Tom Bombadil and the Christian Life

Tom Bombadil and the Christian Life

Something y’all might have picked up on a lot in my writing is that I’m a bit of an optimist. I try not to be blind in my optimism but I am, nevertheless, an optimist. Just because I’m an optimist that doesn’t mean that I’m entirely against curmudgeonliness. In fact, I can be a little curmudgeonly from time to time if you prick me the wrong way. All this being said, I want to make a quick case for the jovial Christian life. As you might have picked up from the title of this piece, my inspiration will be coming from the Character Tom Bombadil.

Now, If you’ve never read The Lord of the Rings then you probably have no idea who Tom Bombail is. If that is the case you can feel free to keep reading or (if you’d like to use your time in a better way) you can go and read The Fellowship of the Ring.

For those of you who have read The Fellowship of the Ring, you will remember that Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin meet Tom Bombadil in the Old Forest on the border of the Shire in the beginning of The Fellowship. Tom Bombadil is an odd character to most readers. Biblically, he reminds me of Melchizedek. Like Melchizedek, Bombadil appears out of nowhere. He has no lineage yet seems to be of incredible stock, kingly and god-like. Bombadil also seems to fear no evil. The Ring of Power has no effect on him. And, Bombadil tends to sing and laugh more than he talks in normal sentences.

Now, I’m no Tolkien scholar, so I could be way off here but I’m going to go ahead anyway. I think Tom Bombadil is a good example for the Christian life. Moreover, I think that Bombadil is a good example for the Christian life in our particular cultural circumstances.

What I mean by this is that Tom Bombadil pushes back against the angst that so typifies Modernity. Bombail pushes back against both the sterility and the compulsive tendencies of Modernism. Bombadil is is full, he is overflowing. In a culture where people seem to be constantly mad at one another, the spirit of Tom Bombadil would simply be baffling.

Jesus once said that whoever believes in him with overflow with rivers of living water (John 7:38). Bombadil is this type of character. The typical modern man is like a void or a vacuum: hoping to fill itself with something. Bombadil is like a spring or a river: full and simultaneously filling those around him.

Christians, myself included, could quell a lot of negative stereotypes by looking to Bombadil for inspiration.

Food for thought.


Michael lives with his wife (Caroline) and dog (Beau) in Athens, GA where he teaches history and economics to high schoolers. Michael enjoys reading, watching soccer, drinking bourbon, and taking walks with his wife and dog.