When stories like Harry Potter or the Lord of the Rings end up in the spotlight, fundamentalists point disapprovingly to their use of occultic symbols and other connections with magic (here’s one example) . Now, with the Potter films this seems wrong-headed. It’s sort of like seeing the Song of Songs as being primarily a treatise on horticulture (“Let my beloved come into his garden…”). In the case of LOTR, though, it’s really wrong-headed.
As its fans know, LOTR is an unbelievably complex and layered work. While it isn’t allegory, that “something” that Christians see is the fire and beauty behind it all. Valor, honor, and nobility celebrated (Philippians 4:8). History. Heroes prone to weaknesses and temptation. And above all, a hidden hand that guides the fate of all. Great joy lurking around the corner. It is intensely Christian. Get stuck on the plot devices of palantirs and pointy hats… and you miss the point.
There are people who’ve wrong-headedly emptied the Bible into a social Gospel. Cults warp the entire message of Scripture. Truth becomes a bulwark for falsehood. Does that make the Bible wrong or misleading? Of course not. That some people see LOTR as the triumph of paganism or wizardry says less about it than them.