Tim Challies is re-reading The Lord of the Rings and is impressed with "What Tolkien Did So Well, What We Do So Poorly":
.... One of the great strengths of Tolkien’s work is its grounding in history. One of the great weaknesses of the contemporary church is its detachment from its own history. Few of today’s Christians have a clear sense of how the church came to be. They know of Acts and Reformation and Billy Graham, but the rest is a blur. They do not know their forebears, the ones who faithfully proclaimed and finally handed down the faith. They have no grounding in history—their own history. ....Not Challies:
There are many reasons we ought to teach believers their history. History gives us purpose. History gives us hope. History gives us theological grounding. But as much as anything, history reminds us that we live in the shadow of those who have come before and that those who follow will, in turn, look back to us.
The characters in The Lord of the Rings know they are set within a wider drama that began ages prior and will continue ages hence. They are determined to act in ways that honor their forebears and leave a worthy example for their descendants. ....
We’d do well to learn from their example. We, too, need to set believers within their history. We, too, need to teach them they are small but significant players in a much wider, grander drama. They must always be aware of those who have gone before and always think of those who will follow. They do not stand alone in the story, but always in the shadow of their forebears. What Tolkien did so well is what we do so poorly.
who will not look backward to their ancestors.
Not to know what has been transacted in former times
If no use is made of the labors of past ages,
the world must remain always in the infancy of knowledge.
Marcus Tulius Cicero