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Episode 16: Extremely Specific Middle-earth Q&A with The Tolkien Professor—Corey Olsen

By Catholic Culture Podcast ( bio - articles - email ) | Sep 04, 2018 | In The Catholic Culture Podcast

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In part two of my interview with Corey “The Tolkien Professor” Olsen, we discuss several extremely specific questions about Middle-earth, including: What is “magic” in The Lord of the Rings? Who and what is Tom Bombadil exactly? Do the good consequences of Eowyn’s disobedience to Theoden justify her actions? Are orcs—possessing free will but seemingly evil by nature—metaphysically coherent?


Signum University

Mythgard Institute (Signum’s free programs for the public)

The Tolkien Professor Podcast

Corey Olsen’s website


Corey Olsen

2:06 The ambiguity of “magic” as used by different beings and races in The Lord of the Rings

12:13 Is Tom Bombadil God or a Christ-figure? What does it mean that “he is,” and that he is “the Master”? Is Tom a Maia? West vs. east and resurrection in the barrow-wight episode

35:04 Does Eowyn’s fulfillment of prophecy in slaying the Witch-King justify her abandonment of her duties to stay behind and rule/protect her people in the King’s absence? Simplistic feminist misinterpretations of Eowyn; Rohan’s vs. Gondor’s cultural values

44:26 Eowyn’s despair vs. Sam’s; different kinds of hope; Sam’s attitude towards his duty and the sense in which he lacks hope

59:38 More on Eowyn, Rohan’s debased cultural values

1:07:02 How Tolkien developed in his concept of flat vs. round Middle-earth

1:09:17 Are orcs evil by nature? How can that be if they have free will?

1:15:22 What is the basis of the differences/superiorities/inferiorities among the races of Middle-earth, and how is it different from real-world racist theories?

1:26:16 This week’s reading: J.R.R. Tolkien, “On Fairy-Stories”

Theme music: “Franciscan Eyes”, written and performed by Thomas Mirus. Download the Catholic Culture Podcast soundtrack.

Thomas V. Mirus is Director of Podcasts for, hosts The Catholic Culture Podcast, and co-hosts Criteria: The Catholic Film Podcast. See full bio.

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