk in, a different host attempts to look more deeply at what is going on—at the message or significance “between the lines,” so to speak. This search for a symbolic or metaphorical message may be a general one, or one specific to the plot.
- oratio ‘prayer’—In this section, we reflect on what significance the passage has on us as individuals, in our personal lives. We frequently discuss memories and past or present experiences that agree with (or contradict!) the underlying message laid out in meditatio.
- contemplatio ‘contemplation’—Here we contemplate a call to action. We try to answer the question, “What does this passage call us to do?” This is a pretty open-ended segment, although a good guideline is to consider the personal experiences related in oratio in light of the textual and contextual findings in the lectio and meditatio steps.
The result of this process is a more profound understanding not only of the text itself but of our own situation—our fears, our joys, our plights, our loves.
Come listen to us as we work through it—then try it for yourself!