Tolkien in the Company of Saints – LOTR Enters Some Spiritual Circles

by Nov 23, 1999Books

Dan Mihm alerted me to a press release from Harper Collins which, according to some other authors, has decided on the “The 100 Best Spiritual Books of the Century.” I’m not sure what the process was to pick these, but my gut reaction is not place Lord of the Rings alongside such books as The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism, and Mere Christianity.

In any case, read the info below (along with a blurb from the Dallas Morning News, or click here to check out the books.

Higher Learning

The 100 best spiritual books of the last 100 years were announced this month. Compiled for the new-agey publisher Harper San Francisco by Smith College religion professor Philip Zaleski, the list includes books from all major religious traditions as well as novels, essay collections, letters, and confessions. Malcolm X, Mother Teresa, Franz Kafka, and Jack Kerouac made the cut. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin’s The Phenomenon of Man received the most votes from the nominating committee. Zaleski thought people might be surprised that The Lord of the Rings made the list. “I do think it’s the quintessential tale of good and evil, a deeply moral tale. And that seems to be a spiritual subject,” he told the Dallas Morning News.

The 100 Best Spiritual Books of the Century

Compiled by Philip Zaleski, editor of The Best Spiritual Writing series

Based on nominations by Thomas Moore, Natalie Goldberg, Rodger Kamenetz, Harold Kushner, Lawrence Kushner, Christopher de Vinck, David Yount, Kabir Helminski, Helen Tworkov, Ron Hansen, Frederic Brussat, Joseph Bruchac, Huston Smith, Lawrence Cunningham, and John Wilson.

View the Press Release

Adams, Henry, Mont-Saint Michel and Chartres
Agnon, S. Y., In the Heart of the Seas
Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous
Anonymous, The Gospel of Thomas
Balthasar, Hans Urs von, The Glory of the Lord
Barfield, Owen, Saving the Appearances
Barth, Karl, The Epistle to the Romans
Bernanos, Georges, Diary of a Country Priest
Black Elk, Black Elk Speaks
Bonhoeffer, Dietrich, The Cost of Discipleship
Bonhoeffer, Dietrich, Letters and Papers from Prison
Buber, Martin, I and Thou
Buber, Martin, Tales of the Hasidim
Camus, Albert, The Plague
Chapman, John, Spiritual Letters
Chesterton, G. K., Orthodoxy
Daumal, Rene, Mount Analogue
Day, Dorothy, The Long Loneliness
Dillard, Annie, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
Dunne, John S., The Way of All the Earth
Eisley, Loren, The Immense Journey
Eliade, Mircea, The Myth of Eternal Return
Eliot, T. S., Christianity and Culture
Eliot, T. S., The Four Quartets
Endo, Shusako, Silence
Florensky, Pavel, The Pillar and the Ground of Truth
Foster, Richard, A Celebration of Discipline
Frankl, Viktor, Man’s Search for Meaning
Gandhi, Mohandas, An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth
Greene, Graham, The Power and the Glory
Griffiths, Bede, The Golden String
Guardini, Romano, The Lord
Guenon, Rene, The Reign of Quantity and the Signs of the Times
Gurdjieff, G. I., Meetings with Remarkable Men
Hahn, Thich Nhat, Peace Is Every Step
Hammarskjold, Dag, Markings
Heschel, Abraham Joshua, God in Search of Man
Heschel, Abraham Joshua, The Sabbath
Hesse, Hermann, Siddhartha
Hopkins, Gerard Manley, Collected Poems
Huxley, Aldous, The Perennial Philosophy
Isherwood, Christopher, My Guru and His Disciple
James, William, The Varieties of Religious Experience
John XXIII, Pope, Journal of a Soul
John Paul II, Pope, Crossing the Threshold of Hope
Jung, Carl, Memories, Dreams, Reflections
Kafka, Franz, The Trial
Kelly, Thomas, <!– –>A Testament of Devotion
Kerouac, Jack, The Dharma Bums
King, Martin Luther, Jr., I Have a Dream: Writings and Speeches That Changed the World
Knox, Ronald, Enthusiasm
Krishnamurti, Think on These Things
Leclercq, Jean, The Love of Learning and the Desire for God
Lewis, C. S., The Chronicles of Narnia
Mere Christianity
Lusseyran, Jacques, And There Was Light
Maharashi, Ramana, The Spiritual Teachings of Ramana Maharashi
Malcolm X, The Autobiography of Malcolm X
Maritain, Raissa, Journals
Maugham, W. Somerset, The Razor’s Edge
Merton, Thomas, New Seeds of Contemplation
The Seven Storey Mountain
Muggeridge, Malcolm, Something Beautiful for God
Newman, John Henry, Meditations and Devotions
Niebuhr, Richard H., <!– –>Christ and Culture
Niebuhr, Reinhold, The Nature and Destiny of Man
O’Connor, Flannery, Wise Blood
Otto, Rudolf, The Idea of the Holy
Ouspensky, P. D., In Search of the Miraculous
Peck, M. Scott, The Road Less Traveled
Percy, Walker, Lost in the Cosmos
Pirsig, Robert, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
Ramakrishna, The Gospel of Ramakrishna
Reps, Paul, Zen Flesh, Zen Bones
Rilke, Rainer Maria, Duino Elegies
Rosenzweig, Franz, The Star of Redemption
Russell, George William, The Candle of Vision
Schimmel, Anne-Marie, Mystical Dimensions of Islam
Scholem, Gershom, Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism
Schumacher, E. F., A Guide for the Perplexed
Schuon, Fritjof, The Transcendent Unity of Religions
Singer, Isaac Bashevis, Collected Stories
Smith, Huston, The World’s Religions
Steinsaltz, Adin, The Thirteen-Petalled Rose
Suzuki, D. T., Essays in Zen Buddhism
Suzuki, Shunryu, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind
Tagore, Rabindranath, Gitanjali
Teilhard de Chardin, Pierre, The Phenomenon of Man
Teresa, Mother, A Simple Path
Therese of Lisieux, St., The Story of a Soul
Tillich, Paul, The Courage to Be
Tolkien, J. R. R., The Lord of the Rings
Tomberg, Valentin, Meditations on the Tarot
Traherne, Thomas, Centuries
Trungpa, Chogyam, Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism
Underhill, Evelyn, Mysticism
Weil, Simone, Waiting for God
Wiesel, Elie, Night
Yeats, William Butler, Collected Poems
Yogananda, Paramahansa, Autobiography of a Yogi


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